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A magazine editor recently asked me to sit down on my 40th birthday and write an article on the most important things I had learned in my first 40 years. I told him that the chief thing I had learned was that the copybook maxims are true, but that too many people forget this once they go out into the heat and hustle and bustle of the battle of life and only realize their truth once one foot is beginning to slip into the grave. The man who has won millions at the cost of his conscience is a failure.

B. C. Forbes

A nation’s economic salvation does not lie in the amount of money its rich inhabitants can squander recklessly. A nation’s economic salvation lies in the amount of money its inhabitants can save and invest after providing themselves with all the necessaries and all the reasonable comforts of life.

B. C. Forbes

Lady Luck generally woos those who earnestly, enthusiastically, unremittingly woo her.

B. C. Forbes

A big business man was telling Henry Ford about a coach driver of super-expertness with his whip. The driver was telling how he could flick a fly off his horse’s ear with his whip-and, a fly alighting just then, he promptly did so. Next he spied a grasshopper beside the road, and he flicked it off with equal dexterity. A little further along the road the passenger noticed an insect on a bush, and nudged the driver to get him. Not on your life, replied the master of the whip. That there insect is a hornet sitting on his nest with an organization behind him. I leave him alone.

B. C. Forbes

Do too many executives still indulge in the short-sighted habit of issuing orders without taking the slightest pains to explain to those responsible for carrying them out the whyfor and wherefor of the orders? Where employees come in daily and hourly contact with the public, surely it is important that care be taken to fit them to reply intelligently to courteous questions. “”Because them are orders”” isn’t a satisfying reply-even less satisfactory to the management than to the public.

B. C. Forbes

Whenever possible, I like to have the supreme head of a company show me over the works. It is extremely illuminating to note the attitude of workers towards their boss, and equally interesting to note the attitude towards the workers. It is tragic to notice how many chief executives of large concerns are absolutely unknown, even by sight, to the rank and file of their workers.

B. C. Forbes

Managing the other fellow’s business is a fascinating game. Trade unionists all over the country have pronounced ideas for the reform of Wall Street banks; and Wall Street bankers are not far behind in giving plans for the tremendous improvement of trade union policies. Wholesalers have schemes for improving the retailer; the retailer knows just what is wrong in the conduct of wholesale business-and we might go through a long list…. Yet for some reason the classes that ought to be helped keep on stubbornly clinging to their own method of running their affairs.

B. C. Forbes

Many concerns now make part or the whole of their dividends from by-products that formerly went to waste. How do we, as individuals, utilize our principal by-product? Our principal by-product is, of course, our leisure time. Many years of observation forces the conclusion that a man’s success or failure in life is determined as much by how he acts during his leisure as by how he acts during his work hours. Tell me how a young man spends his evenings and I will tell you how he is likely to spend the latter part of his life.

B. C. Forbes

Many a man thinks he is patient when, in reality, he is indifferent.

B. C. Forbes

Employers, have you ever stopped to reckon what the goodwill of your workers is worth? … In most large concerns it would be worth more in dollars and cents to have the goodwill of the working force than of those on the outside. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that the average working force is capable of increasing its production 25% or more whenever the workers fell so inclined. Workers animated by ill will cannot possibly give results equal to those of workers animated by goodwill. The tragic fact appears to be that a tremendous number of working forces are not so animated.

B. C. Forbes

I don’t feel myself that I Know it all, but I have enough conceit to be successful. That observation was made by a businessman in his 30s who was making notable headway, although his path bristled with difficulties. Business places no premiums on shrinking violets. Employers prefer men who have self-assurance, forcefulness, go-aheadness, men who know their jobs and know that they know it.

B. C. Forbes

When you delve deep enough, you find that practically every great fortune and great enterprise in America have sprung from the courageous enterprise of some individual. It was Commodore Vanderbilt’s enterprise in switching first from running a ferryboat to running other ships, and then, when he was well along in years, his enterprise in switching into railroading, that created what was to become one of the most notable fortunes in the history of the world.

B. C. Forbes

Life is just an endless chain of judgements. . . . The more imperfect our judgement, the less perfect our success.

B. C. Forbes

Talking things over has its place in an organization [but] so-called conferences are being grossly overdone. One executive stops at the desk of another to tell him, perhaps, about the wonderful score he made at golf on Saturday afternoon. This chin-chin immediately becomes a conference, and neither the office boy nor the telephone operator must disturb either gentleman. More idle gossip is indulged in at many business conferences these days than an old wives’ sewing circle would be guilty of.

B. C. Forbes

Many men who do creditable things refuse to let it be known. This is a mistake. While we all admire modesty, nevertheless there is a great national need to do everything possible to bring home to the rank and file of the people that all employers and all wealthy men are not grinding, mercenary, selfish skinflints, but that many of them take delight in doing helpful things for others … Shortcomings of employers are constantly paraded. Why not let the public become acquainted with the better side which most present-day employers possess?

B. C. Forbes

The more I move among workers and factories and other plants, the stronger I become convinced that it is advisable to have as [a company] president a practical man, preferably one who has risen from the very bottom of the ladder. Workmen, I find, have far more respect for such men than for collar-and-cuff executives knowing little or nothing about the different kinds of work which have to be done by the workers. Wherever circumstances call for placing a financier or lawyer or a papa’s son at the head of a large organization, he should be made chairman or some other title, but not president.

B. C. Forbes

After visiting several of America’s most fashionable playgrounds, I have reached the conclusion that men who work hard enjoy life most. The men at such places can be divided into two classes, first, busy men of affairs … and, second, rich loafers. I was impressed by the obvious enjoyment corporation heads and other important executives were deriving from their vacation activities…. The idle rich fellows, on the other hand, although indulging in exactly the same activities, palpably were bored.

B. C. Forbes

When it comes to betting on yourself… you’re a chicken-livered coward if you hesitate.

B. C. Forbes

Enthusiasm is the parent of enterprise. Search and you will find that at the base and birth of every great business organization was an enthusiast, someone consumed with earnestness of purpose, with confidence in their powers, with faith in the worthwhileness of their endeavors.

B. C. Forbes