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«About the Author Max Gunther (1926-1998), born in England, went to the United States when he was 11 years old, attended schools in New Jersey and ...»

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Instant Millionaires

Also by Max Gunther

How to Get Lucky

The Very, Very Rich And How They Got That Way

The Luck Factor

The Zurich Axioms

About the Author

Max Gunther (1926-1998), born in England, went

to the United States when he was 11 years old,

attended schools in New Jersey and received his BA

from Princeton University in 1949. He served in the

US Army in 1950 and 1951 and was a staff member

of Business Week from 1951 to 1955. Mr Gunther

then served as a contributing editor of Time for two years. From 1956 he published articles in several magazines, including Playboy. Among his other books are The Zurich Axioms, The Luck Factor, How to Get Lucky and The Very Very Rich.

Mr Gunther lived in Ridgefield, Connecticut, where his wife was a real-estate broker. They had three children. The author said that his diversions included surfing and skating, carving chess sets and playing chess, and painting.

Instant Millionaires The secrets of overnight success by Max Gunther Hh


3A Penns Road Petersfield Hampshire GU32 2EW


Tel: +44 (0)1730 233870 Fax: +44 (0)1730 233880 Email: enquiries@harriman-house.com Website: www.harriman-house.com First published in 1973 Published in this edition 2011 Copyright 1973 Max Gunther Design copyright © 2011 Harriman House The right of Max Gunther to be identified as author has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Acts 1988.

ISBN: 978-0-857190-00-0 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A CIP catalogue record for this book can be obtained from the British Library.

All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior written permission of the Publisher. This book may not be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published without the prior written consent of the Publisher.

Printed and bound in the UK by CPI, Antony Rowe.

No responsibility for loss occasioned to any person or corporate body acting or refraining to act as a result of reading material in this book can be accepted by the Publisher or by the Estate of the Author.

Acknowledgments “THE PANTSMAKER” by Donald T. Jones. Reprinted with permission from the July 1971 issue of SUCCESS UNLIMITED, 6355 Broadway, Chicago, Illinois 60660, originally titled “Levi, the Pants-Maker.” Copyright © 1972. Further reprint rights reserved.

“Where the Fortunes Grow: Sam Wyly and Harvey Schuster.” Reprinted from U.S News & World Report, December 15, 1969, originally titled “How to Make a Million.” Copyright © 1969, U.S News & World Report, Inc.

“The Lady Who Won by Losing.” Reprinted from the March 4, 1967 issue of BUSINESS WEEK by special permission. Copyright © 1967 by McGraw-Hill, Inc.

The Man Who Won by Losing” by Steve Yahn originally titled “Make Way.” Reprinted with permission from the Chicago Daily News, May 22, 1972.

“Selling to the Sellers” by Kathryn D. Clausen originally titled “The Man from ‘Sif-Tee, Inc.’ ” Reprinted with permission from the May 1970 issue of SUCCESS UNLIMITED, 6355 Broadway, Chicago, Illinois 60660. Copyright © 1970. Further reprint rights reserved.

“The Men from Wham-O” by Wesley S. Griswold. Reprinted courtesy of Popular Science Monthly, originally titled “Can You Invent a Million-Dollar Fad?” Copyright © 1965 Popular Science Publishing Co. Inc.

“Mr. Gentry’s Terrible-Tasting Cereal” by Sanford L. Jacobs originally titled “What Tastes Terrible and Doubles in Sales Every

7Instant Millionaires

60 Days or So?” Reprinted with permission of The Wall Street Journal. Copyright © 1972 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

“The Downhill Riser” by Arthur Herzog originally titled “A Head for Skis” from True Magazine. Copyright © 1962, Fawcett Publications, Inc.

“The Well-Sited Airport” originally titled “Gassing Up the VIPs.” Reprinted by special permission from DUN’S, July 1970.

Copyright © 1970, Dunn & Bradstreet Publications Corporation.

“The Well-Timed Wheels” by Steve Yahn originally titled “Free Wheeler.” Reprinted with permission from the Chicago Daily News, May 30, 1972.

“The Service Everybody Needed” by Martin Abramson.

Newspaper article reprinted with permission of the author.

“Scoring in the Athlete Market” by Martin Abramson.

Newspaper article reprinted with permission of the author.

“High News in the Music Business” by Stanley H. Brown.

Reprinted from the September 1967 issue of FORTUNE magazine by special permission. Copyright © 1967 by Time, Inc.

“If It Doesn’t Fit, Cut a Hole in It” by Joan Rattner Heilman.

Reprinted from FAMILY CIRCLE, March 1973; originally titled “She Made a Million on a Shoe-string.” “If It’s Cumbersome, Fold It” by Arthur Herzog originally titled “He Found TV’s Magic Wand.” Reprinted from True Magazine.

Copyright © 1961, Fawcett Publications, Inc.

“A Lobsterman in Maine” by Arthur Herzog originally titled “He Put Wings on Lobsters.” Reprinted from True Magazine.

Copyright © 1961, Fawcett Publications, Inc.

“A Groceryman in Utah” by Elaine S. McKay originally titled “Success Is a Do-It-Yourself Grocery Store.” Reprinted from the April 1971 issue of SUCCESS UNLIMITED, 6355 Broadway, Chicago, Illinois 60660. Copyright © 1971. Further reprint rights reserved.

“From Nowhere to Almost Everywhere in Three Years... And How It’s Done” by Howard Brown originally titled “Be a Winner.”

8 Acknowledgments

Reprinted by permission of Howard Brown and Plaza Group Inc.

All rights reserved.

“How to Make Old Ideas New” by Max Gunther. Reprinted from True Magazine. Copyright © 1967, Fawcett Publications, Inc.

“The Great Borrower Ascendant” and “The Great Borrower Down a Peg.” Reprinted by permission of FORBES Magazine.

“The Nose-Thumber Ascendant” by John J. O’Connor.

Reprinted with permission from the January 25, 1971 issue of Advertising Age. Copyright © 1971 by Crain Communications Inc.

“The Nose-Thumber Down a Peg” by John J. O’Connor.

Reprinted with permission from the September 11, 1972 issue of Advertising Age. Copyright © 1971 by Crain Communications Inc.

“A Club for Future Millionaires” by Matt Dana originally titled “The Future Millionaires Club.” Reprinted with permission from the June 1971 issue of SUCCESS UNLIMITED, 6355 Broadway, Chicago, Illinois 60660. Copyright © 1971. Further reprint rights reserved.

“Fourteen Fast Fortunes of the Future” by Max Gunther Reprinted from True Magazine. Copyright © 1971, Fawcett Publications, Inc.

–  –  –

Become a happy hare WHY DO LEVI’S HAVE rivets? Why was Gone With the Wind almost never published? What is the Second-Man Effect? And why if it doesn’t fit should you cut a hole in it?

From the man who saw a mint opportunity to the man who sold holes, from motorcycles to Monopoly to maternity wear, frisbees to fire alarms to franchising, it’s all here. Max Gunther introduces three dozen people who wanted instant wealth – and got it.

Yes, this book was originally published in the 1970s, but the key steps on the route to wealth do not change greatly with time. You still need to be able to spot an opportunity, see a gap in the market or capitalise on the untapped potential of an existing product. The methods applied in this book can be learned from, adapted and applied by anyone today. Plus, you can review Max’s 14 predictive ideas to make a new generation instant millionaires, as he foresaw it at the time and follow his route map to success.

We wish you a lucky route to fast fortune.

–  –  –


1. Shiny Dimes and the Slow-Money Ethic IF THIS BOOK CAN be said to have any villains, a notable one would be a man named Ivy Ledbetter Lee.

“Poison Ivy” Lee, as some of his less admiring chroniclers called him, was one of the first great corporate public-relations men in America – which is as much as to say, in the world. To some public-relations historians he was a genius. Perhaps. If genius is defined as the peculiar ability to make inaccessibly complicated things simple – and therefore accessible – then I suppose he can be called a genius. But a number of his contemporaries found it impossible to give him their wholehearted applause, for the greatest task to which he applied his genius was the promulgation and preservation of a myth.

It seems useful for us to look at this myth at the outset. It will pay us to study the myth’s not altogether honorable origins. For this myth and others like it, and the philosophy they represent, have undoubtedly kept many men from achieving, or even dreaming of, instant millionairehood.

Ivy Lee was hired in 1914 by John D. Rockefeller, Junior, to improve the public image of the Standard Oil Company. Standard Oil at the time was perhaps the most hated industrial organization on the face of the earth. The public and the press were bitterly accusing the company of strikebreaking, price fixing, monopoly in restraint of trade, legislative bribery and other nasty practices.

Other companies had in fact behaved with far less virtue during the preceding wild decades, but for various complex reasons Standard Oil had become the scapegoat. The public stoning was

15Instant Millionaires

aimed particularly at the tall, gaunt figure of the company’s founder John D. Rockefeller, Senior.

Old John D., Senior, then in his eighties, had retired from active management of the company. Yet he was still considered to be Standard Oil’s main public spokesman and its walking trademark, and much of the general anger was directed at him personally. This was one of the major reasons why Ivy Lee was hired. His assignment: to change the old gentleman’s image from that of a fast-buck manipulator to that of a kindly, conservative old grandfather.

Ivy Lee came up with an idea so charmingly simple, so brilliantly direct, that it must be regarded as a stroke of genius. Insiders at Standard Oil called it the “shiny dime game.” Lee saw to it that old John D. was always supplied with a pocketful of newly minted dimes. The old gentleman’s valet was instructed, in fact, to consider the dimes as important as any item of clothing. The aged financier was no more to be allowed out of the house without his dimes than without his trousers. As for old John D. himself, his instructions were to seek out small boys – the more ragged and hungry looking, the better. Golf caddies and newsboys were particularly useful for the purpose. He was to seek them out with special care whenever news reporters and the photographers happened to be present. Having found such a youngster he was to hand over a dime, pat the kid on the head and deliver a homily about hard work, thrift and patience.

“If you save a dime every day,” he sometimes said on these occasions “you’ll be a rich man.” This was egregious nonsense, of course. Assuming that the kid had 70 years left to live, his total invested capital after a lifetime of following old John D.’s advice would have come to $2555. If the kid was lucky, compounding interest at fluctuating rates might have tripled or quadrupled the amount – to $10,000, perhaps.

At other times the youngster himself (hired, coached and carefully decked out in ragged clothes by Ivy Lee) would approach the old gentleman and reverently ask for advice on how to succeed.

16 1. Shiny Dimes and the Slow-Money Ethic

Old John D. would reply with frothy bromides from the Protestant Ethic. “Work hard, spend wisely, invest safely and let time do the rest,” he would say, plunking a dime into a small, grimy palm.

This was perfectly laudable advice, but one cannot help but wonder whether the old man himself believed a word of it. It certainly didn’t describe how he made his own fast, flashy leap to wealth.

Yet newsmen were suckered in to the “shiny dime game” by the dozens, and today feature writers and others still tell of those old dime-giving episodes as though they were spontaneous and true.

The senior Rockefeller, who had made more money faster than almost any other man alive, thus was enshrined in capitalist folklore as a champion of the slow, weary, plodding dime-saving route to success.

The fable of Rockefeller and his dimes is not the only fable of its kind in our folklore, of course. There is an older one about a race between a tortoise and a hare. The prudent tortoise carefully conserves his energy – his capital – and wins. The crazy hare bets his entire capital on a single wild speculative spree, bankrupts himself early and loses. The Rockefeller fable is simply a modern version, perhaps the most famous modern version, of that ancient tale. Both fables express what seems to be a main current of Western capitalist thought: the slow-money or plodder’s ethic. The basic tenet of the ethic is that slow money is somehow better than fast money – more sensible, more honest and in the end more satisfying.

To the extent that this can be called a book of philosophy, its main thought is that the slow-money ethic doesn’t deserve our automatic reverence. The plodder’s route to success is comfortable and even profitable for some people, but not for everybody. If a man decides it isn’t for him – if he decides to try for instant millionairehood instead – there is no good reason why he shouldn’t listen to his own inner music. There is no reason why he need listen while people cluck at him disapprovingly or tell him stories of tortoises and shiny dimes.

17Instant Millionaires

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