Actress Marilyn Monroe became one of the most famous icons and sex symbols of her day. The late starlet rose to fame for her role in television movies and for her classic beauty features. She was linked to an affair with former president John F. Kennedy, and soon after, she was found dead in her room from what was classified as a suicide, but not everyone was convinced that she took her own life. Controversy aside, she was a brilliant businesswoman who forged a career for herself in the entertainment business. She left behind several quotes that became inspirational for women in the business world. Here are 20 of the top Marilyn Monroe quotes that apply to business.
20. “Sometimes you just have to throw on a crown and remind them who they’re dealing with.”
This quote is a reminder to women in business that they should not be ashamed of their femininity. Monroe's sentiment alludes to the power that women do possess, and during the 1950s it was more difficult for women to be taken seriously in business because of traditional social roles. This single statement inspires women to embrace being female and to realize that it is not a strike against them when it comes to ability or potential. There are more men in the business world that recognize the value of feminine perspective in business without any condescension.
19. “Keep smiling because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”
This is a good reminder for days when nothing seems to go right. We all go through rough patches, particularly women in business who must also battle gender bias from co-workers or from superiors on the job. Even though there are some bumps in the road, women have come a long way in business and in society in general, so life is beautiful, there are more opportunities for women and there truly is a lot to smile about. Another application for this quote is inspiring when the job has got you down, you can look to other aspects of life that are wonderful because in the professional arena, storms come and go and when they pass, the sun comes out again.
18. “We should all start to live before we get old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”
Regrets are inevitable, but dwelling on them is a waste of time. Learn what you can from mistakes, then move on with the knowledge that you've gained, and do better. Don't be afraid to take chances because it can prevent you from accomplishing great feats. Start living life and putting yourself out there in business while you're still able because the years go by quickly.
17. “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
Marilyn hit on a key concept here. Not everyone is going to like you in the business world. Some may be jealous of you, others may not like your personality, and there will also be some who will be afraid of you because you're good at what you do and you represent a threat to their job. Whatever the reason, expect that some will not love you, but it's better to be yourself, be honest and true, and let those who love you love you for the right reasons but don't be surprised when being genuine gains you a few enemies. It's just the nature of the beast in business.
16. “Be unique, be true, be honest, be humble, be happy.”
This quote goes along with being genuine. When she says to be true, she is saying be true to your self and be genuine. In business, this is vital to gain the respect of those you work with and serve. Be unique and you will attract new clients or customers. Be honest, humble, and happy because these are traits that consumers value highly. You'll be far more successful when you're known by these positive traits.
15. “It’s far better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone – so far.”
When Marilyn Monroe said this, she was referring to romantic relationships, but there is a lot of truth in this statement that applies to business. If you're in the wrong job, or if your boss is someone who is simply intolerable and makes your life miserable, it may be time to move on to a new company. Not every relationship in business is advantageous. There is no good reason to stay at a company if you can do better elsewhere and make a lateral move to a more suitable firm.
14. “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
Marilyn knew that she was unique among all of the other actresses and starlets in the industry. This included having a distinct physical appearance, her own way of walking, her posture, facial expressions, vocal tones, and attitude. She was an actress who knew how to present the best version of her own true self. In business, this quote can be interpreted as embracing your good points, your flaws, and keeping your presentation interesting to others. When you're boring, you don't get noticed, but when you have a few unique traits, you get more attention that you can use to advantage in a business setting.
13. "Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."
In business, circumstances change with demographics as well as new trends in society. We cannot stop the world around us from changing and we must evolve in order to maintain relevancy in the business world. Change is the one constant in the modern world, and there are times when we have to leave the old behind to adapt to the new world. Some aspects of the business must go by the wayside to make room for the new and necessary things. A good example is moving from manual processes to automated.
12. “A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love, listens but doesn’t believe, and leaves before she is left.
Some could believe that Marilyn Monroe was referring strictly to matters of the heart here, but it is also applicable as a metaphor for the business world. A wise woman is compliant in business without losing herself in the process. She listens to everything that is said, then weighs what she is hearing and compares it with well-researched facts. We can't believe everything that we're told in the business world. This is particularly true if it is a competitive industry where deception is a common practice to gain an edge.
11. “The way you carry yourself is influenced by the way you feel inside. You must feel attractive to be attractive.”
This quote made by Marilyn Monroe is loaded with truth and sincerity. If you lack self-confidence, it's going to show in your body language. In business, this could help a competitor to see you as an easy mark. The way that you carry yourself is vital to send the right messages in the business world.
10. “I’m very definitely a woman and I enjoy it.”
The sentiment here that applies directly to business is that you are the gender that you are. Embrace who you are with your strengths and don't try to be someone that you're not. If you're a woman you don't need to try to act like a man to get ahead in business.
9. “Everybody is always tugging at you. They’d all like a sort of chunk out of you. I don’t think they realize it, but it’s like ‘grrr do this, grr do that…’ But you do want to stay intact and on two feet.”
Nearly everyone in the business world must deal with the sense of being pulled in several different directions at once. This is especially true if you're the owner of a business or a leader with a lot of responsibilities. If you're also a single mom or dad on top of that, then you'll understand this quote, and the importance of following Marilyn's advice to "stay intact and on two feet."
8. “If I’m a star, then the people made me a star.”
This was the quote that showed the world Marilyn Monroe was truly a humble person on the inside. She gave credit where it was due and didn't develop a "god complex" as a result of the attention she received. This is key if you want to be successful in the business world. People who are full of themselves are considered to be insufferable and it makes others want to avoid your presence whenever possible.
7. “Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it wasn’t that way. It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you.”
All that any of us can do is our very best each day of our lives. Your personal best will vary from day to day, depending on the circumstances, or your health. Sometimes people will hate you for no apparent reason. On the job, if you're really good at what you do, some become jealous or may feel threatened. This isn't necessarily your fault. Not everyone is going to like you and there really isn't much you can do about that. It seems that in some settings, the more successful you are, the more some will try to bring you back down to their level, but you don't have to let them accomplish that goal.
6.“Fame will go by and, so long, I’ve had you, Fame. If it goes by, I’ve always known it was fickle.”
In business, there are times when we're riding high, and times when we're hovering near the ground. This quote reminds us all that we can't always be the center of attention. While it may feel good for a while, brief periods of glory fade and we must learn how to feel good about ourselves when we're not the ones getting all of the attention. Don't let the good times go to your head.
5. “This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up.”
This quote has huge implications for business. Life is what you make it and so is your career. You are the one in charge of what you do in life and the direction that you take your talents and abilities. If you hate being in a dead-end job, then it is up to you to change it instead of wallowing in misery and feeling stuck.
4. “Respect is one of life’s greatest treasures. I mean, what does it all add up to if you don’t have that?”
Marilyn hit the nail on the head when she made this statement. In business, it is one of the cornerstones of success. If you don't have the respect of those you work with or for, then you have very little chance of advancement.
3. “Sometimes I feel my whole life has been one big rejection.”
Every professional has had times when they've felt this way. Even the great Marilyn Monroe has gone through these rough patches. Take courage and realize that it's part of the growth in business. We make mistakes and learn from them. You might not experience immediate success but it's important to keep trying and don't throw in the towel.
2. “I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.”
If you go into your first job with dollar signs in your eyes, you're less likely to be successful. While we all need to earn a living to survive, it's more important when you're starting out to be passionate about what you do. Learn the job, add to your skillset, polish your talents until you are truly wonderful in the eyes of your employers. The money will follow and if it doesn't you can go somewhere else where they see how wonderful you are and compensate you accordingly.
1. “I’ve been asked, ‘Do you mind living in a man’s world?’ I always answer, ‘Not as long as I can be a woman in it.’”
Marilyn Monroe had the right idea when she made this statement. She knew who she was and she realized that this recognition was a part of her success. You have to be comfortable with yourself before you can become truly successful in life.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson