There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute so Let’s Get The Show On The Road. A little about P.T. Barnum.

P.T. Barnum: photo credit Harvard Square Library

In my public relations class we talk about P.T. Barnum (full name: Phineas Taylor Barnum). We all know him as the Barnum from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Yet, he was so much more.

Folks in public relations like to claim him as “one of their own.” Advertisers, promoters, and marketers all do the same. He was also a politician and served in the Connecticut legislature. Ultimately, this amazing businessman was known as a “harmless deceiver” with regard to his relentless promotion and career as a showman.

Maybe it’s because I’m reading—and loving–Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, or maybe it’s because I talk about P.T. Barnum in classes, but the reality is P.T. Barnum’s contributions are worthy of recognition. Phrases like “grandstanding” and “throwing your hat in the ring” originated from Barnum’s circus and many believe he coined them. The big top went on whether there was “rain or shine” and when they left one town for another, it was time to “get the show on the road.” There is controversy over whether he actually said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” but I’d like to believe it came from him.

Promotion is important in so many facets of life, whether you are promoting an organization, club, business, book, an idea, or yourself—knowing how and why to promote can determine and define how successful you may be.

For the time being, I thought I’d share some of my other favorite relatable P.T. Barnum quotes. They are as follows: (thanks “thinkexist” for the list…)

“Without promotion something terrible happens…Nothing!”

“Every crowd has a silver lining.”

“More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing in nothing, than by believing too much.”

“Those who really desire to attain an independence, have only set their minds upon it, and adopt the proper means, as they do in regard to any other object which they wish to accomplish, and the thing is easily done.”

And finally, my favorite, which is:

“If I shoot at the sun, I may hit a star.”

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I've been blogging at Steph's Scribe since 2011. Professionally, I'm a writer, author, blogger, and a full-time professor at Stevenson University. Personally, I'm married with two children. My hobbies, which I often blog about, are reading, travel, fashion, movies, and sharing funny family stories or life wisdom. Thanks for checking out my blog.

7 thoughts on “There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute so Let’s Get The Show On The Road. A little about P.T. Barnum.

  1. I wrote a term paper on P.T. Barnum as an undergrad, and I remember him being quite the character. There were so many circus fires! That guy left a trail of dead giraffes wherever he went.

    Another circus novel I loved: The Final Confession of Mabel Stark by Richard Hough, based on a true story of a lady tiger tamer.

      1. I liked parts of the book–especially the elephant–but I felt like the characters were a little bland, which was why I liked spicy Mabel Stark. I haven’t seen the movie yet, although I’d like to. Even if it’s not so good, I’m sure I’ll love the spectacle (and again, I hear the elephant is great). Have you seen it?

    1. Cheryl,

      Ok…I just saw “Water for Elephants” today in the theatre. I have to blog about it. Very interesting…

      Thanks for reposting your blog…I will read your comparison of the books. I know I’m a little behind the times with these books as I’m just now playing catch up with lots of novels that have been waiting patiently on my nightstand.


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