Quotes That Inspire Me and Why

Looking for inspiration to improve your work can come from many areas — colleagues, customers, partners and even competitors. Inspiration can also come from reading, writing or simply going for an afternoon break to get your coffee. Sometimes inspiration can come simply from a quote. Here are a few quotes that guide how I view working in public relations and why.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. — Henry David Thoreau

It’s easy to get wrapped up int the tactics. In fact, how often have you heard planning meetings start with, “We really need a news release.” Breathe deeply. Whenever you get too wrapped up in the details and tactics take a few steps back. What is the big picture? What are you trying to achieve and what is it that you want to accomplish? Remember that we are trying to shape opinions and help communicate a message. While the details are important you need to know your endpoint first.

If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough. — Mario Andretti

For those of you who know me I’m a long-time Formula One racing fan. I love the strategy, endurance and speed with the added challenge of racing in various climates and tracks from around the world. Andretti’s quote is a good one to remember that you always need to push yourself. Not to the extremes of career burnout or by sacrificing your personal life, but to the point that you should think about your work as wanting to win.

A man is what he thinks about all day long. — R. W. Emerson

Emerson could have written a book just of his quotes. There are so many of his that I like but this one stands out for me in terms of prioritization. Every day provides an opportunity to achieve your goals and objectives, but if you don’t know what they are when you come to the office then you are not using your time wisely. Good communicators come to work prepared every day to accomplish something. On the ride to work and over your morning coffee you should know the two or three things you need to accomplish today. Write them down. And do them.

The most valuable commodity I know of is information. — Gordon Gekko (Wall Street the movie)

Wall Street is one of my favorite movies about values and ethics. A great script and great acting. Wall Street 2, well, let’s not talk about that. This quote from Gekko in the first movie has always stuck with me, especially as my career early on moved more and more into working with technology companies. Information — not just facts, figures, dates — all matter to your stakeholders. Whether you’re presenting internally to product managers about using social media or pitching your latest announcement to reporters and bloggers, they all want information. You should anticipate all the possible questions you will be asked and be prepared with your data and arguments. From my experience, all of the best communicators I’ve worked with or for have always been prepared ahead of time with the information they needed. They also were the best at pushing me to get more information when I presented them with ideas.

Every battle is won before it is ever fought. — Sun Tzu

You can never be over prepared. You can always be under prepared. Before you make a client pitch or go into a meeting have you done your homework? Knowing how to use tools like Twitter, Google, YouTube and delegating tasks are all important skills to do your research.

Do or do not. There is no try. — Yoda

No list of quotes would be complete without Yoda. You should never feel bad knowing that you did your very best. While you can’t win every pitch or satisfy every client, you also should do so with your very best effort. Can you look back at your last project and say you did your very best? Could it have been better if you tried harder? What did you learn?

So tell us, what quotes inspire you and why?

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12 thoughts on “Quotes That Inspire Me and Why”

  1. Nice list, Allan. I recently discovered an Einstein quote that I find myself constantly coming back to, especially in the complex world of tech PR, as you mentioned above: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”


  2. Nice post, Allan.

    Here are some quotes that have resonance with me:

    “The best prize that life offers is to work hard at work worth doing” – Theodore Roosevelt

    “A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world” – John le Carré

    “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

    “It marks a big step in your development when you realise that other people can help you do a better job than you could do alone” – Andrew Carnegie

    “I’m out there doing the best that I can.” Miles Davis

  3.  One of my favourites is from Maya Angelou, a woman who i’ve admired since I studied her work at A-Level. Perhaps the most pertinent is: “Nothing will work unless you do.” And like all good communication its concise!

  4.  One of my favourites is from Maya Angelou, a woman who i’ve admired since I studied her work at A-Level. Perhaps the most pertinent is: “Nothing will work unless you do.” And like all good communication its concise!

  5. “Charm is a way of getting someone to answer yes without having asked a clear question.” –Albert Camus

    “The usual drawback to success is that it annoys one’s friends so.” – P.G. Wodehouse

    “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” – Henry Ford

  6. Thanks Allen – have filed some of those away. A couple of my favorites:-

    “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk
    far, walk with others.” Proverb from Burkina Faso

    “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” Anais Nin

    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

    “The commander in the field is always right and the rear
    echelon is wrong, unless proven otherwise.” Colin Powell

    “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more
    difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its
    success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
    Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the
    old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.
    This coolness arises partly … from the incredulity of men, who do not readily
    believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.” Nicolo
    Machiavelli – The Prince (1505)

  7. Perhaps one more given your business 🙂

    “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words cause
    permanent damage.”

    Eric Bogosian  in
    ‘Talk Radio’”

  8. “Steal from one source and it is theft. Steal from three and it is research.”

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