Over the last several decades, I’ve collected many quotes and anecdotes about money, power, education and opportunity. These are my favorite quotes and anecdotes.
Let’s start with a personal anecdote and a few related quotes.
When I was a rising high school senior a few decades ago, I participated in a summer research internship program for bright secondary school students in science and mathematics. This program, then known as the Rickover Science Institute (RSI), was run by the Admiral H.G. Rickover Foundation. The Admiral was involved during the first three years, until his death in 1986.
On the first day of the program, the students were gathered in a recreation room at the Xerox International Center for Training and Management Development (XICTMD), waiting for the program to begin. The Admiral was there, challenging many of the students with his energy and vive. He approached various students and asked, “So, what are you famous for?” The students were so brilliant that many of them had a real response.
I was playing pool with two of the female students, when the Admiral approached me. He asked, “Are you fooling around with these girls?” I responded, “Not yet.”
This response endeared me to him. He had printed some of his own comebacks and quotes on business cards. He gave one of them to me. It said, “Late to bed, early to rise, work hard as hell, and you’ll be wise.”
The Admiral spurred all of us to work harder than we had ever before. The program was and is, to this day, intense. His commitment to education and the RSI program influenced my career path.
Even though the RSI program is now known as the Research Science Institute and the foundation as the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE), the alumni are still known as Rickoids.
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Some other noteworthy quotes from the Admiral include quotes about learning and about always doing your best.
Rickover Quotes about Learning
- “Success teaches us nothing; only failure teaches.”
- “I never thought I was smart. I thought the people I dealt with were dumb.”
- “Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one’s arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page.”
- “Our greatest responsibility, as parents and as citizens, is to give America’s youngsters the best possible education. We need the best teachers and enough of them to prepare our young people for a future immeasurably more complex than the present, and calling for ever larger numbers of competent and highly trained men and women.”
- “You can’t go to heaven if you die dumb.”
- “A person must prepare himself intellectually and professionally and then use his powers to their fullest extent.”
- “All of us must become better informed. It is necessary for us to learn from others’ mistakes. You will not live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Rickover Quotes about Striving for Excellence
- “That’s what being a human being is, to do the best you can under any circumstances.“
- “Human experience shows that people, not organizations or management, get things done.”
- “It is difficult to soar with eagles when you work with turkeys.”
- “Good ideas and innovations are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into existence by courage and patience.”
- “I believe it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him. Admittedly, one man by himself cannot do the job. However, one man can make a difference. We must live for the future of the human race, and not for our own comfort or success.”
- “When doing a job — any job — one must feel that he owns it, and act as though he will remain in that job forever. He must look after his work just as conscientiously, as though it were his own business and his own money.”
- “I think you make your heaven and hell right here on Earth. You should act on this Earth as if it were heaven.”
Quotes from RADM Grace Hopper
One of the evening speakers during the RSI program was Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, a pioneering computer scientist and mathematician. She told a story about how she scrounged desks and equipment for her department. When her superiors questioned her “requisitioning” of desks, she responded, “It wasn’t bolted down, sir.” She also told us that “It is easier to apologize than to ask permission.”
Quotes about Education and Money
Francis Bacon, inventor of the scientific method, said, “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est” (Knowledge Itself Is Power).
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, said, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the highest return.”
H.G. Wells wrote in Volume 2 of The Outline of History, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. President, said, “A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car, but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad.”
B.F. Skinner, an American behaviorist, said, “Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.”
Adlai Stevenson, a diplomat, said, “Men may be born free; they cannot be born wise; and it is the duty of the university to make the free wise.”
John F. Kennedy, the 35th U.S. President, spoke frequently about education.
- “Let us not think of education only in terms of its costs, but rather in terms of the infinite potential of the human mind that can be realized through education. Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”
- “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. Our requirements for world leadership, our hopes for economic growth, and the demands of citizenship itself in an era such as this all require the maximum development of every young American’s capacity. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”
- “No task before our nation is more important than expanding and improving the educational opportunities of all our people. The concept that every American deserves the opportunity to attain the highest level of education of which he is capable is not new to this Administration – it is a traditional ideal of democracy. But it is time that we moved toward the fulfillment of this ideal with more vigor and less delay. For education is both the foundation and the unifying force of our democratic way of life — it is the mainspring of our economic and social progress — it is the highest expression of achievement in our society, ennobling and enriching human life. In short, it is at the same time the most profitable investment society can make and the richest reward it can offer.”
- “In our democracy every young person should have an equal opportunity to obtain a higher education, regardless of his station in life or financial means.”
- “Student loans have been helpful to many. But they offer neither incentive nor assistance to those students who, by reason of family or other obligations, are unable or unwilling to go deeper into debt. … It is, moreover, only prudent economic and social policy for the public to share part of the costs of the long period of higher education for those whose development is essential to our national economic and social well-being. All of us share in the benefits – all should share in the costs.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights activist, said, “It’s not burn baby burn, but learn, baby, learn, so that you can earn, baby, earn.”
Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th U.S. President, gave several speeches about higher education. This is one of his more popular quotes: “We believe, that is, you and I, that education is not an expense. We believe it is an investment.”
President Lyndon B. Johnson said, while declaring a national goal of full educational opportunity, “Every child must be encouraged to get as much education as he has the ability to take. We want this not only for his sake – but for the future of our nation’s sake. Nothing matters more to the future of our country: not our military preparedness – for armed might is worthless if we lack the brainpower to build world peace; not our productive economy – for we cannot sustain growth without trained manpower; not our democratic system of government – for freedom is fragile if citizens are ignorant.”
He also said, “Education is the key to opportunity in our society, and the equality of educational opportunity must be the birthright of every citizen” and “Every man, everywhere, should be free to develop his talents to their full potential – unhampered by arbitrary barriers of race or birth or income.”
Sir Claus Moser, said, “Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.” I once saw a similar quote on a bumper sticker, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
Aristotle once said, “Education is the best provision for old age.”
Kofi Annan, a diplomat who served as Secretary-General of the United Nations, said, “Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.”
Gordon Brown, who served as Britain’s Prime Minister, said, “No one should be held back from realising their potential by fears that they will not be able to afford to go to university or that they will graduate with unmanageable levels of debt.”
Ben Bernanke, who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, said, “Education – lifelong education for everyone – from toddlers to workers well advanced in their careers – is indeed an excellent investment for individuals and society as a whole.”
In his state of the union address, Barack Obama, the 44th U.S. President, said, “… because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.” He also said, “In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a prerequisite.” and “Higher education cannot be a luxury reserved just for a privileged few. It is an economic necessity for every family. And every family should be able to afford it.”
Bernie Sanders, a U.S. Senator, said, “Every human being has the fundamental right to a good education. We are committed to creating an education system that works for all people, not just the wealthy and powerful.” and “If we are to succeed as a nation, public colleges and universities must be tuition free. Higher education should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. That means we have got to make public colleges and universities tuition free and we must substantially reduce student debt. Each and every year, hundreds of thousands of bright and qualified young people do not get a higher education for one reason and one reason alone: their family lacks the income. That is unfair to those families; and it is it is unfair to the future of this country.”
Source: Forbes – Money