The Original Team: Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie
Biographer Helen Clapesattle described Mayo Clinic as "an experiment in cooperative individualism." These words aptly describe Drs. William J. and Charles H. Mayo, the original Mayo team. Even though each received recognition from around the world for his achievements, they consistently spoke of their accomplishments in terms of "my brother and I." Honors that came to the brothers were accepted "on behalf of my brother and I."
Both men were at the height of their careers in the early 20th century, when many successful individuals were creating vast enterprises. Like their contemporaries in other fields, Henry Ford (automobiles), Andrew Carnegie (steel), Clara Barton (American Red Cross), and William Randolph Hearst (news media), the brothers established an organization that bears the imprint of their personalities.
They shared their professional and personal lives. Clapesattle noted that the men had only one bank account between them. Whatever they earned went into it and whatever they wanted for their home building, clothing, travel and entertainment, came out of it without any accounting to the other brother. Whatever remained in the account at year-end was divided equally between them.
In "The Doctors Mayo," Clapesattle writes that the brothers did not always agree, and when they did not agree, "they scrapped it out." Still, their affection and respect for one another was always strong. A colleague once remarked to the brothers, "Your great success was not as surgeons. It was as brothers. There has never been anything like it."