8 Inspiring Quotes from Marketing Leader John Durham

By Jeff Haber

John Durham Twitter

“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. Forget injuries. Never forget kindness.”


This was just one of the 2,874 social-media musings of John Durham, a leading voice in the digital marketing and advertising industry who passed away November 16, 2021 at the age of 70.

Mr. Durham was the CEO and managing general partner of Catalyst, a San Francisco-based brand strategy agency providing marketing services for start-ups and brands. Previously he served as the president of sales and marketing for Jumpstart Automotive Media, arranging for its sale to Hachette Filipacchi, and held management positions at Carat Fusion and Winstar Interactive Media.

However, according to friends and associates, Mr. Durham’s greatest impact may have been felt via his 29-year professorship of marketing at the University of San Francisco, where he inspired thousands of students to pursue careers in marketing and advertising.

Mr. Durham was a frequent speaker at digital ad industry events, and was embraced by colleagues for his convivial demeanor, love of wine, and “Durhamisms” — witticisms reflecting his values and beliefs that he posted each weekday on social media, borne out of recent personal and professional experiences.

In an October 8, 2021 interview on iHeart Media’s Backstage with the Brand podcast, Mr. Durham shared some of his words of wisdom with host Andy Wiedlin:

  • “The stupid never forgive nor forget. The naïve forgive and forget. The wise forgive, but do not forget.”   

  • “An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity. A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.”

  • “Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out. Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed just below the conscious level. Instincts select the best method first and reason last.”  

  • “The person who says they will meet you halfway is usually a poor judge of distance.”

  • “There are two types of people: those who come into a room and say, ‘Well, here I am!’ and those who come into a room and say, ‘Ah, there you are!’”

  • “A person changes their own nature. So does the attitude of the world change toward him or her. Be the change you want to see happen rather than trying to change anyone else. The most fundamental winning formula is to bet on human decency and be patient.”

  • “We are all manufacturers. Some make good, others make trouble, and still others make excuses. Don’t make excuses; make good. No one ever excused their way to success. There is always a perfectly good excuse always not to. The hardest freedom to win is the freedom from one’s excuses.”

The ANA acknowledges Mr. Durham’s contributions to the marketing and advertising industry and extends condolences to his family and all of those touched by his legacy.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


Jeff Haber is a manager of content creation at ANA.