Quotes For Entrepreneurs May 2015

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

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Quotes For Entrepreneurs May 2015

“The prizes go to those who meet emergencies successfully. And the way to meet emergencies is to do each daily task the best we can; to act as though the eye of opportunity were always upon us. In the hundred-yard race the winner doesn’t cross the tape line a dozen strides ahead of the field. He wins by inches. So we find it in ordinary business life. The big things that come our way are seldom the result of long thought or careful planning, but rather they are the fruit of seed planted in the daily routine of our work.”
William Feather

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“Meta-design is much more difficult than design; it’s easier to draw something than to explain how to draw it.”
Donald Knuth in “The Metafont Book, 1986

h/t Kevin Kelly in “Sourced Quotes #21

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“Veterinary marketing: the subset of customer discovery that’s possible without talking to prospects.”
Sean Murphy in “Is Veterinary Marketing A Viable Approach to Market Exploration?

The answer to the question in the title is no.

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“No education is worth having that does not teach the lesson of concentration on a task, however unattractive. These lessons, if not learned early, will be learned, if at all, with pain and grief in later life.”
Cyril Connolly

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“If two weeks in the lab will save you two hours in the library, then five months of Adword selection and landing page A/B tests will save you from five conversations with prospects.”
Sean Murphy in “Is Veterinary Marketing A Viable Approach to Market Exploration?

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“The people who really run organizations are usually found several levels down, where it’s still possible to get things done.”
Terry Pratchett in “Small Gods”

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“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Epicurus

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“The visible world is a daily miracle, for those who have eyes and ears.”
Edith Wharton

I believe more entrepreneurs need to cultivate the skills of careful observation, mindfulness, appreciative inquiry, and thoughtful appreciation. Developing a facility with each the point that they are natural habits will alert you to more opportunities you can act on. Combine them with a commitment to creating value through personal initiative and quid pro quo (and exchange of value)  and I think you are well on your way.

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“Life does not seem to present itself to me for my convenience, to box itself up nicely so I can write about it with wisdom and a point to make before putting it on a shelf somewhere.”
Anne Lamott in “Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith”

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“Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.”
from “Men at Forty” by Donald Justice

Used in “Maturing”

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“Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist can come from anywhere.”
Ratatouille (said by Anton Ego)

Anyone can become a successful entrepreneur, but not everyone should be an entrepreneur.

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“I fear vastly more a futile, incompetent old age than I do any form of death.”
William Allen White

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“The only difference between a genius and one of common capacity is that the former anticipates and explores what the latter accidentally hits upon. But even the man of genius himself more frequently employs the advantages that chance presents to him. It is the lapidary that gives value to the diamond, which the peasant has dug up without knowing its worth.”
Abbe Guillaume Thomas Francois Raynal

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Burn your boats but not your bridges.

Commit to your present initiative but don’t squander social capital. A flashback to a title from 2008 triggered by lessons learned from reading Maugham’s “The Verger.” Analysis in “See What’s Missing: Careful Observation Key To Success.

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“It is easier to prevent thistles and habits than to uproot them.”
Austin O’Malley “Keystones of thought”

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“We seldom learn the true want of what we have till it is discovered that we can have no more.”
Samuel Johnson “The Idler #105” (The last Idler)

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“His resolve is not to seem, but to be, the best.”
AeschylusSeven Against Thebes

Similar to Virgil’s “They can because they think they can.”

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“If you miss the first button-hole, you will not succeed in buttoning up your coat.”
Goethe in Maxims and Reflections

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

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“The past is an old armchair in the attic, the present an ominous ticking sound, and the future is anybody’s guess.”
James Thurber

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“Demo: presentation of a specific set of capabilities needed to solve the customer’s critical business issue.”
Peter Cohan

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“There is no wisdom like frankness”
Disraeli

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“How it went to pieces all at once–
All at once and nothing first,
Just as bubbles do when they burst.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes “The Deacon’s Masterpiece

I think some belief systems collapse like this. For example the morale of a startup: no one wants to be the last person who believes in the product.

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“The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.”
Havelock Ellis in “The Dance of Life”

More context:

“All arguments are meaningless until we gain personal experience. One must win one’s own place in the spiritual world painfully and alone. There is no other way of salvation. The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.”
Havelock Ellis in “The Dance of Life”

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“What evidence would you need to see to change your mind about this?”
Seth Godin “How to Argue With a Scientist

This question and “Please describe the problem are you trying to solve” can do a lot to make a discussion more productive.

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“Making wise decisions requires more than incentives. It requires wisdom.”
James Taranto “Me, Myself, and Iran

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“He is a truly good man who desires always to bear the inspection of good men.”
La Rochefoucauld

h/t @LaRochefoucau1d quotes

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“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”
Thomas A Kempis

Self-mastery and self-discipline is always the basis for any other expertise or mastery.

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“Every organization has multiple ways of working, from innovation to utility work, that evolve as processes, cultures and practices change over time.”
Problem statement from Hybrid Dynamic Model

h/t Simon Wardley (@swardley) Something to bear in mind when you are selling to larger organizations and to remember as your own startup starts to scale: there is never one best way, all successful firms have a variety of approaches they support, tailoring their response to the needs of a particular situation.

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“This story is about a transaction between charlatans and fools”
Wade Meredith (@wmeredith) Hacker News comment

In response to a question on Hacker News “Why would someone pay for a photo that’s available for free on the Internet?” in reference to “A reminder that your Instagram photos aren’t really yours: Someone else can sell them for $90,000

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“A brain can improve till it fits its environment.”
Ross Ashby in Aphorisms

This is the limit of the accumulation of adaptation.

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“Misfortune had made Lily supple instead of hardening her, and a pliable substance is less easy to break than a stiff one.”
Edith Wharton

It always seems easier to form scar tissue than to learn aikido but learning to bend instead of harden–and break–is a more robust strategy.

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“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically.
We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another, unevenly.
We grow partially. We are relative.
We are mature in one realm, childish in another.”
Anais Nin in “The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol 4: 1944-47

Most businesses, like most living things, experience allometric scaling as they grow: not every organ grows at the same rate. Also, some principles are harder to learn and incorporate into operating practice than others.

More context

“Character is timeless. Ageless. We live back and forth in the past, or in the present, or in the future. With the young, one lives in the future. I prefer that. Changes occur constantly according to the vision, image, or myth which possesses one. We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another, unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present.  We are made up of layers, cells, constellations. We never discard our childhood. We never escape it completely. We relive fragments of it through others.”
Anais Nin in “The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol 4: 1944-47

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“If you talk with a pen you can offer richer insights.
If you listen with a pen you can unlock more insights from a prospect”
Kate Rutter (@katerutter)

See deck from “SketchNotesSF Meetup round 18: Talk with a Pen / Listen with a Pen (Wed-May-27-2015)

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“The most foolish of all errors is for clever young men to believe that they forfeit their originality in recognizing a truth which has already been recognized by others.”
Goethe in Maxims and Reflections

It’s OK to acknowledge what works and build on it. That’s one of the reasons I collect these quotes for entrepreneurs.  Most successful entrepreneurs combine two or three innovations with a dozen proven approaches to create a new product or business: they don’t try and pioneer in a dozen different ways at once.

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“Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.”
Goethe in Maxims and Reflections

Winter is coming…but so is Spring.

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“He that leaves nothing to chance will do few things ill, but he will do very few things.”
George Savile  in “Complete Works” [PDF]

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“Self-interest is an inexhaustible source of convenient illusions. The number of beings who wish to see truly is extraordinarily small.”
Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal

Context (bold added)

“Impartiality and objectivity are as rare as justice, of which they are but two special forms. Self-interest is an inexhaustible source of convenient illusions. The number of beings who wish to see truly is extraordinarily small. What governs men is the fear of truth, unless truth is useful to them, which is as much as to say that self-interest is the principle of the common philosophy or that truth is made for us but not we for truth. As this fact is  humiliating, the majority of people will neither recognize nor admit it. And thus a prejudice of self-love protects all the prejudices of the understanding, which are themselves the result of a stratagem of the ego. Humanity has always slain or persecuted those who have disturbed this selfish repose of hers. She only improves in spite of  herself. The only progress which she desires is an increase of  enjoyments.”
Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal

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