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What I Learned From The Wright Brothers

What I Learned From The Wright Brothers
By Founders Podcast • Issue #5 • View online

I read the book The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. I recommend reading it. 
If you want to learn more about The Wright Brothers listen to the podcast. The podcast features some of my favorite parts of the book. You will learn what motivated the Wright Brothers to try to solve human powered flight, how they invented one of the most important machines in history, and how they built a successful business selling airplanes. 
I want to share with you some of my favorite parts of the book and what I learned from the Wright Brothers. Here are some direct quotes from the book: 
On perseverance:
What the two had in common above all was unity of purpose and unyielding determination. They had set themselves on a mission.
On starting small:
In the spring of 1893 Wilbur and Orville opened their own small bicycle business, the Wright Cycle Exchange, selling and repairing bicycles only a short walk from the house at 1005 West Third Street. In no time, such was business, they moved to larger quarters down the street to Number 1034 and renamed the enterprise the Wright Cycle Company. 
On disposition:
In business it is the aggressive man, who continually has his eye on his own interest, who succeeds [he wrote]. Business is merely a form of warfare in which each combatant strives to get the business away from his competitors and at the same time keep them from getting what he already has. No man has ever been successful in business who was not aggressive, self-assertive and even a little bit selfish perhaps. There is nothing reprehensible in an aggressive disposition, so long as it is not carried to excess, for such men make the world and its affairs move…
On the importance of inspiration:
For Wilbur and Orville the dream had taken hold. The works of Lilienthal and Mouillard, the brothers would attest, had “infected us with their own unquenchable enthusiasm and transformed idle curiosity into the active zeal of workers.” 
On practice
The chief need was skill rather than machinery. It was impossible to fly without both knowledge and skill— of this Wilbur was already certain— and skill came only from experience— experience in the air.
On hard work:
But it would never have happened, Daniels also stressed, had it not been for the two “workingest boys” he ever knew. It wasn’t luck that made them fly; it was hard work and common sense; they put their whole heart and soul and all their energy into an idea and they had the faith.
On mitigating risk:
The man who wishes to keep at the problem long enough to really learn anything positively must not take dangerous risks. Carelessness and overconfidence are usually more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks. 
On The Wright Brothers impact:
On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, another American born and raised in western Ohio, stepped onto the moon, he carried with him, in tribute to the Wright brothers, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of their 1903 Flyer.
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