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Home > Financial Quotes > Work and Employment

Financial Quotes

Work and Employment Quotes

  • "We're living in an economy where productivity is no longer the goal, employment is. That's because, on a very fundamental level, we have pretty much everything we need. America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed, educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction of us actually working … Our problem is not that we don't have enough stuff—it's that we don't have enough ways for people to work and prove that they deserve this stuff."
    Douglas Rushkoff (1961–), US media theorist
    Source: “Are Jobs Obsolete?” CNN (September 7, 2011)
  • "Work, work, work, but what mark do we leave, what point do we make? People who are too beholden to work become like erasers: as things move forward, they leave in their wake no trace of themselves."
    Yann Martel (1963–), Canadian novelist
    Source: Letter to Canadian prime minister Steven Harper (January 31, 2011)
  • "Seeing work as the meaning of life is a human, metaphysical invention; it has little basis in biology. Play, not work, seems to be the defining essence of life on Earth. Elephants push over trees, penguins belly flop on the ice, birds chase each other or drop and catch sticks in the air, cranes leap up together like ballet dancers—and all just for the hell of it."
    Joe Moran, British social historian
    Source: Guardian (London) (August 1, 2010)
  • "Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now."
    E. L. Kersten, US satirist, former organizational communication academic
    Source: The Art of Demotivation (2003)
  • "I think many people just work as a way of not confronting themselves."
    Gerry Robinson (1948–), Irish former chairman of Granada Television and of the Arts Council of England
    Source: Management Today (April 1999)
  • "Some people see things that are and ask, “Why?” Some people dream of things that never were and ask, “Why not?” Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that shit."
    George Carlin (19372008), US comedian and author
    Source: Brain Droppings (1998)
  • "Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else."
    Sir James Barrie (18601937), British novelist and playwright
    Source: Quoted in Woodbury Reports Archives (June 1997)
  • "We do not go to work only to earn an income, but to find meaning in our lives. What we do is a large part of what we are."
    Alan Ryan (1940–), British political philosopher
    Source: Quoted in If Aristotle Ran General Motors (Tom Morris, 1997)
  • "Retirement is an illusion. Not a reward but a mantrap. The bankrupt underside of success. A shortcut to death. Golf courses are too much like cemeteries."
    Saul Bellow (19152005), US novelist
    Source: The Actuel (1997)
  • "The greatest testimony to the human spirit that I'm witnessing now is the fact that people still come back to work, after all that has been done to them. They are still willing to participate for a more positive future if they would be sincerely invited."
    Walter Wriston (19192005), US banker
    Interview with Scott London.
    Source: US National Public Radio (November 1996)
  • "One day is much like another for the desk-bound office worker: life ebbs away, almost imperceptibly, in a blur of meetings and memos and gossip, of coffee-drinking and conferences and sticky summer afternoons when a post-prandial slumber becomes almost de rigueur; and our passage from our thirties into our forties and beyond is accompanied, and given definition, by the complicated movement of pieces of paper from one place to another."
    Jeremy Lewis, British publisher and author
    Source: Kindred Spirits (1995)
  • "I have nothing against work, particularly when performed, quietly and unobtrusively, by someone else. I just don't happen to think it's an appropriate subject for an ethic."
    Barbara Ehrenreich (1941–), US writer, sociologist, and feminist
    Source: “Goodbye to the Work Ethic,” The Worst Years of Our Lives (1991)
  • "We're not built for free time as a species. We think we are but we aren't."
    Douglas Coupland (1961–), West German-born Canadian writer
    Source: Generation X (1991)
  • "It's true hard work never killed anyone but I figure why take the chance?"
    Ronald Reagan (19112004), US president and actor
    Source: Speaking My Mind (1990)
  • "The one thing I know through experience … is that people don't know why they come to work until they don't have to come to work."
    H. Ross Perot (1930–), US entrepreneur and presidential candidate
    Source: Inc. (January 1989)
  • "The bond between a man and his profession is similar to that which ties him to his country; it is just as complex, often ambivalent, and it is understood completely only when it is broken."
    Primo Levi (19191987), Italian novelist, essayist, and chemist
    Source: Other People's Trades (1989)
  • "Japanese salarymen know that for pure relaxation, nothing beats a good long day in the office."
    Peter Tasker (1955–), British business author
    Source: Inside Japan (1987)
  • "Without work, all life goes rotten, but when work is soulless, life stifles and dies."
    Albert Camus (19131960), French novelist and essayist
    Source: Quoted in Good Work (E. F. Schumacher, 1979)
  • "Business is like sex. When it's good, it's very, very good; when it's not so good, it's still good."
    George Katona (19011981), US academic and business analyst
    Source: Wall Street Journal (April 9, 1969)
  • "Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment."
    Robert Benchley (18891945), US humorist
    Source: Quoted in The Algonquin Wits (R. E. Drennan, 1968)
  • "If I were a medical man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considered his work important."
    Edward O. Wilson (1929–), US biologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author
    Source: Autobiography (1967)
