I hope this won't feel too "soft" a topic, but I believe a lot can be learned from good quotes (I collect them), so perhaps we could collect good quotes into this thread.

Here are two quotes from my favorites:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, 'Press on,' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
- Calvin Coolidge (30th President of the United States)

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
- Annie Dillard (U.S. author, poet, and Pulitzer prize winner in 1975 for nonfiction)

Do you have a favorite quote? Please share it!

WVH's picture
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"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." -- Brad Dinsmore

jbdoggett's picture

Here are a couple of good ones from my favorites list.

    "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." (Harry S. Truman)

    "In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves." (Buddha)



Mark's picture
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But still, this is the one that most informs me about management in my present role. 

If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.
But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.
It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way -
The General loses his stars, and the block-men die
In unstrategic defiance of martial law
Because still used to just being men, not block parts.

John Brown's Body, Stephen Vincent Benet





jen_wren's picture

 From Randy Pausch:

Brick walls are there for a reason, they let us prove how badly we want things.

When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be.  Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care.

HAVE FUN. Decide if you’re Tigger or Eeyore.

From Anita Roddick on Leadership:

You have to look at leadership through the eyes of the followers and you have to live the message. What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organization.

I think the leadership of a company should encourage the next generation not just to follow, but to overtake. The duty of leadership is to put forward ideas, symbols, metaphors of the way it should be done, so that the next generation can work out new and better ways of doing the job. The complaint Gordon and I have is that we are not being overtaken by our staff. We would like to be able to say, “We can’t keep up with you guys”, but, it is not happening.

The bigger you grow, the more intimate communication has to be. It almost has to be belly and belly. As you get bigger and bigger in an organization, everything gets more and more detached and everything is on email or voicemail. That’s the worse thing because lack of intimacy is one of the downsides (of growth).

You educate people, especially young people, by stirring their passions, so you take every opportunity to grab the imagination of your employees, you get them to feel they are doing something important, that they are not a lone voice, that they are the most powerful and potent people on the planet.


aasloan's picture

This quote has served as a "helping hand" for me when facing some of those big decisions in life:

"Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no"
- Richard Branson

And this one has kept me from beating myself up (too much) when I've made a decision or said something that I immediately regret:

"When you're young, you occasionally say and do stupid things even when you're smart."
-Paul Graham

stephenbooth_uk's picture the title of his autobiography: "Screw it, lets do it!"

I do recommend his autobiography, it's a very good read and incredibly funny at times.  Reading about his early life the over riding feeling I got is that he is someone who has had the full, complete and utter, unstinting and unquestioning support of his family from the day he was born.  This possibly accounts for his rather ' Take a chance' behaviours over the years that have lead him to take big risks in life as well as business.  He's never doubted that someone always had his back.

Another quote I like is from the .sig (that chunk of text that the mail program puts at the bottom of every mail) of someone on a mailing list I'm on (actually, the list owner).  It reads: "Those of you who think that you know everything are very annoying to those of us who do."



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john_67's picture

"I attribute my success to this - I never gave or took any excuse"

"I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all be distilled into actions which bring results"

Don't let the nurse thing fool you she was tough.

tedc's picture

My favourite quote, bar none is by Aristotle - "Authority is no source for Truth."

Two management quotes I love are:

"A boss creates fear, a leader confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting. A boss is interested in himself or herself, a leader is interested in the group."

- Russell H. Ewing

Each of the 217 times legendary advertising man David Ogilvy opened a new office for Ogilvy & Mather he would leave a set of Russian nesting dolls for the incoming manager. After reaching the end of the succession of smaller dolls, the manager would find a note: "If each of us hires people smaller than ourselves, we shall become a company of midgets. But if each of us hires people bigger than ourselves, we shall become a company of giants."

vbullara's picture

With great power comes great responsibility

 Spiderman (#1, 2002) by his Uncle Ben Parker played by Cliff Robertson, a take off from Winston Churchill's "The Price of Greatness is Responsibility"

dresouza's picture
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Socrates had it wrong; it is not the unexamined but finally the uncommitted life that is not worth living.  Descartes too was mistaken; "Cogito ergo sum" - "I think therefore I am"?  Nonsense.  "Amo ergo sum" - "I love therefore I am."  Or as with unconscious eloquence St. Paul wrote, " Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love."  I believe that.  I believe it better not to live than not to love.  William Sloan Coffin

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 A golf aphorism I like is: "Drive for show, putt for dough."

