Presidents’ Day celebrates the births of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. You might not think of Washington as a successful businessman but he was, even after he left the presidency. He made rye whiskey in retirement after a career as a tobacco farmer. Since today is a holiday for many of you, I thought I’d get in the “day off” spirit by reposting something from 2009 that still is good advice – Washington’s, not mine!
It’s no surprise that almost 282 years after his birth, George Washington has some business thoughts. Now before you click to the next blog, let’s remember that this is the man who predicted the European Union a long time ago except that he called it the “United States of Europe“. His open letter to the American People, written as he left office, raises themes that are even more true today. He urged Americans to unite for the good of the whole country, to avoid permanent foreign alliances, particularly in Europe, and to keep morality first and foremost in government.
Turns out he had some pretty good business advice as well although I’m not sure he intended it as such. So, let’s follow his advice to “Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive” and look briefly at a few quotes.
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.
We’ve discussed that point many times in this space. It’s impossible to do good business while doing bad things.
My observation is that whenever one person is found adequate to the discharge of a duty… it is worse executed by two persons, and scarcely done at all if three or more are employed therein.
Right-sizing, in other words, but also giving people responsibility and the freedom to act. I suspect that he knew a lot about conservation and deployment of resources from his time near the Delaware.
Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.
Oh boy. Is there a better quote to sum up all that has gone down in the housing and mortgage industries? Don’t do bad deals and you’ll sleep better! And finally:
Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
For whom you work and with whom you do business say a lot about YOU! So Happy Presidents Day and let’s remember the people behind the holiday as well as what they had to say.