The Go-Getter (1921) is a motivational short story about a former soldier’s attempts to earn respect and employment from the owner of a logging and lumber company. Through the young man’s can-do attitude and proactive efforts, the story highlights the value of enthusiasm, determination, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.
Introduction: Get inspired by the infectious enthusiasm and can-do attitude of William E. Peck.
Hard work lies at the heart of any grand endeavor – be it a business, a nation, or an individual life. You have to be able to face failure head-on and get back up when hardship brings you to your knees. To paraphrase the great American inventor Thomas Edison, after his numerous failed attempts at constructing a light bulb, “I have not failed – I have simply discovered a thousand ways to not make a light bulb.”
It’s this essence of hard work and good, honest entrepreneurship that permeates the 1921 classic The Go-Getter. The author, Peter B. Kyne, personified these values. Born the son of a hard-working rancher, he went on to become a successful businessman and prolific writer. Written and set in the so-called Roaring Twenties – a prosperous interval between World War I and the Great Depression, when life thrived and businesses flourished – the story is a reflection not only of its time, but also of something pure, strong, and sacred that was beating within the heart of industrial America.
And what does the story of Bill Peck have to offer today, over 100 years later? One could say it has quite a lot. In these indolent times of instant gratification, easy-ways-out, and armchair socialism, too many people want the reward without putting in the effort. Anyone can benefit from the can-do attitude of the war-veteran protagonist.
This Blink will walk you through the entire story, from Bill’s enthusiastic job interview to his hard-earned promotion at Ricks Logging & Lumbering Company. At the end of each section, there’ll be a brief reflection on what themes or lessons the narrative is highlighting.
So, sit up straight, pay attention, and brace yourself for the demanding but optimistic world of The Go-Getter.
Bill Peck applies for a job at Ricks Logging & Lumbering company
The time? Early twentieth century, just after World War I. The place? San Francisco, inside the offices of Ricks Logging & Lumbering company. The discontented owner and founder of this company, Cappy Ricks, is facing a dilemma. A mismanagement issue within the Pacific shipping division has left his company without supervision for a critical delivery to China. He needs to hire someone, and fast.
It’s at this moment that Cappy is informed that a young man has arrived and is asking to speak with the owner personally. This man is Mr. William E. Peck. From the moment Mr. Peck steps into the office, he is enthusiastic, polite, and grateful. He explains that he has come to claim “his job,” and does not expect to be refused – a confidence that intrigues and amuses Cappy.
So, who is this Bill Peck? Apart from his piercing blue eyes, his otherwise ordinary appearance is distinguished by a slight limp and a left arm that has been amputated above the elbow. Cappy correctly surmises that Peck served in the military in the recently concluded war. Despite his disability, Peck cheerfully points out that he still has his head and his right arm, allowing him to think and write – and that’s all that matters.
Peck had previously been turned away by two of Cappy’s other managers. Undeterred, the persistent young veteran decided to go straight to the top, hoping that the owner of the company could overrule them. The nerve! But it’s a nerve that pays off, as Cappy – charmed by Peck’s attitude and tickled by his confidence – offers him a job. But not before warning him that it won’t be easy. He shall get paid not a cent more than he’s worth, Cappy tells Peck, and the company’s general manager, Mr. Skinner – whom Peck meets – will be sure to test his abilities.
After Peck leaves, Skinner immediately voices his concerns to Cappy – insinuating that he only hired Peck because he’s handicapped, and angry that Peck went over the heads of those who denied him the job. To which Cappy replies, “How could I reject a boy who simply would not be rejected?”
This sentiment is reinforced when Cappy encounters Peck in the street later that day. Peck hands him an engraved business card he had prepared for himself – already emblazoned with the logo and name of Ricks Lumber & Logging Company!
From the very beginning, Bill Peck’s determined spirit shines through the grim predicament facing the logging company. It’s clear that there is no doubt in his mind as to whether or not he will get the job he’s seeking – he doesn’t take no for an answer, and goes directly to the top.
