Today I want to look at the personality traits that drive these men to accomplish the things they did, and to end up the way they did.
There is no argument that Nick and Tom were both brilliant. Each had his strengths, and weaknesses. Both made countless contributions to humanity, yet one died a hugely popular person who was looked on extremely favorable by historians. The other didn’t start to get the credit he was due until decades after he died broke, alone and uncelebrated.
Each man had numerous ideas, yet very different ideas about how to implement them. Both people hoped to change lives, and the world. But there was one very big difference, their concepts of how to pay for their respective projects.
Tesla’s model revolved around raising money in a sort of donation type method, and doing all the work himself, in an attempt to provide for the masses. He went to his grave believing that electricity could, and should, be free for all.
Edison had a different approach. His method involved using capital to hire a team of individuals who conducted the experiments and developed various products. Then, these products were turned into items to be sold, the revenues from which helped them to scale operations to provide for the masses.
Anyone see the pattern? They both hoped to bring their ideas to all of humanity. The method for getting there was the only difference.
Before go on, let me state that I am a huge fan of both of these brilliant men. They both made a huge mark on the world, and both deserve to be commended for their efforts.
Some view Edison as an evil, money hungry man who didn’t care about anyone. These people see Tesla as a hero, the Robin Hood of electricity.
Others see Edison as the winner, the one who had the best marketing and PR (despite losing the AC/DC war), and believe that to the victor belong the spoils. They see Tesla as a hippie who was into free live and electricity.
Both of these polarized views of the two men are sorely misguided.
While Tesla had arguably the greater intellect of the two, Edison had one major advantage. He understood how to impact the most people, via the free markets. To scale an operation, to the level that was required to impact the lives of many, it was going to take money, and a LOT of it.
Tesla never understood this concept. He was an idealist, and though his motives were in the right place, there was no way of getting enough funding to accomplish what he had hoped because the model was. It self sustaining. It is certain that his childhood, in Serbia, contributed to how ideals. He witness abject poverty, the likes most of us have never seen, so it makes sense that he would be so compelled by compassion that he could lose sight of how things really work. I get that.
Yes, Edison made a lot of money from his inventions. He also lost barrels of cash on failed attempts. Look into his idea for all concrete houses, equipped with all concrete furniture, if you doubt that. He made a lot of money, but he wasn’t’ afraid to bet on something, and lose, if it might be of great value to others.