Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
April 14, 2016

If nothing else, Henry Ford was certainly quote-worthy. The man who brought the world the modern assembly line, affordable personal transportation, and essentially the creation of the American Industrial Machine that brought this country into immense prosperity at the beginning of the 20th Century and allowed us to dominate the bad guys in World War II, was also a bit of a controversial entity—especially among union organizers.

There have been a lot of quotes attributed to Henry Ford, including the one that goes with the photo at the top of this page (which has also been attributed to others, in various forms), but we went straight to the source to compile this list of our favorite quotes from the man—The Henry Ford museum.

As the museum says, “Work on collecting and authenticating Henry Ford quotations was begun at Ford Motor Company, possibly as early as the mid-1920s. Staff, interns, and volunteers of the Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford have continued this work, resulting in the list below. The list includes quotations that have been traced to a primary source or a reliable secondary source. Examples of reliable secondary sources would be a published interview with or other direct quotations of Henry Ford in newspapers contemporary to him, including but in no way limited to house organs such as the Ford Times and Ford News, or a book whose ghostwriting or collaboration was authorized by Henry Ford. If you are searching for a quote and do not see it in the attached list, it means that staff was not able to trace it to a reliable source.

So here we go, some of the brilliance from the mind of Henry Ford. As for the last quote on the list: Yo Hank, we’ve been promised that since the 1950s—where’s my damn flying car?!

"Education is preeminently a matter of quality, not amount."

"Any man can learn anything he will, but no man can teach except to those who want to learn."

"The short successes that can be gained in a brief time and without difficulty are not worth much."

"What right have you, save service to the world, to think that other men's labor should contribute to your gains?"

"Most people think that faith means believing something; oftener it means trying something, giving it a chance to prove itself"

"Many people are busy trying to find better ways of doing things that should not have to be done at all. There is no progress in merely finding a better way to do a useless thing."

"Be ready to revise any system, scrap any method, abandon any theory, if the success of the job requires it."

"The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all but goes on making his own business better all the time."

"There is no failure except failure to serve one's purpose."

"There is safety in small beginnings and there is unlimited capital in the experience gained by growing."

"If the people really set their minds on anything it is impossible to prevent their getting what they want."

"One needs to be successful in the conventional way to learn just how far away from success it may be."

"Little difficulties are made to swell until they fill our horizon while the real big blessings of life are dwindled down to nothing."

"There is nothing ever wrong with ability, ambition, achievement; but they can easily be wronged by being used to bad ends."

"To be good is not enough; a man must be good for something"

"The only true test of values, either of men or of things, is that of their ability to make the world a better place in which to live."

"Much depends on people knowing what opportunity means; it doesn't mean a silver platter, it oftener means a spade. Self-help means something sterner than 'help yourself'--reach over and take it."

"The genius of the American people is self-reliance."

"We are always seeking for those things which are in the clouds, not for those that lie at our feet."

"Every success is the mother of countless others."

"Hard knocks have a place and value, but hard thinking goes farther in less time."

"But to do for the world more than the world does for you--that is success."

“No one loses anything by raising wages as soon as he is able. It has always paid us.”

"Individualism is what makes cooperation worth living."

"An educated person, I think, is one who not only knows a lot, but knows how to do a lot of things."

"I don't know anybody so old he can't do something useful. Just give them a chance and see."

"The basically simple things are best, whether it's automobiles or diets or philosophy."

"When bankers get into business they usually destroy it.”

"Whenever you get the idea that you are 'fixed' or that anything is 'fixed' for life, you'd better get ready for a sudden change."

"The greatest thing we can produce is character. Everything else can be taken from us, but not our character."

"The only thing you can give a man without hurting him is an opportunity."

"We do not hire a man's history, we hire the man"

"I believe in 100% Theory and 100% Practice. Theory without practical application is futile."

"A man's college and university degrees mean nothing to me until I see what he is able to do with them."

"A nation that knows how to work will never suffer."

"The greatest thing in life is experience. Even mistakes have value."

"Idleness is the reason for many of our troubles."

"Life, as I see it, is not a location, but a journey. Life flows."

"Every man is entitled to make a darn fool of himself at least once in a lifetime.”

"A low wage business is always insecure."

"Only one thing makes prosperity, and that is work."

"Worry is the most wasteful thing in the world."

"Anyone who does anything useful will not go unpaid."

"Should a man quit at 40 he is failure-Retire at that age is sorry failure."

"The farther you look back, the farther you can look ahead."

"When you once get an idea in which you believe with all your heart, work it out."

"Every business is a monarchy with, not a man, but an idea as king."

"The best way to make money in business is not to think too much about making it."

"Mass production is craftsmanship with the drudgery taken out of it."

"In the long run people are going to buy the cheapest and the best article no matter where it is made."

"The best way is always the simplest. The attics of the world are cluttered up with complicated failures."

"Money will ruin the life of any man who treats it like anything but a tool with which to work."

"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."

"My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me."

"Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them."

"You don't build a reputation on what you're going to do."

"Mark my word: A combination airplane and motor car is coming..."