Quotes For Entrepreneurs–August 2012

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

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August is  Neal Stephenson (the “warrior monk of speculative fiction“) month at SKMurphy with quotes from a number of his books making their way into blog posts. For more on “warrior monks” see TV Tropes “Warrior Monk” entry. Here are some other blog posts that contain quotes from Neal Stephenson:

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Constructing a Fortress of Internet Deprivation so that I can get some work done.”
Neal Stephenson (@nealstephenson)

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“Do not make mistakes about character.  Better be cheated in the price than in the quality of goods.”
Balthasar Gracian from “The Art of Worldly Wisdom

More context:

Maxim 157: Do not make Mistakes about Character. That is the worst and yet easiest error. Better be cheated in the price than in the quality of goods. In dealing with men, more than with other things, it is necessary to look within. To know men is different from knowing things. It is profound philosophy to sound the depths of feeling and distinguish traits of character. Men must be studied as deeply as books.
Balthasar Gracian from “The Art of Worldly Wisdom” translated by Joseph Jacobs [1892]

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“Projects are the cumulative result of hundreds of minor and major Eureka moments.”
Tom Fishburne in “The Wiki Wall

This is an abridged version of

“Projects are not the result of one Eureka moment at one point in time. They are the cumulative result of hundreds of minor and major Eureka moments throughout a project.”

h/t to a tweet by Dorai Thodla

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How many eyeballs are passing by is a useless measure.
All that matters is, “how many people want to hear from you tomorrow?”
Seth Godin in “Converting Viral Traffic

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“People who succeed are often those who do the little, everyday things that others won’t.”
Henry Todd

h/t Ben Nesvig’s book review of Accidental Creative

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“Software development, like professional sports, has a way of making thirty-year-old men feel decrepit.”
Neal Stephenson in “Snow Crash”

more context

“He recognizes many of the people in here, but as usual, he’s surprised and disturbed by the number he doesn’t recognize–all those sharp, perceptive twenty-one-year-old faces. Software development, like professional sports, has a way of making thirty-year-old men feel decrepit.”
Neal Stephenson in “Snow Crash”

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“Traditions are solutions to problems that we forgot we had.”

I originally wrote this in “Building Codes for Software” and recycled it in “Serious and Competent People

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“What can do we do to combine the agility we learned in the past decade with the requirements of the App Store?”
Andrew Chen in “Mobile App Startups Are Failing Like It’s 1999

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Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best. Luck is the residue of design.
Branch Rickey in Sporting News, Feb. 21, 1946. (per Yale Book of Quotations)

Often shortened to “Luck is the residue of design.” A longer version of this same quote is contained in several books from the 1990’s (including “Basic Concepts for Managing Telecommunications Networks: Copper to Sand to Glass to Air” by Lawrence Bernstein, C.M. Yuhas and “Branch Rickey as a Public Manager: Fulfilling the Eight Responsibilities of Public Management” by Robert D. Behn, in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, J-PART 7 (1997)) it reads:

“Things worthwhile generally don’t just happen. Luck is a fact, but should not be a factor. Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best. Negligence or indifference are usually reviewed from an unlucky seat. The law of cause and effect and causality both work the same with inexorable exactitudes. Luck is the residue of design.”

Longer version used as opening quote in “Five quotes From Branch Rickey for Entrepreneurs

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“To keep is more important than to make friends. There is no desert like living without friends.”
Balthasar Gracian from “The Art of Worldly Wisdom

More context:

Maxim 158: Make use of your Friends. This requires all the art of discretion. Some are good afar off, some when near. Many are no good at conversation but excellent as correspondents, for distance removes some failings which are unbearable in close proximity to them. Friends are for use even more than for pleasure, for they have the three qualities of the Good, or, as some say, of Being in general: unity, goodness, and truth. For a friend is all in all. Few are worthy to be good friends, and even these become fewer because men do not know how to pick them out. To keep is more important than to make friends. Select those that will wear well; if they are new at first, it is some consolation they will become old. Absolutely the best are those well salted, though they may require soaking in the testing. There is no desert like living without friends. Friendship multiplies the good of life and divides the evil. ’Tis the sole remedy against misfortune, the very ventilation of the soul.”
Balthasar Gracian from “The Art of Worldly Wisdom” translated by Joseph Jacobs [1892]

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“And being an excellent commander, about to go into a real battle, he had the wit to bring along a few people who could actually get things done for him. It may seem hard for you to believe, but mark my word–whenever serious and competent people need to get things done in the real world, all considerations of tradition and protocol fly out the window.”
Neal Stephenson in “Quicksilver”

Used as the opening quote for “Serious and Competent People

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“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices — just recognize them.”
Edward R. Murrow

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“It is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterwards. ”
Balthasar Gracian from “The Art of Worldly Wisdom

More context:

Maxim 150: Think Beforehand. To-day for to-morrow, and even for many days hence. The greatest foresight consists in determining beforehand the time of trouble. For the provident there are no mischances and for the careful no narrow escapes. We must not put off thought till we are up to the chin in mire. Mature reflection can get over the most formidable difficulty. The pillow is a silent Sibyl, and it is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterwards. Many act first and then think afterwards–that is, they think less of consequences than of excuses: others think neither before nor after. The whole of life should be one course of thought how not to miss the right path. Rumination and foresight enable one to determine the line of life.
Balthasar Gracian from “The Art of Worldly Wisdom” translated by Joseph Jacobs [1892]

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“One must treat theory-in-use as both a psychological certainty and an intellectual hypothesis.”
Chris Argyris and Donald Schon in “Theory in Practice: Increasing Professional Effectiveness

context:

One must regard any theory as tentative, subject to error, and likely to be disconfirmed; one must be suspicious of it. However, one’s theory-in-use is his only basis for action. To be effective, a person must be able to act according to his theory-in-use clearly and decisively, especially under stress. One must treat theory-in-use as both a psychological certainty and an intellectual hypothesis.”

Full quote referenced in “Jabe Bloom Offers a Sip from a Firehose in ‘Failing Well’

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“Entrepreneurship is the launching of surprises.”
George Gilder in “Unleash the Mind

Used as the title for “George Gilder: Entrepreneurship is the Launching of Surprises.

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“Never surrender opportunity for security.”
Branch Rickey

Closing quote in “Five quotes From Branch Rickey for Entrepreneurs

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“Without ducking responsibility, what’s wrong with medicine today is that it is predicated on providing treatment, not on reducing suffering. Not on solving problems.”
The Last Psychiatrist in “Ramachandran’s Mirror

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“That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code.”
Major Napier in Neal Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age”

An extract from a longer passage quoted in “Neal Stephenson on Distinguishing Different Motive for Hypocrisy

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If the Coastal Republic had believed in the existence of virtue, it could at least have aspired to hypocrisy.
Neal Stephenson in “The Diamond Age”

A quote I included in drafts of “Neal Stephenson on Distinguishing Different Motive for Hypocrisy” but ultimately edited out.

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“…the ancient character of the neighborhood began to assert itself, as the bones of the knuckles reveal their shape beneath the stretched skin of a fist.”
Neal Stephenson in “The Diamond Age”

His model of past as a palimpsest for the present also applies to the evolution of technology, where obsolete functions are sometimes re-purposed as skeuomorphs,  retained as vestigial affordances,  or re-emerge as atavisms. See also “Design Algorithms: Skeuomorphs, Spandrels & Palimpsests

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