Book Reviews


The Wiley Book of Business Quotations

Author: Henry J. Ehrlich
Publisher Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication Date: March 2000

Reviewer:Joel Klebanoff
Joel Klebanoff, is a copywriter and marketing communications consultant specializing in the information technology industry. He is president of Klebanoff Associates, Inc.

You are viewing the U.S. bookstore. Click here to view the Canadian store.

A well placed quotation can enliven any communication -- speeches, white papers, articles, whatever.

There are many books of quotations on the market. Some claim to offer business quotes. Most provide pearls of wisdom and wit from famous past and present authors, actors, politicians, pundits, scientists, warriors and intellectuals. A quote from someone like Frederick the Great, William Shakespeare or Bertrand Russell may enliven a speech or text about a business topic, but the connection is often tenuous and the source may have little influence on a business audience.

This book is different. It is dedicated solely to quotes about business topics and mostly by business people. Consider just these few examples of the more than 5,000 (the number is from the book jacket, I didn't actually count) quotations:

  • On marketing, by Bonjana Fazarinc of Hewlett-Packard: "In the past, if we were trying to sell sushi, we would market it as cold, dead fish."
  • On using interactive TV for marketing, by Brian Roberts, president of Comcast: "It was the ultimate Nielsen rating. The phones light up. You don't wait till you come into the office tomorrow to find out how you did."
  • On corporate culture, by Richard P. Carlton, a former CEO of 3M Corporation: "Our company has, indeed, stumbled onto some of its new products. But never forget that you can only stumble if you are moving."
  • On incentive compensation, by Graef S. Crystal, an executive compensation expert: "The CEO of General Dynamics must be the laziest man in the world. Look at all of the incentive plans they have to give him to go to work."
Some of the sources may not always be as witty or well known as people quoted elsewhere. Then again, this book will save you hours of agony trying to find a parallel between the topic of executive compensation and some clever words of Wordsworth that you stumbled on elsewhere. The quotes here are pure business.

The book contains two indices: an index of names and an index of organizations. They make it easy to find the words of a specific individual or of someone from a particular organization.

If I have one complaint it is that there is no subject index. However, this is only a minor problem since the book is exceptionally well organized. It contains 44 different categories of quotations -- from "Advertising and Marketing" to "Work". In between, there are categories for different business disciplines, such as advertising, finance, reegineering and management,  as well as categories containing quotes on business cultures and issues in specific geographic regions. (There are quotes from or about countries from Albania to Zimbabwe, and that's just the alphabetic range. In total, more than 70 countries are represented.)

The book subdivides quotes even further. In the Advertising and Marketing category, for example, you will find five subcategories: Advertising, Changing Demographics, Corporate Identity and Design, Marketing, and Telemarketing. Some of those are further subdivided. The largest, Marketing, has 13 sub-subcategories, including marketing of particular types of products and marketing to particular demographics.

The Wiley Book of Business Quotations is so well organized that you probably won't notice the lack of a subject index. The table of contents is extensive enough to come quite close to serving that purpose.

If you ever have to prepare some form of formal communication about a business topic, this book can help you enliven it and add credibility.