What Would Ben Do?

I wrote recently about Google’s efforts to provide the whole product in my article Y is for You: Google's Alphebet and Personal Branding.  I learned recently that one of the founding father’s pioneered some of these strategies himself: Ben Franklin

Ben wanted to be a printer.  His biographer (Isaacson) talks about the lengths to which he went to procure a printing press from Europe.  He wanted to own a communication machine.

He started printing things for his friends and customers.

So, to use the machine, he started a newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette.  If one flyer was good, then having a weekly or daily publication was even better.  Those who wouldn’t afford to print a flyer, could afford an advertisement in a larger publication.

He printed books.  The most popular book was the Bible.  But most people only bought one of those in their lifetime, so how could he get people to want to buy a book every year.  He started the Poor Richard’s Almanac which would have repeat customers every year.

Then he began to think bigger.  He wanted people to read his books and magazines, but many people were far sighted and had trouble reading.  So he invented bifocals.

He noticed that in the cold New England winters, people weren’t reading as much, so he invented the Franklin Stove.

He wanted to broaden his distribution channel to allow people outside of Philadelphia or the region to read his books and publications.  So, he championed the US Postal System.

And realizing that it was inefficient to print things in Philly and move them around the country, he franchised and shipped the plates to a friend in the Carolinas so she (yes, she) could build a business serving that community. 

A man with Ben’s broad curiosities and diverse background pursued these and many other ideas in service of his main themes and principles.  What are your main themes and principles that are worthy of the height of your creativity, enthusiasm and focus?