With the lasting motto "Only the best is good enough," Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891-1958) was a master carpenter in the village of Billund, Denmark. He transformed a Great Depression slump into the creation of wooden toys that he named "LEGO," Danish for "play well" and Latin for "I put together."
About success, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, "Heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight but, while their companions slept, they were toiling upward in the night."
To build his company, Christiansen toiled long and hard into the night. With a strong work ethic, he never skimped on quality. By 1949, the company had produced 200 different plastic and wooden toys. Lego toys were first sold in the U.S. in 1961.
Voted "toy of the century" by Fortune magazine, the interlocking plastic continues to be a celebration of creative play and the imagination that Albert Einstein said was "more important than knowledge." With Old Kirk's grandson, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen as CEO, the company continues to help children build imagination throughout the world. Lego today has sold over $1.5 billion in 130 countries.
"Children are our role models," Kristiansen said. "They embrace discovery and wonder. They are natural learners. These are precious qualities that should be nurtured and stimulated throughout our lives."
From the challenges come the gifts.