Quotes For Entrepreneurs–September 2015

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

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Quotes For Entrepreneurs–-September 2015

“Being a wild duck takes a lot of flying.”
William Stafford in “Sound of the Ax: Aphorisms by William Stafford

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“The long, lonely walk back to the drawing board concentrates the mind wonderfully.”
James Geary in “My Aphorisms

I selected this for “Ten Aphorisms For Entrepreneurs By James Geary.”  It’s a long lonely walk along what becomes a beaten path by the second year of a startup.

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“We experience moments absolutely free from worry.
These brief respites are called panic.”
Cullen Hightower

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“LET US RECAPITULATE A BIT: The great enemy of communication, we find, is the illusion of it. We have talked enough; but we have not listened. And by not listening we have failed to concede the immense complexity of our society–and thus the great gaps between ourselves and those with whom we seek understanding.”
William Whyte  “Is Anybody Listening?” (1950 September, Fortune)

h/t Quote Investigator (@QuoteResearch)  “The Biggest Problem in Communication Is the Illusion That It Has Taken Place.

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RideOnTTAbyJoePenniston

“The simple truth is that once I get a big, potent idea, it moves me to distraction. I felt compelled to move others with me…Perhaps there is something seductive about traveling into the unknown. The journey itself thrills me, and I don’t think I’d ever feel altogether happy if I didn’t know there was risk involved.”
Kay Koplovitz quoted in “You Need To Be a Little Crazy

We explore this in “Webinar Replay: You Need to Be a Little Crazy

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“Having your ideas challenged and transmuted by verbal interaction makes you aware of how much you owe to others, how much a partner can contribute to your intellectual, moral, and emotional development, though you remain a separate, unique person.”
Theodore Zeldin  in “Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives

I used this in the “Power of Dyads” section in “A Serious Conversation Can Change Your Life.”

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“Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.”
Corita Kent

This is “Rule Eight” in “Rules for Teachers and Students” listed in “Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit” by Corita Kent and Jan Steward.

h/t Maria Popova and Conor Neill

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“When you don’t have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it’s sex. When you have both it’s health, you worry about getting rupture or something. If everything is simply jake then you’re frightened of death.”
J. P. Donleavy in “The Ginger Man

I think is at the root of VC optimism for extending human life expectancy to 500 years.

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“For those who are given to excess, abstinence is easier than moderation”
John Drybred

This is why I find alternate day fasting an easier diet to manage.

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“Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.”
Napoleon Hill  in “Chapter 7: Organized Planning” of “Think and Grow Rich

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“The magic is not in the medicine but in the patients body. What the doctor does is stimulate Nature’s functions in the body, or to remove hindrances. In a sense, though we speak of healing a cut, every cut heals itself; no dressing will make skin grow over a cut on a corpse.” C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock,

h/t Nathan Ketsdever’s Compassion in Politics: C. S. Lewis Quotes

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“They’re sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it’s better than drinking alone.”
Billy Joel in “Piano Man

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“If you’re having difficulty coming up with new ideas, then slow down. For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity. It has allowed me to open up — to know that there’s life under the earth and that I have to let it come through me in a new way. Creativity exists in the present moment. You can’t find it anywhere else.”
Natalie Goldberg

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“At a high level, an execution focus yields a prioritized network of interdependent tasks; exploration yields a portfolio of risks and options.”
Sean Murphy in “Discovery Kanban Helps You Manage Risks and Options In Your Product Roadmap

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“Managers who can’t measure what they want, frequently settle for wanting what they can measure.”
Russell Ackoff

h/t Ken (@chumulu)

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“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained.
To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.
From Section 17 of “Finite and Infinite Games” by James P. Carse

I like this quote so much I have used it twice, first in “Buying a Map vs. Learning to Explore” and then in “Planting Trees: Finite and Infinite Entrepreneurship

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“Those who love flying don’t like to be taken by the hand.”
Silvana Baroni

h/t “The New Italian Aphorists” curated by Fabrizio Caramagna

Educating or coaching entrepreneurs–or intrapreneurs for that matter–like all “adult education” has to rely on the models from andragogy not pedagogy.

