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350 Gather in Dallas to Honor Greatest Entrepreneurs

Oct. 2, 2003

Edsel B. Ford II and Terry Maness

Dallas business leaders gathered on Tuesday to honor the greatest entrepreneurs in American history.

John H. Johnson, greatest minority entrepreneur in American history, accepted the honor in person. Johnson described his trials and triumphs in building the first successful black magazine, Negro Digest. He walked the audience through his career as he built Ebony and Jet magazines, then founded a black women's cosmetic line. "Failure is a word I don't accept," he said.

Members of the alumni group Baylor Business Network of Dallas and Ryan Rogers accepted the award for greatest female entrepreneur in American history on behalf of his grandmother, Mary Kay Ash. Rogers related the story of how Mary Kay Ash, in direct sales for 25 years, used her life savings to start a successful cosmetics company. Ash's priorities - for both herself and her sales directors - were God first, family second, and career third. "The most significant thing about the life of Mary Kay is not that she reached the top of the corporate world," he said, "but how many thousands of women she brought along with her... She never thought about fame or wealth for herself, but only about success for others."

Accepting the honor of greatest entrepreneur in American history on behalf of Henry Ford was his great-grandson, Edsel B. Ford II. Ford described how his great-grandfather had been an inventor, but also an astute businessman, introducing the $5 a day wage for workers and putting America on wheels.

"Although most Americans could name our first President, few could name our first billionaire." says Dr. Blaine McCormick, assistant professor of management in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business.  "Yet the success of entrepreneurs has transformed America and the way we live - often more than the Presidents who led us during this same period."

The top ten people named in the category of "Greatest Entrepreneur in American History," in descending order, were:

Henry Ford

Bill Gates

John D. Rockefeller

Andrew Carnegie

Thomas Edison

Sam Walton

J.P. Morgan

Alfred Sloan

Walt Disney

Ray Kroc

For more details about the research, McCormick can be reached at 254-710-4158 or by email at  Folsom can be reached at 517-607-2430 or

To see the full research article, click here (Adobe Acrobat reader required).

The event was underwritten by Beck Construction.


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