Famous quotes are enjoyable and instructive. I’ve compiled hundreds of my favorites since I began writing these newsletters in July of 1988. Most are from legendary folks like Churchill and Rogers.
I’ve also kept in mind the original things said to me by the less famous, people whose comment left such an impression on me that I remember them to this day. Here are a few of my favorites.
“The first 1,000 churches were great, Dad”.
- It’s a family tradition to each family member to name their favorite part of vacation on our way back. This was fifteen-year- old son, Kevin’s answer on our way back from Europe.
“Don’t die not knowing”.
- After hours of grilling Dave Wilson, ad agency owner in Orlando, FL about the life of an entrepreneur, I asked, “if you were me, would you start a business?”. I didn’t entirely understand his response, so I said, “explain, please”. He said, “You’re 35; if you fail, you’ll recover. But if you don’t try, you may forever wonder ‘could I have been an entrepreneur”?
“It takes a lifetime to become comfortable in your own envelope of skin”.
- My Dad’s version of “to thine own self be true”. When I asked for more, he said, “we come into this world alone and we leave it alone. We’ll have important relationships, but we must account individually for our own conduct and behavior. It never gets easy.”
“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry for you”.
- My Mom when I told her that I thought it was likely that I would become wealthy. When I asked her why she said that, she said, “wealth is a burden and I’ve seen it ruin better men than you”.
“It hasn’t happened yet”.
- One of my first bosses in the ad business, Vince Backley, would say “you have great potential, McCarthy, and you know the definition of potential, right?” After the first (of many times) he asked that question, I was dumb enough to ask, “No, Vinnie, what’s the definition?”
“Yes, Mr. McCarthy, but your job is to save me from myself”
- BP ad director responding to my telling her, “But, Mary Lynne, I gave you what you asked for!”
“She always let me finish my sentence”.
- It’s an Irish tradition to say the Rosary at the casket of the deceased, then each say what they loved best about them. This is what then 20-year-old son, Timmy, said at my Mom’s wake.
“You obviously haven’t learned how to get out of your own way”.
- Eddie Crawford when I asked if he could help me figure out why my young company was stuck at the same revenue for three years in a row.
“Pay it forward”
- Once the decision to open a consultancy was made, I asked Dick Good to allow me to work on his projects. I learned everything from proposal writing to project management and billing. On our last day working together, I asked, “how can I ever repay you for this”? Dick certainly wasn’t the first one to say these words, but I often think with pride that I’m still fulfilling his wishes.
What unforgettable original comments do you remember? Whether they just made you laugh or changed your outlook, write them down, share them with me if you’d like.
It’s an interesting exercise.