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3 People for Dinner

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If you could choose three people who have ever lived to join for dinner, whom would you invite and why?

A fascinating dinner party bound to be characterized by riveting conversation must include three awesome historical figures from different epochs who represent great human accomplishments: the pioneering explorer Christopher Columbus, the enduringly popular Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and industrial magnate Henry Ford. These three have influenced my worldview; I draw inspiration for my future from how they conducted their lives.

Genoan explorer Christopher Columbus had an audacious vision to sail westward in order to gain access to the riches of the East. He fought for his vision, thereby prevailing upon the Spanish Monarchs for sponsorship. Four voyages to the New World inaugurated for the first time in history continuous European involvement in the Western Hemisphere. Though not a scholarly man, his actions relegated to a by-gone era all those backward theologians still insisting the Earth was flat. A bold strategy combined with deft skills intervened in the arc of history: never again would East and West be separated.

W.A. Mozart was a prolific and influential composer. During a career cut short by an untimely death at 35, he prodigiously composed over 600 works in every major genre of the Classical era, many of which remain unrivaled for their lyricism and genius. Haydn said of him, “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.” Indeed, Mozart’s last year witnessed some of my favorites, including The Magic Flute and his unfinished yet hauntingly beautiful Requiem. Mozart’s creative productivity awes me: he feverishly composed multiple works concurrently, pressing tirelessly to finish one—just so he could begin another. Contrary to popular myth, Mozart did not die in obscurity; editorials from Viennese newspapers lamented his death, and there’s some evidence of a public memorial in his honor in Prague attended by thousands. Regardless, admiration for his music has escalated beyond comparison and never waned.

Henry Ford was the first to grasp the massive capital pay-offs that could accrue from systematized industrial mass production. His business risks were informed, however, by a far more expansive vision of a society in which all people could afford personal autos. Thus he revolutionized industry through his now famous Model T assembly line paradigm, and he shocked the business world with an unprecedented $5/day wage in 1914. Not only did Ford Motor become an industrial powerhouse, an entire era of economic history coined “Fordism” catapulted the U.S. to global economic preeminence.

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