This is the second post reviewing books I read while out in Dubai. I've extended this to three posts instead of two because there are way too many quotes to post in a single entry. The joy of reading so many old books is that the language is often delicious, even if the books on the whole don't add to very much.
The Art of Money Making (or Golden Rules for Making Money) by P.T Barnum
This was a real surprise. What I thought would be pure hokum turned out to be capital, capital!
Quotes, and there's quite a few of 'em:
- A few years ago, before kerosene oil was discovered or thought of, one might stop overnight at almost any farmer's house in the agricultural districts and get a very good supper, but after supper he might attempt to read in the sitting-room, and would find it impossible with the inefficient light of one candle. ... but the information which might be derived from having the extra light would, of course, far outweigh a ton of candles.
- True economy consists in always making the income exceed the out-go. Wear the old clothes a little longer if necessary; dispense with the new pair of gloves; mend the old dress: live on plainer food if need be; so that, under all circumstances, unless some unforeseen accident occurs, there will be a margin in favor of the income.
- Here is a recipe which I recommend: I have found it to work an excellent cure for extravagance, and especially for mistaken economy: When you find that you have no surplus at the end of the year, and yet have a good income, I advise you to take a few sheets of paper and form them into a book and mark down every item of expenditure. Post it every day or week in two columns, one headed "necessaries" or even "comforts", and the other headed "luxuries," and you will find that the latter column will be double, treble, and frequently ten times greater than the former. The real comforts of life cost but a small portion of what most of us can earn. Dr. Franklin says "it is the eyes of others and not our own eyes which ruin us. If all the world were blind except myself I should not care for fine clothes or furniture."
- It needs no prophet to tell us that those who live fully up to their means, without any thought of a reverse in this life, can never attain a pecuniary independence.
- Many persons, as they begin to prosper, immediately expand their ideas and commence expending for luxuries, until in a short time their expenses swallow up their income, and they become ruined in their ridiculous attempts to keep up appearances, and make a "sensation."
- The safest plan, and the one most sure of success for the young man starting in life, is to select the vocation which is most congenial to his tastes.
- After securing the right vocation, you must be careful to select the proper location. You may have been cut out for a hotel keeper, and they say it requires a genius to "know how to keep a hotel." You might conduct a hotel like clock-work, and provide satisfactorily for five hundred guests every day; yet, if you should locate your house in a small village where there is no railroad communication or public travel, the location would be your ruin.
- Debt robs a man of his self-respect, and makes him almost despite himself.
- Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
- Remember the proverb of Solomon: "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."
- WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT
Work at it, if necessary, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now. The old proverb is full of truth and meaning, "Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well." Many a man acquires a fortune by doing his business thoroughly, while his neighbor remains poor for life, because he only half does it. Ambition, energy, industry, perseverance, are indispensable requisites for success in business.
Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself. It won't do to spend your time like Mr. Micawber, in waiting for something to "turn up." To such men one of two things usually "turns up:" the poorhouse or the jail; for idleness breeds bad habits, and clothes a man in rags.
- No man has a right to expect to succeed in life unless he understands his business, and nobody can understand his business thoroughly unless he learns it by personal application and experience.
- Among the maxims of the elder Rothschild was one, all apparent paradox: "Be cautious and bold." This seems to be a contradiction in terms, but it is not, and there is great wisdom in the maxim. It is, in fact, a condensed statement of what I have already said. It is to say; "you must exercise your caution in laying your plans, but be bold in carrying them out." A man who is all caution, will never dare to take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness, is merely reckless, and must eventually fail. A man may go on "'change" and make fifty, or one hundred thousand dollars in speculating in stocks, at a single operation.
- USE THE BEST TOOLS
- There is no greater mistake than when a young man believes he will succeed with borrowed money.
- LEARN SOMETHING USEFUL
- DO NOT SCATTER YOUR POWERS
Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows that you should abandon it. A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at last, so that it can be clinched. When a man's undivided attention is centered on one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different subjects at once. Many a fortune has slipped through a man's fingers because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time.
