Wednesday, May 9, 2007


I've often heard the mantra, "Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see." I've been a fan of many famous and funny quotes from television and movies. For example, sportscaster Joe Thiesmann once said, "Nobody in the game of football should be called a genius, a genius is somebody like Norman Einstein." That quote has often been cited to make Thiesmann, a former football player, like foolish. Actually, Norman Einstein was the valedictorian of Thiesmann's high school class, and Thiesmann, who has written several books on sports, was saying it to be clever.

One time Dodgers and Cubs manager, Leo Durocher once supposedly said, "Nice guys finish last." The actual quote was "Nice guys finish seventh." which he said to describe the "nice guy" Giants owner whose team was in seventh place (out of eight) at the time. The real quote didn't have the same pizzazz, and so it was changed by the media.

Humphrey Bogart was often quoted from the movie Casablanca (which, incidentally, means "white house"), "Play it again, Sam", when he actually said "Play it Sam", but the former misquote was the one that stuck. Surely, they could have gotten it right, but as Leslie Nielsen said in Airplane, "Don't call me Shirley", which is one of my favorites. Another favorite of mine from Airplane was the actor talking on the phone to the Mayo Clinic when he received a call from Mr. Hamm, "Give me Hamm, and hold the Mayo."

The relevance here, that I learned as a young lawyer, is to watch what you say, especially to the press. Look at the political campaigns, especially the negative ads. One can always take a candidate's public statements out of context, and remake them into something to make him/her look silly or stupid. Usually there's an explanation, but don't give "em any ammunition. Be careful what you say because they often get it wrong. Don't be negative and criticize yourself because your enemies will do it much better.

Remember, in business, if you keep your mouth shut, people may think you're stupid, but if you open your mouth, you may confirm their opinions. Just tell 'em, as John Belushi did in Blues Brothers, "We're on a mission from God."


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