Picture This

George knew struggles at an early age. His father died when he was eight. One of his sisters died from polio when he was sixteen. George dropped out of school when he was fourteen in order to support his family

George was able to get a job at a bank but never made enough money to raise his own family. On advice of a friend, George was encouraged to take pictures to document a trip he planned to take. The only problem was that the camera equipment was expensive and bulky. He never took the trip, but the experience with the difficult to use camera changed his life.

He invented a way for taking pictures that was less bulky and cheaper. His quit his bank job and started a company called Kodak. His mother’s name was Kay and was fond of the letter K. He eventually used his own name as well, and Eastman Kodak became known worldwide for its cameras and film.

George made picture taking something that was affordable and fun. With help from Thomas Edison, his film became the standard for the motion picture industry. Eastman Kodak became a monopoly for many years.

George used his dominant position for the good of his employees and the public. He was one of the first business leaders to implement profit sharing. He also gave every employee money from his own wealth. Eastman Kodak was one of the first companies to provide its employees with stock options.

George was a believer in education even though his own education was cut short. He was a major contributor to MIT and the Rochester Institute of Technology, as well as two African American colleges: Hampton and Tuskegee. George also donated to medical clinics. He also founded the Eastman Kodak School of Music. His contributions were over $100 million during his lifetime.

George suffered from poor health. He was a severe diabetic and developed a degenerative disease which kept him from pursuing his hobby of cycling. He ended his life by committing suicide. He is buried on the site of his largest manufacturing facility. George never married, and his entire estate was given to causes he believed in.

While it’s fashionable at times to talk about the evils of capitalism, our country has benefitted from the contributions leaders such as George Eastman, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller. They created a legacy of wealth to be shared with others. They also set the model of sharing now being practiced by successful entrepreneurs.

Just imagine what contributions to the giving spirit that motivates some of the extremely wealthy, but not others? Just imagine the contributions made to our society from those who have benefitted from the sharing provided by philanthropists? Just imagine how the sharing of success can become something that all of us aspire to do?

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“The life of our communities in the future needs what our schools of music and other fine arts can give them. It is necessary for people to have an interest in life outside their occupations.”  – George Eastman

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