The Consultant Checklist

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.

But as journalist Edwin Black extensively chronicles, there was a problematic side to Watson. Watson and IBM built machines for Hitler that helped the Nazi state identify Jewish citizens and were ultimately used for the death camps during the war. Watson himself received a medal from Hitler in 1937 for IBM’s services to the Reich. (He returned it under popular pressure in 1940.)

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