Patience and Thrift by John D. Rockefeller; John D. Rockefeller’s 1941 Speech

Patience and Thrift by John D. Rockefeller


All the while, John Rockefeller, with the dogged patience
that would defeat scores of embattled competitors, waited
determinedly in the wings. …

Rockefeller succeeded because he believed in the longterm
prospects of the business and never treated it as a mirage that
would soon fade.


Again, like Weber’s ideal capitalist, “he avoids ostentation and
unnecessary expenditure, as well as conscious enjoyment of his
power, and is embarrassed by the outward signs of the social
recognition which he receives.”

By avoiding talk of money as unbecoming, Rockefeller concealed
from his children the magnitude of his fortune. When Bessie [daughter]
enrolled at Vassar in the mid-1880s … she went on a shopping
expedition with some classmates to purchase a Christmas present
for a favorite teacher. At a Manhattan store, they found the
perfect gift: a $100 desk. Since Bessie and her companions
had only $75, they asked the merchant if he could wait a few
days for the remaining $25. He agreed to do so if a New York
businessman would vouch for them. “My father is in business,”
Bessie offered meekly. “He will vouch for us.” Who is your
father? asked the man. “His name is Mr. Rockefeller,” she
said. “John D. Rockefeller; he is in the oil business.”
The merchant gasped. “John D. Rockefeller your father!” When
he agreed to ship the furniture, Bessie imagined he had merely
changed his mind to please them.

Dislike of show-offs:

Rockefeller and Morgan were antithetical types, offering a
vivid contrast between the ascetic and the sybarite, the Roundhead
and the Vavalier. As the chieftain of the Anglo-American
financial establishment, the wellborn Morgan, expensively
educated in America and Europe, was a consummate insider in
the business world. … Blustery and theatrical, Morgan was
impetuous and hot-blooded… At his headquarters at 23 Wall
Street, he often seemed harried, ruling by brilliant snap
judgements. Fond of luxury, Morgan inhabited the world of the
ultrarich, with their gargantuan cigars, fine port, and
oversized steam yachts.

For Rockefeller, Morgan embodied all the sins of pride, luxury,
and arrogance. When they first met … they took an instant
dislike to each other.

[Rockefeller’s] retirement was equally remarkable for its
omissions. For instance, he lacked the wanderlust that infected
other rich men, such as J.P. Morgan, in their later years. He
never collected art or exploited his wealth to broaden his
connections or cultivate fancy people. … He showed no interest
in old-money clubs, parties, or organizations. … When someone
expressed surprise to Rockefeller that he had not gotten a
big head, he replied, “Only fools get swelled up over money.”
Comfortable with himself, he needed no outward validation of
what he had accomplished. We can criticize him for lack of
imagination, but not for weakness.

True philanthropy (as opposed to self aggrandization in the guise of philanthropy):

Before Rockefeller came along, rich benefactors had tended
to promote pet institutions (symphony orchestras, art museums,
or schools) or to bequeath buildings (hospitals, dormatories,
orphanages) that bore their names and attested to their
magnanimity. Rockefeller’s philanthropy was more oriented
toward the creation of knowledge, and if it seemed more
impersonal, it was also far more pervasive in its effect.


John D. Rockefeller, Jr. 1941 Speech

Not long since I sought to formulate in my own mind the things that make life most worth living, without which it would have little meaning. Some of these things have been relegated to bygone days; some are regarded as long since outgrown. Nevertheless I believe they are every one of them fundamental and eternal. They are the principles on which my wife and I have tried to bring up our family; they are the principles in which my father believed and by which he governed his life. They are the principles, many of them, which I learned at my mother’s knee. They point the way to usefulness and happiness in life, to courage and peace in death. If they mean to you what they mean to me they may perhaps be helpful also to our sons and daughters for their guidance and inspiration. Let me state them:

. I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;

. I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty;

. I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master;

. I believe in the dignity of labour, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living;

. I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs;

. I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order;

. I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character – not wealth or power or position – is of supreme worth;

. I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free;

. I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual’s highest fulfilment, greatest happiness and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will;

. I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.

These are the principles, however formulated, for which all good men and women throughout the world, irrespective of race or creed, education, social position or occupation are standing, and for which many of them are suffering and dying. These are the principles upon which alone a new world recognizing the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God can be established. It is to help usher in this new day that our sons have dedicated themselves to the service of their country. And it is that they may be kept worthy of this high service that we call upon all parents and neighbors in this city and throughout the length and breadth of this fair land to stand with us

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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