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#241 The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies
April 14th, 2022 | E241

What I learned from reading Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies by Lawrence Goldstone.


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[1:07] The Wright Brothers (Founders #239)

[3:47] Avoid any activity that distracts you from improving the quality of your product and the quality of your business.

[5:58] Completely self-taught, he made spectacular intellectual leaps to solve a series of intractable problems that had alluded some of history's most brilliant men.

[9:46] The Wright-Curtiss feud was at its core a study of the unique strengths and flaws of personality that define a clash of brilliant minds. Neither Glenn Curtiss nor Wilbur Wright ever came to understand his own limits, that luminescent intelligence in one area of human endeavor does not preclude gross incompetence in another. And because genius often requires arrogance, both men continuously repeated their blunders.

[13:38] P.T. Barnum: An American Life (Founders #137)

[13:49] John Moisant had three failed attempts to overthrow the government of El Salvador.

[17:44] Master of Precision: Henry Leland (Founders#128)

[19:32] Sacrifices must be made.

[20:18] The science of flight has attracted the greatest minds in history—Aristotle, Archimedes, Leonardo, and Newton, —but achieving the goal stumped all of them.

[23:19] If you go back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic-being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that would have been considered magic a few hundred years ago. —Elon Musk

[23:57] If the process was to move forward with any efficiency, experimenters would need some means to separate what seemed to work from what seemed not to–data and results would have to be shared. The man who most appreciated that need was someone who, while not producing a single design that resulted in flight, was arguably the most important person to participate in its gestation.

[28:46] He found his first breakthrough by doing the exact opposite of his competitor.

[30:08] The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst (Founders #145)

[39:04] His passion was speed. He had tremendous endurance, he was never a quitter, and he would do anything to win.

[42:25] My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins (Founders #170)

[43:46] No lead is insurmountable if you stop running before you've reached the finish line.

[47:03] Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell (Founders #138)

[47:05] The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism (Founders #142)

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt (Founders #156)

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey (Founders #175)

[47:40] Never underestimate your opponent. It’s all downside, no upside. Churchill (Founders #225)

[57:05] He saw competition as a destructive, inefficient force and favored large-scale combination as the cure. Once, when the manager of the Moet and Chandon wine company complained about industry problems, J.P. suggested he buy up the entire champagne country. — The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance (Founders #139)

[1:00:05] Find people who are great at selling your product and hire them.

[1:06:55] He was driven by an uncontrollable desire for adventure and wealth, and almost an adolescent need to be seen as a swashbuckling hero.

[1:07:45] John was left desperate for an outlet for his obsessive audacity.

[1:13:57] The McCormick's were used to making terms, not acquiescing to them.

[1:19:15] Wilbur never seemed to grasp that his crusade to destroy his nemesis could destroy him.

[1:20:00] I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. —Steve Jobs


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