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The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators Hardcover – March 24, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: AMACOM (March 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814405703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814405703
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #610,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"It is a tour de force in integration, covering the key traits necessary for wealth creation on a vast scale." -- The Intellectual Activist

Ever wondered what shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, cosmetics maven Mary Kay Ash and Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson have in common? In The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators, Edwin A. Locke promises to unveil the shared attributes of the ultrarich, but don't expect any startling revelations.

Locke, a University of Maryland business professor, starts off on the wrong foot by taking shots at "Marx and his followers," the "so-called 'intellectuals' on our college campuses," and even "the moderns," whatever that means.

The Cold War is over, right? But Locke, a devotee of author Ayn Rand's objectivist philosophy, can't let go. Communism, after all, was the antithesis of everything the Russian-born Rand promoted: self-reliance, small government and the moral goodness of making money.

Nothing wrong with that, but the book comes off as a hopelessly outdated ideological rant by bashing commies and liberal college professors before readers make it out of the first chapter.

The author also tosses around what can only be considered extreme economic theories without providing much to back them up. By abolishing the income tax and all economic controls, Locke claims, any country can produce wealth beyond its wildest dreams. There's no mention of how to deal with minor details like infrastructure, defense, education and environmental safeguards in this new system.

Locke's stated goal is to help entrepreneurs with the "right stuff" join the ranks of the fabulously rich. He also wants to help the prime movers - a term he borrowed from Rand, who lifted it from Aristotle - "see their own value" after being downgraded as "grubby materialists" by lowlifes who secretly envy their success. It's good that writers want to help out. Billionaires have feelings too, you know.

In fact, many rich people had downright rotten childhoods. Locke brings this up when he attempts to address - unsuccessfully - the vexing fact that many of his subjects weren't exactly fun to be around. Auto tycoon Henry Ford was a crotchety anti-Semite. Oil titan Jean Paul Getty was a cold, indifferent husband and father, not to mention a shameless womanizer.

Locke finally dismisses the entire issue by "deliberately not dealing with the whole person but with only those attributes that caused wealth creation." It's a strange approach for a writer attempting to establish the moral superiority of successful moneymakers. He's reluctant to acknowledge that the creation of wealth isn't the only factor that makes a better person or a better society.

At least Prime Movers' early missteps are somewhat unexpected and colorful. How many business books, after all, attempt to explore J.P. Morgan's childhood traumas? But Locke soon falls into an all too predictable trap. The characteristics that his prime movers possess are so obvious that it's doubtful they'd be of much use to anyone. Entrepreneurs with half a brain already know them, and would-be billionaires who need a book to explain them are better off playing the lottery.

Still, the author declares that prime movers have independent vision, an active mind, competence and confidence, egoistic passion, love of ability in others and virtue. Locke fails to mention that many of them also prospered with the help of tax breaks, government subsidies, family money and monopolies, but why muddy the waters?

What that means (you may want to sit down for this) is that shortsighted slackers probably don't have a shot at becoming the next Bill Gates, no matter how much Ayn Rand they read.

It's inevitable that any effort to boil down the traits common to men as diverse as Walt Disney, Ray Kroc and Steve Jobs will lack the precision and insight needed to guide others on a similar path. Their lives are so different and their business pursuits so disparate that commonalities will be overly broad and generalized.

But don't be too hard on Locke. He must have a bit of the prime mover in him. After all, he managed to get this deeply flawed book published. -- From The Industry Standard

From the Author

"Although many factors set the stage for wealth creation (especially economic freedom), in the end, the wealth has to be created by...specific individuals--and some are much better at it than others. I call those who are very good at wealth creation, 'Prime Movers'.... They are men of intelligence, vision, morality and passion. They are the men who move the world." This book identifies the traits that move the movers. It is about the heroic in man.

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Customer Reviews

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In fact, Locke explicitly acknowledges that some great wealth creators were flawed human beings.
Thomas E. Becker
That's what makes this book special - in addition to Locke's ability to cut to the essential aspects of creativity in business.
Richard M. Salsman
Ed Locke's _The Prime Movers_ is a fairly detailed and empirical analysis of the traits common to great business leaders.
Diana M Hsieh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Richard M. Salsman on April 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
We've all heard about the alleged "robber barons." For decades the world's successful wealth creators - from Rockefeller to Gates - have been brushed with that smear. But Dr. Locke shows that the smear just can't stick. The wealth creators aren't the dishonest, short-range, conniving bullies we've long been told. Instead, they're both productive AND moral.
To his credit, Dr. Locke doesn't accept the prevailing view that rational self-interest is evil - or that humble self-sacrifice is noble. That's what makes this book special - in addition to Locke's ability to cut to the essential aspects of creativity in business.
I found Dr. Locke's survey of the great wealth-creators to be as unique as the subjects he studies. Guided by an objective standard for gauging productive prowess, Locke identifies a handful of the most crucial personality traits held in common by history's great business creators and leaders. One of my favorites is "love of ability in others." Successful employees at every level of business will be familiar with the envy and resentment they often get from their bosses. Locke shows that those aren't the successful bosses, that it takes an enormous ego (and self-confidence) to seek out and promote the best employees one can find.
In Dr. Locke's book we learn what's never yet been taught about the productive giants of yesterday and today. Better still, we're given a reality-based, time-tested, and objective yardstick for identifying the giants of tomorrow.
Want to make a bundle in business? Locke says you must develop an independent vision, an active mind, competence and confidence. You must be an activist (not a mere "idea man") and be passionate about your work.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Steve Davis on March 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is much more than an itemized list of millionaires' habits and attitudes toward life; it more useful to the reader than Thomas Stanley's new book, for example. In The Prime Movers, Dr. Locke uncovers the essential traits of that make wealth creation and productivity possible, and provides clear and easily graspable principles for success.
More importantly, Locke connects the concepts of virtue and wealth creation. Lock states: "With respect to business and to life, what is needed is an objective approach to the subject of ethics. This is made even more urgent by recent polls that show business students to be cynical about the whole subject of morality. This is undoubtedly the result of the widely held view that moral principles are nothing more than arbitrary subjective preferences. I disagree." He goes on to demonstrate that achievement in business is fundamentally predicated on virtue, and that living by certain kinds moral values is basic to the success of the greatest creators in history.
The key to understanding Locke's thesis is that he disregards such character traits as faith, humility, piety, and self-sacrifice as virtues. Instead, he advocates a practical, egoistic morality based on the virtues of rationality, independence, productiveness, honesty, integrity, and justice. He goes on to explore all of these in detail, giving numerous examples from actual case studies and historical research.
Dr. Locke is obviously a devotee of Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, and wears his moral convictions like a badge of honor. Nevertheless, The Prime Movers will be both useful and interesting to you even if you have never heard of Ayn Rand. This is the book that will show you, not only how to make a billion dollars, but how to become a better person at the same time.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Thomas N. Brogan on March 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Locke's latest book, "The Prime Movers", is the most inspiring non-fiction book I have ever read. With his in-depth discussions of the virtues and hallmarks of the world's Prime Movers, Dr. Locke shows us the value of unflinching rationality, vision, courage, and persistence. The examples also show that large-scale wealth creation is a result of following the morality of Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, regardless if the person is conscious that he or she is following her philosophy or not.
Chapter 9 helps distill the essence of the Prime Mover into how one would use their abilities to make a billion dollars. Luckily, for those of us who will not use the same amount of drive and tenacity, we are shown that we can get by making a mere 2-100 million dollars.
Concluding the book are appendices showing the monetary figure of Prime Mover generated wealth and essays by Dr. Locke and Dr. Peikoff. Readers not familiar with Dr. Peikoff's essay style are in for a great treat.
If you've ever listened to Dr. Locke's taped lecture series on the traits of American Business Heroes, you'll fall in love with this more essentialized, internationally-scope tome. It is remarkable.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jean-Francois Virey on July 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It seems to be a universal fact of life that the really great accomplishments in any human field of endeavour come from a very small percentage of the people actually engaged in it. If you take the best movies of all time, for instance, you will find that many of them were written, produced or directed by the same people. Greatness is not «fair», it is not equally distributed among men : it is the achievement of a few. But why *those* few ? Are they selected by some kind of cosmic lottery- genetic or otherwise- or are they self-made ? Is greatness fundamentally something that happens to you, or something that you make happen ?
Limiting himself to the study of greatness in the field of business, Edwin Locke defends the latter explanation. Based on a close analysis of the lives of 70 great wealth-creators, his book identifies and discusses the seven essential characteristics of business heroes from the late 19th century to the year 2000.
Locke argues that wealth creation is essentially an *intellectual* process, contrary to the claims of those whom Ayn Rand called the «mystics of muscle», who hold labour to be the exclusive source of wealth. More than that, wealth creation is a *spiritual* achievement, i.e. one that is made possible by a man's virtues - the various facets of his rationality.
Therefore, all of the «traits of the great wealth creators» identified by Locke are either intellectual or moral, i.e. they pertain to businessmen's thinking, motivation, judgment or character- as against their sex, race, family situation or environment.
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