Over the course of history, many-a-great person has said many-an-inspirational thing. Such things span millennia, marking or precipitating momentous, world-changing events. They carried a generation through war, heralded progress toward racial justice, ushered new steps toward gender equality, and so much more.
And now, you can take these timeless, era-defining inspirational quotes wildly out of context to sell your app or promote your business or whatever. Here are 6 examples to show you how.
#1 “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela
This is a quote attributed to South African human rights activist, presumably about his work ending racial apartheid. While there’s absolutely no concrete evidence that he actually said this, that shouldn’t stop you from using it to motivate your team to stay up late working on a feature that you’ll probably just replace next week anyway. Plaster your office walls with a custom-made poster of these hard-hitting words about racial injustice to remind your all white, all-male engineering team that they can accomplish whatever you set their minds to.
#2 “Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!” — Ruby Bridges
In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges sparked a school-wide boycott by becoming the first Black student at an all-white school in the Deep South. Use her struggles to your benefit by copy-pasting this quote onto the “company mission” slide of your next pitch to VCs to convince them that your candy-themed mobile gaming app is the new trail to greatness.
#3 “Success always demands a greater effort.” — Winston Churchill
In 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill quotably stated the obvious to Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia. Now, you can repurpose his words to push your sales team to meet their unrealistic quotas. Program this quotation to greet them while Slack is loading, and they’ll always feel the pressure to put in a greater effort into selling your HR software to mid-to-large sized tech companies.
#4 “Failure is impossible.” — Susan B. Anthony
At 86, the leader of the suffragette movement realized she’d never live to see women gain the right to vote, and told a group of young activists to keep on keepin’ on. You can conveniently misappropriate this message meant to motivate half the population to fight for their democratic rights and use it to remind Caitlyn from Marketing that if she doesn’t get the monthly newsletter out by Tuesday, she can kiss her job goodbye.
#5 “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
When the face of the American Civil Rights Movement addressed students at Spelman college in 1960, he encouraged them to keep advancing in the fight for justice. But no one will ever know that when you take it out of context and slap it over an ocean sunset to post on your brand’s Instagram page. Use MLK’s fight for racial justice to your advantage and show your followers (and investors!) that even when business is slow, you’re always moving toward your IPO.
#6 “Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything.” — Nellie Bly
This was the life motto of America’s first female investigative journalist, who overcame institutional sexism to become a pioneer in the field of journalism in the late 1800s. Now, you can use her mantra to sign off on emails and remind all recipients that you are rightly applying your energy writing product updates that even your mother won’t read.
This is just the beginning of all the quotes the internet has to offer. And if you can’t find an inspirational quote to fit your business needs, just make something up and misattribute it to someone smart.