This I Believe

Cornelius, John C.

  • John Cornelius describes the two sayings that have stayed with him, "All things are great and small by comparison" and "service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy," and concludes by emphasizing the importance of supporting and educating youth to fight Communism.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. John C. Cornelius of Minneapolis is executive vice president of a large advertising agency. He has been variously a movie actor, grocery clerk, athlete and salesman. Many of the devices important to modern advertising, such as “double your money back,” were his inventions. But Jack Cornelius has given thought to how to get returns from life, too. Here are some of his ideas on living.
Through fifty years of my own life and experience, I have come to a few definite conclusions with regard to relative values that have governed my way of life and the satisfactions that I have
derived from it. First of all, I believe that all things are great or small by comparison. The lad who starts from nothing is fortunate; for, to him, all progress represents accomplishment and the great sense of satisfaction that goes with it.
In my first job I once sold a small advertisement to a furniture company that had never been our paper, the Chicago Tribune. Upon being praised by my boss, I tried to explain that, after all, it was a very small ad and not important, to which he replied, “To bring in an advertiser who has never before used our paper is an accomplishment. Apparently, Cornelius,” he said, “you don’t know that all things are great or small by comparison.” I have never forgotten those words and they have come to mean a great
deal to me throughout my entire life.
As the years have passed, I have realized the tremendous privilege of a tough start in life. This is especially true of young couples starting out in married life. The furnished home given as a wedding present may well represent a ticket to unhappiness, but for those who struggle for each piece of furniture, for each prized addition, there is a thrill of accomplishment—the true satisfaction that comes when something has been really earned.
Another belief that has become a conviction in my mind and in my life is the great opportunity for service: service to my country and to my friends. Now, I don’t look for too much appreciation, for I
won’t get it. Therefore, any satisfaction that comes to a person must come from within and from the joy and the pleasure an act of service brings with it.
At a meeting one day, a captain of the Salvation Army said to me, “We have a way of expressing the privilege and the opportunity of service that you might like. The way we say it is: ‘Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy.’” That is the second most important expression of the rule, or a way of life, that is always in my mind.
Thirdly, I believe that it is the responsibility and opportunity of every man and woman to help youth. Hundreds of letters from boys pour into our office at the American Boy Magazine. We know that these are
troubled times, confused times. These are times of frustration. Thousands get a feeling of insecurity, a feeling that they don’t belong. And this is the fertile ground on which communism and other isms grow. These are the minds that will be occupied, as General Eisenhower said to me a year ago in Paris. He said, the communists are the masters of occupying the minds of the young and they are everlastingly at it. So in the day-to-day life of each of us comes the opportunity to aid and encourage youth to point out the rules by which we have lived with satisfaction and by which they too may, perhaps, enjoy a richer fuller life. It is an opportunity and an obligation that should not be missed.
There the creed of advertising executive Jack Cornelius or Batton, Barton, Durston and Osborn. He lives and works in Minneapolis.