Whenever we read a really motivational quote from an inspirational figure, we tend to be left feeling hopeful, confident and more encouraged than ever to take our career journey to the next big step.
But at the same time, some of the quotes we’re met with can unintentionally strike us as pretty pathetic – or even cheesy. It isn’t really a major concern in our lives; but when quotes like this have been attributed to the wrong person or that person’s words have been twisted by someone else, odds are it’s fairly frustrating for them.
Of course there are quotes said by obviously notorious figures throughout history; but it appears that even these cannot be trusted as a true source for our inspiration. How many times have we heard or seen the words ‘well-behaved women rarely make history’ plastered over our social media pages, layered over a glamorous photograph of Marilyn Monroe? Well, much like the majority of quotations by the legendary actress that we see left, right and centre on the Internet, this is a complete misattribution. In 2007, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich – a celebrated female historian – wrote a book titled with identical wording: ‘Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History.’ Some suspect she swiped the title of her best-seller from the 1950s’ favourite blonde.
But they’re wrong. Because Ulrich first wrote the phrase in 1976 for an issue of American Quarterly. The original version actually refers to colonial woman; not 1950s’ actresses.
Another infuriating example of this forgery is the classic ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ which was definitely, 100%, absolutely said by Gandhi – right? Wrong. The actual quote was a lot longer, a lot more in-depth, much deeper and more profound – so basically, it was nothing like the false messed-up forgery we all seem to remember it as.
These annoying little misquotes that have all developed throughout history seem to get even more shoddy as time goes on. However, this is worsened further when it comes to the world of business.
The industry is full to the brim with illustrious business leaders and their wise words. But how can we be sure that the big entrepreneurial figure we’ve looked up our entire lives is even being credited correctly? It seems like all we see lately on social media platforms is endless over-decorated memes of quotes; purposefully fabricated to motivate our attitudes. Nine times out of ten, the quote will be issued alongside a big smiling picture of someone like business magnate, Richard Branson. But where is the proof that he ever said this? For all we know, one of the bellboys at his 5-star luxury hotel in Morocco was responsible for it.
Here at Uniting Ambition, we’ve decided to give you a bit of an insider snoop; and we’ve put together a few quote scandals to feast your eyes upon – and you’ll likely be surprised by more than one of them!
1. “Be nice to nerds. Chances are, you’ll end up working for one.”
Sound familiar to you? Of course it does. This was obviously said by one very famous Software Developer, was it not? Ah yes, Bill Gates. Bill Gates definitely said this.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but, no he actually didn’t say this at all. It’s often cited on the Internet as having come from his book ‘Business @ The Speed of Thought’ but it didn’t. It was also rumoured that he might have read this very sentence out when delivering one of his typically long and academically enhanced speeches to Mt. Whitney High School in California. But that isn’t true either; because he didn’t even give such a speech. Administrators at that school continue to be mystified as to why they were dragged into this apocryphal story in the first place. In short, it isn’t fair to credit this corker of a quote to Bill himself at all.
The original statement actually came from a book by Charles J. Sykes titled ‘Dumbing Down Our Kids’ and it included a huge list of golden rules that he suggested, weren’t learnt in school by the average child. Thanks to the glory and power of the Internet, this transpired into a pretty popular chain email in workplaces, schools and amongst business leaders – cue Bill.
This particular list from the book was printed in 1996 in a variety of newspapers, and wasn’t spoken by the Microsoft marvel at any point – that we know of.
2. The incredibly moving final words spoken by Steve Jobs before his death
Not a quote as such, but a written letter by none other than Apple legend Steve Jobs right before he died at age 56, citing his final words. Impeccable timing, wouldn’t you say?
Yes; impeccable enough to not actually be real. In this circumstance, the Internet turned out to be a bit of a devil in disguise, rather than a blessing. A fake Twitter account hoaxed the entire planet into believing that Steve was sat on his deathbed, typing out a faultless essay of grace, thanks and advice for his millions of followers. Much to the dismay of his genuine supporters, this letter was completely phoney and arguably, rather condescending.
The words that surrounded every office’s chain email inbox and every social media user’s newsfeed read:
I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success.
However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.
In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of god of death drawing closer…
Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth…
Should be something that is more important:
Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days
Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.
God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.
The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.
On the 30th of October 2011, the New York Times printed a eulogy by his sister, Mona Simpson. In that eulogy, she described his real last moment. This is a scandal that suddenly becomes rather bittersweet when we are notified of what his final words genuinely were.
Mona stated: “Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.
Steve’s final words were: OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.”
We find the entire situation pretty ‘wow’ ourselves.
