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Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Ron Chernow

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Success comes from keeping the ears open and the mouth closed” and “A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds.”

“Rockefeller equated silence with strength: Weak men had loose tongues and blabbed to reporters, while prudent businessmen kept their own counsel.”

“Do not many of us who fail to achieve big things … fail because we lack concentration—the art of concentrating the mind on the thing to be done at the proper time and to the exclusion of everything else?”

“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee,” he once said, “and I pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.”

“Oh how blessed the young men are who have to struggle for a foundation and a beginning in life. I shall never cease to be grateful for the three and a half years of apprenticeship and the difficulties to be overcome, all the way along.”

“If those who ‘gain all they can’ and ‘save all they can,’ will likewise ‘give all they can,’ then the more they will grow in grace.”

“He downplayed the significance of technical knowledge in business. “I never felt the need of scientific knowledge, have never felt it. A young man who wants to succeed in business does not require chemistry or physics. He can always hire scientists.”

“Daring in design, cautious in execution—it was a formula he made his own throughout his career.”

“Rockefeller was sensitive about adults who behaved in a high-handed fashion toward him. Having assumed so much responsibility at home, he now thought of himself as a mature person.”

“One of Rockefeller’s favorite stories reveals her coolheaded response to danger: Mother had whooping cough and was staying in her room so that we should not catch it. When she heard thieves trying to get at the back of the house and remembered that there was no man to protect us, she softly opened the window and began to sing some old Negro melody, just as if the family were up and about. The robbers turned away from the house, crossed the road to the carriage house, stole a set of harness and went down the hill to their boat at the shore.18 From such early experiences, John D. took away a deep, abiding respect for women; unlike other moguls of the Gilded Age, he never saw them in purely ornamental terms.”

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