Quotes For Entrepreneurs–March 2015

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes

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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“Training is practice doing a new task much more slowly than an expert would do it.”
Tom DeMarco in “Slack

Cited in Tom DeMarco on Leadership, Trust, and Training

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“When you find errors in conventional wisdom–when everyone says A and A is not true–you gain competitive advantage. Only a few times do you have to find errors in conventional wisdom to make a living.”
Larry Ellison in a Feb-8-2001 interview in Business Week

Used as part of a longer passage in “Entrepreneurs Exploit Errors in Conventional Wisdom

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“A winner fulfills his contract with the world and with himself. That is, he sets out to do something, says that he is committed to doing it, and in the long run does it.”
Eric Berne

Used in “Eric Berne on Winners and Losers

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“If you learn from a loss you have not lost.”
Austin O’Malley in “Keystones of Thought

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“Hypothesis: The thicker a customer service rep lays on promises of excellent service, the less likely they are competent to provide such service. Undertaking experiments with Comcast now.”
Larry Lang

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“We reject: kings, presidents and voting
We believe in: rough consensus and running code.”
Dave Clark in “A Cloudy Crystal Ball: Visions of the Future” (see IETF Proceedings July 1992)

Referenced in “Fostering Technology Adoption: Early Customer & Early Revenue

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“Our best success was not computing, but hooking people together.”
Dave Clark in “A Cloudy Crystal Ball: Visions of the Future

A perspective from 1992 on the progress to date of the IETF.

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“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.”
Gil Stern (Gladys Brownyn Stern)

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Like the old saying goes: If you want something done right, you have to first decide what “right” means.
Cason Swindle (@CasonBang)

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“Every situation is an equilibrium of forces; every life is a struggle between opposing forces working within the limits of a certain equilibrium”
Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal

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“Simplification beats automation.”
Torbjörn Gyllebring (@drunkcod)

A succinct restatement of

“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.”
Peter F. Drucker

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“A winner knows what he’ll do next if he loses, but doesn’t talk about it; a loser doesn’t know what he’ll do if he loses, but talks about what he will do if he wins.”
Eric Berne

Used in “Eric Berne on Winners and Losers

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“Surprise is a learning opportunity.”
Torbjörn Gyllebring (@drunkcod)

In “Customer Interviews: Allow Yourself to Be Surprised” I wrote, “Surprise means you are learning.” Upon further reflection I would “surprise is the unconscious recognition of a learning opportunity, the key is to embrace it.” In “Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015” I point out that Spock was good at this, he made it a point to say “Fascinating” when he faced the unexpected–he was surprised.

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“Sometimes in life you have an appointment with destiny,
and sometimes you just have to get destiny to squeeze you in.”
Robert Brault

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“Some folks can look so busy doing nothing that they actually seem indispensable.”
Kin Hubbard in “Abe Martin’s Broadcast” (1930)

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“Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant; all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed.”
Marcus Aurelius (121-180) – Meditations (c. 161–180 CE) Book III, 10

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“An education is like a crumbling building that needs constant upkeep with repairs and additions.”
Louis Dudek

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“Discoveries are made by pursuing possibilities suggested by existing knowledge.”
Michael Polanyi in “The Tacit Dimension

h/t Patrick Steyaert (@PatrickSteyaert)

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“Secrets are hard but solvable problems and we should talk about them. It’s hard to work toward a radically better future if you don’t believe in secrets.”
Peter Thiel in his CS183 lecture #11 on “secrets”

Used as part of a longer passage in “Entrepreneurs Exploit Errors in Conventional Wisdom

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“Take wrong turns. Talk to strangers. Open unmarked doors. And if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they are doing. Do things without always knowing how they’ll turn out. You’re curious and smart and bored, and all you see is the choice between working hard and slacking off. There are so many adventures that you miss because you’re waiting to think of a plan. To find them, look for tiny interesting choices. And remember that you are always making up the future as you go.”
Randall Munroe, xkcd: volume 0

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When we say “If I don’t do it, someone else will,” we mean, of course, some other son of a bitch.
Mignon Mclaughlin

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“Where is it, this present? It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming.”
William James

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 “Art is anything people do with distinction.”
Louis Dudek

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“To recognise a class is to throw away information.”
H. Ross Ashby in “Aphorisms

Similar to Dave Snowden’s “pre-hypothesis or abductive narrative research.”

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“Silence may be as variously shaded as speech.”
Edith Wharton

Which reminds me of this famous quote by Peter Drucker:

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.
Peter Drucker

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“You don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then by doing it so hard you become great in the process.”
Randall Munroe in “Marie Curie”

Some related thoughts in “Perfectionism vs. Mastery” and “Humility, Self-Mastery, and Learning.

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“The great thing and the hard thing is to stick to things when you have outlived the first interest and not yet got the second which comes with a sort of mastery.”
Janet Erskine Stuart

Originally referenced in Three Advantages of Older Entrepreneurs in B2B Startups

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“My computer is a graveyard of half baked ideas and empty directories, all created in moments of inspiration.”
Louie Dinh in “My Four Rules For Completing Side Projects

h/t Dorai Thodla (@dorait)  Here is a condensed version of Louis Dinh’s four rules with the quote underlined in context (underline not in original).

