John Patterson on The Other Kind of Wealth to Give Away


In 1899, John H. Patterson, president of National Cash Register, delivered a lecture to his employees. In it he described his thoughts on the other kind of wealth to give that often goes overlooked.

It is actually a brilliant insight into the positive feedback loop we all can tap.

"Every intelligent man and woman has wealth to give away. We used to think there was only one kind of capital, one kind of wealth, and that was money or its equivalent, but in these times we realize that education is capital and practical experience is capital, just as truly as money is, and man can be miserly with his education or his experience, just as truly as he can with his money.

A man who possesses the wealth of education or practical wisdom, and does not use it for the benefit of others, is just as much a miser as the man who hoards his money and neglects to put it into use.

Every person in this audience has capital of some kind; if it is not money, it is the practical wisdom which springs from education or experience. You all have some of this wealth, and we do not want you to be misers with it. We want you to use it for the good of others.

But most people with education and wisdom don’t know how to share/act on their knowledge.

The great trouble with most men who possess education or wisdom is that they do not know when or how to use it to advantage. They either lack the opportunity or do not understand the right methods of communicating their knowledge to others."

The chief problem is a focus on rapidity. Those people go from one idea, from one book to the next as quickly as possible. The act of consuming content becomes the goal instead of the act of applying what is learned. That is hoarding.

Hoarding is a negative feedback loop. It doesn’t grow knowledge, it shrinks it. It’s best to Stop Reading So Much.

I think the optimal way to overcome that great trouble is just what Patterson said - the process of sharing knowledge.

Read. Write down your thoughts. Share those understandings with others. Get feedback. Don’t move on to the next [book, thought, article] until you have the first firmly fixed in mind and in practice. Again, the best way to do that is to share.

Continue the process of sharing as you learn more. Not only will your communication improve, you’ll think better and grow your social network. More opportunities will spring forth. A greater number of chances to apply one’s learnings appear. Luck increases as well.

Our goal is to share the knowledge we learn on intelligent fanatics. But more than that, we want to create a platform for others to share their learnings. If you’d like to tap into our sharing feedback loop, Join us.