Contrast this with Peck’s apparent disabilities, and you get one of the story’s first major themes: perseverance in the face of overwhelming adversity. A wounded leg and a missing arm? That’s nothing against the can-do attitude of Mr. William E. Peck! As he declares himself, he still has his head and his right hand.
Which raises the question: What’s your excuse? No matter what life throws at you, or what injustices you face, if you have a good attitude and visualize your success, you can achieve anything.
This is about to be put to the test, as Skinner prepares to throw some challenges Peck’s way.
Early success and an impossible task
So Mr. Peck sets to work, selling timber throughout America under the supervision of Mr. Skinner. During his initial months, he’s sent to Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, sending orders faster than they can be processed. Skinner has no choice but to admit the veteran’s skills and request a raise for him. Upon hearing this, Cappy gives the young man even more – he believes Peck should get a higher salary than the man he replaced.
With the possibility of promotion for Peck on the horizon, Cappy decides to give him a real test. The task? To deliver a blue vase. Sounds straightforward, right?
By feigning sickness, Skinner claims to be unable to do a very important job for Cappy – asking Peck to do it instead. With his classic go-getter enthusiasm, the young man jokingly asks who Cappy wants killed, and where to deliver the body. With a laugh, Skinner clarifies that his request isn’t quite that drastic. Mr. Cappy simply wants a specific blue vase he saw in the window of a certain shop in Market Street – it would make a perfect wedding present for a friend of his. Unfortunately, the wedding is the following day, and Cappy will be leaving for Santa Barbara at 8 o’clock that night. He needs the vase, and he needs it that afternoon.
Peck promptly requests a more detailed description of the vase – he doesn’t want to get the wrong one. He assures his boss, without a hint of uncertainty, that the vase will be delivered that night at 7:55 p.m.
With that, Peck is off to complete his task. He arrives at the location, but, despite searching high and low in every window, he fails to find a vase fitting Cappy’s description. Assuming a miscommunication, Peck phones the shop owner’s house for clarification. No answer. Not to be deterred, he continues his search, exploring the neighboring streets.
Finally, he locates it, several blocks from the indicated location. But of course, the shop is closed, and there is no one inside.
It appears that Bill Peck has been assigned an impossible task. What will he do?
After his work ethic and attitude have gotten the voracious young go-getter a raise and the respect of his higher-ups, it’s now time to test Peck’s limits. While some might regard Cappy and Skinner’s task for the disabled war veteran as pointless and deceitful to the point of cruelty, it sets the stage for another of the book’s key themes – the value of perseverance and determination.
You see, the blue vase is more than just a blue vase. It symbolizes the seemingly unattainable. The ultimate goal of our ambitions and efforts – the thing we want but cannot get. Take a moment to reflect on the “blue vase” in your life. What’s the thing you want in your private or professional life that seems just beyond your grasp, behind the glass of the closed storefront? A promotion? Perhaps a superior’s respect?
As you are about to see, with sufficient determination, initiative, and creativity, any “blue vase” is within grasp.
Getting it done: In pursuit of the blue vase
Mr. William E. Peck stands in front of the shop window. The blue vase – the specific request of Mr. Cappy – is tantalizingly out of reach. Many would give up when faced with such an insurmountable barrier. But giving up is not in Mr. Peck’s vocabulary.
Without missing a beat, he looks at the sign and sees that the name is B. Cohen’s Art Shop. A quick browse through the phone directory at a nearby hotel reveals nineteen B. Cohens throughout the city. He breaks a dollar into five-cent pieces and starts dialing.
Eventually, he manages to get in touch with someone who reveals that the man in question is having a meal with a Mr. Simons. Following this lead, Peck finally gets hold of the shop owner and says that he must have that vase, right this instant. Mr. Cohen directs him to Herman Joost, his head salesman.
