Quotes for Entrepreneurs–January 2015

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these quotes for entrepreneurs hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

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“As we come to terms with needs (as opposed to wants) the future will inevitably belong to the useful“.
Alistair Mant in “Intelligent Leadership” (1997)

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“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”
Peter Drucker

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“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
Viktor Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning”

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“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.”
Charles Eames

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“Next to a circus there ain’t nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit.”
Kin Hubbard

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We all know that, as the old adage has it, “It is later than you think.” I touch on that them myself, as every writer who can think must, but I also say occasionally: “It is lighter than you think.” In this light let’s not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around in awareness.
James Thurber in Foreword to Lanterns and Lances

 

h/t Gerald Weinberg (@JerryWeinberg) tweet:  For 2015: “Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” James Thurber

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“We are sometime truly to see our life as positive, not negative, as made up of continuous willing, not of constraints and prohibition.”
Mary Parker Follett

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“We live person-to-person, not person-to-site-to-person.
Site is an unnecessary intermediary most of the time.
Our sociology is not equal to our technology”
Valdis Krebs @ValdisKrebs

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“Cancer is the emergent property of the accumulated errors in an ordered system. It’s the consequences of random events.”
Steven Popkes in “The Great Caruso” (2010 science fiction story)

I remember being struck by this hypothesis when I read the short story in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2010. I was reminded of it when I read the results of research out of Johns Hopkins that “‘Bad luck’ of random mutations plays predominant role in cancer.” Popkes has written about how his mother was the inspiration for the main character.

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My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.
Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.”
“We’re not raising grass,” my dad would reply, “we’re raising boys.”
Harmon Killebrew

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“We have a terror of seeming to exert ourselves, lest it be noticed that we exerted ourselves and did not succeed.”
Mignon Mclaughlin

I think this is a real barrier to many entrepreneurs, it’s also been identified by Carol Dweck as “fixed mindset” vs. a “growth mindset.” If we view our capabilities as fixed and we work to their limit and fail then we are a failure. Our model, borrowed from Jerry Weinberg’s “Secrets of Consulting” is that “nothing new ever works” so you have to keep trying–and tinkering, making adjustments–if you want to succeed.

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“New directions in science are launched by new tools much more often than by new concepts. The effect of a concept-driven revolution is to explain old things in new ways. The effect of a tool-driven revolution is to discover new things that have to be explained.”
Freeman Dyson in “Imagined Worlds

A similar passage occurs in Dyson’s “George Green and Physics

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“Perfection of planning is a symptom of decay. During a period of exciting discovery or progress, there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters. The time for that comes later, when all the important work has been done.”
C. Northcote Parkinson

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“The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.”
Nolan Bushnell

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“Acceptance tests start with communication, not automation.”
Ken Pugh (@kpugh)

h/t Esther Derby (@estherderby)

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“We can tell that a good name is better than riches by those who prefer the riches.”
Kin Hubbard in “Abe Martin: Hoss Sense and Nonsense” (1926)

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“Build a good name.
Keep your name clean.
Don’t make compromises.
Don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful.
Be concerned with doing good work…and if you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.”
William Burroughs

h/t Austin Kleon in “Show Your Work.” Also quoted in longer form in “Patti Smith’s Advice to the Young, by Way of William S. Burroughs” by Maria Popova:

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful — be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency.”
William Burroughs (as told to Patti Smith)

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“Intelligence takes chances with limited data in an arena where mistakes are not only possible but also necessary.”
Frank Herbert in “Chapterhouse: Dune” (1985)

More context

“Making workable choices occurs in a crucible of informative mistakes. Thus Intelligence accepts fallibilty. And when absolute (infallible) choices are not know, Intelligence takes chances with limited data in an arena where mistakes are not only possible but also necessary.”
Frank Herbert in “Chapterhouse: Dune” (1985)

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“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
C. Northcote ParkinsonParkinson’s Law

Horstman’s Corollary

“Work contracts to fit in the time we give it.”
Mark Horstman in “Parkinson Owns Us

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“Arrears of small things to be attended to, if allowed to accumulate, worry and depress like unpaid debts.”
Samuel Butler in his Notebooks

More context from the section “Difficulties in Art, Literature, and Music”

Never tackle a serious difficulty as long as something which must be done, and about which you see your way fairly well, remains undone; the settling of this is sure to throw light upon the way in which the serious difficulty is to be resolved.  It is doing the What-you-can that will best help you to do the What-you-cannot.

Arrears of small things to be attended to, if allowed to accumulate, worry and depress like unpaid debts.  The main work should always stand aside for these, not these for the main work, as large debts should stand aside for small ones, or truth for common charity and good feeling.  If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.”

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“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
T. S. Eliot

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“An idea is salvation by imagination.”
Frank Lloyd Wright

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“One can acquire everything in solitude–except character.”
Stendahl

Referenced in “Six Excerpts from Carve the Sky

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“Talent is formed in stillness, character in the world’s torrent.”
Goethe in “Torquato Tasso

Referenced in “Six Excerpts from Carve the Sky

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“There is a lot to learn about business from Silicon Valley but very little–if any–is secret, just hiding in plain sight.”
Sean Murphy in “Few–If Any–Silicon Valley Secrets

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“The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having not time. It is on the contrary born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else–we are the busiest people in the world.”
Eric Hoffer

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“A sadder but wiser man is a thousand times more agreeable to meet than the feller that never makes a mistake.”
Kin Hubbard in Brown County Folks

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“One of the commonest ailments of the present day is the premature formation
of opinion.”
Kin Hubbard in “Abe Martin’s Primer (1914)

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“The single most influential determiner of the quantity of Wednesday’s accomplishments is the quality of Tuesday night’s preparation.”
Ed Weissman (@edw519)

The trick of making your to do list at the end of the day when you have the full context makes you much more effective than making your todo list first thing in the morning, see Preserve  Context in Writing to Manage Interruptions.

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“Success is relative. It is what we make of the mess we have made of things.”
T.S. Eliot

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“I will never again buy a router made in R’yleh
Michal Domanski (@)

Remark in passing during a conference call.

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“It seems to me to be important to distinguish a good idea from poor implementations of it”
Ron Jeffries (@RonJeffries)

h/t Esther Derby (@estherderby)

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The goal of our prototypes isn’t to fail fast, it’s to learn cheaply.
Jeff Patton (@jeffpatton)

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“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk.”
Soren Kierkegaard

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“Bootstrapping is not self-funding, it’s growing your business from revenue: to succeed you must create value customers pay for.”
Sean Murphy

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“The possibility of non-linear effects does not remove the need make choices that recognize limited resources.”
Sean Murphy

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“Equanimity is calamity’s medicine.”
Publilius Syrus  Maxim 481 in “Moral Sayings of Publilius Syrus

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“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

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“The gladiator lays his plans after he enters the arena.”
Publilius Syrus

You have to have a map of the target before you can plan your approach. Discovery driven sales approaches assume that you can only prescribe after you have elicited symptoms and made a diagnosis.

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“A pivot that isn’t grounded in learning is simply a disguised “see what sticks” strategy”
Ash Maurya in “How We Use Lean Stack in Innovation Accounting

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“There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.”
Buckminster Fuller

h/t Ash Maurya in “How We Use Lean Stack in Innovation Accounting

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“Prototype and simulate to verify and validate”
Dr. Arlen Meyers (@ArlenMD)

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“Like a flash of lightning in the clouds, we live in the flicker.”
Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness

More context

“Yes; but it is like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker–may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling!”

