Originally heard about a fascinating self-made millionaire from the 19th century named John “Old Gorgon” Graham from a Ryan Holiday blog post. He was tough but fair, wise beyond his years, quietly hilarious, and delivered practical advice that's just as on point in 2015 as it was in his day. A collection of notes he wrote to his son were collected into a book by newspaper editor George Horace Lorime in the early 1900's and the timeless advice is absolutely incredible. You can read the whole thing for free here, but the best of the best is neatly laid out for you to easily digest below.
1.) “About the only way I know to kill a lie is to live the truth. When your credit is doubted, don’t bother to deny the rumors, but discount your bulls.”
2.) “You can’t do the biggest things in this world unless you handle men; and you can’t handle men if you’re not in sympathy with them; and sympathy begins in humility.”
3.) “It’s been my experience that when an office begins to look like a family tree, you’ll find worms tucked away snug and cheerful in most of the apples.”
4.) “A boy’s education should begin with today, deal a little with tomorrow and then go back to before yesterday. But when a fellow begins with the past, it’s apt to take him too long to catch up to the present.”
5.) “Always appoint an hour at which you’ll see a man, and if he’s late a minute don’t bother with him. A fellow who can be late when his own interests are at stake is pretty sure to be when yours are.”
6.) “The real reason why the name of the boss doesn’t appear on a timecard is not because he’s a bigger man that anyone else, but because they shouldn’t be anyone around to take his time when he gets down and when he leaves.”
7.) “One of the first things a boss must lose is his temper—and it must stay lost. Noise isn’t authority and there’s no sense in ripping and roaring and cussing around the office when things don’t please you. For when a fellows’ given to that, his men secretly won’t care whether he’s pleased or not. The world is full of fellows who could take the energy which they put into useless cussing of their men and double their business with it.”
8.) “The man who can make up his mind quick, makes up other people’s minds for them. Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clear and straight and lays bare the fat and the lean; indecision is a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.”
9.) “Some men think that rules should be made of cast iron; I believe they should be made of rubber, so they can be stretched to fit any particular case and then spring back into shape again. The really important part of a rule is the exception to it.”
10.) “Some salesmen think that selling is like eating—to satisfy an existing appetite; but a good salesman is like a good cook—he can create an appetite when the buyer isn't hungry.”
11.) “There’s nothing in the world sicker-looking than the grin of the man who’s trying to join in heartily when the laugh’s on him, and to pretend that he likes it.”
12.) “Putting off an easy thing makes it hard, and putting off a hard one makes it impossible.”
13.) “I remember reading once that some fellows use language to conceal thought; but it's been my experience that a good many more use it instead of thought.”
14.) “A real salesman is one-part talk and nine-parts judgment; and he uses the nine-parts of judgment to tell when to use the one-part of talk.”
15.) “There’s no easier way to cure foolishness than to give a man leave to be foolish. And the only way to show a fellow that he’s chosen the wrong business is to let him try it.”
16.) “I want to say right here that the easiest way in the world to make enemies is to hire friends.”
17.) “You’ll find that education’s about the only thing lying around loose in this world, and that it’s about the only thing a fellow can have as much of as he’s willing to haul away. Everything else is screwed down tight and the screw-driver lost.”
18.) "You can trust a woman's taste on everything except men; and it's mighty lucky that she slips up there or we'd pretty nigh all be bachelors."
19.) "You've got to get up every morning with determination if you're going to go to bed with satisfaction."
20.) "With most people happiness is something that is always just a day off. But I have made it a rule never to put off being happy till to-morrow. Don't accept notes for happiness, because you'll find that when they're due they're never paid, but just renewed for another thirty days."
21.) "You can’t work individuals by general rules. Every man is a special case and needs a special pill."
22.) "Worrying is the one game in which, if you guess right, you don’t get any satisfaction out of your smartness."
23.) "A man's got to keep company a long time, and come early and stay late and sit close, before he can get a girl or a job worth having."
24.) "There's a vast difference between having a carload of miscellaneous facts sloshing around loose in your head and getting all mixed up in transit, and carrying the same assortment properly boxed and crated for convenient handling and immediate delivery."
25.) "In all your dealings, remember that today is your opportunity; tomorrow some other fellow's."
26.) "Never threaten, because a threat is a promise to pay that it isn't always convenient to meet, but if you don't make it good it hurts your credit. Save a threat till you're ready to act, and then you won't need it."
27.) "Clothes don't make the man, but they make all of him except his hands and face during business hours, and that's a pretty considerable area of the human animal."
28.) "Appearances are deceitful, I know, but so long as they are, there's nothing like having them deceive for us instead of against us."