Once Joost is tracked down, he demands $2,000 for the vase. Peck, of course, does not have this money, nor can he get it from Skinner when he calls up asking for help. By this time it’s half-past nine – he has already missed the 7:55 p.m. deadline. But Peck still doesn’t give up.
Finally, he pawns his own diamond ring and leaves the shop with the precious vase. But he’s very late. What can he do? He takes a taxi to the nearby airport, and enlists the help of his friend to fly him – and the blue vase – in a private plane to a town beyond Cappy’s train.
He flags down the train and delivers the vase to an astonished yet impressed Mr. Cappy. The owner and founder of Ricks Logging Company explains that he has passed the test, despite all the obstacles that had been set for him.
Cappy is now convinced that Mr. Peck is the right man for the job. Peck is promoted on the spot to the position of manager of the company’s operations in Shanghai.
Peck’s relentless pursuit of the blue vase furthers the theme of determination. Regardless of the hurdles – bad directions, unavailable shopkeepers, even a missed deadline and a distant train – nothing deterred him from his objective.
There’s a time-honored adage in sports: it’s not how often you’re knocked down, but rather how often you get back up. And, as we can see, Peck kept getting back up. This embodies the true go-getter spirit, and is the ultimate reason why Peck gets his promotion. The struggle is worth it in the end.
Hard work and dedication are always rewarded. If you believe this, you’ll always get what you deserve.
However, it appears that the newly promoted Mr. Peck has one last surprise up his sleeve.
The motivation of a go-getter
The motivation of a go-getter
With the vase secured, and the elaborate plan carried out, Cappy questions Mr. Peck – rightly – on why he didn’t simply give up in the face of overwhelming odds. In response, Peck reveals that quitting would have been disloyal to a man he once admired. Curious to hear the origins of the go-getter, Cappy asks for more information.
The man behind Peck’s motivation was his brigadier in the war. This man lived by a simple motto: It shall be done. No matter the danger or scale of the task, he always met it with the same “Yes, sir, it shall be done.”
When Peck followed his brigadier’s mantra straight into gunfire that cost him an arm and a leg, the brigadier visited him in the hospital. Understandably upset about his future prospects, Peck was ordered by the brigadier to smile. As a soldier Peck couldn’t help but follow the order – “It shall be done.”
The brigadier went on to fall in combat, but his spirit lived on in Peck’s memory. Touched, Cappy asks Peck for the man’s name. In a shocking twist, that very man had been a candidate for a sales position at Cappy’s company before the war – indeed, he was one of the few other people to have passed the blue vase test. It’s a small world indeed.
In the end, Cappy invites Peck to join him for a round of golf, remembering only at the last minute that the veteran is missing an arm. But true to form, Bill Peck insists that he will have no trouble playing one-handed golf. Just like following his brigadier’s orders or going to extraordinary lengths to secure the boss’s blue vase – it shall be done.
It’s in this final scene that Peck reveals the origins of his tenacious work ethic – not some natural trait he was born with, but rather the inspiration of a commanding officer during the war. The lesson here? There’s potential in all of us. Claiming “that’s just the way I am” is not a valid excuse for a negative attitude or lack of motivation.
If you want it, you can take it. Not only that, you can inspire it in others! Put yourself out there, give your best, never surrender, and you can cultivate the go-getter attitude in others. If you’re a leader, you need to do more than simply demand this effort from your team. You need to lead by example.
As Peck’s final remarks highlights, this principle isn’t just confined to the professional world. Whether it’s sports, leisure, or just trying something new, don’t let any handicap or preconception stop you from giving your all.
Keep in mind those four little words: It shall be done.
