Listen now on
#307 : The World's Great Family Dynasties: Rockefeller, Rothschild, Morgan, & Toyada
June 12th, 2023 | E307

What I learned from reading Dynasties: Fortunes and Misfortunes of the World's Great Family Businesses by David Landes.

Supporters of this episode:

EightSleep: Get the best sleep of your life and unlock more energy with the Pod 3. Go to

Meter: Meter is the easiest way for your business to get fast, secure, and reliable internet and WiFi in any commercial space. Go to

Tiny: Tiny is the easiest way to sell your business. Tiny provides quick and straightforward cash exits for Founders. Get in touch by emailing [email protected]


Listen to Invest Like the Best #292 David Senra: Passion and Pain

Subscribe to listen to Founders Premium — Subscribers can ask me questions directly and listen to Ask Me Anything (AMA) episodes.

Join my free email newsletter to get my top 10 highlights from every book


(4:25) Success causes failure. As the family develops power and prestige, the heirs find many interesting and amusing things to do rather than run their business.

(6:00) Those on the margins often come to control the center.

(9:00) Great industrial leaders are always fanatically committed to their jobs. They are not lazy, or amateurs. — Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy. (Founders #306)

(9:50) For many of the great founders “Appetite comes with eating.”


Rothschild episodes:

Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild by Amos Elon. (Founders #197)

The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets by Niall Ferguson. (Founders #198)

JP Morgan episodes:

The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ron Chernow. (Founders #139)

The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism by Susan Berfield. (Founders #142)

Rockefeller episodes:

Random Reminiscences of Men and Events by John D. Rockefeller. (Founders #148)

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow. (Founders #248)

John D: The Founding Father of the Rockefellers by David Freeman Hawke. (Founders #254)

(13:30) Mayer Rothschild thought that long term relationships were more valuable than immediate profit.

(15:45) Nathan Rothschild has extreme levels of self belief: When his prospective father-in-law asked for proof of his prospects, Nathan told him that if he was concerned about having his daughters provided for, he might just as well give them all to Nathan, and be done with it.

(19:00) The Rothschilds developed the technique of absolute direction to perfection.

(21:15) Wal-Mart stock is staying right where it is. We don’t need the money. We don’t need to buy a yacht. And thank goodness we never thought we had to go out and buy anything like an island. We just don’t have those lands of needs or ambitions, which wreck a lot of companies when they get along in years. Some families sell their stock off a little at a time to live high, and then—boom—somebody takes them over, and it all goes down the drain. One of the real reasons I’m writing this book is so my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will read it years from now and know this: If you start any of that foolishness, I’ll come back and haunt you. So don’t even think about it. — Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton. (Founders #234)

(26:00) If you want to build a family dynasty you need to have a bunch of kids. This is the number one factor for increasing the chance that your family dynasty outlives you.

(29:45) Larry Ellison didn’t have the methodical relentlessness that made Bill Gates so formidable and feared. By his own admission, Ellison was not an obsessive grinder like Gates: “I am a sprinter. I rest, I sprint, I rest, I sprint again.” Ellison had a reputation for being easily bored by the process of running a business and often took time off, leaving the shop to senior colleagues. — Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle by Matthew Symonds. (Founders #124)

(36:13) A man always has two reasons for the things he does, a good one, and the real one. — J.P. Morgan

(38:00) Andrew Carnegie celebrated too quickly. He later admitted to Morgan that he had sold out too cheap, by $100 million. Morgan replied, “Very likely, Andrew.” — The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism by Susan Berfield. (Founders #142)

(38:35) Henry Villard had come to Morgan for help in taking over Edison's company. This was a mistake. Morgan was not by nature, a helper. He was a driver. He arranged a counter coup.

(41:45) Properly understood, any new and better way of doing things is technology. — Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel. (Founders #278)

(43:30) “It is impossible to create an innovative product unless you do it yourself, pay attention to every detail, and then test it exhaustively. Never entrust the creation of a product to others, for that will inevitably lead to failure and cause you deep regret.”

—Sakichi Toyada

(45:00) You should make an effort to make something that will benefit society.

(45:30) Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary by Robert Price. (Founders #304)

(48:50) Mailman is a Gmail plugin that allows you to control when and what emails should land in your inbox.

(58:30)  Rockefeller believed that he would be rich and he believed that this was because God wanted him to be.

(58:45) Rockefeller’s competitors and associates were amateurs by comparison, and he saw them for what they were.

(1:01:00) Published railway tariffs were for the small man. They were not for major shippers who could play one railroad against another while promising steady cargo. (Rockefeller’s initial edge)

(1:03:15) His clincher was to offer the victim a look at the books of Standard. A potential seller was dumbfounded to learn that standard was able to sell at less than his own cost of production. They could kill him whenever they pleased.


I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast