A Reflection on teddy roosevelt’s “citizenship in a republic” Speech

By Emmett Sullivan, Intern
May 28, 2019

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
— Theodore Roosevelt

Over 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt took to the stage in Paris and delivered “Citizenship in a Republic.” Of the speech’s 30-odd pages, one passage has stood the test of time, and is remembered and recited to this day. With just two sentences, Roosevelt was able to capture a fundamental truth: the unmeasurable value of risk.

 To Roosevelt, the risk was more important than the result. He did not place more stock in those who succeeded, nor did he lament those who failed. In his eyes, they were equal. The only lesser men were those who were too afraid to try, the cold and timid souls.

 Here at Monogram, we like to think of ourselves as branding experts, but we are creatives at heart. And while that’s one thing we would never change, it does come with that precious risk. It’s lurking in every pitch meeting. It’s hiding in every conference call, with a pause that lingers one second too long. It’s there on each intern’s first day, and every executive’s long night. Because when you create, you give part of yourself to the world. And you’re met in return with your ever-present, deeply rooted anxiety: the fear of rejection; the fear of being not quite good enough.

 But we say give us the risk. Give us the dust and the sweat and the blood (or maybe in this case, just some keyboard taps.) We build brands that matter, with messages that are real. And from time to time, we may not hit the bullseye. But we will never, ever, be timid.