"You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do” means that a reputation is build on achievement, not on potential achievement. James J. Hill (1838-1916), the chief executive officer of the Great Northern Railway and known in Canada as “The Empire Builder,” was credited by 1920 for saying, “You cannot build a reputation on the things you are going to do.”
“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do” has been credited since the 1950s to the car manufacturer Henry Ford (1863-1947). The fact that virtually all of the early citations credit James J. Hill probably indicates that Henry Ford didn’t create the saying (if he ever said it).
Wikipedia: James J. Hill
James Jerome Hill (September 16, 1838 – May 29, 1916), was a Canadian-American railroad executive. He was the chief executive officer of a family of lines headed by the Great Northern Railway, which served a substantial area of the Upper Midwest, the northern Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest. Because of the size of this region and the economic dominance exerted by the Hill lines, Hill became known during his lifetime as The Empire Builder.
Wikiquote: Henry Ford
Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was the founder of the Ford Motor Company. He was one of the first to apply assembly line manufacturing to the mass production of affordable automobiles.
You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.
. As quoted in International Encyclopedia of Prose and Poetical Quotations (1951) by William S. Walsh.
1 March 1916, Bulletin of Photography, pg. 280, col. 2:
You cannot build a reputation on the things you are going to do.
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“You cannot build a reputation on the things you are going to do.” — James J. Hill.
7 February 1920, The American Stationer and Office Outfitter, pg. 12, col. 2:
You cannot build a reputation on the things you are going to do. — JAMES J. HILL.
15 December 1920, Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne, WY), pg. 2, col. 3 ad:
Performance the Reputation Builder
James J. Hill said: “You cannot build a reputation on things you are going to do.”
(The First National Bank—ed.)
Google News Archive
23 July 1936, Three Forks (MT) News, pg. 4, col. 5:
You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.
3 May 1957, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “So They Said,” pg. 34, col. 2:
You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.—Henry Ford.