Quotes For Entrepreneurs–October 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

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“An explorer cannot stay at home reading maps other men have made.”
Susanna Clarke in “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

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“It would be an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.”
Francis Bacon

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“The aspect of things that are most important are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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“The dystopia often imagined in the world of artificial intelligence—in which computers somehow take on a life of their own and come to rule mankind—has actually happened in the world of finance. The giant Wall Street firms have taken on lives of their own, beyond human control. The people flow into and out of them but have only incidental effect on their direction and behavior. The firms may not be intent on evil; they aren’t intent on anything except short-term profits: they’re insensible. If anyone attempted to seize control of one of these strange machines and impose upon them a clear moral direction, the machine would hit its own button and he would be ejected.

Stop and think once more about what has just happened on Wall Street: its most admired firm conspired to flood the financial system with worthless securities, then set itself up to profit from betting against those very same securities, and in the bargain helped to precipitate a world historic financial crisis that cost millions of people their jobs and convulsed our political system. In other places, or at other times, the firm would be put out of business, and its leaders shamed and jailed and strung from lampposts. (I am not advocating the latter.) Instead Goldman Sachs, like the other too-big-to-fail firms, has been handed tens of billions in government subsidies, on the theory that we cannot live without them. They were then permitted to pay politicians to prevent laws being passed to change their business, and bribe public officials (with the implicit promise of future employment) to neuter the laws that were passed—so that they might continue to behave in more or less the same way that brought ruin on us all.”

Michael Lewis “The shocking news that Goldman Sachs is greedy

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“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars.
You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”
C. S. Lewis

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“Bootstrapping does not preclude seeking investment when your active business merits and requires it. But it starts by making a difference and building a real business as proof of both the need for and the value of your products.”
Sean Murphy in “How To Bootstrap Your Startup

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“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.”
Jonathan Winters

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“Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, and where there is no continuity there is no growth.”
C.S. Lewis

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“No man remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself.”
Thomas Mann

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“A prosperous fool is a grievous burden.”
Aeschylus in Fragment 383

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“Keep your plan on an index card: key problem, customer, value, and what success looks like in 30 and 60 days”
Anne Kallus

She offered this insight at the SVCC13 Working For Equity Founders Panel, see slide 30 for a summary. This really resonated with me: I find 3×5 index cards as useful as the UX folks find post-it or sticky notes.

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“My old father used to have a saying, ‘if you make a bad bargain, hug it all the tighter.'”
Abraham Lincoln in a letter To Joshua F. Speed,  February 25, 1842

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“Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.”
Bill Veeck

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“I was a peripheral visionary. I could see the future, but only way off to the side.”
Steven Wright

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“It’s when you’re safe at home that you wish you were having an adventure.
When you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.”
Thornton Wilder

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“Education is about the only thing lying around loose in this world: a fellow can have as much as he is willing to haul away.”
George Horace Lorimer

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“Never ask a man what he knows, but what he can do.”
George Horace Lorimer

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“An adventure story is fear recalled in comfort.”
Christopher Moore in the “Author’s Note for Fluke

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“Books are all right, but dead men’s brains are no good unless you mix a live one’s with them.”
George Horace Lorimer

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“The limit to innovation in business is not technology, but managers’ obsolete viewpoints.”
David Gurteen

I have learned that whenever I want to figure out what’s holding my business back–or earlier in my life my career-the first place to start is by taking a good look in the mirror and examining my own actions, attitudes, beliefs, and policies.

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“Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain”
Henry Ford

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“You don’t build communities to exploit them, you build communities to be a part of them. You have to think about  yourself as being a member of the community, not just creating and tending to the community…If the whole basis of your company is the success of others, that’s what a true community is: helping other people be successful.”
Chad Dickerson in “Etsy CEO talks offline retail, people power and 3D printers as the new sewing machines

h/t Scott Rosenberg @Scottros

This is why I was moved to start the Bootstrapper Breakfasts, I wanted to be a part of serious conversations about bootstrapping and organic growth, which were very hard to find amidst all of the intake events to the VC ecosystem.

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“I have lived in this world just long enough to look carefully the second time into things that I am most certain of the first time.”
Josh Billings

I used this as a closing quote for a section in “When Exploring Keep A Log

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“Unvalidated hypotheses are the WIP (inventory) of product development.”
Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei)

Making your hypotheses explicit and developing tests or experiments to validate them tends to spread the amount surprise over the development cycle instead of letting it accumulate until launch.

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“I’m always jotting things down on pieces of paper. I’ve got pieces of  paper all over my house.”
Don Henley

Used as the opening quote for “In a Wilderness of Free Association Surrounded by Insurmountable Opportunities

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“Unhealthy people have more time than energy. Healthy people have more energy than time.”
Ed Weissman

Used as the closing quote for “In a Wilderness of Free Association Surrounded by Insurmountable Opportunities

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“It’s better to recall something you wish you’d said than something you wish you hadn’t.”
Frank A. Clark

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“Always be shorter than anyone dared to hope.”
Lord Reading

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“Not everyone who is worth knowing is famous.
Not everyone who is famous is worth knowing.
You meet your community of practice,
those who can help you see the adjacent possible,
in line waiting for the famous.”
Sean Murphy

Triggered by Elia Freedman’s “Accidental Meetings” this was later used as the opening quote for “Reflections on Startup Conference 2014 in Redwood City.

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We need to teach the highly educated person that it is not a disgrace to fail and that he must analyze every failure to find its cause. He must learn how to fail intelligently, for failing is one of the greatest arts in the world.”
Charles Kettering

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“Squint with your ears. Listen to what people are really saying to you.”
Perry Smith #4 in “30 Blazing Flashes of the Obvious

See also his “Rules and Tools for Leaders

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“Every man has three characters–that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.”
Alphonse Karr

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“The main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance,  but to do what lies clearly at hand.”
Thomas Carlyle in “Signs of the Times” (1829)

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“Some people look for things that went wrong and try to fix them.
I look for things that went right and try to build on them.”
Bob StoneConfessions of a Civil Servant

Ed Weissman (@edw519) replied on twitter

“And I look for things that don’t make sense and try to build what does.”
Ed Weissman (@edw519)

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“Think as you work, for in the final analysis, your worth to  your company comes not only in solving problems, but also in  anticipating them.”
Harold Ross

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“Map out your future, but do it in pencil.”
Jon Bon Jovi

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“To ‘see both sides’ of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.”
Idries Shah

h/t Mary Sorber “Polypharmacy Solutions Should Be Multi-Faceted

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“It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.”
W. Somerset Maugham in “Of Human Bondage

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“It’s not about youthful enthusiasm, it’s all about grim middle-aged persistence.”
Bruce Sterling in the “Viridian Design Speech (Oct 14, 1998)

I was re-reading an old e-mail I had sent at Cisco that was a re-evaluation of an existing program and I had cribbed the line “our youthful enthusiasm must give way to the grim persistence of middle age” and I thought “that’s too good to be mine, I must have borrowed that from somewhere.” A web search reminded me of Sterling’s Viridian Design speech. Probably the best overview of the principles he was outlining is in “Viridian Note 00003: Viridian Design Principles.”

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“Pay attention, here’s the thick of the plot.”
Will Smith in “Parents Just Don’t Understand

A clever play on words for “the plot thickens” For example

“The plot thickens,” he said, as I entered; “I have just had an answer to my American telegram.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “A Study In Scarlet

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