What it's getting at is that whilst a 300+ yard drive is very showy and impressive it's not a shot you'll use that often (there are a maximum of 18 tee shots in a round, barring 'Mulligans' and lost balls) or often that practical (a lot of holes are shorter than 300 or even 200 yards), an average golfer will find that 40% of their shots will be putts on the green.  Therefore whilst it may be very showy to be able to blast your ball 300+ yards off the tee, it's your putting performance on the green that is likely to decide if you win a hole or not.

This can be a metaphor for management as, as Mark and Mike have often said, good management is about the routine boring stuff and not the big bang showy stuff.  It's not about the showy big blast off the tee, it's about getting low to the ground to see what you have to work with and adapting your strategy according to the grain and undulations of the environment.



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Experience is how you avoid failure, failure is what gives you experience.

terrih's picture

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

terrih's picture

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost."

~Arthur Ashe

tradesylver's picture

I also have a collection of quotes tucked away in a notepad folder on yahoo.

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.” Tolstoy

This next quote was one that motivated me to look at where I was at in life and actually do something different about it.  It took ten years to pursue an education so that I could follow at dream before it was too late.

"Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!" - Earl Nightingale

terrih's picture

That Tolstoy quote is difficult to wade through... I wonder if there's a better translation somewhere. :)

billa's picture

 My all time favorite is:

"If work was a good thing the rich would have kept it for themselves."

Source unknown.


- Bill




ramiska's picture

All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strenghtened me.  You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.

-Walt Disney

ramiska's picture

... There's always a bigger fish

ptswhite's picture

You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington.

-Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 Just came across this quote and immediately liked it:

"The precondition to freedom is security." - Rand Beers ( ex-Marine Corps and ex-advisor to Reagan, both Bush US Presidents and the Kerry-Edwards 2004 campaign).



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stephenbooth_uk's picture


yes I'm aware of that quote, I considered mentioning it in my entry with the Rand Beers quote.  I'm also aware that whilst it's often ascribed to Franklin it's also often ascribed to Jefferson.  Both used it in letters and other writing but neither ever claimed to be the originator and it's unclear who first used it and who quoted them, or even if both were quoting some unknown 3rd person.

I have issues with the quote, a major one being that most people who use it miss out key words.  The full quote (as most often used by both Franklin and Jefferson, with minor variations such as "Security" instead of "Safety") is "Those who sacrifice an essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither"  That gives a slightly different view to the quote compared with the eviscerated form lacking the key terms of "essential" and "a little temporary".  The full quote I can agree with, the eviscerated form I cannot.

Some liberties are essential, others, not so.  Not all safety is temporary or indeed little.  Giving up an essential liberty for a little temporary safety would be a poor deal but ditching a trivial liberty for a long term big safety can be quite sensible.  Indeed, most of us do it all the time.  We give up the liberty of freely choosing what to do between the hours of 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday (or some similar pattern of time), in return for the security of being able to feed, house and clothe ourselves and our family.

I don't think that Franklin and Jefferson were wrong.  I do think that they were talking about a different situation to the one we see today and to a very different audience to the one they would be talking to today.  They were talking to a nation that was still completing its birth cries, a nation that had recently been through a revolutionary war that was trying to build itself and could fall apart at any time with different groups wanting to go off in different directions and build different alliances (including some who wanted to return to the security British Empire, albeit on a more equal footing than before the war, I suspect that it was this group who were the main target of the quote).

What I like most about the Rand Beers quote is the clear truth of it.  To be free you must be secure; you cannot be free if you are enslaved by fear, without security fear is all you have.  In many ways security is a form of liberty, it frees you from fear. 



Skype: stephenbooth_uk (Please note I'm on UK time)

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Experience is how you avoid failure, failure is what gives you experience.

MMedina's picture

 A few from Khalil Gibran I have relied upon throughout the years.

One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night. 

...unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice, it will but lead some to greed and others to hunger.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.

mmann's picture
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"There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries.  On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures." 

--Shakespeare  Julius Caesar, Act IV [Brutus]



"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change."

