Fun stories that are also good business lessons
February 25, 2015 10:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for similar stories like Mark Twain's quote "If you eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." More inside.

I started a new job about 3 months ago and I manage a group of about 15 people. I recently implemented team meetings and at the last one added the Mark Twain quote.

The lesson behind the quote is that if you have to eat a live frog every day, if you eat it first thing, you'll feel accomplished and good the rest of the day because you already ate the frog. If you leave it for the last thing of the day, you'll spend the whole day dreading eating the frog and have a terrible day.

Everyone enjoyed it and I got lots of compliments on including that in the meeting and several people asked for more in the future.

So I'm asking for you to share your favorite fun story, quote, saying, fable, whatever that can be applied to business. I want lessons that are both useful and memorable. So please, share your favorites!
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is very corny, not exactly a story, and would not (by any means) be suitable for all types of groups. It was done in a business training program I did many years ago.

First thing after everyone arrived, we were asked by the trainer to stand up and look under our seats. We all turned our chairs over, finding that a $1 coin had been taped to the underside, which we were instructed to remove.

When we were seated again, the trainer asked for ideas as to what this meant. You can drag that out until someone gets it if you want or just announce that - and remember that I did say this was very corny - "The moral of the story is that if you want to make a dollar you have to get off your arse!"

You could then lead that into a discussion about the connection between hard work and success if you were so inclined. It could be taken in other directions too. Or not at all.
posted by mewsic at 11:20 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would suggest just reading a lot of Mark Twain. He's full of good quotes. Bring a notepad.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 1:23 AM on February 26, 2015

"Never teach a pig to sing, it only wastes your time and it annoys the pig." - Robert Heinlein.

This is a popular quote among real estate investors. So, many people just don't get it, don't understand how to be a successful investor. They watched a few episodes of "Flip This House" now they have all the answers now, and are going to make millions on their first deal. For successful investors, trying to help them is often painful and frustrating.
posted by Flood at 4:06 AM on February 26, 2015

If you have to eat a frog, you'd best do it quickly.
If you have to eat two frogs, you'd best eat the big one first.
If you have to eat three frogs, where are you and what is wrong with you?!?
posted by blue_beetle at 5:37 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I like that! Thank you!

It's exactly what I'm looking for. Different fun little thoughts, ideas, lessons, whatever that are thought provoking!

posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 7:39 AM on February 26, 2015

Matthew 20:1-16, the parable of the workers in the vineyard. OK, it's a bit iffy as it's used primarily in a theological context, but I've always thought it was good business advice.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:56 AM on February 26, 2015

(1) Inside of every Potbelly sandwich shop are the letters "P" and "H". They stand for "pigs" and "hogs" and reference the saying "pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered." The idea is to be happy with enough and not get greedy - the Potbelly founder said it's about not skimping the customers or serving them old inventory in the name of bigger profits.

(2) The phrase "going to Abilene," and the story behind it, are useful when making group decisions. It's amazing how often that happens.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:20 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Two more that are quotes rather than stories:

(1) "Perfect is the enemy of good enough." Our company will sometimes work on a policy or a data gathering exercise for way way longer than it reasonably needs to because they want it to be 100% right. In the meantime, there is nothing in place while we are waiting to finish the job AND we are losing the opportunity to spend time on other things of value because we are too busy overthinking the first job. Good enough means just what it says and there's nothing wrong with that as a goal.

(2) Hanlon's razor - "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." It is easy to take things personally or attribute bad motives to people who are in fact just less-than-competent.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2015

Where are the customer's yachts? (A reminder about who is really profiting...)

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! (Are things as miraculous as advertised...)
posted by SemiSalt at 1:17 PM on February 26, 2015

>> If you have to eat three frogs ...

If you have to eat a bucket of shit, there's no point in taking small bites.

This was in the context of admitting a screw-up to a customer and accepting the consequences.
posted by Bruce H. at 6:52 PM on January 3, 2016

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