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Friday, July 3, 2015

The GOOGLE Story - Life Cycles and the Wojcicki Family



THE GOOGLE BUNCH

(sung to the tune of “The Brady Bunch”)


"This is a story, about a man called Larry,

Good buddy Sergey and a little com-pan-y,

Known as Google, which began in a garage,

Owned by Susan of the Wo-jit-ski{sic} fam-il-y,

Then others, flocked to join them,

And you knew it would be much more than a hunch,

That one day they’d become successful,

And that’s how they all became the Google Bunch"

This is the most ambitious series of linked posts I have yet attempted. I will link all 3 blogs to tell The GOOGLE Story, from a Life Cycles - Families perspective. This main blog will tell the story of Susan Wojcicki (pronounced Wo-jit-ski) and the massive contribution she made to the fledgling Google company. My SECOND BLOG will then tell the story of her sister Anne and her marriage to Sergey Brin and her own interesting career. Thus the theme of these two posts will be that they were sisters, within the high-achieving Wojcicki family.

Then my THIRD BLOG will feature a Life Cycles Confluence analysis of founders Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Susan and Anne. Does this sound ambitious? It sure does to me. (N.B. If the three terms used in core Life Cycles theory - Year of Revolution/Year of Broken Pathways and Confluence sound like a foreign language to you please read THIS.)

THE SUSAN WOJCICKI STORY

Did you know that Google actually began life in a garage in Menlo Park in September 1998. This was thanks to a very fortuitous set of circumstances for the house owner - one Susan Wojcicki and her husband Dennis Troper. She was born 5th July, 1968 into a family of academics from the Silicon Valley area and she planned on joining them as she graduated with honours in History and Literature from Harvard in 1990.

When she was in her age 24 Year of Revolution (Jul.1992-Jul.1993) she completed a Masters in Science and Economics and has reflected that the newly discovered breakthrough called the World Wide Web (see my post on Tim Berners-Lee for evidence of the time period match) opened her eyes to a whole new range of possibilities :- "No one in my family had ever worked in business beforehand.....I realized, oh, I can make things, I can sell things, I can have influence. And then when the Internet came out, you could reach people all over the world. I mean, that was just amazing." This was also around the period when she worked for a time at Educational software firm MagicQuest, which resulted in her getting bitten by the tech bug.


She went on to complete an MBA in 1998 and had also worked for top consulting firm Bain & Co. and at this time for Intel in a junior role. She and Dennis had just purchased a new home in Menlo Park (which she describes as humble) and were expecting their first child when they rented their garage to two Stanford students for $1,700 a month to help with the mortgage.

She tells of a parade of venture capitalists and journalists, who made their way to the fledgling company through Susan's living room and eating late night pizzas and M&M's with Sergey and Larry, where they talked of how their technology will change the world. Within a year (in other words at or very close to her age 31 Year of Broken Pathways (Jul.1999-Jul.2000)) she joined them to become the company's first marketing manager and Google employee No.16.

Talk about a veritable year of challenge (which is the definition of a Broken Pathways Year). She began with an office, but no staff and no budget :- "We had no marketing budget, but I was supposed to market the company -- by myself," she recalled. "It was a little overwhelming." However Susan was not to go on to be called 'The Most Important Person in Advertising' for nothing. Let's add another verse to 'the Brady Bunch' theme music..........
"Then Susan said to Larry and Sergey,

You’ve created all this wonderful geeky stuff,

But if I can, make us a decent profit,

Then we can go public and make a bundle soon enough….."


Her first task was finding office space for Google after moving out of the garage. Her early duties included refining the original Google logo designed by Brin and the overall spare look of the Google home page. She came up with the first of Google's "doodles." In addition she also contributed to the development of 'Google Images' and 'Google Books'. However her next big idea really hit pay dirt. In 2003, she came up with her multimillion-dollar brainstorm: AdSense.

AdSense is an extension of a program Google had successfully launched in 2002, called AdWords. AdWords offers advertisers sponsored search ads, those little text ads that appear near search results. Advertisers have to pay only if the ads get clicked. Wojcicki's suggestion:-"Why not offer these same ads all over the Web, on blogs and websites? Entice Web 'publishers' to participate by giving them a portion of the ad revenue. In other words, every time someone clicks on an ad on your site, you get a check."

Both these initiatives were a runaway smash from the first and it has been estimated that in the early days they produced nearly all (as much as 98%) of Google's income. Was it a mere co-incidence that later in 2003 Sergey and Larry didn't proceed with an offer to merge with Microsoft, but that in August, 2004 they went public with around 20 million shares at $85.00 each giving a market capitalisation of $23 billion?

Even today Adwords/Adsense is the second leading profit generator for the company. Do you wonder why she is called 'The Most Important Person at Google You've Never Heard Of.' But insiders know her worth without question. She has well and truly earned her title as 'The Most Important Person In Advertising'. All this coming from a surprisingly low key and pleasant person, who has been raising four children throughout this whole era, and places motherhood on an equal footing with her career.


But what was next for Susan? You see in Life Cycles terms she would soon be at her all important and often career-defining age 36 Year of Revolution (Jul.2005-Jul.2006). You know (or at least you do now) that this is still the most important concept in Life Cycles Theory. What began it all. So, yet again I put myself to the test. Now I am a 'bush poet' by nature, so I'm going to add another verse to my 'Brady Bunch' song

"Then Larry and Sergey said to Susan,

Use your magic on this video thing we have,

But when she said, no buy You Tube for a bundle,

Others thought the deal could go completely bad…."

In early 2005 Google launched a new product known as Google Videos with modest goals of letting users watch material from a library of archived TV content. This was managed by John Piscitello. However, recognising that this new approach was languishing, Larry and Sergey decided towards the end of the year (in other words right smack in the middle of Susan's 36th year) to bring in their chief revenue producer to see what she could do with this new initiative. Almost from the start Susan says she was easily outgunned by a rival start-up company known as You Tube :- "I saw some of their numbers and I just realized how much bigger they were than we were and even if it doesn't look good for you at that moment, you have to make the decision that it's not really about you but what's the right long-term thing for the company."

So she decided to champion the acquisition of her main rival in what was to prove to be Google's most expensive foray at the time. The founders wanted $1.65 billion as well as continued involvement and reasonable autonomy. The deal was negotiated in Sept. 2006, so just outside her age 36 year by 2 months, but it would be safe to say that nearly all of the spadework had been completed within her 36th year. You know, Life Cycles is not science, but on this occasion it's awfully close. Has this breakthrough acquisition gone on to define much of Susan's career? Well I'm told, when I read bio-summary articles, that she is known for Google and You Tube. However since 2006 You Tube has become her personal baby, and she has gone on to become senior Vice President and now Head of You Tube in 2014. I think there's little room for debate about her age 36 Year of Revolution coming to define her career and life.


Another element that I study in Life Cycles is what I call a 'period of controversy' that tends to happen before the breakthrough moment. Did controversy play a part in this acquisition? Well many considered this a risky move by Google. Though Susan presented the financial model justifying this huge acquisition; You Tube was not making money at the time and was initially a huge money loser. There were also legal concerns, regarding piracy issues over some of the content, and it landed Google in a brutal legal fight with Viacom (who were also rivals over the purchase).

They charged that Google had knowingly benefited from pirated content. But slowly with a $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick in 2007 and other acquisitions, such as the AdMob mobile ad network, it has has begun to pay dividends. In 2013 analysts estimated You Tube's revenue at $5.6 billion. Typical of Susan though she currently feels that You Tube, her baby, can do even better. This is demonstrated by a comment from the CEO of Maker Studios (who work with You Tube to create improved content and revenue) :- "I don't think anything was broken, but I assume even Google and YouTube believe it can monetize better. This is something Susan is very focused on."

I can relate to this almost ceaseless quest for improvement. This constant analysis of how well we're doing. With my Life Cycles Research I am constantly trying to challenge myself with more complex and inter-related case examples and The GOOGLE Story is currently cutting-edge for me. I hope you enjoyed this whether you're into IT or not. Of course if you are, then it should hold extra interest. For some odd reason, I find myself drawn to the present and future orientation of the IT world. I have now analysed people such as Alan Turing, Bill Gates, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Jobs and now the Google pioneers. Of course I regard myself as belonging to the future more than the present and I suppose this accounts for it. Till next month :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune."






























































Thursday, June 4, 2015

On The Money - Life Cycles and Floyd Mayweather Jn. and Sen.




Welcome to the second post in the Life Cycles and Families series. This time it's a father and son, who are not just part of one of the greatest boxing dynasties ever, but they are also a household name in the community generally. I think it'd be safe to say if you haven't heard the name Floyd 'Money' Mayweather then you've 'been living under a rock'! His most recent fight with Manny Pacquiao was watched by an estimated 300 million world-wide and had sports journalists asking :- "With his unbeaten record, does this make Mayweather the 'Greatest Boxer of All Time'?"

No question the Mayweather family generally is 'on the money' in terms of success. But in common terms I'd say they're a 'bunch of tearaways', with criminal convictions and family feuds, that have involved Floyd Sen., his brother Roger and of course, Floyd Jr., who is as big a tearaway as the rest of them. They're the original 'black sheep', who have used their boxing talent to drag themselves upwards and eventually reach great heights. We're here to examine some key events in their combined careers from a Life Cycles perspective.

The photo above is tagged as 'Big' Floyd and 'Little' Floyd, so let's begin with 'Big' Floyd. Mayweather Sen. was born 19 Oct. 1952. His boxing record was 28–6–1 (18 KOs), and he won the U.S. Championship Tournament in March, 1977 against Miguel Barreto and then lost to the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard in Sept. 1978 on a points decision. He was a flamboyant dresser, who recited poetry about and directly to his opponents. In 1978 his brother-in-law shot him in the leg during an argument (see full story at the side column). Like I said the Mayweathers are a wild bunch. After he gave away boxing he became even more famous as a trainer.

Let's get down to Life Cycles analysis. A lot of big events happened during his age 24 Year of Revolution (Oct. 1976 to Oct. 1977) like his career high point of the U.S. Belt. But this was one day to be eclipsed by the birth of his son 'Little' Floyd Mayweather on 24th Feb. 1977. This is auspicious in Life Cycles terms because it gives the bond of Confluence, being the shared period of 8 mths. between Feb. and Oct in their birthday to birthday years. It usually means a 'fated relationship'. This will also give us our mathematical equation for each 12 year period. There is a wonderful anecdote that says when 'Little' Floyd was just 7-8 months old he would mimic his father's hands in a boxing-like gesture. This caused 'Big' Floyd to say :- "I knew then that he'd be a boxer!"

When 'Little' Floyd was in his age 12 Year of Revolution (most of 1989) and 'Big' Floyd was in his age 36 Year of Revolution a significant thing happened. It is well recorded that in 1989, 'Little' Floyd changed his surname from his mother's family name of Sinclair to Mayweather, to proudly reflect his links to his father. In spite of (or maybe as a result of) his father's many beatings, 'Little' Floyd trained relentlessly in the gym and even though he said he "basically raised himself", he now wanted to become a Mayweather in name and blood. It was a telling decision - an attempt to bond with his father (notwithstanding that he made his money by selling drugs), and an excellent example of Confluence in action. At this time 'Big' Floyd was just about finished with his career as a boxer (he had only one more shambolic fight in 1990, which he lost), but his career as trainer for 'Little' Floyd was cranking up, as he would soon go on to have a successful amateur career.


Now we'll now progress to 'Big' Floyd's next age 48 Year of Revolution (Oct. 2000 to Oct. 2001). Remember that 'Little' Floyd's age 24 Year of Revolution (Feb. 2001 to Feb. 2002) included much of this period. By now Floyd Sen's training career was give or take in full swing. Of course he had taught his son how to box and use his famous defensive stance to advantage in the early days, but this was interrupted in 1993, when he was sent to prison for drug trafficking. His younger brother Roger (who won two World Titles) took over his position. In 1998 he returned as trainer and manager for his son's 14th pro fight, a second-round knockout of Sam Girard in February. The photo above was taken during this time in 1998.

Unfortunately in 2000 things turned really pear-shaped. In March (right before our Critical Period of Confluence), Floyd Jr. had a falling out with his father and fired him as trainer. He also evicted his father from a home that he owned and repossessed a car he was driving. They reportedly didn’t have a cordial conversation for nearly seven years. I've discussed before the downside of when those who share close Confluence have a falling-out. So when 'Big' Floyd was 48 he had to watch as brother Roger returned as his trainer and 'Little' Floyd's career went from strength to strength. He then assumed his age 48 new career direction by training one of 'Little' Floyd's greatest opponents - Oscar De La Hoya. This is the second key stage in the father-son relationship that correlates almost exactly with Life Cycles theory.

Finally we'll look in on the only other such period of time in their combined lives ie. when 'Big' Floyd was on his age 60 Year of Revolution (Oct. 2012 to Oct. 2013) and when 'Little Floyd' was in his age 36 Year of Revolution (Feb. 2013 to Feb. 2014). Again it is a matter of public record that in May 2013 (in the exact Period of Confluence) 'Big' Floyd again took over as the principal trainer of 'Little' Floyd. This was after a break of just over 12 years, during which he had been under the steady hand of Uncle Roger. This was not an easy decision to make and you can see for yourselves at the side column how this created angst for Roger in particular. However, it is an excellent first-hand account of the bond of Confluence in action. It didn't come out of thin air either. 'Big' Floyd got back on speaking terms with 'Little' Floyd when he didn't train De La Hoya in his 2007 fight with his son. Gradually things began to thaw, but there were two other factors in recent times. One was that Roger was suffering from diabetes and it affected his levels of energy and more telling was because 'Little' Floyd felt he got hit with too many shots against Miguel Cotto in his May 2012 fight and wanted his father’s help in slipping punches. Given that fights at the top level are usually spaced out, the decision rolled out 12 months later.


In summary this is how the father-son/'Big' Floyd-'Little' Floyd story played out in Life Cycles Families terms.

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. was born as Floyd Sinclair when his fahter Floyd Mayweather Sen. was in his Age 24 Year of Revolution
2. When Floyd Jr. was 12 he legally changed his name to Mayweather, whilst Floyd Sen. who was in his age 36 Year of Revolution had all-but finished his boxing career and became the full-time trainer of Floyd Jr.
3. When Floyd Jr. was in his age 24 Year of Revolution he had just fired Floyd Sen. (who was in his age 48 Year of Revolution) and then switched to his uncle Roger , who had previously trained him when Floyd Sen. was in prison. Father and son had a major falling out and didn't speak for 7 years.
4. When Floyd Jr. was in his age 36 Year of Revolution he announced that his father (who was in his age 60 Year of Revolution) would resume as his trainer.

This is an almost copybook case study of how those who share the bond of Confluence and are closely related can have a fated relationship. I did this analysis not because I knew any of it, but because someone mentioned the fact that Floyd Jn. had been in jail and then resumed his career. That's all I had. It only came out when I started to write. Hope you enjoyed this slightly different post. Life Cycles Families will return next month with just about the biggest story in the world of IT - The Story Of Google-. Till then :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune".






























Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Wright Brothers - Flyers Not Liars





This is the beginning of a new cycle of 12 posts (at the rate of one a month). It follows the same structure that this blog has had since its inception in April, 2009. Each twelve months there is a different theme, which is intended as a different lesson in Life Cycles theory. I explain all this in greater detail in my SECOND BLOG. The lesson for this cycle of posts is Life Cycles and Families. We are going to see a variety of usually well-known people, who share some form of family relationship. Our first case is the world famous Wright Brothers (Wilbur and Orville). But before we begin I'll show you the accidental way this piece of research happened.

