Ewing was born in 1916, near Garden City, Missouri. When he was a child his father was blinded in one eye in a farming accident and was forced to give up farming and move the family to Kansas City, Missouri where he became an insurance salesman.
When Ewing was eleven, he became seriously ill and one of his heart valves was damaged. A doctor prescribed one year in bed so the heart valve could properly heal. At first, young Ewing was devastated. He was a normal, rambunctious boy who participated in sports and school activities. To an eleven-year-old, a year in bed was like a death sentence.
During the first month of his enforced recovery, Ewing made a remarkable decision. He decided to maximize his time and use the year to learn as much as possible. He taught himself to speed read (at eleven!) and soon was reading 100 books per month, for a total of over one thousand books by the year’s end. He tracked his new knowledge and created a system to retain the information (again, at eleven!!). Young Ewing also included the Bible, which he read entirely through several times. In later life, he always believed that his Bible reading was foundational to his success. When Ewing turned twelve, he was physically healthy and primed with a personal education that surpassed anything he would have learned attending school.
In 1942, Ewing joined the United States Navy and fought in both the Atlantic and Pacific. When discharged he returned to Kansas City where he worked for Lincoln Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company. He earned a 20% commission and soon was making more money than the president of the company. When the company cut his commission, he resigned and used $5,000 to start his own pharmaceutical company, Marion Laboratories. By 1988 the company founded by Ewing Marion Kauffman had revenues of almost one billion dollars. In 1989, the company he had built from nothing merged with Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals to form the Marion Merrell Dow corporation and Ewing Kauffman became the chairman emeritus of the company.
Ewing is also known for two additional success stories. In the 1960’s he established a foundation to help economically disadvantaged teenagers get an education and then start businesses of their own. The applicants were required to be drug free, not involved in a teenage pregnancy, and willing to work at a difficult but rewarding program. It was a great success. The second story is the decision Kauffman made to give something back to his home community. He bought an expansion major league baseball team on the condition the team located in Kansas City. He named them the “Kansas City Royals.”
Ewing Kauffman was a dedicated “time maximizer.” The lessons and disciplines he learned at eleven, he applied the rest of his life. He used his broad knowledge base, including the Bible, until he died. He used “time” wisely and well to accomplish his life goals. So can you.
The Bible says in Psalm 90:12:
Teach us [Lord] to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.