Sam Z, Sam the Banana Man, El Amigo, the Big Russian, the Gringo –he was not an easy person, nor is his biography without controversy. To some, it's the story of a great man, a pioneer in business, a hero. To others, its the story of a pirate, a conquistador, who took without asking. This podcast is based on the book Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen.
Topics discussed in this podcast:
When he arrived in America in 1891 Zemurray was tall, gangly, and penniless (0:01, Poor but ambitious (4:45), “There is no problem you can’t solve if you know your business from A to Z” (5:57), Seeing opportunity where others see nothing. (8:28), Look what he accomplished: Selling hundreds of thousands of bananas a year. And he’d done it without having to incur the traditional costs. (16:28), The world is a mere succession of fortunes made and lost, lessons learned and forgotten and learned again. (21:24), Zemurray worked in the fields beside his engineers, planters, and machete men. He believed in the transcendent power of physical labor. (29:15), Defying Secretary of State Philander Knox and JP Morgan (32:07), The path to competition (39:40), Founder vs CEO (46:51), Founder vs CEO Part 2 (50:11), Two different approaches to acquiring land. (55:17), The fish eats the whale (59:00), Sam’s defining characteristic was his belief in his own agency, his refusal to despair. (1:10:54)