A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 04, 2010
“Lead, follow or get out of the way”

"Either lead, follow or get out of the way” is a favorite saying of American businessman Ted Turner. The saying is sometimes credited to Thomas Paine (1737-1809), but there is no evidence that Paine ever said it.

Forms of the saying include “Either follow, lead or get out of the way” and “Either lead or get out of the way.” The phrase has been cited in print since at least 1961 and was put on many office signs.

“We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.  Gen. George Patton” was posted on the newsgroup alt.quotations on January 20, 1994. There is no evidence that U.S. Army General George S. Patton Jr. (1885-1945) ever said it.


23 January 1961, Greensboro (N) Daily News, “Monday Moanin’” by W. Rhodes Weaver, pg. B1, col. 5:
Carson Bain saw this motto someplace: “Lead. Follow. Or get out of the way!”

Google News Archive
19 March 1961, Bryan (OH) Times, “Rhodes may support school tax hike,” pg. 2, cols. 1-5:
Gov. James A. Rhodes had flashed the first visible sign that he may have to back down on his pledge to take off the temporary state taxes and avoid new ones as he tries to enact a balanced two-year budget.
(...)
‘There’s three things you can do. You can lead, follow or get out of the way. I’m going to have to lead. I can’t follow or get out of the way.”

3 March 1962, New Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, PA), “Friendship Center Presents Music, Fashions and Awards,” pg. 7:
Mr. (Louis E.—ed.) Lomax also admonished Negro leaders “either to lead or get out of the way and let someone else lead.”

14 March 1963, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Meyer Will Head United Fund Drive,” sec. 1, pg. 18:
...with the promise that the by-word of the fall drive will be “lead, follow or get out of the way.”

Google Books
July 1963, Negro Digest, contents page:
Lead Or Get Out Of The Way
Louis E. Lomax

28 July 1963, Atchison (KS) Globe, “The Tactless Jayhawk,” pg. 6A, col. 5:
A neat sign on a businessman’s desk: “Either lead, follow, or get out of the way!”

Google News Archive
18 August 1965, Victoria (TX) Advocate, “Rotary District Governor Cites Community Olbigation,” pg. 3, col. 2:
“As Rotarians,” Drake said, “you should either lead, follow or get out of the way.”

28 March 1969, Lubbock (TX) Avalanche-Journal, “Home Economics Awards Banquet Scheduled,” pg. B5, col. 1:
Dr. J. Joel Moss, visiting professor from Brigham Young University, will deliver the main address at the 7 p.m. dinner meeting. His topic will be “Don’t Sit by the Fire—Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way.”

30 May 1973, Lubbock (TX) Avalanche-Journal, pg. A4, col. 5:
Sign on a desk in an office: “Lead, Follow, or Get out of the Way.”—Orlando Sentinel.

11 December 1973, New York (NY) Times, “Battle Creek Takes Vigorous Measures To Deal WIth a Threatening Fuel Crisis” by Seth S. King, pg. 36: 
A sign on the wall of City Manager Aaron Marsh’s office proclaims: “Do Something—Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.”

Google Books
Broadcasting
v. 90 - 1976
Pg. 81:
Mr. Turner has had some of his favorite expressions printed on miniature billboards. One which sat on his desk for a while reads: “Either lead, follow or get out of the way.”

Google News Archive
30 July 1978, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, Floridian, pg. 10:
“Either lead, follow, or get out of the way”
reads the sign on Turner’s desk.

(Ted Turner—ed.)

OCLC WorldCat record
Lead, follow or get out of the way : the story of Ted Turner
Author: Christian Williams
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Times Books, ©1981.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Lead, follow or get out of the way!
Author: Daisy Hepburn
Publisher: Ventura, Calif. : Regal Books, ©1982.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Lead, follow, or get out of the way : leadership strategies for the thoroughly modern manager
Author: James L Lundy
Publisher: San Diego, CA : Avant Books, ©1986.
Edition/Format: Book : English

Google Groups: alt.quotations
leadership quotes
Mike Gilbertson
1/20/94
(...)
We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people.
Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.  Gen. George Patton

Google Groups: alt.quotations
HELP: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
Duke Groebe
3/6/96
(...)
“Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!”

George Patton on politicians?

Twitter
Brent Smith
@TheBrentSmith
“Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of the way.” George S. Patton Jr. It’s Veterans Day people. God Bless the United States of America.
1:36 PM - 11 Nov 2012

Twitter
Charles Dignam
@CharlesDignam
Replying to @_MissMelody @BlkSantaX and 17 others
“Lead, Follow or get out of the Way.” General George S. Patton Sr.  Commander of 3rd US Army at the Battle of the Bulge.
5:51 PM - 6 Apr 2019

Twitter
Toby A. Slinkard
@Iceman1097
Replying to @pay_hurdles
Like George S. Patton and Lee Iacocca used to say: “lead, follow or get out of the way.” Well done you!👍🏼
11:47 PM - 12 May 2019

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Friday, June 04, 2010 • Permalink