You Have Reached the Pinnacle of Success as Soon as You Become Uninterested in Money, Compliments, or Publicity

Thomas Wolfe? Orlando Aloysius Battista? Eddie Rickenbacker? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: While searching for quotations about success I found the following:

You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity.

Several web pages credit this saying to the famous writer Thomas Wolfe, but I’ve read “Look Homeward, Angel” and Wolfe’s style seems very different. Maybe he wrote in multiple styles, but I didn’t see a specific reference to a location in his writing. Could you explore this?

Quote Investigator: QI shares your skepticism and believes that this saying was actually created by a man named Orlando Aloysius Battista who specialized in constructing epigrams. Battista was an accomplished chemist who also devoted considerable effort to composing and disseminating thousands of his original aphorisms via books and a syndicated newspaper column. He trademarked the term Quotoons and often used it to refer to his creations.

The earliest citation QI has located for this quote is in a collection of sayings compiled and published by Laurence J. Peter in 1977 called “Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time”. The expression is credited to “Dr. O. A. Battista” [PQB]. Here are additional citations in chronological order.

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