HR & Management

The most inspirational sentences in business

5 min read

03 August 2012

Winston Churchill once famously said: "If you find a job you love, you'll never work again." Words, they can delight and inspire, at times engage and at others enrage.

There are words that have been written or uttered that have changed my life. I want to share some of the best of them with you.

“By their deeds shall ye know them”

I have often heard my Best Man’s father say it. Think Brian Blessed and you’re not far off. It’s a quote full of simplistic majesty. Deeds – isn’t it what life is all about? Is our ultimate worth not revealed and defined by what we do, rather than what we intend?

“Money has no smell”

…So said the great Roman Emperor Vespasian when criticised about a tax on urinals. For me it holds the key to one of the great levellers in business. No matter how grand your intention or high your ideals: if you can’t make it pay, your business is dust. Profit is a purifying flame.

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week”

This time the words of General George S. Patton, America’s greatest general. There is a lesson for business people here. Year after year firms agonise over business plans that all too often hit the bottom draw almost as soon as they are written. Action is so often the best plan you can have.

“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever”

So a North American Indian once said and a lot of people could do with listening to him today. We’re bombarded and overloaded with facts and truths, but stories do speak to us. “Never knowingly undersold”, “Every little helps” – John Lewis and Tesco understand the power of inspiring belief by investing in their own legend.

“They’ve all got a strategy until they get hit”

That’s the philosophy of a perhaps unlikely source, the former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson. Recession has been the great leveler. Not many firms claim to be ‘recession resistant’ these days. We all get knocked to the ground. It’s how we pick ourselves up that really matters. That to me is the difference between winners and losers.

“It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy”

Steve Jobs was not only an inventor – he inspired. For anyone who left a job to make a job by starting their own firm, I think this quote will resonate. The high seas of business need the derring-do of the swashbuckler.

“All progress depends on the unreasonable man” (and woman!)

George Bernard Shaw nailed the spirit of the entrepreneur with this one. Becoming your own boss is risky, difficult and, if you look at the survival rates of business, an irrational thing to do. Good job that entrepreneurs are some of the most wonderfully unreasonable people you could hope to meet. Our nation’s economic future needs a great many more people who are prepared to treat life in an uncompromising way.

“If you find a job you love, you’ll never work again“

The immortal words of Winston Curchill summing up what I certainly believe it feels like to be your own boss.

“All things being equal, people will buy from a friend. All things being not quite so equal, people will still buy from a friend”

Mark McCormack was the inspiration for Tom Cruise’s Jerry McGuire. He was one of the great business legends of all time and I think, for me, he captured the greatest of all words: friendship. In business, as in life, your friends are what counts. The most successful people I have worked with have always used the power of friendship to win.

So, what are words worth? Oh, I’d say they offer a great deal.

Michael Hayman is co-founder of the the public relations firm Seven Hills, a co-founder of the national campaign for entrepreneurs StartUp Britain, and Chairman of MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival.