Laura Petrolino

Founding Fathers Quotes to Guide Your Business Success

By: Laura Petrolino | July 5, 2017 | 
7

Founding Fathers Quotes To Guide Your Business SuccessHappy Day After The Fourth of July!

What better way to launch this next quarter than with some Founding Fathers quotes to jumpstart your motivation?

I may be a communications pro by day, but I’m a huge history nerdette by night.

Ask Gini Dietrich, I drive her crazy with my random facts about different historical events.

I’m also that annoying person who will suddenly see some sort of correlation to a historic event in a completely non-related conversation and totally divert down a rabbit hole of historical facts.

One of the first trips I went on with the guy who currently calls me his girlfriend, we went to Boston (a history lover’s playground) and stopped by the docked U.S.S. Constitution on our walk down the Freedom Trail.

Inside was a computerized trivia game about the ship and its battles.

I got every, single one right. Every one.

He looked at me speechless, slightly scared, and asked very simply, “What is wrong with you?”

All of this is to say, there was no way I’d miss an opportunity, on the day after the Fourth of July, to write a post drenched in some sort of delicious U.S. history goodness. 

Founding Fathers Quotes to Grow Your Business

It doesn’t matter if we are just starting out or have many years and successes under our belts, we can’t be good at what we do unless we are constantly learning and working to improve.

Whether you lead your own business, work for an agency, are a solopreneur, lead your own firm, or work for a corporation—we are all entrepreneurs in some way.

Communications is an industry that is constantly evolving and where we must pull many different segments of organizations together to create programs which show real business value.

This requires creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, diplomacy, strategy, interpersonal dynamics, ability to use the written, and spoken word precisely and in a targeted manner…..

All things that Founding Father’s also had to be well skilled in.

So if they were around today, what advice would they have for us?

All we can do is look to some of their most famous quotes and see how it applies to what we do.

While there are many Founding Fathers quotes to pull from, I focused on our first three presidents and the unforgettable Ben Franklin for today.

George Washington: A Strategic Communicator

George Washington is known for his extremely specific and strategic communication style. It is those skills that not only helped him win the Revolutionary War, but pull together a country of rebels afterward.

(If you are interested in learning more about George Washington’s communications style, I highly recommend “Valient Ambition.”)

“Happiness depends on the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world.”

Good advice for life and work.

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective ways of preserving peace.”

Heeeey….crisis communications. Be prepared. Be proactive. These are cornerstones of successful communications.

“Example, whether it be good or bad, has a powerful influence.”

We set an example for those around us whether we try to our not. Be intentional about the example you set for your team and your clients. It matters, and you control it.

John Adams: The Voice of Independence

While Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, John Adams is the reason it became adopted by the Continental Congress.

He was one of the greatest orators of the Founding Fathers and worked incredibly diligently to refine and improve the craft of communications throughout his life.

Adams is also known to be a visionary thinker and able to look beyond the now to understand the best direction for the future.

While many Founding Fathers quotes are visionary, Adams’ have a quality that’s more strategic and actionable.

If you haven’t read David McCullough’s book on John Adams you need to. I also loved  “The Letters of John and Abigail Adams.”

“Always stand on principle, even if you stand alone.”

Adams was very aware of the importance of reputation in moving forward your goals.

He made sure everything he did was consistent with his morals, principles, and goals.

For example, he was the only Founding Father not to own slaves.

While many (including Jefferson) spoke about freedom for all people and against slavery as a practice, Adams was the only one whose actions reflected his message on this issue.

“Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.”

This quote alone basically sums up the role of an entrepreneur and what we do as communications pros.

“The only thing most people do better than anyone else is read their own handwriting.”

I love this quote so much for so many reasons, but I’ll leave you to your own interpretation.

Thomas Jefferson Written Word Formed a Nation

Thomas Jefferson was in many ways the opposite of John Adams.

Which is why they worked well together in so many ways and had a wonderful (although challenging) friendship throughout their lives.

Jefferson wasn’t a great speaker, and really preferred not to speak.

But he was incredibly gifted when it came to written word and focused feverishly on that craft.

Which goes to show, you don’t have to be good at everything in communications, you just need to hone your craft and understand how it fits the big picture.

David McCoullough’s “1176” is a great look at Jefferson. I’ve also read his autobiography, which is good to get a listing of his life, but poor to understand him as a person. It’s cold and distant.

“Never spend your money before you have earned it.”

If this isn’t rule number one of business success, I don’t know what is?

“Delay is preferable to error.”

In communications, there is often the drive to rush vs. plan.

This normally isn’t the right choice.

Of course, there is value in being agile, building as you go, and adapting as you learn, but that’s different than jumping in, just to be first, without understanding what “first” actually looks like.

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

That said, you can’t just live a life planning. Set your goals. Set a plan to achieve them. Move forward.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude”

You’ll notice a focus on mental attitude throughout many Founding Fathers quotes.

Ben Franklin Bonus

I was just going to stick with our first three presidents, but I love Ben Franklin and he just has so many great things to say.

So here is your Ben Franklin bonus round. Enjoy!

“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”

“The man who does things makes mistakes, but he doesn’t make the biggest mistake of all-doing nothing.”

“I never knew a man who was good at making excuses that was good at anything else.”

“Make yourself a sheep and the wolves will eat you.”

“Success is the residue of planning.”

“We constantly change the world, even by our inaction. Therefore, let us change it responsibility.”

“Change is the only constant in life, one’s ability to adapt to that change determines success in life.”

Which Founding Fathers quotes are your favorites?

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • Travis Peterson

    Two very important ones from ol’ Ben:

    “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

    “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance”

    Both very helpful to PR pros, too.

  • Jenna

    As I recall, in his autobiography, Franklin writes: “There is perhaps no one of natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it. Struggle with it. Stifle it. Mortify it as much as one pleases. It is still alive, and will ever now and then peep out and show itself…Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

    I love random historical facts…those are the things that make history stick. (Sadly I forget the sources half the time.) I bet playing trivia games with you, Laura, would be great…as long as I have you on my team!

    • Hahaha! My boyfriend says I’m a reservoir of semi-useful information. Which essentially means, yes…I’m great at trivia.

      And yes, I feel exactly the same about history. Plus I find it fascinating how history really does repeat itself. You look at any issue we deal with today and it’s just a modern version of issues we’ve dealt with over and over and over again.

  • Howie Kapowie

    You left out ‘Dear Father I can not tell a lie. I chopped down the cherry tree’ 🤣

    Well that went up in smoke the last year since lying gets you the Presidency and a billion dollars!

    Awesome research Laura! Loved this.

    • Haha! Yeah, I’m sure most of our Founding Fathers are rolling their eyes at us right now.

122 Shares
Buffer23
Tweet72
Share7
Share14
+16