Advice from a musty book

March 4, 2009

Today I was cleaning out old books at my mom’s condo and found a musty book with a warped and faded cover.  Its title:  The Business Counselor,  copyright 1907. 

I was fascinated by the book because I’m currently taking a class in business law at a local community college.  And in thumbing through the old book, I found that it contained much of the same information I’ve read in 21st century text — but the old book often wrote the same information is a much easier-to-understand style. 

Of course, some of the useful information in The Business Counselor is from a time tarp.  For instance, it elaborates on the importance of effectively using the medium of the telegraph. 

But the book also contains timeless gems of wisdom, like these rules-of-thumb:  “Do not take too much advice.  Think for yourself” or “Never gamble or take chances on the board of trade.”

Another section talks about choosing a vocation.  The book says that, for the future farmer, “the blooming field, the cheerful sunshine, the golden harvest, and variety and beauty of animal life must have an attractive charm.”  A natural mechanic, it says, “sees in every machine a thing of life, and whittles out a windmill with his jackknife.”  A future merchant “trades his knife and top with every school boy he meets and gets the best of the bargain if he can.”

This is how the book sums up its vocation counseling advice:  “Let not wealth or honor dazzle you.  Neither is found for you in a calling for which you have no talent.  Aside from wordly gain you must see beauty in the work to be done.” 

I like the idea that we should “see beauty in the work to be done.”  What timeless advice!



  1. Oh, Cindy, what a gem you found! I love discovering old books like that. Sounds like you’ve got a keeper full of great adages and good advice there. You should display that one in your office.

  2. This is some of the best advice I’ve heard so far in my quest for a new career. Seriously.

  3. “see beauty in the work to be done.”

    Wish I had read that 40 yrs ago. . .I would have been a conservative talk show host and been both wealthy and happy!

  4. Cindy, Sharon and Jim, I’m glad if the quotation inspired you in some way.

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