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45 picks from Forbes Book of Quotations

We picked these out of ‘10,000 thoughts on the business of life’ to help you be inspired.
By Serina Alonzo |

Forbes Book of Quotations


Many businesspeople tend to take from technical information or rely on practical know-how when they need solutions or answers to problems they encounter in their businesses.


While those are reliable and can help them in countless ways, there is usually an imaginary gap that separates the substandard from the ordinary good, and another that separates the ordinary good from the extraordinary great.



At a glance, it may be the quality of workforce, the ingeniousness of products and services, or the amount of assets that collectively form what notions or ideas the public know about the business.


However, when businesses fail and questions become difficult to answer by hard knowledge alone, people turn to wisdom from experience.


This handy list of inspirational quotes from Forbes Book of Quotations: 10,000 Thoughts on the Business of Life (edited by Ted Goodman) is aimed at positively inspiring humaneness in every businessperson. More than statements that tell people what to do or what not to do, they help change lives, shape perspectives, and impact change in business environments.




“‘I can do it’” never yet accomplished anything; ‘I will try’ has performed wonders.” – George P. Burnham


“We could accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” – C. Malesherbes




“The person who minds nobody’s business but his own is probably a millionaire.” – Anonynmous



“Professionals are people who can do their job when they don’t feel like it. Amateurs are people who can’t do their job when they do feel like it.” – Anonymous


“The first mark of good business is the ability to deliver. To deliver its product or service on time and in the condition which the client was led to expect. This dedication to provision and quality gives rise to corporate reliability. It makes friends and, in the end, is the reason why solvent companies remain solvent.” – Michel J.T. Ferguson




“Let a man practice the profession which he best knows.” – Cicero


“Each man has his own vocation. The talent is the call.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson




“There are but two ways of paying debt—increase of industry in raising income, increase of thrift in laying out.” – Thomas Carlyle


“Debt is the worst poverty.” – Thomas Fuller


“A creditor is worse than a slave-owner; for the master owns only your person, but a creditor owns your dignity, and can command it.” – Victor Hugo





“Parsimony, and not industry, is the immediate cause of the increase of capital. But whatever industry might acquire, if parsimony did not save and store up, the capital would never be greater.” – Adam Smith




“Whoever admits that he is too busy to improve his methods, has acknowledged himself to be at the end of his rope. And that is always the saddest predicament which any one can get into.” – J. Ogden Armour


“One of the things that drives me is the excitement that I could fail. What better buzz can you get?” – Calvin Ayre


“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett


“Seven national crimes: 1. I don’t think. 2. I don’t know. 3. I don’t care. 4. I am too busy. 5. I leave well enough alone. 6. I have no time to read and find out. 7. I am not interested.” – William J.H. Boetcker





“In this life we get only those things for which we hunt, for which we strive, and for which we are willing to sacrifice. It is better to aim for something that you want—even though you miss it—than to get something that you didn’t aim to get, and which you don’t want! If we look long enough for what we want in life, we are almost sure to find it, no matter what that objective may be.” – George Matthew Adams




“If you have nothing else to do, look about you and see if there isn’t something close at hand that you can improve! It may make you wealthy, though it is more likely that it will make you happy.” – George Matthew Adams


“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notion unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus





“Theory without experience is sterile, practice without theory is blind.” – George Jan Anyon


“Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money.” – W.J. Cameron


“Many blunder in business through inability or an unwillingness to adopt new ideas. I have seen many a success turn to failure also, because the thought which should be trained on big things is cluttered up with the burdensome detail of little things.” – Philip S. Delaney




“Unless the job means more than the pay, it will never pay more.” – H. Bertram Lewis




“You are your greatest investment. The more you store in that mind of yours, the more you enrich your experience, the more people you meet, the more books you read, the more places you visit, the greater is that investment in all that you are. Everything that you add to your peace of mind, and to your outlook upon life, is added capital that no one but yourself can dissipate.” – George Matthew Adams



“Of true knowledge at any time, a good part is merely convenient, necessary indeed to the worker, but not to an understanding of his subject: One can judge a building without knowing where to buy the bricks; one can understand a violin sonata without knowing how to score for the instrument. The work may in fact be better understood without a knowledge of the details of its manufacture, of attention to these tends to distract from meaning and effect.” – Jacques Barzun




“Conductors of great symphony orchestras do not play every musical instrument; yet through leadership the ultimate production is an expressive and unified combination of tones.” – Thomas D. Bailey




“Manners are the happy ways of doing things; each one a stroke of genius or of love, now repeated and hardened into usage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


“As laws are necessary that good manners may be preserved, so good manners are necessary that laws may be maintained.” – Niccolo Machiavelli



“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” – Emily Post




“A great nation cannot abandon its responsibilities. Responsibilities abandoned today return as more acute crises tomorrow.” – Gerald Ford


“The worth of a state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.” – John Stuart Mill




“Most of us never recognize opportunity until it goes to work in our competitor’s business.” – P.L. Andarr


“Great opportunities come to all, but many do not know they have met them. The only preparation to take advantage of them is simple fidelity to watch what each day brings.” – Albert E. Dunning


“When blocked or defeated in an enterprise I had much at heart, I always turned immediately to another field of work where progress looked possible, biding my time for a chance to resume the obstructed road.” – Charles W. Eliot





“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” -  Julie Andrews


“In the realm of ideas, everything depends on enthusiasm; in the real world, all rests on perseverance.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe




“Quality isn’t something that can be argued into an article or promised into it. It must be put there. If it isn’t put there, the finest sales talk in the world won’t act as a substitute.” – C.G. Campbell


“No matter how small or unimportant what we are doing may seem, if we do it well, it may soon become the step that will lead us to better things.” – Channing Pollock




“We are not put here on earth to play around. There is work to be done. There are responsibilities to be met. Humanity needs the abilities of every man and woman.” – Alden Palmer




“The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education.” – Maya Angelou



“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there.” – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus




“Don’t show off every day, or you’ll stop surprising people. There must always be some novelty left over. The person who displays a little more of it each day keeps up expectations, and no one ever discovers the limits of his talent.” – Baltasar Gracian




“When no new thoughts fill the mind—when no horizons beckon—when life is in the past, not the future—you are on your way to uselessness.” – Dr. Frederick K. Stamm




“Everything that we think, that we earn, that we have given to us, that in any way touches our consciousness, has its own value. These values are apt to change with the mood, with time, or because of circumstances. We cannot safely tie to any material value. Nothing of this nature has any permanent set value. The real values are those that stay by you, give you happiness, and enrich you. They are the human values.” – George Matthew Adams



“A true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success.” – Cullen Hightower




“The true way to gain much, is never to desire to gain too much. He is not rich that possesses much, but he that covets no more; and he is not poor that enjoys little, but he that wants too much.” – Francis Beaumont


Forbes Book of Quotations: 10,000 Thoughts on The Business of Life is available at National Book Store for P1049 ($22.27).



Serina is’s intern from the De La Salle University.


Stitched photos from Thinkstock, National Book Store

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