Business pioneers have wisdom for your success

Business pioneers have wisdom for your success

Jeffrey Gitomer

As a student of business, sales and personal development, I will share ideas from people who have had an extreme impact on my thinking and philosophy. The first in the series is Bertie Charles Forbes (May 14, 1880 – May 6, 1954). He was the Scottish financial journalist and author who founded Forbes magazine.

B.C. Forbes was born in New Deer, Aberdeenshire. After studying at the University of Dundee, in 1897 Forbes worked as a reporter and editorial writer with a local Dundee newspaper until 1901 when he moved to Johannesburg, South Africa and founded the Rand Daily Mail. He immigrated to New York City in 1904 where he was employed as a writer and financial editor at the Journal of Commerce before joining the Hearst chain of newspapers as a syndicated columnist in 1911. Forbes left Hearst after two years to become the business and financial editor at the New York American, where he remained until 1916.

He founded Forbes magazine in 1917, and acted as editor-in-chief until his death in 1954. Forbes published a number of books that contained his thoughts in the form of epigrams (short sayings or quotes).

Here are several of the more provocative – and keep in mind that most of them were written 75 years ago. It’s amazing to me how long simple truths can endure:

– A business, like an automobile, has to be driven in order to get results.

– A shady business never yields a sunny life.

– Better to be occasionally cheated than perpetually suspicious.

– Books are like a mirror. If an ass looks in, you can’t expect an angel to look out.

– Difficulties should act as a tonic. They should spur us to greater exertion.

– Golf without bunkers and hazards would be tame and monotonous. So would life.

– He best keeps from anger who remembers that God is always looking upon him.

– History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.

– If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business.

– Jealousy … is a mental cancer.

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

– Real riches are the riches possessed inside.

– The bargain that yields mutual satisfaction is the only one that is apt to be repeated.

– The man who has won millions at the cost of his conscience is a failure.

– The truth doesn’t hurt unless it ought to.

– There is more credit and satisfaction in being a first-rate truck driver than a tenth-rate executive.

– To make headway, improve your head.

– Turn resolutely to work, to recreation, or in any case to physical exercise till you are so tired you can’t help going to sleep, and when you wake up you won’t want to worry.

– What you have outside you counts less than what you have inside you.

– Vitally important for a young man or woman is, first, to realize the value of education and then to cultivate earnestly, aggressively, ceaselessly, the habit of self-education.

– Think not of yourself as the architect of your career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiseling and scraping and polishing.

– Many of the most successful men I have known have never grown up. They have retained bubbling-over boyishness. They have relished wit; they have indulged in humor. They have not allowed “dignity” to depress them into moroseness. Youthfulness of spirit is the twin brother of optimism, and optimism is the stuff of which American business success is fashioned. Resist growing up!

WOW! No wonder B.C. Forbes was such a huge financial success. And the magazine he founded lives on, 90 years later.

I love reading what successful people think or thought. Not necessarily “how they did it,” rather what their thoughts and ideas were. What their observations and lessons were. And how they grew.

CHALLENGE: Take an hour or two to write YOUR thoughts. Document your thinking and philosophy. Your ideas and lessons. You never know whom you might impact 75 years from now.

If you’re interested in the first Forbes wealthiest list and who was the wealthiest person in 1918, go to, register if you’re a first-time visitor and enter the word RICHEST in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Little Red Book of Selling. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704-333-1112 or e-mail to

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