Who was P.T. Barnum, and what can we learn from him??


P.T. Barnum also known by his full name, which was Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman and businessman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, “I am a showman by profession…and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me”, and his personal aims were “to put money in his own coffers”. Barnum is widely, but erroneously, credited with coining the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

What is so fascinating about the time period of P.T. Barnum (the 19th century or mid to late 1800’s) was that city jobs, public works jobs and government jobs were very scarce or in some cases nonexistent. Basically, employment was up to you in terms of going into some type of business endeavor. Most individuals during this period in history had to create their own job, (sort of what P.T. Barnum did,) or work for someone who owned a business or went to work for a relative in business, which would probably be inherited by the family member employed who may have been an uncle or father. Barnum became a small-business owner in his early twenties, and founded a weekly newspaper, before moving to New York City in 1834. He embarked on an entertainment career, first with a variety troupe called “Barnum’s Grand Scientific and Musical Theater”, and soon after by purchasing Scudder’s American Museum, which he renamed after himself. Barnum used the museum as a platform to promote hoaxes and human curiosities such as the Feejee mermaid and General Tom Thumb. In 1850 he promoted the American tour of singer Jenny Lind, paying her an unprecedented $1,000 a night for 150 nights.

The circus business was the source of much of his enduring fame. He established “P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome”, a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of “freaks”, which adopted many names over the years.

P.T. Barnum embraced the dream of a truly democratic nation, and in doing so, inspired a new American society to reach beyond the limits of ordinary expectations, to see the world as a place of opportunity and wonder.P.T. Barnum seized every moment and found promise in every opportunity. He crafted his life this way, taking chances, stimulating change, always giving back. He acknowledged that his actions forced ‘better elements in his character‘, reaping the benefits of his many successes, and at times, suffering for his miscalculations.

To become a successful business person and live life on your terms you must learn from those who have done it before you, like P.T. Barnum, and look into their mind set. The mind set that P.T. Barnum possessed is very consistent with those successful people we see today.

P.T. Barnum was perhaps one of the greatest promoters of the late 19th and early 20th century, not to mention America’s second millionaire. P.T. Barnumwrote a book of advice to help others become successful. The book, written in 1880, was certainly dated in terms of language and some of the examples he used, but it was astonishing how everything he was advising was and still is applicable today.

You can download a copy here of P.T. Barnum’s book here: The Art Of Getting Money- Real Life Purpose

Here are just some of the lessons we can learn from P.T. Barnum about success:

Avoid Debt

Even in 1880, debt was common place and one of the things keeping middle and working class families stuck in place financially. From a Barnum section ofThe Art of Getting Money:

Debt robs us of our self-respect, even makes us despise ourselves. We find ourselves toiling daily to pay for these luxuries we don’t truly need, and when we do need something, we have no credit left to use. Of course, then we keep working to pay for what we’ve previously bought, often paying on something bought so long ago that it has long since worn out or broken down.

Money is in some respects like fire: it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master. When you have it mastering you, when interest is constantly piling up against you, it will keep you down in the worst kind of slavery.

Choose the Right Location

Barnum tells a story of a fellow showman who is doing only average in his occupation. He encourages him to come to America and work with him because the opportunity is greater. Of course he was talking about both physical location and a different sort of location (such as the environment in which you sell something or how you present yourself). From one of the commentary sections ofThe Art of Getting Money:

Place is everything in your job, your business, and even in how you sell a product. Learning to influence how that place is perceived and understood by others is one aspect of marketing education and one that you’d be well advised to learn.

Whatever You Do, Do it with All Your Might

From a Barnum section ofThe Art of Getting Money:

Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself.People have to do as the famed military leader Oliver Cromwell said, and not only trust in Providence, but keep the powder dry.

Do your part of the work, or you cannot succeed. Mahomet, one night, while encamping in the desert, overheard one of his fatigued followers say, “I will loose my camel, and trust it to God!”

No, no, not so, said the prophet. “Tie thy camel, and trust it to God!” In other words, do all you can for yourselves, and then trust to Providence, for the rest.

Regardless of your beliefs, this reminds me of the old joke about the man who is drowning at sea and calls out to God, “Oh God! Please Save Me” and a boat comes by. The people on the boat throw him a float and call out to him, grab on and come aboard or you’ll surely drown. The man replies: “No thanks! God will save me!” then a helicopter comes and tosses him a rope, also offering him refuge. The man replies, “no thanks! God will surely save me!” Finally, a second boat comes and shouts out to the man, “don’t be crazy, just climb aboard and we will take you to help!” and the man tells them again to go away, he will be saved by God.

The man drowns.

The man gets to heaven and goes to God and says, God, I trusted in you, I prayed, I called out for you to save me and you never came. To which God replies, I sent you 2 boats and a helicopter, what more did you want?

Keep this in mind: Often times, the resources, the connections, the money, and everything else we could ever need are there. We just have to put in the effort to make them work for their intended purposes.

Here are 12 PT Barnum Quotes to Commemorate The Greatest Showman

PT Barnum was one of the greatest showmen of all time. As a fan of this unique business man here are some great PT Barnum quotes. There is a lot we can learn from this legend. From entertainment to financial success, he always accomplished what he set out to do. Let us learn from his twelve insightful quotes.

  1. “There’s a silver lining behind every crowd.”
  2. “Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”
  3. “Those who really desire to attain an independence, have only set their minds upon it, and adopt the proper means, as they do in regard to any other object which they wish to accomplish, and the thing is easily done.”
  4. “Without promotion something terrible happens, nothing!”
  5. “Many persons are always kept poor, because they are too visionary. Every project looks to them like certain successes, and therefore they keep changing from one business to another, always in hot water, always ‘under the harrow’.”
  6. “Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows that you should abandon it.”
  7. “Work at it, if necessary, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone un-turned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now…Ambition, energy, industry, perseverance, are indispensable requisites for success in business.”
  8. “The truth is, the more kind a man is, the more generous will be the patronage bestowed upon him.”
  9. “Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly.”
  10. “Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed.”
  11. “If he owned the Museum, and you had paid him for the privilege of visiting it, and he had then insulted you, there might be some reason in your resenting it, but in this instance he is the man who pays, while we receive, and you must, therefore, put up with his bad manners.”
  12. “Men who drive sharp bargains with their customers, acting as if they never expected to see them again, will not be mistaken. They will never see them again as customers. People don’t like to pay and get kicked also.”

Here are two web sites I recommend to learn more. THEY ARE

1) http:// boldanddetermined.com/2014/09/17/start-a-blog-that-makes-money-forever/

2) http:// www.fastlaneentrepreneurs.com/

Until Next Time,

God Bless.


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