"The only job where you start at the top is digging a hole” is a popular business joke, cited in print since at least the 1920s. The authorship is not known.
24 April 1923, Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, “Caught in Passing,” pg. 13, col. 3:
Digging wells is the only business where you start at the top.
Some samples: A man with a spade, legended, “Digging a hole is the only job where you can start at the top with success.”
Google News Archive
4 June 1951, Ottawa Citizen, “Once Over Lightly” by T. D. F., pg. 30, col. 4:
Hanover Post points out that “the only job you can successfully start at the top is digging a hole.” But what does it get you? The harder you dig the deeper you go in the hole—that’s all.
The Reader’s Digest
Office sign: “The only job where you start at the top is digging a hole.”
-- The Furrow
July 1960, Boys’ Life, “Think and Grin,” pg. 66, col. 2:
Boy: When I start working I want to start at the top.
Father: But son, the only job in which you start at the top is digging ditches. — David Tiemeier, Cincinnati 38, Ohio.
Google News Archive
31 July 1961, Gadsden (AL) Times, “Let’s Open The Mail” by Hal Boyle, pg. 4, col. 7:
Executive slogans. This ones the favorite of Irving J. Bottner, shoe polish tycoon. “The only job where you can start at the top is in digging a hole.”
20,000 Quips & Quotes
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books
The only job where you start at the top is digging a hole.
Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude
By Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
He wants to start at the top rather than move up step by step—and he does not recognize that the only job where you can start at the top is the job of digging a hole.
New York City • Banking/Finance/Insurance • (1) Comments • Tuesday, March 01, 2011 • Permalink
Haha, nice qoute there. Especially considering how you need to dig a hole in order to get a solid foundation for bigger projects.