Do you remember my last post on Washington DC? There aren't any prizes for this, by the way, as it's directly underneath. It mentions my trip to the capital and shows a picture of the famous National Mall, where all the museums are. Well it was recommended not to miss the Aeronautical and Space Museum, so that was my first visit. Whilst waiting to get admitted I overheard someone being told that they should try and see the historical exhibit first, because it was closing in 10-15 mins. I thought, OK, that sounds like a good idea. I'm glad I did, because as I walked by the Wright Brothers' exhibit, I read a bit of their story and began to wonder if this could be another discovery, similar to the Walter Burley Griffin story in the second blog. Here's what I found.....

In one flash I saw that Wilbur, the elder of the two brothers was born in 1867 and that the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight happened on December 17, 1903. Try adding 36 to 1867 and what do you get? Yes it's 1903 and that's the year in question again isn't it? Bingo, I'd hit pay dirt. Same as last time. No pouring over copious biographies for hours on end. As I've indicated before I'd never have got started if the going had been too tough. I also noticed that his younger brother Orville would have been aged 31 for part of this year. What does this tell you? Probably nothing for most of you, but if you really understood my posts, you would know it means they were also Confluent during this time ie. they shared time together in the Life Cycles significant years (ie. 19/24/31/36 etc). A photo of the famous 1903 flight is shown below.


I'm not going to reprise all of their fascinating story, but instead I will concentrate on just two periods :- 1903 and the second half of 1907/first half, or so, of 1908. Why would I do this? Well the answer is :- 1903 is the major beakthrough year when Wilbur was 36 and during 1907/8 Orville was 36. See, my method is just maths and stats, maths and stats. Wilbur Wright was born April 16, 1867 and Orville Wright was born August 19, 1871. Their period of Confluence when they were aged 36/31 was therefore April-August, 1903.

In summary, during 1903 the brothers built the powered Wright Flyer I, using their preferred material for construction, spruce, a strong and lightweight wood. They also designed and carved their own wooden propellers, and had a purpose-built gasoline engine fabricated in their bicycle shop. I will now create a timeline for these events. On Feb. 12-13th they tested an unsuccessful engine, whose body and frame cracked during testing. Then Wilbur made a March 1903 entry in his notebook indicating the prototype propeller was 66% efficient. So just prior to our period of Confluence (April-August) things were not complete. We all know a powered airplane needs a workable engine and though they almost had their design done, it wouldn't succeed without it.

The Wrights next wrote to several engine manufacturers, but none met their need for a sufficiently lightweight powerplant (this is like the period of temporary frustration I mention during a Year of Revolution). They then turned to their shop mechanic, Charlie Taylor, who built an engine in just six weeks in close consultation with the brothers. To keep the weight low enough, the engine block was cast from aluminum, a rare practice for the time. The Wright-Taylor engine had no fuel pump, carburetor, or spark plugs. Nor did it have a throttle. Yet this simple motor produced 12 horsepower, an acceptable margin above the Wrights’ minimum requirement of 8 horsepower. It was patented on May 22nd, 1903. So now preparations were properly underway. Below is a photo of a later model Wright engine circa 1910.


Those preparations were largely completed by August, because in Sept. they arrived in Kill Devil Hills and in Oct. they commenced assembling it. It should be noted that their airplane -The Flyer - cost less than a thousand dollars, in contrast to more than $50,000 in government funds that was given to their great rival Samuel Langley for his man-carrying Great Aerodrome project. He was trying to beat them to the punch at precisely the same time. You know what? Langley gave up the project after two crashes at take-off on October 7 and December 8, 1903. There's destiny if ever there was. If I'd been around then I'd have said:- "put your money on the 36 year-old Wilbur Wright, not the 69 year-old Samuel Langley. He's not in any sort of significant year." This also says something about the sheer tenacity and eventual superiority of the solo underfunded pioneers.

So here is your evidence writ large:-


1. THE WRIGHT BROTHERS RECORD BREAKING FIRST FLIGHT IN 1903 HAPPENED WHEN WILBUR (THE ELDER BROTHER) WAS IN HIS AGE 36 'YEAR OF REVOLUTION'.

2. DURING THE EXACT PERIOD OF 'CONFLUENCE' BETWEEN WILBUR AND HIS YOUNGER BROTHER ORVILLE (ie. APRIL-AUGUST 1903) THE ALL-IMPORTANT ENGINE WAS DESIGNED AND THE PLANE WAS BUILT.



Following their initial success the Wright Brothers deliberately kept a low profile so that they could concentrate on creating and marketing a practical airplane. This was a financially risky venture for them, as they wound down their successful bicycle business at the same time. Flights taken during the years 1904-1905 were unspectacular and reporters went away without a clear impression of their claims. There was reasonable speculation that this was done on purpose by the Wrights, to get reporters off their backs. In fact the Paris edition of the Herald Tribune headlined a 1906 article on the Wrights titled :- "Flyers Or Liars?" Even the publisher of their hometown newspaper The Dayton Daily News stated :- "Frankly, none of us believed it." The photo below shows the newspaper reporting an unspectacular flight in Oct. 1905, on page 9, in the agricultural and general news section.


We are now perched at the precipice of our second period of study ie. when Orville was in his age 36 Year of Revolution (Aug. 1907-Aug.1908). What happened next to get them true recognition, that had so far proven elusive? In 1907 they decided it was France, rather than the US (who had shown indifference to their work), that they would journey to get some backing. Whilst there they had face-to-face talks with government officials and businessmen. They also met with aviation representatives in Germany and Britain. Before traveling, Orville shipped a newly built Model A Flyer to France in anticipation of demonstration flights. The European end of things became more his baby, because whilst in France (ironically enough) Wilbur met Frank P. Lahm, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Aeronautical Division, who allowed him to give an in-person presentation to the U.S. Board of Ordnance and Fortification in Washington, D.C. when he returned to the U.S.

This time, the Board was favorably impressed, in contrast to its previous indifference. With further input from the Wrights, the U.S. Army Signal Corps issued Specification #486 in December 1907 (so here is direct evidence of a breakthrough in the exact period of study). Bids were invited for construction of a flying machine under military contract. The Wrights submitted their bid in January, 1908. In early 1908 the brothers also agreed to a contract with a French company. This was Orville's direct breakthrough moment, not that either brother hadn't been across things, but you can't be in two places at once. In May, 1908 they went back to Kitty Hawk with their Flyer to practice in private for their all-important public demonstration flights, as required by the contracts.

What else could have taken place of real importance between June and August 19th? (ie. Orville's remaining age 36 Year of Revolution). Well everything culminated in one day - August 8th, 1908 (I often write about this one day phenomenon in Years of Revolution). I'll let the narrative take over here, it's just such a great story :-

Facing much skepticism in the French aeronautical community and outright scorn by some newspapers that called him a "bluffeur", Wilbur began official public demonstrations on August 8, 1908 at the Hunaudières horse racing track near the town of Le Mans, France. His first flight lasted only one minute 45 seconds, but his ability to effortlessly make banking turns and fly a circle amazed and stunned onlookers, including several pioneer French aviators, among them Louis Bleriot. In the following days, Wilbur made a series of technically challenging flights, including figure-eights, demonstrating his skills as a pilot and the capability of his flying machine, which far surpassed those of all other pioneering aircraft and pilots of the day.

The French public was thrilled by Wilbur's feats and flocked to the field by the thousands, and the Wright brothers instantly became world-famous. Former doubters issued apologies and effusive praise. L'Aérophile editor Georges Besançon wrote that the flights "have completely dissipated all doubts. Not one of the former detractors of the Wrights dare question, today, the previous experiments of the men who were truly the first to fly....". Leading French aviation promoter Ernest Archdeacon wrote, "For a long time, the Wright brothers have been accused in Europe of bluff... They are today hallowed in France, and I feel an intense pleasure...to make amends."


Below is a photo taken of this famous flight at the Le Mans racecourse, France, on August 8th, 1908 - showing inset, a section of the large crowd.


So there it is. I don't think I need to spell it out any more than this. In Orville's age 36 Year of Revolution the Wrights finally gained the recognition and kudos they so rightfully deserved. Orville's French connection had paid off big time. You can actually see how this was a more central event for his whole life because Wilbur was to die tragically in 1912 from typhoid fever, leaving Orville to carry on their future struggles with Patents and running The Wright Company.

I think I'm done. It strikes me that all true pioneers have to fight long and hard for recognition and in that regard I believe my pioneering of a new theory of life is just another variant of this. Except I don't have a brother to share it with. However, all of you who read and enjoy my work are my brothers and sisters-in-arms. Next month Life Cycles Families will return with a totally different and maybe even slightly shocking change of pace. Till then :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune".




















Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Washington DC - A Dream Half Realised - 'Life Cycles' And The Career Of Peter 'LEnfant





A couple of years ago I visited Washington and was most impressed when our guide explained the height restrictions on all buildings. He said the original notion was that no buildings be taller than Capitol Hill, because this symbolised freedom and no idea was above freedom. I'm told that currently there are now four buildings that are higher, but we're not here to split hairs. Washington is also based on Jefferson's memories and desire to see a recreation of Paris and other European cities, with low buildings and wide boulevards. It certainly looked like this to me. Indeed both countries having revolutions at a similar time fomented an exchange of ideas and the most tangible of all gifts - the Statue of Liberty. However, Washington DC was also a gift from a Frenchman, who came to America and fought in the Revolutionary army of George Washington. A man called Peter (not Pierre) L'Enfant (who is pictured below). This is his story told from the always unique angle of 'Life Cycles'.


Peter L'Enfant was born Pierre Charles L'Enfant in Paris, France August 9th. 1754, the son of a painter of good repute in the service of King Louis XV. Thus he had an aristocratic upbringing and was educated at the Louvre and the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris. In 1777 he was recruited through a French courtier to join the American War of Independence. Soon after this he joined the army of George Washington and fought with him at Valley Forge. After the war he ran a very successful civil engineering business and gained a reputation as an architect by redesigning the City Hall building in New York. He had also changed his name to Peter and was totally committed to the new America.

