Before he was President: Ulysses Grant
Ulysses Simpson Grant, 1869-1877
sold firewood in the streets
Ulysses Grant's first lesson in business negotiations didn't go
exactly as planned. Ulysses' father, Jesse, told 10
year old Ulysses to go to the neighbor's farm and buy the horse that
was for sale. Partly looking for a better deal and also trying to
teach his young son new business skills, Jesse's instructions were,
"Offer Mr. Ralston $50 for the horse he has for sale. However, if he
doesn't take $50 then offer him $55.00. If he will not take the
$55.00 then you may pay him the full $60.00."
Ulysses went to the neighbor's home with $60.00 in his pocket. He
certainly didn't want to disappoint his father considering the trust
he had put in him so he rehearsed in his mind what his father had
told him to say. When he arrived at Mr. Ralston's farm he was
surprised by the first question he was asked. "How much did your
father tell you to pay for my horse?", asked Mr. Ralston. Ulysses
answer not only demonstrated his honesty and integrity, but also his
newness at negotiations. "Father told me to offer you $50.00, and if
you don't take that then I should offer you $55.00. However, if you
still don't accept that price I should offer you the $60.00 he gave
me." Of course, Mr. Ralston sold the horse to Ulysses for $60.00,
but Ulysses learned a valuable lesson when he got home with the new
horse and discussed his day with his father.
After resigning from the Army it took all of Grant's efforts to
survive. He cleared trees from his fields and sold the chopped wood
on the streets of St. Louis.
From About.com: After Grant retired from the presidency, he and his
wife traveled throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. He then retired
to Illinois in 1880. He helped his son by borrowing money to set him
up with a friend named Ferdinand Ward in a brokerage firm. When they
went bankrupt, Grant lost all his money.
Rutherford Birchard Hayes,
1877-1881 lawyer, soldier, U.S. congressman, governor of Ohio
Hayes's first law firm, Hayes and Buckland,in Lower Sandusky, Ohio
got off to a sputtering start. Business was slow and the young
lawyer was bored, restless, and—though he denied it—had symptoms of
tuberculosis. After visits to New England and Texas, and seeking a
fresh start, he moved to Cincinnati on Christmas Eve, 1849. In time,
he made a name for himself in criminal law. Using his natural charm
and his elite training, he defended society's outcasts, often
managing to free them or save them from the gallows.
James Abram Garfield, 1881
At age sixteen, Garfield ran away to work on the canal
boats that shuttled commerce between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
During his six weeks on the boats, he fell overboard fourteen times,
finally catching such a fever that he had to return home. While
recovering, Garfield vowed to make his way in the world using brains
rather than brawn.