Forty-Four Timeless Business Sayings You Should Know

by Brett Nelson

Whether you’re looking to impress your boss, enchant a few clients, inspire your team, or just put the job in healthy perspective, a few thoughtful quotations can come in handy.
This collection is inspired by Forbes’ second-annual Jargon Madness tournament, featuring 32 of corporate America’s most annoying buzzwords, clichés and euphemisms. Click here to vote in today’s daily matchup.

Our advice: Ditch the jargon and try these timeless turns of phrase instead.
Annoying jargon to avoid: Thought leadership (n.) Grossly indulgent slang for plain ol’ “expertise.”

Relevant quotations on wisdom:

I know several thousand things that won’t work. – Thomas Edison

Men are wise in proportion not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience. – George Bernard Shaw

Annoying cliché: Rock star (n.) Abused term of endearment for talented employees who may or may not use lots of cocaine.

On praise:

Flattery is alright—if you don’t inhale. – Adlai Stevenson

I can live for two months on a good compliment. – Mark Twain

Read much more here:

Personal Inspiration Every Morning

Are you stuck?  Stuck in a bad habit?  Stuck in a routine?  Not motivated?  Your inspiration is as flat as yesterday’s coffee?  Is your mind filled with the blahs?

Want a simple tool that can help focus your mind and day?  Something that is inexpensive?  Something that takes very little time to prepare?  Read on and then go to your local office supply store and buy spiral index cards.

Many us enjoy reading inspirational and motivational quotes from people we admire (or don’t even know!).  Many of us find great lines in current books we’re reading that we don’t want to forget.  Here’s a way to use those to help “program” your thoughts for your upcoming day.


Take some time and begin jotting down on your favorite quotes on individual index cards in the spiral pack.  Choose quotes that will help you begin your day with a specific focus.  Quotes that inspire you to become more effect.  Quotes that are positive and action packed.


As you read a book, you find yourself highlighting a sentence or two.  You make notes in the margin.  Later, you want to find that section, but you might have forgotten which book it’s in.  Take the time to record that sentence or passage on one of the index cards.  Or write down your note that contained an action step.


I love listening to music.  A good composer can say a lot in around 3 minutes.  Some songs still with us for life.  Write down a line or two from a song that inspires you.  Or, depending on your world perspective, you may want to write down a passage of Scripture that moves you.


We are all blessed to have individuals around us that have helped us (directly or indirectly) become better people/leaders.  Many of these people have told us things that have been life-changing.  Write some of those reflections on a card.  One thought per card.


You have passed on wisdom and insight to others.  Write those thoughts down.

Do this next:

  • If you take around 30 minutes, you can record quite a lot on the cards.  Just one saying/line/reflection/quote per card.  Mix it up.  Jot a quote on one card.  Then a song lyric on the next.  Follow it with a saying, etc.  You get the picture.
  • Keep the index card pack at a place you’ll see it every day.  I keep mine in my car.  It may be on your bathroom counter top or next to the coffee pot.  You choose.
  • Every morning before you head into your office, take time to read 3  cards in a row.  If one of the cards really “speaks” to you, read that one again – out loud.  Maybe read it a couple of times.  You don’t need to memorize it.  But you are filling your mind with something very positive that can pop up during your day to remind you to take a positive course of action, to say something uplifting to someone else, to  believe in yourself.
  • Next day, read the next 3 cards in a row and do the same thing.  Repeat.

What I have found is this:  If left to my own behavior, I can become pretty negative, worrisome, or down if I’m not careful.  This little exercise has developed into a good habit for me.  It fills my thoughts with positive things that benefit me (and those around me!).  I am reprogramming my mind.  You can, too!

If you don’t like where you are at as a manager/leader/person, change it.  This simple tool can help.  You’re not talking yourself into anything.  You are filling your thoughts with positive motivation to develop and change for the better.  It works if you work it!

If you want to know your past –

look into your present conditions.

If you want to know your future –

look into your present actions.

(Chinese proverb)


“I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” John Wesley

Yes, that old English preacher said that. He would ride around the countryside on horseback to preach at different churches. And people did go to hear this man preach. His preaching changed lives. It created a movement. John Wesley was on fire.

How about you?

Leaders are passionate. They are passionate about their business, about their products/services, about the differentiation, about their staff. You can tell when you’re around a passionate leader, can’t you? Even if you don’t know much about their expertise, you can get caught up in their enthusiasm. They are infectious.

Have you ever been around a person who is in charge and it is clear that they are not passionate? Can you image the organization that they lead? I have a feeling that few others are showing any kind of passion either. Status quo probably rules the day. “We’ve always done it this way” is their motto. This type of leader and organization aren’t necessarily like Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh’s sad friend. But they aren’t Tigger either. They just are.

If you want to see results and motivate your team, check your passion. If you want to move on to the next level, check your passion. If you want to achieve, succeed, and grow, check your passion. Don’t lament about where you are today. Take what you know and where you to grow to the next level – and do it with passion. Rick Patino, basketball coach/guru said this:

“It doesn’t matter whether you are a crossing guard, a schoolteacher, or a basketball coach. It might not be where you want to be tomorrow, but it’s where you are today. Seize the day.” (from Rebound Rules)

Passion moves you to change. Passion is showing up and continuing to show up.

“But I’ve been at this same job for a long time and I’m not getting anywhere. They (corporate) don’t recognize me and my skills,” you say. What to do, what to do?

Passion says “I will not surrender”. Don’t get caught up in a pity party. Nobody wants to attend that. And you’ll go no where focusing on poor-pitiful-me. “Never complain about your problems because 95% of the people don’t care and the other 5% are glad they happened to you” (Lechter & Reid in Three Feet from Gold). Hopefully, not all of that is true. But the point is this: refuse to surrender your dream of the next level.

So how do you live in passion? Here are some ideas that I think are worth acting on:

1. Keep your dreams and goals in front of you all the time. Write them down. Do the things that will get you to your goals.

2. Be enthusiastic. Facing a tough challenge? Jump in and tackle it. Learn from it. Use your resources. Master it. As a leader, others will see your passion as a beacon and will follow. They will!

3. Don’t seek recognition if you’re not in the position you desire. Learn your profession. This will lead to mastery and will build your confidence.

4. “We have one chance to do our best on each given day; don’t waste that chance.” (Patino in Rebound Rules)

5. Never let mistakes define who you are. Learn from them and move on. Or as a wounded soldier said when asked how he faces life after being seriously injured on the battlefield, “I F.I.D.O. – forget it, drive on!”

You can approach your business, your department, your branch, your personal life with the same-ol’-same-ol’ attitude. You might grow new business. You might see success. You might achieve. But there’s a good chance that you won’t.

Or you can set yourself on fire. Know, really know, your business. Look for opportunities for your business to grow whether you are in the office or not. Throw yourself into the development of your staff. Be a cheerleader for them. Love every chance to talk with potential customers about your business. Be enthusiastic.

People will come to watch you burn – and they just might catch on fire, too!