In all seriousness, business can be pretty funny. From rickety leadership to entropic working styles, the business world, like real life, is shaded with chuckles. Here are 100 funny business quotes and sayings* that hold a grain of truth in their humor.
*attributed where sources were available
If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late. James Goldsmith
Early to bed and early to rise probably indicates unskilled labor. John Ciardi
Why join the navy if you can be a pirate? Steve Jobs
The problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. Lilly Tomlin
He’s taking this company to hell, and we’re riding shotgun.
She got kicked upstairs. (She was promoted to a higher position that’s less appealing than her current one. This is business jargon.)
Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining. Old West quote
Run your idea up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it.
We have paralysis by analysis.
Get the right people on the bus and in the right seat. Jim Collins
The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. Vidal Sassoon
When you’re up to your armpits in alligators, it’s hard to remember to drain the swamp. Ronald Reagan
Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. Communications axim
When you assume, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”
Don’t beat a dead horse.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig. George Bernard Shaw
Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them more. Oscar Wilde
Don’t corner something meaner than you. Old West saying
Failure is not an option—it comes bundled with the software.
A picture is worth 1,000 words, but it uses up 3,000 times the memory.
The successful man is the one who finds out what is the matter with his business before his competitors do. Roy L. Smith
Eagles soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.
Every employee rises to the level of his own incompetence. The Peter Principle
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Cyril Northcote Parkinson/Parkinson’s Law.
The light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off due to budget cuts.
There’s an idiot somewhere deprived of a village.
A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. David Brinkley
A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.
She works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.
She should go far. The sooner she starts, the better.
The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of its behind. Joseph Stilwell
They slipped into the gene pool when the lifeguard wasn’t looking.
He has hit rock bottom and started to dig.
Success in almost any field depends more on energy and drive than it does on intelligence. This explains why we have so many stupid leaders. Sloan Wilson
The wheels are turning, but the hamsters are all dead.
Make it idiot-proof and someone will make a better idiot.
I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it. George Bernard Shaw
If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you’ll get change.
Nothing is illegal if a hundred businessmen decide to do it. Andrew Young
There’s no secret about success. Did you ever know a successful man who didn’t tell you about it? Kin Hubbard
There’s no business like show business, but there are several businesses like accounting. David Letterman
Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. Howard Aiken
If it’s stupid but works, it isn’t stupid.
If work is so terrific, why do they have to pay you to do it?
There’s an enormous number of managers who have retired on the job. Peter Drucker
By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day. Robert Frost
Accomplishing the impossible means only the boss will add it to your regular duties. Doug Larson
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill
A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it. William Feather
If you can count your money, you don’t have a billion dollars. J. Paul Getty
The worst part of success is to try to find someone who is happy for you. Bette Midler
A company is known by the people it keeps.
At some time in the lifecycle of every organization, its ability to succeed in spite of itself runs out.
Money can’t buy friends, but you can get a better class of enemy. Spike Milligan
Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things. TS Eliot
If you would like to know the value of money, try to borrow some. Benjamin Franklin
Don’t stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed. George Burns
If not controlled, work will flow to the competent man until he submerges.
If you don’t know what to do with many of the papers piled on your desk, stick a dozen colleagues initials on them and pass them along. When in doubt, route. Malcolm S. Forbes quotes
It is better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there’s no money. PJ O’Rourke
Never invest in anything that eats or needs repairing. Billy Rose
If at first you don’t succeed; you are running about average. MH Alderson
The most popular labor-saving device is still money. Phyllis George
Nothing recedes like success. Walter Winchell
Find a job you like and you add five days to every week. H. Jackson Brown
It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse. Adlai Stevenson
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it. WC Fields
Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings, they did it by killing all those who opposed them.
Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style. Quentin Crisp
Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether.
A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure. Mark Twain
If at first you don’t succeed, try management.
Indecision is the key to flexibility.
If at first you don’t succeed, take the tax loss. Kirk Kirkpatrick
Aim low, reach your goals, and avoid disappointment. Scott Adams/Dilbert
Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes. Lewis Grizzard
The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one. Oscar Wilde
All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind. Aristotle
In the early days all I hoped was to make a living out of what I did best. But, since there’s no real market for masturbation I had to fall back on my bass playing abilities. Les Claypool
Beware of any enterprise requiring new clothes. Henry Thoreau
Do not underestimate your abilities. That is your boss’s job.
Right now, this is a job. If I advance any higher, this would be my career. And if this were my career, I’d have to throw myself in front of a train. Jim Halpert/The Office
Every man has a right to be conceited until he is successful. Benjamin Disraeli
You never become a howling success by just howling. Bob Harrington
Success means only doing what you do well, letting someone else do the rest. Goldstein S. Truism
Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure. Joseph Heller
Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake. Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower
Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure. Earl Wilson
Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. Napoleon Bonaparte
One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness. Josh Billings
There’s nothing so improves the mood of the Party as the imminent execution of a senior colleague. Alan Clark
I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Make sure you have a vice president in charge of your revolution, to engender ferment among your more conventional colleagues. David Ogilvy
A consultant is someone who takes the watch off your wrist and tells you the time.
An expert is someone called in at the last minute to share the blame.
Speak the truth, but leave immediately after.
For maximum attention, nothing beats a good mistake.
One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. Bertrand Russell