From POW To CEO.

Reinhard Mohn
Reinhard Mohn

This is a war story. A prisoner of war story.

Its focus is a German Afrika Korps lieutenant who fought under Rommel in WWII.

Eighteen-year-old Reinhard Mohn.

He was captured in the North African desert and shipped to Camp Concordia in Kansas as a POW.

It was the start of an extraordinary business life, the creation of a media empire.

At Concordia you had time on your hands. Days dragged by inside a barbed wire enclosure.

Still, Reinhard Mohn used the interminable hours well, mastering English and making one thing work to his advantage.

The prison library.

He read exhaustively – books on business management, marketing, direct response and advertising.

He absorbed all that American business leaders were doing in the publishing and media industries as he came from a publishing family in Germany.

It was a business started in 1835 but it had amounted to little.

That was about to change with Mohn’s reading and study.

He picked up on a new American idea of the times for sales and the retention customers – book clubs.

At the end of the war Mohn returned to Germany to head up the family business.

Today it’s the mass media corporation you know as Bertelsmann, a giant organization.

In 2014 it had a revenue of 16,675 billion, a workforce of 112,000 and a presence in 50 countries.

As Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz might say, ‘we’re not in Kansas any more’.

Besides publishing, Bertelsmann is an international force in radio and television.

If you had a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective POWs, Reinhard Mohn would feature prominently on page one.

After all, he’s an example of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.

Speaking of which, how about those bootstraps of your own?

Even if you’re already a success you can always do better in dealing with competitive forces, can’t you?

You can go from excellence to the high side of excellence, correct?

You can do it by becoming more curious and reading more.

Too many marketing books are unread by those who have the most to learn.

More’s the pity.

But with no barbed wire enclosure to hold you in, it’s easy to get out and do one thing.

Explore the Barnes & Noble Business Book section.

It can be a treasure trove for new ideas. A starting point for fresh thinking.

Were he with us today Reinhard Mohn would endorse that.

Share with us. Leave your comment below. Thanks for reading Regards, Steve Ulin LinkedIn:



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