In honor of the 4th of July and the formation of this nation, we wanted to do an inspirational post about what makes American business leaders great. These quotes sum up the individual business leader’s opinions, business strategies and life mantras. Here are our picks for the top 5 inspirational quotes from successful Americans in business:
1. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was one of the founding fathers who was directly responsible for American Independence. He was also an inventor and prolific businessman. Franklin got his start in the publishing industry, eventually coming up with the ideas of a public library and postal service in the United States.
This quote can be applied to all managers, directors, or anyone who supervises a group of people in a company. By involving employees in day to day business practices, instead of just telling them what to do, they learn and grow. This is an inevitable investment back into the company. Franklin could not have predicted the impact of the technological era on business, but this quote is more applicable nowadays than ever. In a world ridden by online content and information at every turn, simply telling an employee what to do will ensure that it is forgotten. But teaching and involving the employee will lead to determination, knowledge and a sense of worth within the company.
2. “I believe very strongly in the value of having a diverse team around me that comes from very different backgrounds and different points of view.” – Irene Rosenfeld
Irene Rosenfeld was named the Most Powerful Woman in Business in 2011 by Forbes. At that time, she was the CEO of Kraft Foods, making big and important business decisions such as restructuring the company. She was a leader in the decision to split Kraft into two different companies and remains with Mondelēz International, Inc.—the new global company that broke off from Kraft—as the chairwoman and CEO.
We like this quote because it shows Rosenfeld’s commitment to diversity. Rosenfeld is already part of a small minority as a woman CEO. She realizes that her unique perspective and background is a valuable asset to the company she works for. More companies should strive for diversity in the workplace. Different opinions and voices from unique backgrounds means more ideas that could potentially benefit the company.
3. “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree long ago.” – Warren Buffet
It is always important as a company and individual to give back. Buffet stresses the importance of this with his quote. Giving back could mean: volunteering, donations, or participating in charitable events. This quote goes further than the importance of charity in the now, however. Buffet implies that it is also important to invest in future generations so that they are better off. By investing in our future generations, we are investing in the future of business as a whole.
4. “I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come.” – Madam C.J. Walker
Madam C.J. Walker was an immensely successful businesswoman and the first woman to become a millionaire in America. She made her fortune as an entrepreneur—developing a successful line of beauty and hair products for African American women. Her family came from slavery, and she did not have anyone in her life to help her learn aspects of business. She had to teach herself everything about being an entrepreneur through trial and error, eventually recruiting the help of her husband and daughter and employing them as well.
This quote encapsulates the American Dream. Anyone has the potential to make something of themselves with hard work, motivation, and a bit of luck. Madam C.J. Walker warns potential entrepreneurs and business people not to expect possibilities for success to fall into your lap. You have to put in the work and effort to forge your own path.
5. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was the inventive CEO and Co-Founder of Apple. During his career, he completely changed the world of technology and design as we know it. He made Apple into the powerful brand that we know today. He stuck to a philosophy of minimalism in design, creating products with practicality and aesthetic beauty. Little known fact: Jobs was also one of the co-founders and chief executives of Pixar Animation Studios. His life work is highly regarded as the most influential portfolio of our time amongst engineers, designers, and social scientists.
This rather large quote is about finding what you love to do and never settling for a job you are not happy in. Jobs says that if you are unsure of what you love to do, you will find out what your passion is as soon as you are doing it! Being truly satisfied in a career makes you a better worker overall as well. If you go to a job that you are passionate about everyday, you are going to naturally put in the necessary effort and time to be a truly great business person.
Originally published Jul 11, 2014, updated Aug 12, 2020