The Art and Science of Inspirational Quotes

Written by Vicki Powers

A recent article in Entrepreneur challenged me to think about why I love all the inspirational quotes I save on my phone – or write on sticky notes for my mirror. Surprisingly, there is both an art and science behind these messages that are packed with a punch in just a few words.

Inspirational quotes are actually a very, very short story, according to Jonathan Fader, Ph.D., the quoted expert in the article, The Secret Formula for Writing an Inspirational Quote. They have a narrative arc that takes the reader on a journey. Yet less is more when it comes to these awe-inspiring messages and writing with brevity can be challenging.

Why do we like them?

They help us see something we want to change or overcome. Maybe a quote helps you realize you’re living life a little too guarded or playing it safe to avoid failure. I remember the day my young teen daughter bought a framed message, “Leap and the net will appear.” It spoke volumes to me. Not only did I find it interesting those words resonated with her – at her young age — but also that it became her mantra for life. She takes risks and goes after dreams, believing in herself and not afraid of things not working out.

We have many quote lovers at MPD Ventures as well. Check out the photo of Paige Dawson’s bookshelf with two of her favorites. And one is the same as mine!


Paige Dawson’s bookshelf and the quotes that inspire her daily.

Their strong imagery appeals to our aspirational nature. The power of language is strong in these messages. Metaphors, parallel construction, and rhyming are all aspects of the structure that make these words memorable and quotable. Consider this: “resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die.” That’s hard to forget.

They can guide us through darkness, like a bright flashlight. Effective inspirational quotes speak to universal truths and can offer hope during a time of despair or peace and contentment during struggles or grief. These words provide a way to refocus and help us attempt to move forward, even if it’s baby steps. They remind us that others have gone through this same feeling/experience/struggle and come out on the other side.

Quotes from business leaders or celebrities we admire also draw us in. They can affect us on a primal level when we want to try to achieve a similar success or result.
Sean Hall, for example, founder and CEO, of Wellious, follows specific folks on social media to curate an inspiring feed. He takes a moment to jump on social media when he’s feeling unmotivated and sees other entrepreneurs posting about the work they’re accomplishing.

How can we use them in business?

  • As social media fodder and a quick series. Canva makes it easy these days to look professional with no designer on staff. MPD Ventures has its own motivational Monday series on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  • As a quote of the week to share with your team in your breakroom or digital bulletin board or on your store door if you’re a retailer.
  • As a signature line rotating feature in your email close.
  • As part of quick callouts in training materials or process templates for your business or team.
  • As a way to generate teambuilding to ask members to rotate and share their own motivating quote each week or at a meeting, etc.

Motivational quotes have become an entire industry with curated accessory items, journals, notepads, daily calendars, and more. They universally inspire everyone.
Is there one inspirational quote that motivates or inspires you? For me, the quotes usually revolve around love or kindness. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop