Ford

By • Apr 4th, 2011
Category: India, Technology

Ford is a name that many of us recognize. Most likely, you think of the car, when you hear Ford. But I suspect that for many folks like me that grew up in India (in the pre-Internet era) Ford meant Henry Ford, the famous automobile guy. More importantly, Ford meant those famous quotes of Henry Ford.

Puzzled?

Let me explain. For some inexplicable reason learning quotes by famous people is a habit that is instilled in many Indian school children. (I would hate to make sweeping generalizations, but from what I have seen and heard it seems a pretty fair observation.) Why is that? Have not really figured it out, but the fact remains that you learn those famous quotes and have to use them in your English essay writing class. And that is how I, and my classmates and my siblings discovered Henry Ford’s famous quotes. There was something missing though. You see, we did not fully understand or have the right context to Ford’s famous quotes. All we knew is that these quotes were famous and it was good to learn them. That is what good students do. That is what erudite folks do.

Remember this quote of Ford? “History is more or less bunk.” Now, we had no idea of the original context of how and where Ford used that quote, but we used it liberally when we wanted to weaken an opponent’s argument. But remember we were young school kids then. Apparently when Ford used that quote his goal was to highlight  what you today is how you make history. And Ford was making history by establishing a factory and manufacturing cars, and unleashed the great automobile revolution on America. And of course, the rest is history.

Besides Ford’s famous quotes, Ford is celebrated as an entrepreneur with a can-do attitude. I have lost count the number of times Henry Ford was held as a business role model when growing up in India. Our driver knew about Ford. Ford was admired. Period.  I never understood how and why Ford had such a strong influence as an invisible mentor for many of us in India.

Earlier this year I got an opportunity (thanks to Ford) to visit Ford’s historical Rogue manufacturing plant in Dearborn, Michigan. This is where it all started. This is where Ford established his manufacturing plant and focussed on innovation. This is where he created history. Ford was the original start-up guy if you want to put a Silicon Valley spin on him.

I had to wait so many years to discover and understand what Ford meant when he said history is bunk. It is what we do now that matters.

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