  • "I believe in hard work. It keeps the wrinkles out of the mind and spirit."
    Helena Rubinstein (18701965), US entrepreneur, cosmetics manufacturer, and philanthropist
    Source: My Life for Beauty (1965)
  • "Work is much more fun than fun."
    Sir Noël Coward (18991973), British dramatist, actor, producer, and composer
    Source: Quoted in “Sayings of the Week,” Observer (London) (June 21, 1963)
  • "Work was like cats were supposed to be: if you disliked and feared it … it knew at once and sought you out and jumped on your lap and climbed all over you to show how much it loved you."
    Sir Kingsley Amis (19221995), British novelist and poet
    Source: Take a Girl Like You (1960), ch. 5
  • "Labor is work that leaves no trace behind it when it is finished."
    Mary McCarthy (19121989), US author and critic
    Source: “The Vita Activa,” New Yorker (October 18, 1958)
  • "One of the saddest things is that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can't eat … nor make love for eight hours."
    William Faulkner (18971962), US novelist
    Source: Interview, Writers at Work (first series) (Malcom Cowley, ed, 1958)
  • "Why should I let the toad work
    Squat on my life?
    … Six days of the week it soils
    With its sickening poison—
    Just for paying a few bills!
    That's out of proportion.
    Philip Larkin (19221985), British poet, critic, essayist, and librarian
    Source: “Toads,” The Less Deceived (1955), ll. 1–2, 5–8
  • "A man who has no office to go to—I don't care who he is—is a trial of which you can have no conception."
    George Bernard Shaw (18561950), Irish writer and critic
    Source: The Irrational Knot (1950)
  • "The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both. Enough for him that he does it well."
    Lawrence Pearsall Jacks (18601955), British educator and Unitarian minister
    Source: Education Through Recreation (1932)
  • "Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relative to other matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid, the second is pleasant and highly paid."
    Bertrand Russell (Earl Russell) (18721970), British philosopher and writer
    Source: In Praise of Idleness (1932)
  • "I would live my life in nonchalance and insouciance
    Were it not for making a living, which is really rather a nouciance.
    Ogden Nash (19021971), US humorist and writer
    Source: “Introspective Reflection,” Hard Lines (1931)
  • "That state is a state of slavery in which a man does what he likes to do in his spare time and, in his working time, that which is required of him."
    Eric Gill (18821940), British sculptor and engraver
    Source: Art—Nonsense and Other Essays (1929)
  • "Work alone qualifies us for life."
    Zoë Akins (18861958), US poet and playwright
    Source: Attributed (1924)
  • "A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell."
    George Bernard Shaw (18561950), Irish writer and critic
    Source: Parents and Children (1914)
  • "Nothing is more humiliating than to have to beg for work, and a system in which any man has to beg for work stands condemned. No man can defend it."
    Eugene V. Debs (18551926), US politician and labor union leader
    Speech given at the founding of the Federal Council of Churches in Girard, Kansas.
    Source: “The Issue” (May 23, 1908)
  • "I don't like work—no man does—but I like what is in work—the chance to find yourself. Your own reality—for yourself, not for others—what no other man can ever know."
    Joseph Conrad (18571924), Polish-born British novelist and seaman
    Source: Heart of Darkness (1902)
  • "One of the first things to be noted in business life is its imperialism. Business is exacting, engrossing, and inelastic."
    Margaret Sangster (18381912), US poet and writer
    Source: Winsome Womanhood (1900)
  • "I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart."
    Jerome K. Jerome (18591927), British humorist and writer
    Source: Three Men in a Boat (1889)
  • "Work is the grand cure of all the maladies and miseries that ever beset mankind."
    Thomas Carlyle (17951881), British historian and essayist
    Source: Speech, Edinburgh, UK (April 2, 1866)
  • "Everyone confesses in the abstract that exertion … is the best thing for us all, but practically most people do all they can to get rid of it."
    Harriet Beecher Stowe (18111896), US writer
    Source: “The Lady Who Does Her Own Work,” Atlantic Monthly (1864)
  • "Every man's work, pursued steadily, tends to become an end in itself, and so to bridge over the loveless chasms of his life."
    George Eliot (18191880), British novelist
    Source: Silas Marner (1861), ch. 2
  • "If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work as the soldier flings himself into the enemy's trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent."
    Honoré de Balzac (17991850), French novelist
    Source: A Cousine Bette (1846)
  • "There is nothing like employment, active, indispensable employment, for relieving sorrow."
    Jane Austen (17751817), British novelist
    Source: Mansfield Park (1814), vol. 3, ch. 15
  • "Work keeps us from three great evils: boredom, vice, and poverty."
    Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (16941778), French writer, philosopher, and reformer
    Source: Candide (1759)
  • "What is work and what is not work is a question that perplexes the wisest of men."
    Bhagavad Gita, Hindu scripture
    Source: 4:16 (300? bc)
  • "The world is full of willing people: some willing to work, the rest willing to let them."
    Robert Frost (18741963), US poet
    Source: Attributed
  • "When a man tells you he got rich through hard work, ask him, “Whose?”"
    Don Marquis (18781937), US journalist and humorist
    Source: Attributed
  • "I yield to no one in my admiration for the office as a social centre, but it's no place actually to get any work done."
    Katharine Whitehorn (1928–), British journalist
    Source: Attributed

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