--Clarence Darrow

12string's picture
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 Not really a business one, but I tell this to all of the football teams that I coach (youth football)

"Wars are not won by dying for you country.  Wars are won by making the other poor guy die for his country!"   ~General Patton~


mgrainge's picture
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"Don't tell me it's raining, build me an ark" - my first manager, years ago.....

pmoriarty's picture
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The perfect is the enemy of the good. - Voltaire


keithclove's picture

"Never let a lack of knowledge get in your way"

   - Michael Caine's character in the movie Peepers

altadel's picture
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"The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going."  - Emerson

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." - Thoreau 

SteveAnderson's picture
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 "Are you aware that all jobs require you to do things you'd rather not do?  That's why they have to pay you." - Dilbert


(DiSC 5435)

jhack's picture

"The thing I hate about Christmas parties is having to look for a new job the next day."

-Phyllis Diller


jhbchina's picture

Group Name Sales Best Practices

Discussion Name "What's Your Favourite Motivational Quote or Sales Line"

“Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle... when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.”

That is the value of LinkedIN if you know how to harness it!

JHB "00"

mpnikolic's picture

"Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not the voices, but weigh them."

-Immanuel Kant

ktnbs's picture

 I don't recall specifically who stated is rather obvious but whilst reading a forum in my profession it caught me so I noted it down.

Transmitting information is far easier than creating understanding.

In my field we have "experts" or analysts on policies and procedures.  It has always irritated the heck out of me that way too many of them just pass along information on such policies, new rules, new procedures, by literally just forwarding the information with an "FYI" or "Heads Up". (Gee thanks for doing your job so well, can I have it at your pay?)


kmtone's picture

"Tomorrow is for losers and dreamers" 

-R. Kiyosaki

430jan's picture

From the Demotivator's site "Consistency: it's only a virtue if you aren't a screwup"

javileru's picture

 Favorite quotes

This all I heard during my life. 

" confusion is the mother of curiosity"

" Do not smile to understanding"

" There is no harmony without counterpoint "



royd's picture

Some of my favourite quotes

Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem - in my opinion - to characterize our age.
- Albert Einstein

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't.
- Henry Ward Beecher

The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.
John Locke

Try not! Either do or do not!
Master Yoda in 'Star Wars'

Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821)

Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
Gustav Mahler (1860–1911),


FillAShift's picture

One of my favorites is, "You don't know what you don't know." I believe that the continuation of learning is an extremely important aspect of leadership and this quote really drives it home in a very simple way. 


Spending more than 60 seconds to fill your vacant shift is a waste of time. Send a text to everyone at once and do something more productive with the extra time you save.



robin_s's picture
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My all time favorite:


Seize the Day.

naraa's picture
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"with good students - get out of their way, make contacts for them and remove other obstacles", referring to PhD students and directed to their supervisors.

I heard it from my PhD supervisor Peter Halley who told me he learned it from Paul Greenfield, then head of engineering, University of Queensland.  I think it would do wonders if applied to companies: "with talented people - give them the framework, get out of their way, make contacts for them and remove other obstacles."

deanpickett's picture

The pessimist complains about the wind
The optimist expects it to change
The leader adjusts the sail

deanpickett's picture

The pessimist complains about the wind
The optimist expects it to change
The leader adjusts the sail

jkuntz's picture

One of my favourites is simply "Life is good".

The company that makes Life is Good shirts etc., puts a blurb on their labels I like as well "Do what you like, like what you do".

GlennR's picture

"90% of all management problems are caused by miscommunication."--Dale Carnegie

--Ross's corollary: It applies to marital problems as well.

Lagniappe: One of my boss's used to say, "Don't say (or write) 'blah blah' when 'blah' will do." (See BLUF)

aklungl's picture

I have several, and I do keep a list myself. Here are a few of my absolute favorites:

We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act, but a habit. ~ Aristotle

I've failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed. ~ Michael Jordan

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do. ~ Helen Keller

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit. ~ Harry S. Truman

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~ Herm Albright

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it's the same problem you had last year. ~ John Foster Dulles, U.S. Army Major, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State

The supple branch bends, the rigid branch breaks. ~ Eric Payne
Don't ever be afraid to admit you were wrong. It's like saying you're wiser today than you were yesterday. ~ Robert Newell

darrahs's picture

I have this one hanging up in my office: "Never mind what others do; do better than yourself, beat your own record from day to day, and you are a success."  William J. Boetcker

Bookchic49's picture
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It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference".

Tom Brokaw

sheuchert's picture

Here are two of my favourite:

If it is not right, do not do it.  If it is not true, do not say it. - Marcus Aurelius 


There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. -Shakespeare (Hamlet)



pjean's picture

To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge. - Benjamin Disraeli


canuck's picture

Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.

Dion Boucicault