This brief summary is simply by way of understanding events in the first half of 1791 - the single most important career and life-defining year in his total of three score years and ten. I mean, I can't just lurch in and say he designed Washington DC without so much as a by your leave. Those who didn't know, might think he was just some uppity Frenchman, who came over because of an invitation from a grateful, fledgling American Government. No, he was a French/American, who came cap in hand to his former Commander-in-Chief - President George Washington. (who is pictured below at Valley Forge)


Now how good is your maths? If you add the single most important year in 'Life Cycles' to his first 12 months what do you get? Don't know what I'm talking about? Anyone who has read one of my many, many profiles and in-depth analyses could, I hope by now, enlighten you. Yes, it's the central, mid-life, often career and life-defining age of 36, which is called by me, the age 36 'Year of Revolution'. I've been banging on about this for years and it's so simple even the most limited mind could grasp it. So when was Peter L'Enfant 36? Just add 36 to his date of birth. That's the birthday to birthday 12 month period, which in his case is.....come on add 36 to August 1754 and what do you get? That would be the second half of 1790 and then the first half of 1791.

This period defined Peter L'Enfant's whole life. In 1789 Congress gave authority to the establishment of a new national capital. This prompted L'Enfant to write to President Washington asking for a commission to plan the city. This was on hold till July, 1790 when the Residence Act set the site of the new federal district and national capital to be on the northern and southern shores of the Potomac River, at a site to be determined by the President. So, this was almost in line with the ushering in of L'Enfant's age 36 'Year of Revolution'. He would have, no doubt, been even more motivated by this news.

However it was not until March, 1791 that L'Enfant was appointed by Washington to plan the new Federal City (later named the City of Washington) under the supervision of three Commissioners. Thomas Jefferson, who worked alongside Washington, sent L'Enfant a letter outlining his task, which was to provide a drawing of suitable sites for the federal city and the public buildings. Though Jefferson just wanted a suitable site and had modest ideas for the Capital, L'Enfant re-interpreted the task as far more grandiose, believing he was not only locating the capital, but also devising the city plan and designing the buildings. (An early painting of Washington in 1833, which hangs in the White House, is pictured below)


This re-interpretation of a commission reminds me in a curious way of what an ambitious 24 year-old Charles Dickens did when he was told to just add a few lines of text to the famous illustrator Robert Seymour's work. Instead he usurped the process and went on to make his name by writing 'The Pickwick Papers'. Also it should be noted that L'Enfant had a difficult and argumentative nature, which meant he alienated most people over a period of time.

There is no doubt though, that despite being watered down considerably, L'Enfant's original vision was the guiding inspiration for the magnificent city you see today. On June 22nd 1791, L'Enfant presented his first plan for the federal city to the President. This was his highest point of achievement in his 'Year of Revolution', the culmination of his dream. It is believed that some time prior to August 19th. he also appended a survey map to his plan (which again most probably lies within his age 36 year).


His plan specified locations for the Congress House (the United States Capitol Building), which would be built on Jenkins Hill (later to be known as Capitol Hill), which he described as a "pedestal awaiting a monument". The President's House (later known after its 1815-1817 rebuilding and white-washing, as the famous White House) was to be at a northwest diagonal from the halls of Congress along an unusually broad Pennsylvania Avenue. L'Enfant envisioned the "President's House" to have public gardens and monumental architecture. Reflecting his grandiose visions, he specified that the "President's House" (occasionally referred to as the "President's Palace") would be five times the size of the building that was actually constructed, which would have become the largest residence then constructed in America.

The plan specified that most streets would be laid out in a grid. To form the grid, some streets (later named for letters of the alphabet) would travel in an east-west direction, while others (named for numbers) would travel north-south. The diagonal avenues intersected with the north-south and east-west streets at circles and rectangular plazas that would later honor notable Americans and provide open space.

L'Enfant laid out a 400 feet-wide garden-lined Grand Avenue, which he expected to travel for about 1 mile along an east-west axis in the center of an area that would later become the National Mall (which is pictured below). He also laid out a narrower avenue (Pennsylvania Avenue) which would connect the "Congress House" with the "President's House". Additionally he laid out a system of canals (later designated as the Washington City Canal), that would pass the "Congress House" and the "President's House".


His plans may have been inspired by his native city, Paris, and other European cities, but he also had a uniquely American theme of making the "Grand Avenue" accessible to everyone in the new spirit of democracy (today this is reflected in the wonderful museums and institutes that line both sides and have free admission). I wish this story was one of L'Enfant's personal triumph and "the ushering in of his Golden Age" (which is the phrase I often use). But this grand vision did not go on to have a happy ending. His headstrong temperament and his insistence that his city design be realised as a whole, brought him into conflict with the Commissioners, who wanted to direct the limited funds available into just the construction of the Federal buildings. In this, they had the support of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. By Feb. 1792 L'Enfant was dismissed by Washington and Andrew Ellicott continued the city survey in accordance with a revised, more modest, plan.

The remainder of his life is, unfortunately, also tinged with sadness. L'Enfant was initially not paid for his work on his plan for the "Federal City". He fell into disgrace, spending much of the rest of his life trying to persuade Congress to pay him the tens of thousands of dollars that he claimed he was owed. After a number of years, Congress finally paid him a small sum, nearly all of which went to his creditors. This is a salutary reminder that our ultimate fate is always in our own hands.

