It was about a year ago. I must have been ill because I was watching Oprah. Proper flu, obviously, because that’s what it takes to reduce a man to daytime TV. “You know,” Oprah smirked, “I always say luck is when opportunity and preparation meet.” If I’d been well enough I’d have thrown something at the telly. It drives me mad when celebs trot out something that’s been around so long that it’s not even a cliché any more – and then pass it off as their own.
And yet here I am a year on, looking at a list of motivational quotations, and there’s good old ‘Luck equals opportunity + preparation.’ Credited to Oprah. ‘Bah, humbug’, as I believe Katie Price so famously said.
Enough, Ed. You’re turning bitter in your old age. But business quotations have been much on my mind. I was listening to a speech the other day and it was utterly memorable. The speaker’s approach was simple. Google the words ‘best business quotes,’ throw in a few ‘ands’ and ‘buts,’ season with a dash of ‘in conclusion,’ read it out and voila – job done.
“There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM.” Gosh, I haven’t heard that one before. Well, not more than three thousand times. Maybe I’m getting old, maybe I’ve been in sales too long. So this is an appeal to you. Please restore my faith and send me what you think are the best business and motivational quotes.
I’ve listed some of my favourites below. Ones that I think still have relevance and meaning today – when the pace of change seems to be faster everyday. And yet the first one is from Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Could anything be more pertinent to business today?
And as parent, here’s one that I particularly like: it’s George Bernard Shaw – not quite a cutting edge teenage icon, but eight or ten years from now I may need to pin this on a bedroom wall. “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.”
Here are a few more. But please, add your own – I hope there are hundreds that I haven’t come across. Let’s run this over the next month or so – and then just before Christmas I’ll publish a list of the best ones – something to carry us all forward into 2011 on a wave of enthusiasm.
I’ve started with one from Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi (oh, please. He won the Nobel Prize in 1937). “A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” Wonder when he met Oprah?
Here are the rest of my favourites:
– Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. Will Rogers
– You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. Christopher Columbus
– Many of life’s failures are people who had not realised how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Edison
– The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Stephen Covey
– More often in life, we end up regretting the chances in life that we had, but didn’t take, than those chances that we took and wished we hadn’t. Anon
– Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games. Babe Ruth
– The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are a few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. Nolan Bushnell
– One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes. One who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. Chinese Proverb
– Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading: buying and selling. Anita Roddick
– I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacation with better care than they do their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change. Jim Rohn
– I found every single successful person I’ve ever spoken to had a turning point. The turning point was when they made a clear, specific, unequivocal decision that they were not going to live like this any more; they were going to achieve success. Some people make that decision at 15 and some people make it at 50. And most people never make it at all. Brian Tracy
Finally, one that sums up my Alternative Board philosophy. Jim Rohn again: “You cannot succeed by yourself. It’s hard to find a rich hermit.”
Over to you…