James Marshall was a carpenter from New Jersey, born in 1810. In the late 1840s he was hired by John Sutter to build a sawmill near Coloma, California. The sawmill was being built to provide lumber to the Sacramento Valley.
As Marshall and his men worked to build the sawmill in the American River, they soon realized that the water in that particular section was too shallow. There wasn’t enough water coming through to turn the wheel which powered the saw. They had to shut the water off to dig a deeper trench for the water to pass through.
On Monday January 24, 1848, Marshall was inspecting a section of the river below the mill when he spotted shiny metal flakes resting on some exposed bedrock. He took the metal back to Sutter where the two tested the metal privately. It was gold.
Between 1848 and 1850, the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000. People poured into Northern California. Merchants popped up everywhere, supporting the miners with goods and services. And as the gold became more difficult to find, technological advancements helped the miners move and sift through an enormous amount of dirt. The gold rush truly transformed California and, over time, the entire country.
Here are a few applications from this story:
- Only a small percentage of miners actually struck it rich, and yet people kept coming to California because of the allure that gold has. How can you better market and promote your goods and services in order to generate an increased level of appeal?
- No one goes into the mine looking for dirt. They go in to look for gold, and yet there’s a lot of dirt that has to be moved in order to reach the gold. Ultimate success for you depends on your level of commitment, patience, and positivity. You will have to dig through some dirt, but don’t stop until you hit the gold.
- That one speck of gold that Marshall discovered in 1848 was a small ripple that eventually generated a tidal wave of transformation throughout the country. You, your employees, and your company also have the potential to make a big impact on more people than you realize. The small investments you make today in your business can pay enormous dividends in the future. You never know. So, be aware of the kind of brand you are building. Be mindful of the people you surround yourself with. And be careful in how you treat others.