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Business leaders can learn from historical insights

With all the domestic and global issues going on right now, it could be helpful to understand how the world's leaders viewed issues in yesterday's critical moments.

There are many quotes from leaders who had to shoulder huge responsibilities. They are worth applying to your position in management, education, or politics. Different perspectives may help broaden your view of things. That's very important in today's global economy. Understanding the world and its global conflicts at the time they were said also is important.

Many politicians say things that have an impact on our society. Some people are moved by them while others form negative opinions and get turned off. It is sometimes forgotten who originally said things or when they were said. Many times, our own biases will come into play, and we will think someone said something when they did not.

To get glimpses into the thought processes of others and how they have viewed the world and its conflicts is really a form of education. In some cases, they may provide you with some managerial or leadership insight that you can apply today.

In developing a business style, you can learn a lot from what others have done in their endeavors. There is always something you may pick up that will change the way you think, as well as the way you act toward subordinates, customers, and global competitors.
"He who has the wheel sets the direction"

"He who has the wheel sets the direction" is a quote I have liked for years. Malcolm Forbes said it, and a friend in San Francisco referred me to it more than 20 years ago. My friend used to collect quotes and kept them written down on small cards. That quote always stuck with me as an insight for good leadership for any industry.

Forbes had several other quotes that are very appropriate for today's business and higher-education environments. It's too bad that many people in those higher-level positions are not familiar with his observations:

• "The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one."

• "People who matter are most aware that everyone else does, too."

• "Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he's hired to do."

• "It's so much easier to suggest solutions when you don't know too much about the problem."

• "Pay your people the least possible, and you'll get from them the same."

• "Presence is more than just being there."

His quotes should give you some extra perspective to help formulate your managerial outlook. Looking at problems globally, you need to read even more to understand the broader picture.

Match the quote with the right person

Who do you think uttered the following quotations? While some of them had a huge impact, the sources mostly are forgotten. Hopefully, your own set of biases and personal experiences won't cloud your judgment. These quotes came from, and the answers are at the end of this column.

Quotation: "Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, [and] until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men's skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact."

Who said it? Jesse Jackson Sr.? Malcolm X? Chris Rock? Henry Ford? Martin Luther King, Jr.? Lyndon B. Johnson? Spike Lee? Jon Stewart?

Quotation: "I would have made a good pope."

Who said it? Jimmy Swaggart? George C. Scott? Richard M. Nixon? Mother Theresa? Martin Sheen? Charleston Heston? Oliver Stone? George Carlin?

Quotation: "Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country."

Who said it? Teddy Roosevelt? Pat Buchanan? Dick Cheney? Harry S. Truman? Bill O'Reilly? Jay Leno? Al Sharpton? Clint Eastwood?

Quotation: "For if we stumble and fail, freedom and civilization everywhere will go down in ruin."

Who said it? Albert Einstein? Andrew Jackson? Lyndon B. Johnson? George W. Bush? Henry Cabot Lodge? Rudy Giuliani? George S. Patton? Condoleezza Rice? Bill O'Reilly?

Quotation: "It is no use… saying, `We are doing out best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary."

Who said it? Rudy Giuliani? Winston Churchill? Ray Nagin? Al Sharpton? Jimmy Carter? Hillary Clinton? Patti Labelle? Douglas MacArthur? Donald Trump?

Quotation: "The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced."

Who said it? Hillary Clinton? Alec Baldwin? Johnny Cochran? Johnny Cash? Frank Zappa? F. Lee Bailey? H. Ross Perot? Johnny Depp?

Quotation: "Better to fight for something than to live for nothing."

Who said it? Malcolm X? Lech Walesa? George S. Patton? Osama bin Laden? John Wayne? Robert E. Lee? Tony Blair? Martha Stewart?

Quotation: "…but there are advantages of being elected president. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified top secret."

Who said it? Bill Clinton? Harry Truman? George W. Bush? Jimmy Carter? Ronald Reagan? Dwight D. Eisenhower?

Quotation: "A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living. Today's military rejects include tomorrow's hardcore unemployed."

Who said it? Woodrow Wilson? Donald Rumsfeld? George S. Patton? Trent Lott? Donald Trump? John F. Kennedy? Richard M. Nixon? Dick Cheney? Bill O'Reilly?

Quotation: "Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff."

Who said it? Ted Turner? Frank Zappa? Martha Stewart? Donald Trump? Henry Ford? Harry S. Truman? Joan Rivers? Ronald Reagan?

Quotation: "When they call roll in the U.S. Senate, the senators do not know whether to answer `present' or `not guilty.'"

Who said it? Newt Gingrich? Rush Limbaugh? Jon Stewart? Teddy Roosevelt? John Gotti? Dick Cheney? Jimmy Hoffa? J. Edgar Hoover?

Quotation: "If you want to make beautiful music, you must play the black and white notes together."

Who said it? Steve Allen? Chuck Berry? Paul McCartney? Elton John? Richard M. Nixon? Dave Brubeck? Courtney Love? Alec Baldwin? Celine Dion?

Quotation: "The United States is not a nation to which peace is a necessity."

Who said it? Ulysses S. Grant? Yasser Arafat? Grover Cleveland? George S. Patton? Nikita Khrushchev? Charles De Gaulle? Dan Rather?

Quotation: "A world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for us all."

Who said it? John F. Kennedy? Ronald Reagan? Nikita Khrushchev? George W. Bush? Margaret Thatcher? Donald Rumsfeld? Colin Powell?

How well did you score? Here are the answers: Lyndon B. Johnson; Richard M. Nixon; Teddy Roosevelt; Henry Cabot Lodge; Winston Churchill; Frank Zappa; George S. Patton; Ronald Reagan; John F. Kennedy; Frank Zappa; Teddy Roosevelt; Richard M. Nixon ; Grover Cleveland; Margaret Thatcher.

Carlinism: As Churchill once said: "It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations."

James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at or 773-370-1888. Check out his blog at

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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