More than any other figure in the history of American industry, Henry Ford is the hero of mass production—and in that most iconic of American industries, the automobile. The keys to Ford’s success lay in his refusal to conduct business as usual, his aim of producing an inexpensive car that consumers would want, and his continuous innovation in production techniques. A man of contradictory natures, he could be by turns kindly and severe, generous and cruel, charitable and stingy, orderly and impulsive. And like many successful entrepreneurs, he allowed himself the right of discourse on larger issues beyond his smaller world of expertise. Ford’s My Life and Work, written with Samuel Crowther and first published in 1922, is a Ford treasury of information and opinion. In the following excerpts he describes the beginnings of the Ford Motor Company and its manufacturing departures that helped make its cars so popular. He then expands his horizons to offer worldly wisdom derived from his business experience.