17 Brilliant Career Insights From Benjamin Franklin

As one of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin played a crucial role in forming America.

But throughout his life, he played several other imperative roles — politician, inventor, scientist, musician, entrepreneur and author.

On the 223rd anniversary of his death (April 17, 1790), we compiled some of Franklin’s best advice on productivity, the workplace, and careers. There’s still plenty we can learn from him. All quotations are from his famous Poor Richard’s Almanack.

Franklin claimed to get up every morning at 4:00 a.m.

Many of the world's most successful CEOs also get up early, including GE's Jeff Immelt, who's up at 5:30, or GM's Dan Akerson, who rarely makes it past 4:30 or 5 a.m. before he gets up and starts calling Asia.

Some tips for turning into an early riser include skipping late day caffeine, stopping the use of technology before bed, and outlawing the snooze button.

Born into a humble family, Franklin ran away at a young age to start a new life and worked hard to become one of the most powerful people in the country.

An easy way to motivate yourself is to imagine that you were working for a favourite boss or mentor, and whether you'd be disappointing them.

It's hard to argue that Franklin spent much time idle. In addition to his accomplishments as a statesman, he was a prolific inventor, notably creating bifocals and the lightning rod.

If you want to be done with your work, you must first finish it. This means that you should be as productive as possible during your work hours, and always place work ethics above your leisure time.

As a young man, Franklin 'seemed to work all the time, and the citizens of Philadelphia began to notice the diligent young businessman.'

Franklin's ambivalence toward formal instruction may be why he dropped out of school at a young age.

Instead he learned things the old fashioned way, by working for his blacksmith father and apprenticing at the printing shop of his brother James.

Franklin left his apprenticeship too, however, and by the age of 17 was living on his own in Philadelphia and learning by trial and error.

There are so many people doing similar things that it's hard to be completely original, but whatever you do, you can always do it with your own style and edge.

An abundance of choice sounds nice in theory, but can actually lead to paralysis, indecision, and stress.

The best path is balanced.

It's easy to attribute other people's success to good luck. Good luck is wasted on people that don't work hard.

Jeff Haden puts it succinctly: 'Average effort yields average skills. And average results.'

Though he was ambivalent about religion himself, Franklin was a believer in the Puritan work ethic.

You can make mistakes and eventually recover in your career, but if you say anything to shame your reputation, that will be a much more difficult thing to overcome.

You may give the man an office, but you cannot give him discretion.

As a self-made man, Franklin learned during his career that you have to teach yourself responsibilities when someone gives you an opportunity.

As an employee, it is also your duty to come up with your own ideas and have your own thoughts. You need to be able to brainstorm and come up with new solutions.

Franklin constantly reinvented himself and the inventions -- such as electricity -- he pursued.

Work while it is called today for you know not how much you may be hindered tomorrow.

This is the reason procrastination is so dangerous. A crisis, meeting, or personal problem can easily eat up huge hunks of a day.

When you're free to work, work hard, and get the most important things done.

Franklin's schedule, printed in his autobiography, makes it clear he lived this maxim. Not only did he work long hours, he rose early to plan his day, and reflected on his successes or failrues at its end.

Not to oversee workmen is to leave them your purse open.

Research has found that accepting small thefts in an organisation ends up leading to larger fraud. Creating an honest and ethical workplace takes constant work.

At age 20, after an occasionally irresponsible youth, Franklin resolved to change course. One of his vows was to never speak ill of anybody, but that doesn't mean he wasn't diligent.

To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.

It's not enough just to be polite to your bosses. You have to be just as conscious of how you treat the people you work with.

There's a practical reason for that, beyond basic human decency. You may very well be working for one of those people in the future.

Franklin always emphasised that he tried to, but did not always live up to his maxims. He fled an apprenticeship under his brother and was briefly a fugitive.

The noblest question in the world is What good may I do in it?

Wharton professor Adam Grant's research focuses on the idea that people aren't just motivated by money, but by the positive impact they have on others.

One study he did found that call centre workers brought in 171% more revenue after oen of the students they were raising money for came in and told them how a scholarship had changed his life.

Frankin's Puritan upbringing made sure he always had a stalwart commitment to values like egalitarianism, hard work, honesty, and charity.

In other words, keep going until things get better. Don't give up.

You should choose a career path and stick to it. If it leads you to other opportunities, then that is another path you may want to consider.

Franklin knew he wanted to be in the newspaper business and relentlessly pursued it. However, he later moved on to other professional opportunities.

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