Throughout history there have only been a few truly revolutionary inventions that changed everything. The wheel. The inclined plane. The plane. The car. The internet...
And while Henry Ford didn't invent the car, he did perfect its production, lowering its cost from a luxury curiosity to something the everyman could buy, use, own, and maintain. He is responsible for our roads, our infrastructure—so much of our 20th century progress. Opinionated and occasionally very off-base, his words are essential reading to anyone who wants to make an impact and get stuff done.
Here are 17 of his best quotes.
1. “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”
2. “Don't find fault, find a remedy.”
3. “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.”
4. “You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.”
5. “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”
6. “You will find men who want to be carried on the shoulders of others, who think that the world owes them a living. They don't seem to see that we must all lift together and pull together.”
7. “I don’t know whether Napoleon did or did not try to get across there and I don’t care. I don’t know much about history, and I wouldn’t give a nickel for all the history in the world. It means nothing to me. History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today.”
8. “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”
9. “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”
10. “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one.”
11. “When I see an Alfa Romeo go by, I tip my hat.”
12. “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.”
13. “It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.”
14. “I cannot discover that anyone knows enough to say definitely what is and what is not possible.”
15. “Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.”
16. “A bore is a person who opens his mouth and puts his feats in it.”
17. “Money is like an arm or leg—use it or lose it.”
Ethan Wolff-Mann is an editor at Supercompressor. His favorite Ford was definitely Ice Cube's two-tone Ford Explorer even though he only heard about it. Follow him on Instagram.