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A Message to Garcia

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"A Message to Garcia" goes on to become an unexpected hit and is printed a record-breaking 40 million times.

I thought so little of it that we ran it in the Magazine without a heading. The edition went out, and soon orders began to come for extra copies of the March "Philistine," a dozen, fifty, a hundred; and when the American News Company ordered a thousand, I asked one of my helpers which article it was that had stirred up the cosmic dust.

"It's the stuff about Garcia," he said.

The next day a telegram came from George H. Daniels, of the New York Central Railroad, thus: "Give price on one hundred thousand Rowan article in pamphlet form – Empire State Express advertisement on back – also how soon can ship."

I replied giving price, and stated we could supply the pamphlets in two years. Our facilities were small and a hundred thousand booklets looked like an awful undertaking.

The result was that I gave Mr. Daniels permission to reprint the article in his own way. He issued it in booklet form in editions of half a million. Two or three of these half-million lots were sent out by Mr. Daniels, and in addition the article was reprinted in over two hundred magazines and newspapers. It has been translated into all written languages.

At the time Mr. Daniels was distributing the "Message to Garcia," Prince Hilakoff, Director of Russian Railways, was in this country. He was the guest of the New York Central, and made a tour of the country under the personal direction of Mr. Daniels. The Prince saw the little book and was interested in it, more because Mr. Daniels was putting it out in such big numbers, probably, than otherwise.

In any event, when he got home he had the matter translated into Russian, and a copy of the booklet given to every railroad employee in Russia.

Other countries then took it up, and from Russia it passed into Germany, France, Spain, Turkey, Hindustan and China. During the war between Russia and Japan, every Russian soldier who went to the front was given a copy of the "Message to Garcia."

The Japanese, finding the booklets in possession of the Russian prisoners, concluded that it must be a good thing, and accordingly translated it into Japanese.

And on an order of the Mikado, a copy was given to every man in the employ of the Japanese Government, soldier or civilian. Over forty million copies of "A Message to Garcia" have been printed.

This is said to be a larger circulation than any other literary venture has ever attained during the lifetime of the author, in all history – thanks to a series of lucky accidents!

E.H.

Summary

Be awake

Hubbard gained fame by being awake to an opportunity. Here are three more examples of someone acting on a moment of chance to make his own success...

In 1943, naval engineer Richard James watched a tension spring fall to the floor and begin to "walk." He said to himself, "I think there could be a toy in this."

The Slinky® (named for the Swedish word meaning stealthy, sleek and sinuous) went on sale in Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia two years later.

Since then, over 300 million have been sold worldwide.


Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn, ran out of baker's chocolate as she was making regular chocolate cookies. She substituted the missing ingredient with pieces of a Nestle® chocolate bar, thinking they would melt and mix with the dough. Instead, the chocolate pieces kept their shape, and the chocolate chip cookie was born on that day in 1933. It was dubbed the Toll House cookie.

Now every bag of Nestle® chocolate chips sold in North America is printed with her recipe.


Art Fry was listening to a sermon in church in 1974 when he came up with a solution to the bookmarks that kept slipping out of his hymnal.

Fry knew of a "low-tack" adhesive developed in 1968 by fellow 3M employee Spencer Silver. The adhesive's grip was strong enough to hold papers together, but weak enough to allow the papers to be pulled apart without being torn.

Fry wrote up his idea and presented it to his supervisors. Though skeptical at first, 3M introduced Post-it® notes in 1980. They are now sold in more than 100 countries around the world.

Keep your eyes open. Be awake and aware. Your moment of chance could happen at any time.

No Gomo™

gomo:(go-mo) noun: a person who goes through the motions

Don't go through the motions in 2016. Be more like all those people you admire.

Check out InspireYourPeople.com for fresh ways to encourage your people to commit, complain less, create their own luck, be resilient, and have a positive attitude towards service.

Short. No-fluff. Real.

Don't be a Gomo.

Printable booklet

Printable booklet

Download and print the free "Be Like Rowan" booklet – includes Hubbard's essay, as well as worksheets and reminders.

download now

The Rowan Awards

Rowan awards

Download and print awards to hand out to team members who show Rowan-like initiative.

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Rowan to the Rescue

Rowan to the Rescue

Read and print our kids' version of "A Message to Garcia" – includes illustrations and discussion questions to help your kids understand the importance of working hard and taking initiative.

read it now

Bonus fact

Speedometer

What else was happening in 1899?

  • An editorial in The New York Times used the word "automobile" – the first known publication
    of the word.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's Hole in the Wall Gang robbed the Union Pacific Railroad.
  • The first speeding ticket was issued (to New York cab driver Jacob German, for driving at the "breakneck speed" of 12 miles per hour).
  • The Bronx Zoo opened its doors for the first time.