Andrew Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the 19th century.
In 1901, he retired, selling his company to J.P. Morgan for a whopping $480 million (which is equivalent to about $14.35 billion in 2017). Carnegie was 66 years old at the time. He could have kept all that money to himself to play with, and he may have felt alright about his overall quality of life by the end of his time.
But Carnegie was different. He wanted to become a philanthropist, which he took to the extreme, basically making his full-time occupation giving away money. In 1902, he founded a scientific research institution. Then he created a $10 million pension fund for teachers. Since Carnegie was a big believer in reading and learning, his next move was to give money to towns to build over 2,000 public libraries at a time in which America did not have free public libraries. Next, he gave $125 million to schools. Carnegie also believed greatly in world peace, so he established an endowment for international peace and funded a building called The Hague Palace of Peace, which now houses the International Court of Justice.
By 1911, just ten years after retirement, it’s estimated that he had given away nearly 90 percent of his fortune to charitable causes that meant the most to him. Simply put, the causes of education and peace meant far more to Andrew Carnegie than money ever did. He believed that the sole purpose of making money was to give it all away. In 1919, he passed away.
I think we should all strive to replicate his model of prosperity: spend half your life accumulating wealth, then spend the last half giving it all away. We can all leave this world with prosperity when prosperity doesn’t mean monetary riches. We can leave wealthy and prosperous in terms of love, contribution, and fulfillment. This is how one of America’s most successful and fulfilled human beings lived his life, and I believe it would be a great mistake not to emulate this lifestyle in our own way. Below are some of Mr. Carnegie’s most powerful statements: