Quotes For Entrepreneurs–June 2015

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

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Quotes For Entrepreneurs–-June 2015

“Perhaps Hell is nothing more than an enormous conference of those who, with little or nothing to say, take an eternity to say it.”
Dudley C. Stone

It’s a great quote but the source is probably wrong. The only Dudley C. Stone I can find was an Oakland schoolteacher: (from Oakland Wiki for Dudley C. Stone)

Dudley C. Stone (1829-December 1, 1895) was a pioneer educator. He was an instructor from 1868-1870 at the Pacific Female College. Later he ran a girl’s school in Berkeley, then worked in San Francisco schools, including as assistant superintendent under A. L. Mann.

Stone was born in Ohio in 1829, and graduated from Marietta College in 1847. He taught in New Orleans until coming to California in 1852.

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Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
William Goldman in “The Princess Bride” (The word was “inconceivable.”)

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“It’s like learning to shoot a rifle: because it’s inherently dangerous you teach safety, accuracy, and speed–in that order.”
Ben Aaronovitch in “Rivers of London”

quoted in “Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

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“Learning is remembering what you’re interested in.”
Richard Saul Wurman

Passion and curiosity precede learning and sustain it.

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“Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
William Goldman in  “The Princess Bride

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“My dad once told me that the secret to a happy life was never to start something with a girl unless you were willing to follow wherever it led. It’s the best piece of advice he has ever given me, and probably the reason I was born.”
Ben Aaronovitch in “Rivers of London”

Quoted in “Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

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“We live in our own souls as in an unmapped region, a few acres of which we have cleared for our habitation; while of the nature of those nearest us we know but the boundaries that march with ours.”
Edith Wharton

Thoreau offers an antidote: introspection and mindfulness.

“Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.”
Henry David Thoreau

h/t Conal Elliot Quotes Collection  for Thoreau quote

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“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
Tim Cook

From a report by TechCrunch on Cook’s talk at Electronic Privacy Information Center “Champions of Freedom” event June 1

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“The monomaniac is unlikely to succeed. Most leave only their bleached bones in the roadless desert. But the rest of us, with our multiple interests instead of a single mission, are certain to fail and have no impact at all.”
Peter Drucker in “Adventures of a Bystander

h/t Money Talk$ by Robert Kent

More context from the chapter “Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan” in Adventures of a Bystander

“Bucky Fuller and Marshall McLuhan exemplify for me the importance of being single-minded. The single-minded ones, the monomaniacs, are the only true achievers. The rest, ones like me, may have more fun; but they fritter themselves away. The Fullers and McLuhans carry out a “mission”; the rest of us have “interests.” Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.

“The monomaniac is unlikely to succeed. Most leave only their bleached bones in the roadless desert. But the rest of us, with our multiple interests instead of a single mission, are certain to fail and have no impact at all.”
Peter Drucker in “Adventures of a Bystander

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“Most reformers, like a pair of trousers on a windy clothesline, go through a vast deal of vehement motion, but stay in the same place.”
Austin O’Malley “Keystones of Thought”

True for many budding entrepreneurs who fill out business model canvas charts and define persona and email surveys but never have a real conversation or name a price and ask for the order.

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“The easily ridiculed, so-so status quo often hides Herculean efforts by those whom we take for granted, and who, working in the shadows, guarantee civilization instead of chaos.”
Victor Davis Hanson in “The Global Pottersville

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“Hope itself is a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords; but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain.”
Samuel Johnson

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“There’s many a slip twixt the blueprints and a new house.”
Kin Hubbard in “Abe Martin’s Almanack”  (1911)

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“Tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss is not felt in the absence of love.”
Elizabeth Alexander “The Light of the World: A Memoir”

It’s from the opening paragraph

The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but a love story. Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss is not felt in the absence of love. “The queen died and then the king died” is a plot, wrote E. M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel, but “The queen died and then the king died of grief” is a story.
Elizabeth AlexanderThe Light of the World: A Memoir

h/t Maria Popova (see also  Elizabeth Alexander’s “Lottery Tickets“)

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“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have  lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded.”
W. Somerset Maugham in “Of Human Bondage” (1915)

More context:

“He yearned above all things for experience and felt himself ridiculous because at his age he had not enjoyed that which all fiction taught him was the most important thing in life; but he had the unfortunate gift of seeing things as they were, and the reality which was offered him differed too terribly from the ideal of his dreams.

He did not know how wide a country, arid and precipitous, must be crossed before the traveler through life comes to an acceptance of reality. It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real they are bruised and wounded. It looks as if they were victims of a conspiracy; for the books they read, ideal by the necessity of selection, and the conversation of their elders, who look back upon the past through a rosy haze of forgetfulness, prepare them for an unreal life. They must discover for themselves that all they have read and all they have been told are lies, lies, lies; and each discovery is another nail driven into the body on the cross of life.”
W. Somerset Maugham in “Of Human Bondage” (1915)

I feel that most of what is written these days about the Venture Capital ecosystem is crap.

