January 4, 2022
6 Minutes

Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son

Book summary of Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son by George Horace Lorimer. Read this book summary to review the important takeaways and lessons from the book.

Table Of Contents

1. Letter No. 1

2. Letter No. 2

3. Letter No. 3

4. Letter No. 4

5. Letter No. 5

6. Letter No. 6

7. Letter No. 7

8. Letter No. 8

9. Letter No. 9

10. Letter No. 10

11. Letter No. 11

12. Letter No. 12

13. Letter No. 13

14. Letter No. 14

15. Letter No. 15

16. Letter No. 16

17. Letter No. 17

18. Letter No. 18

19. Letter No. 19

20. Letter No. 20

Letter No. 1

  • You'll find that education's about the only thing lying around loose in this world. It's about the only thing a fellow can have as much of as he's willing to haul away.

  • The first thing that education ought to give a man is character. The second thing is education.

  • There are two parts of a college education: the part that you get in the classroom and the part that you get outside. That's the important part. For the first can only make you a scholar, while the second can make you a man.

Letter No. 2

  • The sooner you adjust your spending to your earning capacity, the easier they'll find it to live together.

  • There is plenty of room at the top here, but there is no elevator in the building.

Letter No. 3

  • Some men learn all they know from books; others from life; both kinds are narrow. The first are all theory; the second are all practice. The fellow that knows enough about practice to test his theories is the one that gives the world a shove ahead and finds a fair margin of profit.

  • I've always made it a rule to buy brains, and I've learned that the better trained they are, the faster they find reasons for raising their salaries.

Letter No. 4

  • It's not what a man does during working hours, but after them, that breaks down his health.

  • A clear mind is swept clean of business at six o'clock every night and isn't opened up for it again until after the shutters are taken down the next morning.

  • Putting off an easy thing makes it hard, and putting off a hard one makes it impossible.

  • Seeing the world is like charity - it covers a multitude of sins, and, like charity, it ought to begin at home.

Letter No. 5

  • A businessman's conversation should be regulated by fewer and simpler rules than any other function of the human-animal. They are: Have something to say. Say it. Stop talking.

  • It's easier to look wise than to talk wisdom.

  • Say less than the other fellow and listen more than you talk. When a man's listening, he isn't telling on himself; he's flattering the fellow who is.

  • You'll read a good deal about "love at first sight" in novels, and there may be something in it for all I know, but I'm sure there's no such thing as love at first sight in business.

  • The swamps are full of razorbacks like Charlie, fellows who'd rather make a million a night in their heads than five dollars a day in cash.

Letter No. 6

  • Business is like oil - it won't mix with anything but business.

  • Very few men are worth wasting time on beyond a certain point, and that point is soon reached with a fellow who doesn't show any signs of wanting to help.

Letter No. 7

  • There isn't any such thing as being your own boss in this world unless you're a tramp, and then there's the constable.

  • When you're in the right, you can afford to keep your temper, and when you're in the wrong, you can't afford to lose it.

  • You can trust any number of men with your money, but mighty few with your reputation.

Letter No. 8

  • I want to say right here that the easiest way in the world to make enemies is to hire friends.

  • Get the scent in your nostrils, keep your nose to the ground, and don't worry too much about the end of the chase. The fun of the thing's in the run and not in the finish.

Letter No. 9

  • Never marry a poor girl raised like a rich one.

  • To marry for money or to marry without money is a crime.

Letter No. 10

  • A real salesman is one-part talk and nine-parts judgment, and he uses the nine-parts of judgment to tell when to use the one-part of talk.

  • Real buyers aren't interested in much besides your goods and prices.

  • Don't get on your knees for business, but don't hold your nose so high in the air that an order can travel under it without your seeing it.

  • When a fellow comes to me for advice about moving to a new country, where there are more opportunities, I advise him - go to an old city where there's more money.

Letter No. 11

  • You've got to get up every morning with determination if you're going to go to bed with satisfaction.

  • That is why you want to look for information about the business and nail a fact just as a sensible man nails a mosquito - the first time it settles near him.

Letter No. 12

  • When a fellow knows his business, he doesn't have to explain to people that he does.

  • It isn't what a man knows, but what he thinks he knows that he brags about.

  • Education will broaden a narrow mind, but there's no known cure for a big head.

  • Poverty never spoils a good man, but prosperity often does.

  • There's nothing that tells the truth to a woman like a mirror or lies harder to a man.

  • The time to sort out rotten eggs is at the nest.

  • Some salesmen think that selling is like eating - to satisfy an existing appetite. A good salesman is like a good cook - he can create an appetite when the buyer isn't hungry.

Letter No. 13

  • Clothes don't make the man, but they make all of him except his hands and face during business hours, and that's a pretty considerable area of the human-animal.

  • There are two unpardonable sins in this world - success and failure. Those who succeed can't forgive a fellow for being a failure, and those who fail can't forgive him for success.

Letter No. 14

  • When a speculator wins, he doesn't stop till he loses, and when he loses, he can't stop till he wins.

  • A man's got to lose more than money to be broke.

  • When the tongue lies, the eyes tell the truth.

  • As a matter of fact, a man's first duty is to mind his own business.

Letter No. 15

  • A fellow who can't take orders can't give them.

  • Think before you say a hard word to a man, but never let a chance to say a good one go by. Praise judiciously bestowed is money invested.

  • Be slow to hire and quick to fire.

  • Save a threat till you're ready to act, and then you won't need it.

  • Remember that today is your opportunity; tomorrow, another fellows.

Letter No. 16

  • There's still plenty of room at the top, but there isn't much anywhere else.

  • Satisfaction is the oil of the business machine.

  • Some fellows can only see those above them, and others can only see those under them, but a good man is crosseyed and can see both ends.

  • A man's as good as he makes himself, but no man's any good because his grandfather was.

Letter No. 17

  • A man who does big things is too busy to talk about them.

  • Hot air can take up a balloon, but it can't keep it there.

  • Life is a long and steady climb. You can't run far uphill without stopping to sit down.

  • I learned how to be humble, which is more important than knowing how to be proud.

Letter No. 18

  • There are two things you never want to pay attention to - abuse and flattery. The first can't harm you, and the second can't help you.

  • As long as you can't please both sides in this world, there's nothing like pleasing your side.

  • I've put a good deal more than work into my business, and I've drawn a good deal more than money out of it. The only thing I've ever put into it which didn't draw dividends in fun or dollars was worry.

Letter No. 19

  • Money ought never to be the consideration in marriage, but it always ought to be a consideration.

  • When a boy and a girl don't think enough about money before the ceremony, they will have to think much about it afterwards.

Letter No. 20

  • I believe in short engagements and long marriages.

  • With most people, happiness is something that is always just a day off. But I have made it a rule never to put off being happy till tomorrow.

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