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Tedlow Said What?

Welcome to the second edition of “They Said What?” a recurring column featuring some of the most humorous anecdotes that are heard around campus at HBS. Our special guest this week is Professor Richard Tedlow, and we feature some of his more notable comments from the Foundations course Creating Modern Capitalism. He also helped write Chapter Eight of the text for this course.


“I’m very good at predicting the past.”
“I am always right. Some of your other professors who deal with the future will frequently be wrong.”
“My mother bought me a book when I was five years old called History Can Be Fun. The book was right.”
“Maybe I’m dyslexic. Chandler was dyslexic, and he won the Pulitzer Prize. Maybe they’ll award it to me, but I don’t think they award it on those grounds.”
“When in doubt, I blame the students for my own incompetence.”
“I’m not totally ignorant, but I’m closer to it than I like to say that I am.”
“The oldest saying in advertising is that half of my money is wasted, I just don’t know which half.”
“Better to be an aristocrat than a peasant, given the choice.”
“When you’re in a country that has a government that says, `It’s year one because we say so,’ it’s time to get out.”
“One definition of an economist is someone who, if you ask them their phone number and they don’t remember it, will estimate it.”
“You can’t fire your kids.”
On August Thyssen’s kids: “They wanted to start at the top and work up.”
On writing on the projection screen: “I shouldn’t do that. They’ll have to raise your tuition. Which is not a bad idea considering the number of applicants.”
“Napoleon didn’t want to conquer the world. He just wanted to conquer the country next to his.”
On the fact that “Fordism” became a word: “That’s a big deal. I mean, there’s no `Tedlowism.’ If there were, I’d raise my rates.”
“I was flexible until I was 41, and that’s when I got tenure, and I didn’t have to be flexible anymore.”
“John Dillinger would drive up to a bank, go inside, shoot everybody, take the money, and drive away. That was his business model.”
On Henry Ford: “In his spare time, what does he do? He takes watches apart and puts them back together. He’s trying to tell us something. He cares about time.” “He got into grass sandwiches.” “If the moon is full, there’s no telling what he’s going to say.” “This poses the question, `What do you do when your boss is a nut?'”
On people over age 45: “It’s true. We’re old. We’re rigid. We also give grades.”

On GM: “Their biggest problem was anti-trust. They didn’t want to get more than 50% of the market. It’s not their problem today.”
“I’ll never forget the day my father brought home our first color TV set. It was the one day in my childhood that I was popular.”

In response, we heard from Irina Zavina (NJ):
On whether the current boundaries of Germany will be the same in 20 years: “Speaking as a Russian, one would hope so.”
“I am in love with Richard Tedlow.”

Anyone who catches an entertaining comment that they would like to submit, please email your comments to quotes@mba2003.hbs.edu.

October 1, 2001
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