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Thomas Watson was the sort of guy every business person dreams of emulating. He was a nobody at the turn of the 20th century, but found a mentor and learned…

Thomas Watson was the sort of guy every business person dreams of emulating. He was a nobody at the turn of the 20th century, but found a mentor and learned the ins and outs of his markets, mastering them. In 1914, Watson was hired to lead a company called the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR). He ran with CTR—renaming it International Business Machines in 1924—and by his retirement in 1956 he had grown revenues from $9 million in 1914 to $892 million.

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