  1. Learn From Mistakes: Let yourself make mistakes. One of the great liberations of working on a side project is that you get to be a beginner again. You have no expectations. You get to fail and learn to your heart’s content. The higher level of engagement and the mistake feedback loop allows you to truly flesh out the problem’s nooks for yourself. No description can be detailed enough to explain every single aspect of completing even the simplest of side projects. Only by sitting down and navigating the maze of micro-decisions will you actually learn the real texture of the problem.
  2. Kill The Boring Bits: Automate it or don’t do that bit unless absolutely essential. Anything that feels like pulling teeth will kill your motivation. Do it consistently and you won’t want to work on the side project anymore. You must keep it fun.
  3. Go Big Or Not: My computer is a graveyard of half baked ideas and empty directories, all created in moments of inspiration. It’s up to you. You’re in full control. Tutorials, books and lectures are great when you’re starting out because they give you a mental framework to hang your hat on. After that, side projects become much much more efficient.
  4. Have Fun!

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“Notwithstanding all the somber incantations that ‘change must start at the top,’ one must ask how often the monarchy has led a revolution.”
Jason Yip (@jchyip)

This reminds me of a quote by John F. Parker I blogged in Sep-2008 from his book “If Elected I Promise

“All reform comes from below.
No man with four aces howls for a new deal.”
John F. Parker in “If Elected I Promise

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“In the long run men hit only what they aim at.”
Thoreau “Walden”

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“Inquiry is fatal to certainty.”
Will Durant

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“He who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows out the plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.”
Victor Hugo

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“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
Benjamin Disraeli

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“There can be no joy in living without joy in work.”
St. Thomas Aquinas

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“A stumble may prevent a fall.”
Thomas Fuller

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“The purpose of commerce is to help us create value for one another.”
William Pietri (@WilliamPietri)

From a Hacker News comment about “Make Money Online: Documenting 10 Years of Failure

More context

In his shoes, I would definitely call it a complete failure. It was certainly very educational, but failure nonetheless. I think his failure lies in equating making money with success.

The purpose of commerce is to help us create value for one another. But there is a bunch of activity that uses the same tools that is essentially parasitic. The reason his income streams kept blowing up was that people eventually decided that they were better off without him involved.

He could have spent 10 years building products that were creating value. He could have spent 10 years learning the tools and techniques necessary to make the sorts of thing where customers can’t get enough. Instead, he spent a decade as a leech on the ankle of the economy, getting scratched off and reattaching himself.

[…]  So now he’s basically starting over. And good for him, I say. I think this post is incredibly brave, and I wish him the best of luck in making something so useful that customers are clamoring to hand over their money.

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“Inventing the future requires giving up control. No one with a compelling purpose and a great vision knows how it will be achieved. One has to be willing to follow an unknown path, allowing the road to take you where it will. Surprise, serendipity, uncertainty and the unexpected are guaranteed on the way to the future.”
George Land in “Breakpoint and Beyond

h/t David Gurteen compare this to Simon Sinek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Dr. King said “I have a dream” not “I have a comprehensive 12 point plan.”
Simon Sinek

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How do you define the success of a project?

  • programmer: works
  • manager: on time, under budget
  • customer: used as intended to make money

Ed Weissman (@edw519)

Ed is consistently insightful, his 2011 “Best of Ed Weissman” at http://v25media.s3.amazonaws.com/edw519_mod.pdf is definitely worth reading.

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“The unfinished is nothing.”
Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal

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“One aspect of serendipity to bear in mind is that you have to be looking for something in order to find something else.”
Lawrence Block

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“Forgiveness means giving up hope for a better past.”
Lily Tomlin

See also “Forgive and Remember” by Charles L. Bosk

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“Stay calm in an emergency: panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows you to assess the situation more easily and spot options.”
Simon Sinek in “Failure is an Option

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“As you solve one set of problems, new ones appear. That is part of the nature of life.”
Lee Kuan Yew

Closing quote for Lee Kuan Yew 1923-2015

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“The best Qualification of a Prophet is to have a good Memory.
Experience makes more Prophets than Revelation.”
George Savile  in “Complete Works” [PDF]

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“How can a man come to know himself?
Never by thinking, but by doing.
Try to do your duty, and you will know at once what you are worth.”
Goethe in Maxims and Reflections

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“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.”
Mary Catherine Bateson

h/t Quotes for Public Speakers (Number 194)

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“Slow adaptation is driven by forces such as evolution.
Fast adaptation is driven by forces such as insight.”
Gary Klein (@Kleinsight)

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“A man must cling to the belief that the incomprehensible is comprehensible; otherwise he would not try to fathom it.”
Goethe in Maxims and Reflections

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“The best way to suppose what may come, is to remember what is past.”
George Savile  in “Complete Works” [PDF]

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“A man is really alive only when he delights in the good-will of others.”
Goethe in Maxims and Reflections

Cited in the opening paragraph of “Simon Sinek: Why Leaders Eat Last” as an explanation for a good leader’s motivation.

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“The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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“Habit simplifies our movements, makes them accurate, and diminishes fatigue.”
William James

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“Live as long as you may, the first twenty years are the longest half of your life. They appear so while they are passing; they seem to have been so when we look back on them; and they take up more room in our memory than all the years that succeed them.”
Robert Southey

True for anything new.

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“Heroism is the brilliant triumph of the soul over the flesh–that is to say, over fear: fear of poverty, of suffering, of calumny, of sickness, of isolation, and of death. There is no serious piety without heroism. Heroism is the dazzling and glorious concentration of courage.”
Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal

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“Life is the only real counselor; wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissue.”
Edith Wharton

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“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Anais Nin

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“The only meal that’s better than breakfast is breakfast for dinner.”
Ben Nesvig (@BenNesvig)

I like places that serve breakfast all day: Hobees, Holder’s Country Inn, International House of Pancakes, Cocos, Dennys.

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