Henry Ford quotes are inspiring to anyone interested in the outstanding business success stories that have gone down in history.
An American industrialist from the first half of the 20th century, Henry Ford is best known for inventing the concept of Fordism. Through this method, his company has sold millions of cars around the world.
But do you really know who Henry Ford was? Get to know this great visionary entrepreneur right away and take the opportunity to discover his most famous quotes!
Who was Henry Ford really?
An Early Calling
Henry Ford was born July 30, 1863 in Greenfield Township, near Dearborn, Michigan, United States.
His father, William Ford (1826-1905) came from Ireland in 1847 with his family. The following year, he began to work on the family farm. There he met Henry’s mother, Mary Litogot (1839-1876), daughter of Belgian immigrants. William and Mary married in 1861 and had 6 children, of whom Henry was the eldest.
Thus, Henry grew up in an agricultural environment and found himself, as the eldest child, destined to take over the family farm. However, young Henry was not in the slightest interested in the agricultural world. He did not excel in school either and would leave it permanently at 15. In contrast, from the age of 12, he developed a passion for mechanics. He was particularly fond of disassembling and reassembling his family’s watches, to understand their mechanism.
At 15, the teenager built his first steam engine. This passion was so strong that his parents finally let him leave at the age of 16 to do an apprenticeship in Detroit, where he would become a mechanic in a machine shop.
An Unfailing Tenacity
In 1888, Henry Ford would marry Clara Ala Bryant (1866-1950), a farmer’s daughter. Three years later, he joins the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit as an engineer.
In 1893, as he turns 30, Henry Ford becomes chief engineer. This promotion allows him to continue his personal experiments and, in 1896, he would build his first automobile model, the Quadricycle.
The Quadricyle, the first vehicle invented by Henry Ford (right)
The same year, he meets Thomas Edison, famous for his many inventions (including the light bulb and the phonograph), who would encourage him to continue. Henry Ford obtains financial support from a tycoon in Detroit, thanks to which he is able to resign from the company to create, in 1899, the Detroit Automobile Company.
However, success is not in the cards, and the company is liquidated in 1901. The businessman would then embark on racing cars, and a few months later, he starts the Henry Ford Company, of which he becomes chief engineer.
In 1902, the industrialist resigns from this company after a meeting with Tom Cooper, a renowned cyclist. Together, they work on the design of a racing car, the “999”. It goes on to win a car race, and the name of Ford becomes known.
Following this success, Henry Ford starts, with Alexander Y. Malcomson and the brothers John and Horace E. Dodge, the Ford Motor Company.
An Innovative Concept: Fordism
Fordism is a model of business structure devised by Henry Ford and based on standardized mass production. The entrepreneur allegedly got the idea after observing a slaughterhouse in Chicago: the carcasses, hanging from containers, which move, automatically, from one worker to another.
This production model is based on three principles:
- The division of labor: design and production are separated; tasks are sequenced; workers work on an assembly line. It’s assembly-line work.
- The standardization of parts: which allows them to be produced in large quantities. This is called mass production.
- The increase in workers’ wages: it is almost doubled while at the same time the working day is shortened by one hour. This avoids resignations due to the harshness of work.
The Writings of a Controversial Visionary
In poor health, Henry Ford retires in 1945, leaving the running of his company to his grandson, Henry Ford II. He would pass away in his hometown two years later, at the age of 83, of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Henry Ford is a controversial figure today. He is, all at once:
- Admired for his career, his entrepreneurial spirit, and his personality as a determined visionary.
- Honored for his major contribution to the world of business, the automotive industry and humanity: in 1946 he was awarded the “Golden Jubilee” of the American automotive industry, as well as the first gold medal from the American Petroleum Institute.
- Heavily criticized for his antisemitism, an ideology that he had expressed openly in a book and several articles.
Henry Ford left behind an autobiography entitled “My life and Work”, published for the first time in 1922. Beyond an autobiography, this work is, in reality, a true business philosophy handbook.
Henry Ford Quotes
Henry Ford Quotes on Success
- “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
- “To have done more for the world than the world has done for you: that is success.”
- “The reason most people do not recognize an opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looking like hard work.”
- “Before everything else, getting ready is a secret of success.”
- “What determines success? The ability to sustain continuous effort.”
- “If there is any secret to achieving success, it lies in the ability to understand another’s point of view and see things from that person’s perspective as well as your own.”
- “You don’t have to hold a position to be a leader.”
- “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
- “Mediocrity is the worst enemy of prosperity.”
- “The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.”
- “You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes rise to the stars. With it, there is accomplishment. Without it, there are only alibis.”
Henry Ford Quotes on Business and Work
- “The two most important things in any company do not appear in its balance sheet: its reputation and its men.”
- “Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching around for what it gets.”
- “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”
- “It is not the employer who pays the wages, but the client.”
- “A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is quickly saturated with a bad one.”
- “There is a rule for the industrialist, and it is: Make products of the best possible quality, at the lowest possible cost, and pay the highest possible wages.”
- “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”
- “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.”
- “I will build a car for as many people as possible.”
- “There is no joy in work, there is no happiness apart from the feeling of having accomplished something.”
- “I do not believe a man can ever leave his business. He ought to think of it by day and dream of it by night.”
- “Profit should not be the starting point, but the result of the services a business provides.”
Henry Ford Quotes on Failure and Obstacles
- “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”
- “Do not accuse the well of being too deep; it is your rope which is too short.”
- “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”
- “Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”
- “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
- “Most people spend more time and energy getting around problems than trying to solve them.”
- “There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems.”
- “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
- “Failure is sometimes more fruitful than success.”
- “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
- “Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.”
- “Nothing is particularly difficult if you break it down into small tasks.”
Henry Ford Quotes on Wealth and Money
- “The highest use of capital is not to make more money, but to make money do more for the betterment of life.”
- “A handful of men manage to get rich just by paying attention to the details that most people overlook.”
- “Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.”
- “If money is your hope for independence, you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”
- “The one aim of these financiers is world control by the creation of inextinguishable debts.”
- “Speculation is only a word covering the making of money out of the manipulation of prices, instead of supplying goods and services.”
Henry Ford Quotes on Knowledge and Learning
- “There is an immense amount to be learned simply by tinkering with things. It is not possible to learn from books how everything is made.”
- “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”
- “The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”
- “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
- “As we advance in life, we learn the limits of our abilities.”
- “Thinking is the hardest job there is, which is probably why few do it.”
- “Minds are like parachutes… they only function when open.”
- “I cannot discover that anyone knows enough to say definitely what is and what is not possible.”
Henry Ford Quotes on Progress and Ideas
- “Enthusiasm is the basis of all progress.”
- “Speculation in things already produced—that is not business.”
- “Good ideas are expensive, but the people who make them work are priceless.”
Henry Ford Quotes on Society
- “The democracy that I favor is one that gives everyone the same chance of success, depending on the capacity of each. The one that I reject is that which claims to provide the number the authority which belongs to merit.”
- “It is perhaps well enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, because if it did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
- “Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure for poverty.”
- “We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present.”
- “What’s right about America is that although we have a mess of problems, we have great capacity – intellect and resources – to do something about them.”
Henry Ford Quotes on Men
- “There are people who say they can; others who say they cannot. In general, they are both right.”
- “An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous.”
- “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”
- “Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.”
- “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said: faster horses.”
- “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”
- “It doesn’t matter to me if a man is from Harvard or Sing Sing. We hire the man, not his history.”
- “I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”
- “You will find men who want to be carried on the shoulders of others, who think that the world owes them a living. They don’t seem to see that we must all lift together and pull together.”
Henry Ford Quotes on Perseverance
- “Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible.”
- “I don’t hire a lawyer to tell me what I can’t do, I hire him to explain to me how I can do what I want to do.”
- “Life is a series of experience, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
- “There is no man alive who cannot do more than he thinks he can.”
Unclassifiable Henry Ford Quotes
- “The work of art is the exaggeration of an idea.”
- “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”
- “New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, acts differently. They just don’t know what the hell the rest of the United States is.”
- “I never stay seated when I can sit down, I never stay seated when I can lie down.”
- “I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So, what is there to worry about?”
- “You say I started out with practically nothing, but that isn’t correct. We all start with all there is, it’s how we use it that makes things possible.”
- “Ducks lay their eggs in silence while hens cackle like madwomen. The result? Everybody eats hens’ eggs.”
- “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”
- “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
- “Chop your own wood, it will warm you twice.”
- “History is more or less bunk.”
- “A vision without action is only a dream.”
- “Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.”
Did you know all these quotes from Henry Ford? Which one do you like best? Share in the comments the quotes that inspire you the most.