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“Competition means decentralized planning by many separate persons.”
Frederich von Hayek in “The Use of Knowledge in Society, in Individualism,
and Economic Order

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“Do not look for large results all at once.
Be patient, wait, work, stick.”
A. E. Rice “Small Talk About Business” (1892)

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Bootstrapper Breakfast: Real Recognizes Real

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

I had a great conversation with a first timer after today’s Bootstrapper Breakfast in Sunnyvale. He was a serious entrepreneur who had been bootstrapping for two years and he said, “Real recognizes real, this is the first entrepreneur Meetup I’ve been to where I have been able to talk about my challenges and get practical advice. Also, the other entrepreneurs weren’t just pitching, they were trying to help.”

5 Ways To Start Customer Discovery Interviews

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy, Workshop

Customer discovery interviews are essential to testing key B2B product hypotheses and understanding your target customers’ needs. Broadly there are five ways that you can reach out to potential customers to have a discovery conversation. All of them assume that you have a clear picture of who your target is and a few key questions that they will be willing and able to answer that will indicate they have a problem or need your solution may address.

Few–If Any–Silicon Valley Secrets

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, Consulting Business, Customer Development

I signed up for a mailing list a while ago from a reasonably famous entrepreneur and he sent me this mass email in late November promising to share “Silicon Valley Secrets.” I don’t know if it’s because I have worked in Silicon Valley for more than three decades but I found the whole thing kind of sad (of course, he’s probably laughing all the way to the bank).

Connect With Your Purpose

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

Bud Caddell (blog “What Consumes Me“) is someone I have been following for a while. He started a new consulting company and I thought I would reach out to see if there were partnership opportunities. He is in his 30’s but suddenly feeling his mortality–see “The Merchant of Death is Dead“–so his applicaton process asked you to write an obit as a way to connect with your purpose.

Kin Hubbard on a Family Reunion at Christmas

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

The following is excerpted from the December section of Abe Martin’s Almanack for 1908 by Kin Hubbard. Hubbard tells a story of a family reunion at Christmas–that must be at least partly autobiographical–from the point of view of a young man who has been estranged from his family returning home with his new wife. Like much of Hubbard’s writing each word is carefully chosen and much communicated by detailed observations–and things that are left unsaid.

Ultimately it’s the story of a happy family: I hope your Christmas Day has been as happy.

OCT Offers Insights That Used To Require an Autopsy

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, skmurphy

Christoph Guetter suggests in “The eye is a window to the brain; but who’s looking?” that the micron scale resolution of optical coherence tomography (OCT) for in vivo cross-sectional imaging of the human retina may allow earlier and more accurate diagnoses of several common neurodegenerative disorders: Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Webinar Replay: Innovator’s DNA Series Overview

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Books, Customer Development, Video

Steve Hogan and Sean Murphy walk through a five part webinar series on “The Innovator’s DNA” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen,and Clayton Christensen. Sean thinks it’s the best book on innovation and entrepreneurship for 2011 and useful for any team that is trying to innovate. Each webinar will be in a roundtable format and include first time entrepreneurs and experienced innovators discussing lessons learned applying the five key discovery skills described in the book.

Freedom

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

The desire for economic freedom and autonomy drives many entrepreneurs. Bootstrappers would rather work for customers than investors, choosing the discipline of the competitive marketplace over the wisdom and caprice of the boardroom.

“Life is too short to work at a job you hate,
but everyone has to do something someone else is willing to pay them for.”
Sid Emmert

Movies to Renew Your Sense of Wonder

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, skmurphy

I caught Interstellar  over the weekend and was mesmerized for the entire three hour runtime. Coop the astronaut/farmer falls goes exploring and falls down a series of rabbit holes that take him far from home. It’s a movie that celebrates exploration and continually triggered my sense of wonder if only because none of the protagonists are fearless action heroes but all too human in their desires to return home safely and be re-united with families and loved ones.  I don’t want to say too much about the plot not because of all of the twists and turns but I think the movie is best appreciated by not knowing how it’s going to turn out.

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