MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT
IN OUR SUCCESS
by: EUGENE WHITMORE
Business history proves that the people who have the most
to gain from a new development are frequently the first and
most vigorous opponents of the idea. It also proves that had
the typical business pioneer listened to his financial backers,
his board of directors or other intimate associates he would
have abandoned his idea before it got oil the ground.
When Cyrus H. K. Curtis was building the circulation
of the Ladies’ Home Journal the Philadelphia advertising
agency of N. W. Ayer & Son sold him an extensive adver-
tising campaign which pushed the circulation to the then
unheard of total of 100,000 copies a month.
Encouraged by this success Curtis outlined his plans to
Mr. Ayer for even greater expansion. Ayer told him that he
would need bank credit and credit from a big paper mill.
He asked Curtis how much credit would be needed.
“Two hundred thousand dollars,” explained Curtis. This
seems like petty cash when considered against today’s mil-
lions required for a national magazine. Curtis showed so
much enthusiasm and confidence in his ability to expand
Ayer agreed to help him obtain credit.
The two men went to Boston to visit Crocker, Burbank
& Company, owners of large paper mill properties. The
owners of the paper mill had been notified in advance of
the visit of Ayer and Curtis. When they arrived they were
greeted with typical New England courtesy, reserved but
friendly. Then they were told that it was useless to discuss
credits as it had already been decided that the paper com-
pany could not consider extending credit for six months,
and for $100,000.
Curtis outlined his plans for expanding his publishing
enterprise. Although his efforts proved futile as far as the
paper mill owners were concerned his enthusiasm kindled a
fire in the mind of Mr. Ayer. When it was obvious that the
paper makers were determined to refuse credit Mr. Curtis
was asked to leave the room for a few moments. When he
returned the paper makers told him they had changed their
minds; the credit would be granted.
Curtis returned to Philadelphia and pushed the circula-
tion of the Ladies’ Home Journal so rapidly that many new
advertisers were attracted. He paid the paper bills as they
Then he purchased the moribund Saturday Evening Post
for $1,000 because of its name and because it had once been
published by Benjamin Franklin. Nearly everybody in the
publishing, advertising and paper business predicted that
he would soon lose all the money he had made from the
Ladies’ Home Journal on the feeble weekly he had pur-
chased. But Curtis had big plans. He went to the same
Boston paper makers and asked for six months credit.
After long discussions behind closed doors Curtis obtained
credit for a six month supply of paper. At the end of six
months the money to pay the notes was not available. He
went to Boston again, for another selling job on the paper
makers. Some members of the firm were opposed to granting
him any more credit, but finally he succeeded in winning
over two younger members of the firm. They convinced
the older men that the Curtis business should be accepted—
on credit, for another six months.
Curtis promised that this accommodation would never be
forgotten, and predicted that Crocker, Burbank would grow
along with the Curtis Publishing Company. Both Curtis
magazines prospered, and Crocker, Burbank added huge
papermaking machines to take care of the Curtis contract.
For thirty-four years thereafter Curtis bought paper from
Crocker, Burbank until it became necessary to find new
production where more water was available. Gradually Cur-
tis financed other paper mills, or established its own mills
and Crocker, Burbank relinquished the business to care for
Years after Curtis was a prompt paying customer of
Crocker, Burbank and was using all the paper the company
could produce one of the paper makers told him that his
first credit was granted only because Mr. Ayer agreed to
guarantee payment of the notes.
Had it not been for the selling job Curtis did on Mr. Ayer,
had not Ayer agreed to guarantee payment there probably
would be no Ladies’ Home Journal, as we know it today,
and no Saturday Evening Post.
Only supreme faith in his own ability could have con-
vinced Ayer, who had seen many publications fail, that the
ideas of Mr. Curtis were worth backing with heavy financial
commitments. Yet the people who had so much to gain
from the Curtis orders for paper backed away from the
opportunity and required a guarantee from a third party
before accepting the business.
No enterprise succeeds without great faith—the sort of
faith which sets other men on fire with enthusiasm and
confidence. Almost no great enterprise ever enjoys smooth
sailing in its early history and the records of business are
jammed with accounts of early failures because somebody
lacked faith to go ahead.
Several early stockholders in the Ford Motor Company
sold stock which later would have made them multi-million-
aires had they kept faith and retained their stock.
Make fools believe in their foreseeing
Of things before they are in being;
To swallow gudgeons ere they’re catch’d,
And count their chickens ere they’re hatch’d.
Hudibras, SAMUEL BUTLER
Perseverence, dear my lord, Keeps honor bright.
Troilus and Cressida, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
The wise man must be wise before, not after, the event.
Fabulae Incertae, EPICHARMUS
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Church of the Science of God
La Jolla, California 92038-3131
© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993