Learning from Abe: 6 Marketing Lessons from the Great Abraham Lincoln


In recent history, we can only think of a few words that could live longer than the person who had said them. But if we look back more than a hundred years from now, we could see that their words have endured until today. It’s a mystery as to why people from the past just had the knack for uttering timeless declarations and insights.

One great example is Abraham Lincoln. As the 16th President of the United States, Lincoln became famous primarily because of his contributions to the abolition of slavery and the American Civil War. But aside from his nationalistic achievements, Lincoln is also known for his oratory skills. He has articulated some of the most memorable lines throughout his political career.  His Gettysburg Address in 1863 became the most quoted speech in US history.

His words live on as we apply them in the perspective of marketing:

    1. Prepare for challenges. Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.”This simply takes on his dedication to get ready and organize things before an undertaking. Marketers should understand that the more time spent on preparation, the less work they have to do in executing.
    1. Take action. Defying the age-old mantra, Lincoln said, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”He didn’t believe that to achieve something, we have to wait. One must move to act in order to gain momentum and get things rolling. Opportunities are more likely to come when you are hustling.
    1. Protect your name. The responsibility of upholding a reputation lies on the marketers of a brand. They’re the ones who reveal information to the world, and that task could always go either way. As Lincoln once said, “Reputation is like fine china, once broken it’s very hard to repair.”
    1. See the brighter side of things. It is crucial for marketers to develop a sense of optimism because their points of view could always dictate the manner in which they would execute their plans for the company. When bad things happen, they should learn how to see beyond the mess. Take it from Lincoln: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
    1. Walk the talk. Anyone could say anything without really meaning it. When a company puts out a statement to the world, the world will watch whether the company will stay true to its words. “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm”, Lincoln said.
  1. Make the most out of it. Lincoln didn’t live a long life, but it was a life well spent. Sometimes we are only given our due time to do what we have to do, and we’ll never know how far we could go. In any case, it’s always better to seize every chance to do better. Lincoln said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”