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Power and machinery, money and goods, are useful only as they set us free to live. They are but means to an end.
Almost any one can think up an idea. The thing that counts is developing it into a practical product.
The primary functions are agriculture, manufacture, and transportation. Community life is impossible without them.
As long as we look to legislation to cure poverty or to abolish special privilege we are going to see poverty spread and special privilege grow.
There is little chance of an intelligent people, such as ours, ruining the fundamental processes of economic life. Most men know they cannot get something for nothing. Most men feel—even if they do not know—that money is not wealth.
There can be no greater absurdity and no greater disservice to humanity in general than to insist that all men are equal.
Money chasing is not business.
Being greedy for money is the surest way not to get it, but when one serves for the sake of service—for the satisfaction of doing that which one believes to be right—then money abundantly takes care of itself.
Money comes naturally as the result of service. And it is absolutely necessary to have money. But we do not want to forget that the end of money is not ease but the opportunity to perform more service.
The big thing is the product, and any hurry in getting into fabrication before designs are completed is just so much waste time.
An absence of fear of the future and of veneration for the past. One who fears the future, who fears failure, limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to begin again. There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail. What is past is useful only as it suggests ways and means for progress.
I read everything I could find, but the greatest knowledge came from the work.
No work with interest is ever hard.
I draw a plan and work out every detail on the plan before starting to build. For otherwise one will waste a great deal of time in makeshifts as the work goes on and the finished article will not have coherence. It will not be rightly proportioned.
Others in this country and abroad were building cars by that time, and in 1895 I heard that a Benz car from Germany was on exhibition in Macy's store in New York. I traveled down to look at it but it had no features that seemed worthwhile. It also had the belt drive, but it was much heavier than my car. I was working for lightness; the foreign makers have never seemed to appreciate what light weight means.
A man who bought one of our cars was in my opinion entitled to continuous use of that car, and therefore if he had a breakdown of any kind it was our duty to see that his machine was put into shape again at the earliest possible moment.
Life, as I see it, is not a location, but a journey.
Everything is in flux, and was meant to be. Life flows. We may live at the same number of the street, but it is never the same man who lives there.
The man who has the largest capacity for work and thought is the man who is bound to succeed.
No business can improve unless it pays the closest possible attention to complaints and suggestions.
Save ten steps a day for each of twelve thousand employees and you will have saved fifty miles of wasted motion and misspent energy.
The rank and file of men come to us unskilled; they learn their jobs within a few hours or a few days. If they do not learn within that time they will never be of any use to us.
The first step forward in assembly came when we began taking the work to the men instead of the men to the work.
Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the "expert" state of mind a great number of things become impossible.
When we are at work we ought to be at work. When we are at play we ought to be at play. There is no use trying to mix the two.
when a man is really at work, he needs no title. His work honours him.
Everything can always be done better than it is being done.
Paying high wages and lowering production is starting down the incline toward dull business.
Watchmen are paid for presence. Workmen are paid for work.
If you expect a man to give his time and energy, fix his wages so that he will have no financial worries. It pays. Our profits, after paying good wages and a bonus—which bonus used to run around ten millions a year before we changed the system—show that paying good wages is the most profitable way of doing business.
There is no use waiting around for business to improve. If a manufacturer wants to perform his function, he must get his price down to what people will pay. There is always, no matter what the condition, a price that people can and will pay for a necessity, and always, if the will is there, that price can be met.
Take the industrial idea; what is it? The true industrial idea is not to make money. The industrial idea is to express a serviceable idea, to duplicate a useful idea, by as many thousands as there are people who need it.
No one will deny that if prices are sufficiently low, buyers will always be found, no matter what are supposed to be the business conditions. That is one of the elemental facts of business.
When a storekeeper buys goods at a wrong price and finds they will not move, he reduces the price by degrees until they do move.
In the first place, I hold that it is better to sell a large number of cars at a reasonably small margin than to sell fewer cars at a large margin of profit.
Profits belong in three places: they belong to the business—to keep it steady, progressive, and sound. They belong to the men who helped produce them. And they belong also, in part, to the public. A successful business is profitable to all three of these interests—planner, producer, and purchaser.
To teach a child to invest and use is better than to teach him to save.
It is easy to give; it is harder to make giving unnecessary. To make the giving unnecessary we must look beyond the individual to the cause of his misery—not hesitating, of course, to relieve him in the meantime, but not stopping with mere temporary relief.
This hospital is designed to be self-supporting—to give a maximum of service at a minimum of cost and without the slightest colouring of charity.
John Burroughs was never too old to change. He kept growing to the last. The man who is too set to change is dead already. The funeral is a mere detail.
A country becomes great when, by the wise development of its resources and the skill of its people, property is widely and fairly distributed.
We learn more from our failures than from our successes.
An educated man is not one whose memory is trained to carry a few dates in history—he is one who can accomplish things.
But the best that education can do for a man is to put him in possession of his powers, give him control of the tools with which destiny has endowed him, and teach him how to think.
A man's real education begins after he has left school. True education is gained through the discipline of life.
The object of education is not to fill a man's mind with facts; it is to teach him how to use his mind in thinking. And it often happens that a man can think better if he is not hampered by the knowledge of the past.
The business of life is easy or hard according to the skill or the lack of skill displayed in production and distribution. It has been thought that business existed for profit. That is wrong. Business exists for service. It is a profession, and must have recognized professional ethics, to violate which declasses a man.
Poverty cannot be abolished by formula; it can be abolished only by hard and intelligent work.