FAITH—

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

came due.


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

other customers.


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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