What These 5 Greek Philosophers Can Teach Us About Business


True wisdom is eternal. Even though the great Greek philosophers lived in much different times, some things never change. It’s not difficult to apply ancient wisdom to modern business.

Marketing and project management advice from Aristotle

Aristotle left us several business lessons we can still use today. The essence of marketing is understanding what motivates potential customers to act.

All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.

- Aristotle

In marketing, we appeal to customers with reason, ignite their passions, spark their desires, answer their needs (nature), depend on their habits, and often benefit from the winds of chance. I’d be willing to bet some marketing decisions are even driven by compulsion.

Project management

And how do we achieve these ends? Once again, we can turn to Aristotle for sound advice.

“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” - Aristotle

Project management, in a nutshell. A few last words we can use today: With excellent project management software such as Podio, you can assign tasks and set goals to keep your project on track and on budget.

Epicurus on Security

Epicurus was more into enjoying life in all its glory than moralizing or conducting business, but he did contribute something we can all get behind given the constant threat of data theft and loss.

Those who were best able to provide themselves with the means of security against their neighbors, being thus in possession of the surest guarantee, passed the most agreeable life in each other's society... We must consider both the ultimate end and all clear sensory evidence, to which we refer our opinions; for otherwise everything will be full of uncertainty and confusion.

- Epicurus

We might be more inclined to say “Good fences make good neighbors,” but the sentiment is the same. Security and privacy are important to peace of mind.

Fast-forward to today, and good fences means good data security. Your business needs security built into your customer relationship management. Make sure your CRM security is verified and backed up. For example, Insightly protects customer data with multi-layered security and is verified by TRUSTe.

Heraclitus defines the nature of change

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

- Heraclitus

We can’t afford to overlook the existential nature of change. Heraclitus may have lived in 500 BC, but he had a pretty good grasp on the challenges of keeping up with technology. He reminds us that visitors may visit a business website with a different goal in mind each time. It’s up to the business to make sure we meet their changing needs.

Socrates talks about reputation management

In business, your brand reputation is a tangible asset. Your sales depend on the trust relationship you build with your customers. Socrates encourages a concept all marketers are familiar with, authenticity.

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

- Socrates

Simple, right? Don’t try to fake it.

Plato knew all about quality content

It’s a concept Google lives by, and so should you. Quality over quantity wins every time - as true now as it was in 300 BC.

Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.

- Plato

Too many businesses flood their websites with keyword-heavy, valueless content, because it drove search engine ranking up in the past, but semantic search changed the SEO game. You’re better off heeding the wise words of Plato and putting up less content with more value.

Wisdom is wisdom, even when it is passed down for thousands of years. Core truths speak to human nature and the very heart of ethical business practices.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Sherry Gray
Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, FL, currently suffering the burbs of Orlando. She's a science geek, a political junkie, and a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She writes about business, marketing, technology, medicine...and everything else.
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