His dismissal revolved around a key incident in which he refused to give Andrew Ellicott (who had been surveying the District of Columbia and the "Federal City" under direction of the Commissioners) a copy of his original plan. Ellicott then worked on without it. With the aid of his brother, Benjamin, they completed a revised plan, despite L'Enfant's protests. Shortly thereafter, having along with Secretary Jefferson (who is pictured below in 1791) grown increasingly frustrated by L'Enfant's unresponsiveness and headstrong ways, President Washington dismissed the architect. He had managed to alienate even Washington, who had been his strongest supporter. In common parlance he had "pissed off the boss" and you know you just can't do this. Please see the beginning of my post on Erin Brockovich. You will then see that I classify him as an 'N' Factor (which is something I used to be all too familiar with in my business of Outplacement).


But when you make a tour of discovery in the magnificent city of Washington, as I did some two years ago, and you see the grandeur of Pennsylvania Avenue (America had never heard of Avenues before this) and the Congress Building on Capitol Hill and enjoy visiting the excellent museums for free along National Mall (I'm told you probably need a week to really do them justice) and see the White House for the first time.....spare a thought for the man behind all this. A man who truly loved America and who is remembered for one thing the L'Enfant Plan For Washington. A man who should have enjoyed a "Golden Age" of success and recognition for his lasting contribution to his adopted country....but who was brought low by his own temperamental flaws.

Also spare some more time to use your imagination and try to envisage the Washington Peter L'Enfant saw....a White House of epic proportions. Five times it's current size. To be quite honest when I finally visited it, I felt a bit underwhelmed by it's relatively small stature, but figured that's how they did things back then. But imagine a Presidential Palace complete with sweeping ornamental gardens and architecture and linked to Capitol Hill by a system of canals...the Versailles of the New World....a palace fitting the importance of your country. And if you look really deeply you can almost see the spirit of L'Enfant....his head bowed in discontent for a dream which never materialised....His Washington - a dream only half-realised.


I hope you enjoyed this post in which I found myself, somewhat unusually, compelled to wax lyrical, because I write as I feel and nearly everything is in one take. 'Life Cycles' will return next month with a whole new theme and a new twelve month cycle of posts. Until then :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune."
















































Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cars For Everyone - 'Life Cycles' And The Career Of Henry Ford




We are going to be featuring two of the biggest names from the annals of great inventors in this blog and my SECOND BLOG. What is also important, however, is that the inclusion of the story about the birth of mass-produced cars by Henry Ford; marks a significant statistical milestone for me. You see I am always mindful of the accusation that all my cases are self-selected. If you know my style by now, you will see case after detailed case, where I knew almost nothing of my subjects until my attention was drawn to them, because they featured in some element of current affairs. But, of course, the true sceptic and those who get their kicks by debunking the work of others, would pay scant heed to this and probably not even bother to read my copious evidence. Pity for them I would say, but still I have thought about the issue.

There are several approaches I could take, but since I do this pioneering analysis on my own, the easiest is to simply use an objectively derived list. Since I deal with so many famous and very famous lives it has given me the idea that I should try to examine everyone on a "Top 10/20/50 List of famous people" etc. One such list grabbed my attention almost by accident and that was the "Top 10 Most Influential People Of The Twentieth Century". See it for yourselves at THIS. You will see the following names :-

10. Henry Ford (analysis about to be done in this article)
9. Muhammad Ali Jinnah (analysis not done. He was to Pakistan as Gandhi was to India)
8. Mao Zedong (analysis has been done, but is currently unpublished)
7. The Wright Brothers (about to be featured later this year in a series of posts on families)
6. Adolf Hitler (already featured, but I have much greater detail still unpublished)
5. Winston Churchill (already featured in BOOK ONE)
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt (no analysis undertaken)
3. Mahatma Gandhi (extensive analysis already featured in THE LIFE CYCLES REVOLUTION. Also a subject of my independent statistical analysis project)
2. Nelson Mandela (already featured in this blog and much more detail in LIFE CYCLES)
1. Albert Einstein (extensively featured in THE LIFE CYCLES REVOLUTION).

So, at the completion of this article that will make 8/10 cases analysed, with either 'very good' or 'outstanding' correlations to my 'Life Cycles' 'significant years'. I didn't generate this list. By any definition these correlations are well in excess of what is considered as statistically significant. Very far beyond what mere chance occurrence would predict.


Back to Henry Ford. Henry was born July 30th. 1863. He founded the Ford Motor Corporation and although he didn't actually invent either the automobile or the assembly line, it was his vision that led to the production of the famous Model T, which was the first car that ordinary middle-class Americans could afford. In doing so, Ford converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into a practical conveyance that would profoundly impact the landscape of the twentieth century. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. In the process he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He supported consumerism and the mass production of inexpensive goods, and as a life-long pacifist, saw it as a key to achieving peace in the world. He truly made a giant contribution to mankind in every way.

But it wasn't always this way. He was not born great. When he was aged 12 and in his first Year of Revolution (1875-1876) his beloved mother died. He was expected to take over the farm, but he despised farm work, later leaving for several years to work as a machinist. His direction changed in his age 19 Year of Broken Pathways (1882-1883) when he became adept at operating a Westinghouse portable steam engine and was later hired by Westinghouse to service their steam engines. During this time he also began to study bookkeeping at a business college in Detroit. His new career direction was forming at this time, just as it does in so many other lives I study.