3. “A brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”
When typing ‘famous business quotes’ into any search engine, this is one we’re often met with. But it’s tricky, because although Amazon founder and CEO – Jeff Bezos – is credited with many variations of these words of wisdom, there is actually no proven source of where it came from originally.
Jeff’s face pops up like bread out of a toaster whenever you search for this quote on Google. But if you attempt to trace its origin, you’re left dumbfounded. This is the case with many of the quotes we associate with big brand names or entrepreneurs – and he may well have said this at some point in a publication of his, or even a speech. But it’s the assumption that he definitely did say it that causes a spot of bother. Whilst it’s a highly inspiring quote and may even boost your attitude as a budding business leader, there is – unfortunately – no online proof of attribution.
Shall we all take bets on which version is the real one?
4. “I am who I am and I’m focused on that – and being a great CEO”
The beginning of this one is practically comedic. It’s almost as though the culprit threw on the second clause of ‘and being a great CEO’ just to jazz it up a little and make it slightly more business focused. So, who actually said it?
The poor soul apparently responsible for this self-righteous waffle is the current Chief Executive of Apple, Tim Cook. Whilst Tim constantly reminds us of what it’s like to be motivated and on the ball with his genuine, earnest quotes; this particular one did not come from him.
It may be pompous in all the right ways and this is probably the attitude you’d expect of a huge executive, but Tim is – by all accounts – a very down to earth and humble man. He’s also one of the most openly famous gay men in the industry – and he’s very proud to be. So, whilst you could assume that this ‘born this way’ style quote originated from him, you’d be mistaken. In reality, it was most likely created by a fan with access to Microsoft Paint and Google images.
5. “People with big dreams will always have doubters. Accept them. In fact, welcome them with open arms.”
Mark Zuckerberg is the billionaire millennial responsible for an abundance of innovations. He is accountable for the world’s biggest social network Facebook. He is accountable for shutting down the Harvard servers after creating the website ‘Facemash’ to rate his fellow scholars. And he is accountable for giving his daughter a title comparable to some sort of Superhero – Maxima Chan.
But one thing he is not accountable for, is this quote.
Again, broadcasted all over Google images is a photo of the CEO with this quote slapped across his smiling face. However, there is no known source or publication that proves he actually cited it. Whilst it might be a very inspirational reference, it’s safe to say that Zuckerberg wasn’t the founder of it.
Not to worry though; your motivation needn’t flounder. Because Zuckerberg appears to have cited more genuine quotes than he has dollars in the bank. Yes – billions. So perhaps turn your attention to those when looking for a kick in the right direction, and give this one a miss.
The creator of this could have at least chosen a better font for this photo edit, surely?
6. “Build what you want to see in the world.”
From Facebook to Twitter. CEO Jack Dorsey. Didn’t say it. Sounds a bit like the fake Gandhi quote. Someone playing on Microsoft Paint again.
That’s an explanation in exactly 140 characters. The tweet-savvy prodigy would be proud
7. “If our business is successful and achieves excessive profits, we’re under no obligation to share that with our workers.”
Now for a scandal that caused a fair bit of real life drama.
In February 2016, the Facebook page ‘I Acknowledge Class Warfare Exists’ posted a meme featuring a photo of Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter along with this quote – ostensibly uttered by him.
The above quote has been circulating for several years; and several web sites, such as AZ Quotes, Sherman’s Wilderness and the Straight Dope message board have attributed this phrase to Schnatter. But none of these websites conclusively said where or when Schnatter uttered this quote.
In fact, any attempt to source it would lead you through a never-ending circle of memes – but in the end, there is no record linking Schnatter to the quote from any credible publication.
This is a prime example of when misquotes in the business world can cause havoc. A false quote like this can easily damage the reputation of a CEO, as well as their company – which isn’t good news for the development and delivery of a business.
8. “If you don’t support equality; we don’t want your business. Take it elsewhere.”
Not exactly the motivational quote we all want to relish in on a tiring Monday morning, but a very important one to take note of.
This citation came about when some Donald Trump supporters became very angry with Pepsi CEO, Indra Nooyi, over something that never even happened. Some were even threatening to boycott the soft drink maker, starting a #boycottpepsi trend on Twitter. When in actual fact, the outrage came from fake statements circulating on social media.
Twitter users — many citing debunked news articles — claim the company’s CEO said this to Trump fans because of his controversial views. But Nooyi never said this; and she even congratulated the President-Elect on his victory.
According to Snopes, the only statement she said that was anywhere remotely close to what some are claiming, was that many of her employees were upset by Trump’s election. Another unfair example of when misquotes can lead to a drop in business.
If there’s any you think we’ve missed, let us know in the comment section below!
If you’re a budding CEO and you’re looking for your next opportunity in Software, IT, E-Commerce and many more sectors; why not drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more?
You snooze you lose!