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“The word entrepreneur is associated with success and adventure. From my life, the only thing I can tell you that’s consistently associated with entrepreneurship is failure, and the only thing consistently associated with invention is frustration. There is a long road between the idea and the reality.”
Dean Kamen in “Not a Scooter, Not a Vehicle: Make Way For Segway

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“Invention and entrepreneurship isn’t about pure technology. Most people take whatever they see in front of them and relate it to something they understand. For at least ten years after Ford started building cars, people called them horseless carriages. It wasn’t obvious to call it a car. They used to call the radio ‘the wireless.’ Innovation is much more about changing people and their perceptions and their attitudes and their willingness to accept change than it is about physics and engineering.”
Dean Kamen in “Not a Scooter, Not a Vehicle: Make Way For Segway

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“I wake up every day to the statistical likelihood that we will fail. I started LaunchDarkly because I love creating delightful products in new, game-changing categories.”
Edith Harbaugh “Why I am in an Accelerator

Used as a closing quote in “Founder Story: Edith Harbaugh of LaunchDarkly.

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“A hero is one who does what he can.”
Romain Rolland in “Jean-Christophe

Compare to this one I collected in Quotes for Entrepreneurs–April 2012

“A hero is someone who, for the general good, takes the initiative to solve an ambiguous problem.”
James Bach “Why Software Projects Need Heroes

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“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.”
Robert Brault

h/t Conal Elliot Quotes Collection

Compare to

 “The search for validation is baggage, and you need to travel light.”
John Carroll in “As You Get Older…

I used the latter as a title for “The Search For Validation is Baggage and You Need to Travel Light

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“If Men considered how many Things there are that Riches cannot buy, they would not be so fond of them.”
George Savile  in “Complete Works” [PDF]

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“A computer is a clock with benefits.”
Paul Ford (@ftrain) in “What is Code

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“Your only competitors are your past achievements.”
James Cameron

h/t Simon Sinek (@SimonSinek)

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“Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting.”
Ivan Illich in “Deschooling Society” [text online at preservenet]

This reminds me of the “legitimate peripheral participation” model associated with the Community of Practice paradigm.

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“For some people there are not victories, just alternate forms of losing.”
Harry Gilman

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“To explain someone’s unexpected actions, look at differences in (a) knowledge/beliefs (b) constraints, (c) motivations.”
Gary Klein (KleInsight) in “A Skeleton Key for Explaining Rebuffs

More context

“My research suggests that when people get rebuffed they become frustrated and angry, but they would do better to become curious about the reason for the rejection. I also found that people assume that others are like them, operating under the same knowledge, beliefs, constraints and priorities. This mirror assumption makes it easier to speculate about why others act in the way they do, but sometimes the mirror assumption is wrong.”
Gary Klein in “A Skeleton Key for Explaining Rebuffs

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“How many books did Renoir write on how to paint?
Cyril Connolly in “The Unquiet Grave

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“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”
C.S. Lewis in “The Screwtape Letters

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“Life is a field, not a corridor”
David Cain (@DavidDCain) in “You Are Free, Like It Or Not

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“Cute. I’m on the waitlist to beta a new product, and have been offered the chance to move up in the list if I tweet about it. Not doing so.”
Ethan Zuckerman (@EthanZ)

It’s a crap “growth hacker” strategy that attempts to manufacture social proof before you experience product.

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“Approaching forty, a singular dream in which I almost grasped the meaning and understood the nature of what it is that wastes in wasted time.”
Cyril Connolly in “The Unquiet Grave

He continues:

“In the dream of approaching forty I saw myself as about to die and realized that I was no longer myself, but a creature inhabited entirely by parasites, as a caterpillar is occupied by the grubs of the ichneumon fly.  Gin, whisky, sloth, fear, guilt, tobacco, had made themselves my inquilines; alcohol sloshed about within, while tendrils of melon and vine grew out of ears and nostrils; my mind was a worn gramophone record, my true self was such a ruin as to seem non-existent, and all this had happened in the last three years.”
Cyril Connolly in “The Unquiet Grave

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“What distinguishes our technology from traditional 3D printing methods is that we work according to the ‘printing outside the box’ principle. By printing with 6-axis industrial robots, we are no longer limited to a square box in which everything happens.”
Tim Geurtjens, CTO of MX3D, in “MX3D is to 3D-print a steel bridge over water in Amsterdam

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“I don’t understand hacker & entrepreneur “competitions”. The only votes that should really matter come from paying customers.”
Ed Weissman (@edw519)

In many cases the audience is the product, sold to the sponsors. In others it’s just inertia, a pattern match to bake-offs (cooking contests), beauty contests, and state fair contests for livestock, fruit, and vegetables. It can be a dry run for the first hour of a VC relationship–the pitch–when you would actually see what it would be like to have them on your board.

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I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.”
Willa Cather in “My Antonia

More context

“I sat down in the middle of the garden, where snakes could scarcely approach unseen, and leaned my back against a warm yellow pumpkin. There were some ground-cherry bushes growing along the furrows, full of fruit. I turned back the papery triangular sheaths that protected the berries and ate a few. All about me giant grasshoppers, twice as big as any I had ever seen, were doing acrobatic feats among the dried vines. The gophers scurried up and down the ploughed ground. There in the sheltered draw-bottom the wind did not blow very hard, but I could hear it singing its humming tune up on the level, and I could see the tall grasses wave. The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots. I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”
Willa Cather in “My Antonia

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“Attention and trust are scarce. Don’t waste them.”
Mike Roberts in “Content Isn’t Worth Consuming Just Because It’s Free

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“Competitors copy success, not ideas.
Traction speaks louder than words.”
Babak Nivi  in “MicroHacks

Originally quoted in “Three Excellent MicroHacks from VentureHacks” also referenced in “Investor Presentation Formats

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“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.”
Antony Jay

h/t 37 Signals  “If you’re working in a big group, you’re fighting human nature

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“The essence of learning is investigating surprises.”
Steven Spear

h/t Jason Yip (@jchyip) and Mark Graban “How Do You Deliver Quality and Value to Market Quickly

I said something similar in 2011:

“Surprise means you are learning. Or at least an opportunity to learn if you embrace it.”
Sean Murphy in “Customer Interviews: Allow Yourself To Be Surprised

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“The refusal to choose is a form of choice; disbelief is a form of belief.”
Frank X. Barron

h/t Conal Elliot Quotes Collection. This reminds me of a stanza from Freewill by Rush:

“You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose freewill”
Rush in “Freewill

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“If you only have 500 customers, don’t run a poll, just talk to people directly.”
Jason Yip (@jchyip)

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“There is a time to let things happen and a time to make things happen.”
Hugh Prather in “Notes on Love and Courage”

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“Any time one or more things are consciously put together in a way that they can accomplish something better than they could have accomplished individually, this is an act of design.”
Charles Eames in “100 Quotes by Charles Eames” (see also Eames Office Books)

h/t Maria Popova “Charles Eames Quotes

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“Design is a plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose.”
Charles Eames (source: Eames Design Q&A Text )

This is also attributed to Eames “A plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a particular purpose” but appears to be a corruption of the original, it’s a definition of optimization.

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“Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. Dye it then with a continuous series of such thoughts as these: for instance, that where a man can live, there he can also live well.”
Marcus Aurelius in Meditations Book 5

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Man and the earth move in orbits: what they did before, they will do again.”
Austin O’Malley “Keystones of thought”

Look for habits, patterns, and paradigms that shape your behavior, your teams actions, and those of competitors. Large organizations develop their own “muscle memory” for approaching different challenges or problems. This makes them faster but more predictable.

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“My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard  and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others,  and that’s nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.”
Helen Hayes

My father always encouraged me to do my best, sometimes by asking me “Is this the best you can do?” and other times “If you did your best that’s all I can ask.” Occasionally he would phrase “Is this your best and highest purpose?” as “What in the hell do you think you are doing?” but I knew what he meant.

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“We are all children but some of us dress as adults.”
Sean Murphy

Used as a section heading in “The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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“At all times love and discipline have led to a beautiful environment and a good life.”
Charles Eames in “100 Quotes by Charles Eames

h/t Maria Popova “Charles Eames Quotes

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“Young enthusiastic coders can self-motivate beyond the barrier of full understanding into imperfect and brute force solutions.”
James Hauge in “Success Beyond the Barrier of Full Understanding

This is very appropriate when you are first exploring a range of solutions and trying to determine if any of them have a market where you can make a profit. In an early market an ugly prototype can be used to extend and refine both the prospect’s understanding and your understanding of the real problem and constraints on a solution.

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“Where I cannot be moral, my power is gone.”
Goethe

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“Everything happens for the purpose of what you decide to do about it.”
Robert Brault in “Round Up the Usual Suspects

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“As a means for success, perseverance has this advantage over talent: it does not have to be recognized by others.”
Robert Brault in “Round Up the Usual Suspects

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“I’m on my third career in 30 years. So I’m not afraid of a blank sheet of paper.”
Robert Merrill

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Brainstorming: throw enough crap that you hope to find a pony stuck to the wall.
Better: write solo, pair dialog, then group discussion.

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“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
Eden Phillpotts in “A Shadow Passes” (1919)

Opening quote for Part Two “Another Country” of Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch. See also “Magical Things Waiting” by Quote Investigator.

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“The real problem is what can man and machine do together and not in competition.”
Richard Hamming in “The Art and Science of Doing Engineering

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“There’s a big difference between being self-employed and being a business owner.”
Derek Sivers in “Delegate or Die

As he acknowledges in the end note he is channeling Michael Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited

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“Never act until you have clearly answered the question, ‘What happens if I do nothing?'”
Robert Brault in “Round Up the Usual Suspects

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“That which does not kill us has to get up extra early in the morning if it wants to get us next time.”
Ben Aaronovitch in “Broken Homes

I thought this was a neat encapsulation of an evolving competitive equilibrium and used it in “Quotes from Whispers Under Ground, Broken Homes, and Foxglove Summer.

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“A priority is observed, not manufactured or assigned. Otherwise it’s necessarily not a priority.”
Merlin Mann in “Priorities

Referenced in “Henri Frederic Amiel on How to Be Ready

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