6 lessons we can learn from the life of William Hearst

July 26, 2022

"Strength lies in differences, not in similarities" - Stephen R. Covey

I just got to tour Hearst Castle a few days ago, in San Simeon California. It's an amazing and legendary home that was built in the span of almost 30 years; from 1919 to 1947. After the tour, I dug into the history of the billionaire Willam Randolph Hearst and I found that he was an eccentric man with a very interesting life. A life that had lessons that I could learn from. I took notes and I'm sharing those with you today.

The most obvious one to me was that he was on the brink of losing all of his fortune and empire because of his overspending. It was clear that he was living a life of free spending and it almost cost him everything, so the first lesson is to live beneath your means. No matter how much money you make, keep investing, diversifying, and saving.

William Hearst was a generous human being. He was a person that had a confident yet approachable demeanor. He attracted the best people because he gave freely and had a grand vision for the future and for his businesses. If you want to attract amazing talent to your businesses be sure to have a vision that attracts people who also want to dream big and take massive action. There's truth to the statement, "birds of a feather flock together". William Hearst attracted high achievers of his time and made them feel at home at Hearst Castle. Journalists, athletes, world leaders, famous actors, and other people would visit the castle often.

Hearst was famous for his Media empire. Although his dad had given him the newspaper to start with, he had done a great job merging different media assets so that he controlled a good portion of what was being printed. There are two lessons in this one. Hearst did a great job in growing his media company and was known as an innovator because of it. Later he got too comfortable and set in his ways that as the world changed in the 1930's he didn't, and his approach to media fell behind with the times. Innovate and continue to look for new and improved ideas and ways of doing things that pertain to your business.

One harsh lesson that is clear from his long life is that of Family. It was clear for me was that family wasn't as important to him as it should have been. His children and his wife were not at the center of his life. He was more interested in living up to his name and keeping up with his high stature friends. Had he made his 5 children and his wife the most important part of his life they would have remained closer after his death and they would have worked closer together as one family to maintain one strong business empire.

There is one last lesson that can be easily overlooked, that we can all learn from. He didn't care what others thought about his decisions. Although he was always looking to impress people with what he could achieve or what he could create, he wasn't afraid to stand out by doing things in an unconventional manner. One of the many things that stood out to me was the fact that he hired a woman architect/designer (Julia Morgan) to build Hearst Castle. At the time that was something that was not typically done, especially for something of this stature. The lesson? Always go for talent even it means going against the common belief of the time. You will find talent in places that other people overlook, you just have to think like other people aren't thinking...

Think different and act differently! Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.