Among history’s greatest entrepreneurs and businessmen, no one stands out quite like Henry Ford.
He’s an American icon, the very archetype of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Ford has been an inspiration for business people everywhere since the 20th century.
Today, his strategies are seen as a model for innovation, disruption, and how to totally revolutionize industries and technologies and change the game forever.
He’s long since departed, but he left us with a lot of pithy quotes.
Some of these quotes are about humility.
“Entrepreneur” is more than a job description. It’s a lifestyle and an aspect of a person’s self-concept and sense of social identity.
Because of that, a lot of people fall into the trap of posturing themselves to look a certain way to certain people.
Ford, on the other hand, was humble about his success. He cared more about building his business than about social posturing.
Here’s what he had to say on the subject.
Be as strong behind the scenes as you are anywhere else.
The last thing an entrepreneur wants to do is slip into the trap of looking impressive to others while not really having a substantive game behind closed doors.
We’ve all run into such people. We label them as being “all talk”, and eventually tend not to take them very seriously.
Such people stand no chance at creating valuable products and/or services, much less rising high in the ranks of entrepreneurs.
As Henry Ford said, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”
In other words, don’t exist to impress.
Engage with the process. Attend to the details.
Exercise impeccable judgment, down to the tiniest aspect of whatever it is that you’re involved in. For even if people don’t see it, they will feel it.
And in the end, per Ford’s wisdom, it doesn’t matter what people think.
It only matters how well they are served.
Don’t be a showoff.
There’s a great story about Ford that involves his choice of clothing.
Ford was known to be outwardly modest, and to dress in informal clothes. One day his secretary asked him why he didn’t dress up more.
Ford scoffed at such a notion, explaining to her that everyone already knew he was Henry Ford, so he wasn’t required to underline that fact.
Later on, during a world tour, Ford found himself in foreign lands, where no one could recognize him on sight. As such, his secretary again suggested less modest clothing.
He didn’t want to be bothered dressing up for people who didn’t even know that he was Henry Ford to begin with.
In other words, he wasn’t going to play himself up for anyone, whether they knew who he was or not.
If they already knew him, he wasn’t going to add any hype to the equation. If they didn’t know him, he wasn’t about to shine a spotlight on himself.
He was simply going to show up as himself.
Of course, by this time, Ford was already a celebrity wealthy man who did not feel the pressures of untrained success.
Some might consider his indifference to personal image as an eccentricity resulting from his worldwide prestige.
Yet the underlying convictions informing his choice of attire are a wonderful advice for all entrepreneurs.
It goes hand-in-hand with “doing it right when no one is looking.” Don’t be a walking advertisement for yourself while having nothing or little to offer.
Exist in service to your customers and clients for they are the ones that truly matter, and the ones that pay the bills.
You can find more great advice from the late, great Henry Ford over at Entrepreneur.