- BE SYTEMATIC
- DO NOT SCATTER YOUR POWERS
Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows that you should abandon it. A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at last, so that it can be clinched. When a man's undivided attention is centered on one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different subjects at once. Many a fortune has slipped through a man's fingers because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time. Of course, there is a limit to all these rules. We must try to preserve the happy medium, for there is such a thing as being too systematic. There are men and women, for instance, who put away things so carefully that they can never find them again. It is too much like the "red tape" formality at Washington, and Mr. Dickens' "Circumlocution Office,"—all theory and no result.
- Always take a trustworthy newspaper, and thus keep thoroughly posted in regard to the transactions of the world. He who is without a newspaper is cut off from his species. In these days of telegraphs and steam, many important inventions and improvements in every branch of trade are being made, and he who don't consult the newspapers will soon find himself and his business left out in the cold.
- ... however successful a man may be in his own business, if he turns from that and engages ill a business which he don't understand, he is like Samson when shorn of his locks his strength has departed, and he becomes like other men.
- So with the young man starting in business; let him understand the value of money by earning it. When he does understand its value, then grease the wheels a little in helping him to start business, but remember, men who get money with too great facility cannot usually succeed. You must get the first dollars by hard knocks, and at some sacrifice, in order to appreciate the value of those dollars.
- The whole philosophy of life is first 'sow', then 'reap'.
- Politness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business.
- Some men have a foolish habit of telling their business secrets. If they make money they like to tell their neighbors how it was done. Nothing is gained by this, and ofttimes much is lost. Say nothing about your profits, your hopes, your expectations, your intentions. And this should apply to letters as well as to conversation. Goethe makes Mephistophilles say: "Never write a letter nor destroy one." Business men must write letters, but they should be careful what they put in them. If you are losing money, be specially cautious and not tell of it, or you will lose your reputation.
- The public very properly shun all whose integrity is doubted. No matter how polite and pleasant and accommodating a man may be, none of us dare to deal with him if we suspect "false weights and measures." Strict honesty, not only lies at the foundation of all success in life (financially), but in every other respect. Uncompromising integrity of character is invaluable.
- The history of money-getting, which is commerce, is a history of civilization, and wherever trade has flourished most, there, too, have art and science produced the noblest fruits. In fact, as a general thing, money-getters are the benefactors of our race. To them, in a great measure, are we indebted for our institutions of learning and of art, our academies, colleges and churches.
Death at the Excelsior And Other Stories by P.G Wodehouse
When you read too much Wodehouse, back to back, the stories get a little overly familiar and formulaic. But then there's always his wonderful style of writing, which you can simply bathe in.
- "Now is certainly the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party, Jeeves. We must rally round and cosset this cove in no uncertain manner."
- At this point Bingo fell into a species of trance.
- 'If he cut of my allowance, I should be very much in the soup'.
- 'literary diet'
- The motto of the Little family was evidently "variety." Young Bingo is long and thin and hasn't had a superfluous ounce on him since we first met; but the uncle restored the average and a bit over.
- He tells me it's his masterpiece, and that he will never do anything like it again. I should like to have that in writing.
- "Old top," I said, "you must keep it dark."
On Doing the Right Thing by Albert Jay Nock (1928)
This one was okay for a few quotes but less good to read straight through.
- At all events the exercise of ideas and the imagination has become unfashionable. When I first remarked this phenomenon I thought it might be an illusion of advancing age since I have come to years when the past takes on an unnaturally attractive colour. But as time went on the fact became unmistakable and I began to take notice accordingly.
- instinct of expansion.
-After such a dinner as my debonair friend described, it is as once necessary to 'do something' - the theatre, opera, cabaret, dancing, motoring, or what not -- and to keep on doing something as long as the evening lasts. It is astonishing to see the amount of energy devoted to keeping out of conversation...almost every informal invitation reads, 'to dinner, and then we'll do something'.
- There never was a time of so many and so powerful competitive distractions contesting with culture for the employment of one's hours.
- The practical reason for freedom, then, is that feedom seems to be the only condition under which any kind of substantial moral fibre can be developed.
- To the men who now give money so liberally to promote the arts, the men who might be thought, perhaps, to be looking at the arts a little wistfully - ...I would say, if you really wish to promote the arts, keep on with the money, but also sell one of your motorcars, buy a second-hand piano or some paint and crayons or modelling clay, and get somebody to show you what to do with it. You will have a great deal of fun, more fun than you ever had in your life, and you may incidentally turn up some aptitutde that you never suspected of lurking there.