Thomas John Watson was the American president of IBM, International Business Machines, and was responsible for overseeing the growth of the company on an international scale for thirty years.
1. Man of Industry
Watson developed IBM’s effective management. His management style set him apart from others in the sales industry. Specifically, punched card tabulating machines were used. He was a man of industry and looked to implement great salesmanship into business.
2. Turning Point
Watson took several sales jobs that paid hourly rates which, needless to say, were not what made Watson into the wealthy man that he was until his death. However, it was after he had spent many years earning meager pay that he decided to do something about it. He decided to leave his familiar surroundings to go to a more metropolitan city and start working on a commission. This was a significant turning point in his career and life.
3. Fired From His First Job
Watson’s first job in the city was short lived. He visited a saloon following a big sale and got drunk. In his drunken daze he did not realize that his company possessions were being stolen. Once he realized what had happened and returned to his employers, he was fired. His reputation preceded him at other placed of employment. Watson so regretted his foolish drinking that in the future when he would have employees of his own he established strict company rules against drinking.
4. Employment With NCR
Watson had a newly-acquired NCR cash register that he used in his butcher shop investment business. After losing his job again, he decided to seek employment with NCR. This job would prove vital as it was here that Watson met the man who would be his mentor.
5. John J. Range
Watson attributes his success to the close guidance of his branch manager at NCR, John J. Range. It was Range who taught Watson about his business and management style. Watson thrived under Range’s watchful eye and even earned a promotion.
6. Knocking Out Competition, Buying Out Competitors
Through a series of tactics of questionable legality, Watson opened his own businesses in an effort to knock the competitors out of the picture. The problem was that NCR was funding his efforts and that what Watson was trying to do was to establish a monopoly for NCR. He bought out competitors and continued to set up his businesses and buy out the competition as he moved throughout the country. Because of his breach of anti-trust legislation he was indicted in an anti trust suit instigated by managers of previously shut down businesses.
7. General Manager of CTR
Watson joined the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) and took over as general manager. In 1924, he renamed the company International Business Machines (IBM). Watson was able to build IBM up so well that the government filled an anti-trust law suit against it. At the time, IBM accounted for 90% of the total tabulating machine sales.
8. President of International Chamber of Commerce
In 1937, Watson was elected president of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). He was a prominent business man and member of the community. His influence extended into politics and he even had a hand in getting Dwight D. Eisenhower into the White House.
9. 1% Doctrine
Although the Nazis did benefit from their relationship with IBM, Watson worked closely with the United States during the war. The war time focus was on large quantities of data processing equipment for the military and experimenting with analog computers. Watson also developed a 1% doctrine for war profits which mandated that IBM receive no more than 1% profit from the sales of military equipment to U.S. Government. Few others had such a policy.
10. Extending Influence
After World War II, Watson began work on extending IBM’s influence on an international level. A month before Watson died he passed the company down to his oldest son.
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