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3 Old-Time Sayings That Need Reviving

Some conventional wisdom from the past that today's businesses should probably heed

My grandmother was born before the airplane was invented and lived long enough to be frustrated at the infamous Windows "blue screen of death."  She once gave me some pieces of advice that most people seem to ignore today but that badly need to be revived:

1. "Don't toot your own horn."

Most people seem to think that creating a "brand" means endlessly talking about yourself, your company, what you do, how you do it, and how much all your clients and customers love-love-love whatever it is you do.

They're wrong. Your reputation emerges not from talk-talk-talk but from actually doing things and helping people. You want your customers singing your praises, but that won't happen if you're drowning them out with your own self-promoting fluff.

2. "Behave like a gentleman."

What is with these little boys who want to turn their companies into frat parties?  It's not just the bro-grammers that infest Silicon Valley; there are lots of execs who seem to think the office is their personal poaching grounds--American Apparel's CEO is one recent example who comes to mind.

For God's sake, dudes, grow up! Stop pretending that feminism, sexual equality, or whatever else gives you an excuse to act like a jackass. Show some respect, both for yourself and for the women you work with.

3. "Mind your own business."

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the governmental/industrial complex sticking its snout into everything I do. Yes, I understand that using technology implies a certain loss of privacy, but there's a limit, and I think we've passed it.

If customers choose to share their information so that you can better serve them, that's one thing. But this constant spying on everything that we say or's creepy, weird, and unnecessary. Knock it off.

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Last updated: Jun 26, 2014


Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

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