So much has been written about the impact technology has had on how we do business — now situating the "good old days" of face-to-face communication somewhere back in the 1980s.
Yes, the business community has produced its fair share of visionaries: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have made an undeniable impact on commerce with earlier industry titans like Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Ford, and Edison transforming power, construction, transportation, and commerce in bold and formidable ways.
But there was a business world prior to the industrial revolution and the Internet.
A little more than 400 years ago, a visionary and entrepreneur named William Shakespeare transformed the entertainment industry unlike anyone before or since. So adept was Shakespeare at exposing the human condition, his observations crossed all boundaries of love and loss, power and corruption, success and failure.
Though many claim an ability to channel the spirit of this great man from beyond the grave, no interview is necessary to explore his prophetic business acumen. All these years later, Shakespeare's words speak louder than his human voice ever could.
On choosing your profession
"To business that we love we rise betime,
And go to't with delight."
— "Antony and Cleopatra"
On time management
"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow;
creeps in this petty pace from day to day."
"Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth in blood."
— "Much Ado About Nothing"
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry."
On success vs. failure
"Screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we'll not fail."
On corporate image
"The purest treasure mortal times afford
Is spotless reputation — that away,
Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay."
— "Richard II"
"This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."
True, Shakespeare's undeniable business lessons were often set against a backdrop of greed and deception; however, the fathers of the industrial revolution were known to figuratively have "blood on their hands" as well.
Today, just as there are those who simply wish to contribute to the world — as opposed to change it — the historical lessons of right and wrong, of sacrifice versus success, must continue to be heard.
In a modern world of extended work weeks, texts replacing conversation, unanswered email, jammed Outlook calendars, and bottom lines overshadowing blood lines, the Bard's insight has never been more powerful.
After all, he's one of the first men ever who had the right to say, "I toldeth you so."
On work/life balance
"No profit grows where is no pleasure taken."
— "The Taming of the Shrew"
William Shakespeare still manages to force us to do what our hyperactive business lives have all but taken away: think. Nothing could possibly be more important.
Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and president of MindZoo, a marketing communications agency headquartered in Naples. He can be reached at Randy@mindzoo.com or 239-304-9611.