How Ebony’s founder overcame barriers — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
When John H. Johnson launched Ebony in 1945, it quickly became such a success that he could barely print copies fast enough to keep it on newsstands. Yet, the magazine aimed at African-Americans made little money because white-owned companies refused to advertise in it.
Advertising mogul Fairfax Cone, head of the Foote Cone & Belding ad agency, refused even to see Johnson about placing his clients’ ads in Ebony. So Johnson took matters into his own hands. He hopped on a train that Cone was taking from Chicago to New York, cornered Cone in the club car and sold his magazine so forcefully that Cone became a lifetime ally of Ebony.
That was vintage Johnson, a man who once posed as a janitor to inspect a building before buying it. Johnson’s philosophy? “When I see a barrier, I cry and I curse, and then I get a ladder and climb over it.”
— Adapted from Forbes The Greatest Business Stories of All Time, Daniel Gross, John Wiley & Sons.
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