The book ‘Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invented Show Business’ is written by Ethan Mordden and is entirely about the inventor of the show business Mr. Florenz Ziegfeld. Ziegfeld transformed the unspectacular show industry into glamorous show business by the time he left the industry. He is widely known as a man who exaggerated the beauty of an American girl. The first star that Ziegfeld displayed was a bodybuilder, Eugen Sandow who thrilled the entire audience with his biceps. This gave him the motivation to venture into the show business when he noticed how beauty could be used in business.
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With regard to women, Ziegfeld was a man who knew how to identify the most beautiful of all the women he hired. He knew what would sell on the show business and what would not. His taste was impressive as he knew just what the audience would love. In fact, some of the stars he showcased later became the world’s greatest icons in show business. They include legends like Billie Burke, Elfin Marilyn Miller, Cowboy Will Rogers, Bert Williams, W. C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, as well as Fanny Brice.
Due to his passion and a good choice of women, the ‘Ziegfeld girl’ came into existence. Nonetheless, he preferred a low profile and a private life although he created the world of celebrities. Ziegfeld had a huge career in the movies and musical productions such as the ‘Follies’ and later the Showboat. The book as written by Ethan has extensively elaborated on the rise to fame of Ziegfeld and his downfall as well. It gives an insightful background on his commitment to establishing the show business and his contribution to the same.
What do you think the entrepreneur did wrong?
Although the show business brought Ziegfeld to great fame, it also contributed to his unanticipated downfall. He was involved in a number of scandals especially with women, which led to his divorce from his first wife. Married to Anna Held, he also had an affair with another showgirl Lillian Lorraine. This scandal greatly affected his image even in the show business and was the beginning of his downfall. Ziegfeld was a man with a lustful desire to have all the beautiful ladies for himself and this was irresponsible.
The girl he married after the divorce also had a similar history of multiple marriages. The greatest misdoing for Ziegfeld in his career was getting romantically involved with the people who worked for him. His irresponsible behavior around women caused him a successful career. The glamour that comes along with success in such an elegant industry requires a sound mind and sober decision making. In the world of publicity, integrity is a vital additive to sustain success.
What did the entrepreneur do right?
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However, credit is given where it is due, Ziegfeld was an impressive entrepreneur with a heart to change peoples lives. When he took in Anna Held, she was not a great start or a model for that matter. But Ziegfeld took her and made her into a big star through his ‘Ziegfeld girl’ projects. He was determined to make girls realize their potential in the show business. He was also a thinker and a risk-taker, which are good qualities of an entrepreneur.
He was also persistent and patient as well with regards to his entrepreneurial skills. He established an empire in the show business and created one of the most expensive industries in the world today. His idea has been the basis of the show business and he has been crowned the founder of the industry due to his contribution to the industry. Ziegfeld allowed an idea that flashed in his mind to materialize and become a reality. Had he suppressed his thoughts maybe today the show business would be unheard of? It takes courage to do that and Ziegfeld was courageous enough to speak his mind and rise above the criticism that came along with his idea.
How would you have done things if you were in their position?
Although Ziegfeld achieved a lot in the show business, he would have done a little better if he had a broad mind. Giving attention to just one idea of business can be fruitful but also catastrophic in the event that it fails. Ziegfeld builds a 1600 seat theater which was named after him. He did not involve or commit his savings on other investments outside the show business. At a cost of $ 2.5 million, the Ziegfeld theater was constructed with borrowed money from Randolph Hearst.
Given the luxury that the show business attracts, if I was in his shoes I would have prepared better for the glamour that comes along with it. Getting romantically involved with your employees greatly undermines your authority as the boss. This undermines other aspects of the business too and the great ideas and dreams in the entrepreneur’s mind cannot be fully and successfully released. Investing all his resources in show business was a huge mistake.
Before giving up and relocating to Europe for four years, Ziegfeld had come to the verge of collapsing. In his position, I would have diversified my investments in many different industries to avoid such an event. If Ziegfeld had invested in other industries probably he would have survived the shock of the collapse of the ‘Red Feather’. He practically used his finances to fund projects related to the show business which in my opinion was a bad move with regard to investment. Having other side investments would have also helped in financing the existing show business.
What economic principles were used in this business?
The basic principle of economics that is clearly shown in the establishment of the show business is patience and perseverance. Every business has its own challenges and so does every industry. The ability to absorb and rise above the challenges is the key element of success in economics. The book has helped me to understand that one can create and innovate an idea and make it a profitable activity if imagination is fully harnessed. Creativity has been emphasized in the text especially regarding the founder of the show business and his success is greatly attributed to creativity and willingness.
What did you get out of this book?
This book has relevant information about the steps to follow in entrepreneurship and how to make the most out of our own ideas. I have personally learned that patience in business is a virtue and for growth to take effect there have to be deliberate actions to effect it. Every little effort made in a business translate into growth and every decision made may benefit or harm a business. But most importantly, the book has helped me learn about upholding discipline and being responsible for every action as there are always repercussions and consequences for every action.