Cappy Ricks, the proprietor of Ricks Logging & Lumbering Company, is in financial trouble and needs to hire a new salesman for the Shanghai shipping division. Enter Bill Peck, an energetic young war veteran with a crippled leg and a missing arm, requesting to speak to Cappy directly about a job. Cappy is quickly taken by Peck’s enthusiasm, positivity, and can-do attitude, and offers him a small position under the supervision of Mr. Skinner, the manager. Peck quickly proves his worth as a salesman, prompting Cappy to test him by requesting that he deliver a specific blue vase from a shop by 8.00 pm that evening. Peck sets off with enthusiasm, only to run into problem after problem – the directions were incorrect, the shop is closed, the owner is unavailable, and so forth. Eventually, Peck resorts to pawning his diamond ring for $2,000 and chartering a plane to make it to Cappy on time. Cappy is impressed by Peck’s perseverance and dedication, and promotes him to the manager of the Shanghai division. Peck reveals the source of his go-getter attitude to be his brigadier in the war who lived by a simple motto: It shall be done.
About the Author
Peter B. Kyne
Motivation, Inspiration, History, Personal Development, Career Success
“The Go-Getter: A Story That Tells You How To Be One” by Peter B. Kyne is a motivational and inspirational book that follows the journey of Bill Peck, a determined and resourceful young man who demonstrates exceptional perseverance and a strong work ethic. The story revolves around Bill’s unwavering pursuit of a job, which leads him to face numerous challenges and obstacles along the way.
The book begins with Bill Peck, a World War I veteran who is determined to secure a position at the Harken & Harken company. Despite being initially rejected for a job, Bill’s determination catches the attention of Cappy Ricks, the founder of the company. Impressed by Bill’s tenacity, Cappy Ricks assigns him a seemingly impossible task—to retrieve a blue vase from a distant location within a limited timeframe.
Bill embarks on this mission with unyielding determination, facing various setbacks and difficulties. He encounters closed doors, disheartening setbacks, and even the loss of his leg during the course of his journey. However, Bill remains undeterred and finds creative solutions to overcome each obstacle that comes his way.
Throughout the story, Bill’s unwavering commitment and resourcefulness serve as an inspiration to readers. He embodies the qualities of a true “go-getter,” someone who is willing to go above and beyond, take risks, and persistently pursue their goals. The book emphasizes the importance of having a strong work ethic, resilience, and the ability to think outside the box.
“The Go-Getter” is a timeless classic that offers valuable lessons and inspiration for readers aspiring to achieve success in their personal and professional lives. Peter B. Kyne masterfully weaves a compelling narrative that captures the essence of determination, perseverance, and the indomitable spirit of a true go-getter.
One of the book’s strengths lies in its ability to engage readers through a captivating story rather than presenting a dry self-help manual. By following Bill Peck’s journey, readers develop an emotional connection with the protagonist and experience his triumphs and setbacks firsthand. The challenges Bill faces throughout his quest serve as relatable metaphors for the obstacles encountered in real-life situations.
The author’s writing style is simple, yet impactful, allowing readers to easily grasp the underlying messages and lessons. The narrative flows smoothly, keeping the readers engaged from start to finish. Moreover, the brevity of the book makes it accessible and easy to digest, making it a suitable choice for readers with limited time.
“The Go-Getter” provides practical insights into the qualities and mindset required to become a successful go-getter. It reminds readers of the importance of unwavering determination, resourcefulness, adaptability, and a strong work ethic. The book encourages individuals to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and to persistently pursue their goals, even in the face of adversity.
While the book’s focus is primarily on personal success, the lessons it imparts can be applied to various aspects of life, including career advancement, entrepreneurship, and personal relationships. The principles discussed in “The Go-Getter” remain relevant across time, making it a valuable read for individuals from all walks of life.
In conclusion, “The Go-Getter: A Story That Tells You How To Be One” is an inspiring and motivational book that effectively conveys the qualities and mindset required to achieve success. Peter B. Kyne’s storytelling prowess, coupled with the valuable lessons embedded within the narrative, make it a worthwhile read for anyone seeking personal and professional growth. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a young aspiring go-getter, this book provides the necessary motivation and guidance to pursue your dreams with unwavering determination.