Home > Business Consulting > 10 Pieces of Sage Advice: Shakespeare On Business


Shakespeare died a wealthy man, so wealthy that he could afford a new coat of arms for his family (roughly the cost of a full year’s salary for a teacher). It maybe did not buy him the respectability he craved (or, at least, his father craved) but it definitely shows he had the money to spare. He was part of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men / King’s Men, a company in which all men held an equal share.  He must have known something about business and motivation. Here are ten quotes from his many plays:


1.    “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

All’s Well That Ends Well

Great words to live by. We can use more expansive but careful and true souls in the world.


2.    “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”

Merry Wives of Windsor

How Benjamin Franklin of Shakespeare! The jury is out on whether successful people are always on time or always late but it’s definitely more respectful to get there on time. If you want the business, don’t give them any reason to doubt you.


3.    “Talking isn’t doing. It is a kind of good deed to say well; and yet words are not deeds.”

Henry VIII

Action is the only way to get things done. Talking about it is not a great idea. In fact, if you aren’t careful, there is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind is satisfied just by the talking about doing something. So, if you keep talking about these amazing screenplays that never get written, maybe stop talking and start doing.


4.    “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

Romeo and Juliet

Our destiny is not foretold. Our destiny is not in the interconnectedness of heavenly bodies. Our destiny is in our hands and feet.


5.    “And you all know, security / Is mortals’ chiefest enemy.”


If you think you are ever secure, you are kidding yourself and that feeling might lead you to doing the unwise. Always be searching for possibly weakness.


6.    “Our doubts are traitors and cause us to miss the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

Measure for Measure

We know that people who believe in a positive outcome usually get a positive outcome. Your doubts can only stop you from taking that first step.


7.    “All things are ready, if our mind be so.”

Henry V

We must thoroughly prepare every step of the way..


8.    “Strong reasons make strong actions.”

King John

Make decisions based on research, solid thought.


9.    “I like not fair terms and a villain’s mind.”

The Merchant of Venice

Does this deal seem a little too good to be true? No matter how reasonably it is presented, take your time, do your homework. Be especially aware if a salesperson pressures you with time tactics; so that you might make an irrational decision.


10. “Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.”

The Taming of the Shrew

I love this one. We are capable of competing fiercely but, also, of being able to understand each other as people, and respect each other.

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