In his first adult age 24 Year of Revolution (1887-1888) he got married and supported himself by farming and running a sawmill. So, his new era then was to assume family responsibility and to continue his interest in machinery and engineering. After a few years he joined the Edison Illuminating Company as an engineer and was fairly soon promoted to the position of Chief Engineer. During his age 31 Year of Broken Pathways(1894-1895) he began a new direction by using some of his spare time to devote to his personal interest in gasoline engines. This was to mark a commencement of an uphill journey resulting in him designing and building a self-propelled vehicle called a Ford Quadricycle. With support from Edison he built a second vehicle, completing it in 1898. This was one year short of his central age 36 Year of Revolution. What happened then? Was he further promoted by Edison to become a partner in a separate business? Did he decide that without sufficient funds he would have to leave things be? Well maybe, it's always up to the individual. The achievements of people I write about are solely due to their own vision and hard work. It's just that there are some times in their lives when circumstances are very much in their favour.

Henry Ford was about to experience such a time. Backed by the capital of Detroit lumber baron William H. Murphy, Ford resigned from the Edison Company and founded the Detroit Automobile Company on August 5, 1899. So there you have it once again in letters two feet high :-


When Henry Ford was in his age 36 'Year of Revolution' he left employment with Edison found a wealthy backer and began his true life's work ie. to design and build inexpensive automobiles.

Unless you have an extremely closed mind this should come as an impressive result. However that's, as always, up to you. Let's go on with Henry's story shall we? August, 1899 may have been when he began his life's work, but it was not when he succeeded. At first the automobiles produced were of a lower quality and higher price than Ford wanted. Ultimately, the company was not successful and was dissolved in January 1901. Did this stop him? You know how it goes :- "well I gave it my best shot and that's it. I better go back to Edison's cap in hand." May have been what others did, but not Henry Ford. With the help of a younger engineer, C. Harold Willis, he built and successfully raced a 26-horsepower automobile in October 1901. In 1902, he formed the Henry Ford Company and went to work trying to design an inexpensive automobile. Over the next several years he and his team worked on a series of Ford Model Cars, starting off with the letters A and then C (no the models were not simply alphabetic).


OK, the next and final 'significant year' I am going to deal with is when he was in his age 43 Year of Broken Pathways. Now I'll be the first to admit that it would have been very convenient indeed if this coincided with the launch of the Model T, but 'Life Cycles' is not science and the analysis involves going to the year in question, rather than simply dismissing the data as not fitting (that's where the subjectivity comes in). So, I am going to be looking one year short of the launch of the Model T in 1908, which will be a bridge between 1906-7. My question is therefore :- "What, if anything, happened then to constitute a direction change and uphill challenge?"

Following the Models A and C and other early attempts, there were several quite important developments in the history of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company in the exact period I need to study ie. July, 1906-July, 1907. I am very thankful for this resource, being a storyboard of that time and I strongly recommend you view it for yourselves HERE. I am writing this as I go. Here is the objective coverage which says :-

Early 1907 – Henry Ford tells Joseph Galamb that he has an idea to design a new car … Began construction of a walled off secured area to begin work on the new model. Formed a team of individuals to begin design of a new model to be released in 1908.
International Design Team (Team of 9)
 4 Americans… Henry Ford (engineer),
C. Harold Willis (design & metallurgist),
Edward Huff “Spider” (genius, electricity & magnets),
Edsel Ford (Henry’s son);
 2 Hungarians … Joseph Galamb (engineer, designer, draftsman),
Charles Balough (engineer & draftsman)
 1 Swedish … Charles Sorenson (wood patterns)
 1 German … Julius Hartenberger (designer)
 1 Canadian … C. James Smith (machinist joined 1906)

This, of course, is the now immortal Model T Ford


Not only that, but you can also read for yourselves how in this time Henry Ford was elected President of the Ford Motor Company and also that the company announced plans in the Press, saying they were going to be planning a factory at Highland Park by 1910. This, of course, formed part of the challenge for the next several years, typical of what I say happens in a Year of Broken Pathways. Also of interest, by way of uphill climbs, you will see coverage of a stock market crash and tight liquidity and that things did not improve till 1908.

Finally, I'd like to draw your attention to the other aspect of 'Life Cycles'. Even though the biographical analysis is the major focus, it also involves the synthesis of material between similar 'significant years'. You know, if you did this at 24 and then that at 36, in what ways could they be considered similar? I use two terms here. The first is symbolic similarity, or where there is some general theme implied (and hopefully not one with a very long bow). The second I call substantive similarity. That's where there's almost a re-run of events 12 years apart. So let me end by saying that events when Henry Ford was in his age 31 Year of Broken Pathways were remarkably similar to what I have just covered regarding events in his age 43 Year of Broken Pathways. How so, I hear some ask.


Well if you remember when Henry was 31, he began to use his spare time by designing, on his own, a gasoline-powered vehicle, and that a year or so after this, he unveiled the first Ford Quadricycle. Now fast-forward 12 years to when he was 43 and this time he embarked on a secret mission to design the best model Ford, to be the ultimate affordable automobile, that would transform so many lives. The very next year he unveils the Model T Ford. Only difference is that he now had a small team of nine to help him and was playing on a much larger stage. This similarity of actions, magnified by being capable of influencing many more people, is something I have witnessed in many different cases and I have talked about it quite a few times in this blog. So, go back and have a look at the article on Barak Obama for starters. I hope you enjoyed this post, which was part-story, part-analysis and also part-tutorial. Till next month, when 'Life Cycles' returns with the story of the man behind Washington DC :- "May the cycles always bring you good fortune."





















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