Using Quotes in Your Presentation: Albert Einstein on Race Relations and Change Management

Einstein was a genius, almost beyond measuring. But if you study his writings you quickly realize that his genius extended SO far beyond mathematics. I find this amazing, since most brilliant mathematicians I’ve met can barely communicate with real people, let alone articulate exquisitely accurate social commentary.

albert-einstein21What I love about many of these ‘broader’ quotes is their fabulous application to present-day business situations, which is why they are so powerful to use in business presentations. It also helps that his name is instantly recognizable, and his reputation is unimpeachable – two pre-requisites when you quote someone in a presentation.

So, with that, here is a highly personal shortlist of favorite Einstein quotes, and the teaching point I landed when I used them…Enjoy, and re-use.

(NOTE: Of the quoting of Einstein, there is no end. In some cases, it is difficult to precisely document the source of the quotation. See www.quoteinvestigator.com for details.)

“A problem cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created it.”

I’ve seen different wording for this, the heart of it is always the same. I’ve used this often to describe various progressive projects or individuals – one specifically was a banquet speech honoring an organization working innovatively to improve race relations.

Use: employ this in any setting where new and innovative thinking is needed, or where an innovative solution is being presented.

“For every complex problem there is a solution that is quick, simple and wrong.”

This quote is simply brilliant. I’ve used it many times to hammer the point that the easiest, most expedient solution is often completely wrong. Presently, I OFTEN use this to describe today’s use of PowerPoint, especially bulleted PowerPoint – a quick simple and wrong solution to the complex problem of great communication.

Use: any time you need to debunk the wrong answer that’s being applied to an important question. Specifically, the way your company may be doing something you’re trying to change.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Use: to support the taking of reasonable risk, as well as to support innovation and change.

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” (Often cited as “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”)

Use: to support any venture that is more creative and imaginative than the organization might otherwise be comfortable with.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not completely sure about the universe”

Use: it’s just funny! But it’s also a great way to attack stupidity wherever you find it in a less combative way… well, marginally less combative… Generally better to attack things (racism) than people.

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”

This is one of my absolute favorites.

Use: I employ this frequently to support the value of persistence in any endeavor. Also great to honor persistence in others.

“If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Work is X; Y is play; and Z is keeping your mouth shut.”

Use: a fabulous life lesson… But one at which I completely and utterly fail.


Written by

Tim Pollard