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“We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial. What will be the consequence, I know not.”
John Adams in a letter to Abigail Adams, 1774.

h/t David McCullough in a talk nine days after 9-11

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“Creativity is the ability to identify self-imposed constraints, remove them, and explore the consequences of their removal.”
Russel Ackoff

I really like this definition and referenced it in “Ten Quotes To Help You Bring Order Out of Chaos” and “Cultivating Calmness in a Crisis

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“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”
Robert Heinlein in “Notebooks of Lazarus Long

A statistical average only works when you can play the game many times. Just ask the statistician who tried to wade a river that was on average three feet deep.
Update: Quote Investigator says the real source is Andrew John Herbertson:

“By climate we mean the average weather as ascertained by many years’ observations. Climate also takes into account the extreme weather experienced during that period. Climate is what on an average we may expect, weather is what we actually get.”
Andrew John Herbertson in “Outlines of Physiography” (1901)

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“Business is about making bets on human behavior: which product will sell, which employee will succeed, what price will customers pay?”
Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen in “The Power of ‘Thick’ Data

Opening paragraph for context:

“At its core, all business is about making bets on human behavior. Which product is most likely to sell, what employee is most likely to succeed, what price is a customer willing to pay? Companies that excel at making these bets tend to thrive in the marketplace.”
Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen in “The Power of ‘Thick’ Data

h/t Erika Hall (@mulegirl) “On Surveys

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“The first school for any entrepreneur is the home; it’s not surprising many have at least one self-employed parent.”
Joseph R. Mancuso

Cited in “Joseph Mancuso’s Insights on Entrepreneurship

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“The point where experience shifts from strength to rigidity is when we spend more time thinking about our successes than our mistakes.”
Gary Klein (@KleInsight)

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“History is written by those who know wikicode.”
Ancient Wikipedia Proverb

tweet by Startup L. Jackson (@StartupLJackson)

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“Best of all would be to be able to realize three powers in the soul. Besides the man of counsel we want the man of action and the man of judgment. In me, reflection comes to no useful end, because it is forever returning upon itself, disputing and debating. I am wanting in both the general who commands and the judge who decides.”

Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal

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“One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog posts over a decade, and it turns into your life’s work.”
Austin Kleon in “Ten Years

I am one one shy of 9 years posting on this blog and have about published more than 1,500 posts–more than half a million words. I have another 1,000 posts are in draft form so a backlog of 6 years I need to polish and finish.

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“Quickly let go of missed opportunities.”
Silvana Baroni

h/t “The New Italian Aphorists” curated by Fabrizio Caramagna

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“In middle age we are apt to reach the horrifying conclusion that all sorrow, all pain, all passionate regret and loss and bitter disillusionment are self-made.”
Kathleen Norris

Entrepreneurs who take responsibility when things go wrong are more likely to be able to fix them.

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“Ideas are operational when they instigate and direct further observation; they are proposals and plans for acting upon existing conditions to bring new facts to light and to organize all the selected facts into a coherent whole.”
John Dewey

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“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”
Martin Luther

h/t David Gurteen (@DavidGurteen)

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“Like a man traveling in foggy weather, those at some distance before him on the road he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side, but near him all appears clear, though in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them.”
Benjamin Franklin

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“It does take courage, but it actually takes being a lunatic to start a company against such great odds. Simply stated you must be crazy.”
Barry Moltz in “You Need To Be a Little Crazy

We explore this in “Webinar Replay: You Need to Be a Little Crazy

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“It’s hard to forgive those who have witnessed our mistakes.”
Silvana Baroni

h/t “The New Italian Aphorists” curated by Fabrizio Caramagna

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“Worry compounds the futility of being trapped on a dead-end street. Thinking opens new avenues.”
Cullen Hightower

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“Entrepreneurs are not high risk takers when they can’t affect the outcome.  Entrepreneurs are participants, not observers; players, not fans.”
Joseph R. Mancuso

Cited in “Joseph Mancuso’s Insights on Entrepreneurship

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“I have not the energy of my opinions; I have far greater width than inventiveness of thought, and, from timidity, I have allowed the critical intelligence in me to swallow up the creative genius. Is it indeed from timidity? Alas! with a little more ambition, or a little more good luck, a different man might have been made out of me, and such as my youth gave promise of.”
Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal

I have mornings–and late nights–where these same thoughts occur to me.

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“Human beings do not grow in perfect symmetry. They oscillate, expand, contract, backtrack, arrest themselves, retrogress, mobilize, atrophy in part, proceed erratically according to experience and traumas.”
Anais Nin, The Novel of the Future

This also true for startups and organizations of any size including families and friendships. More context:

“The old concept of chronological, orderly, symmetrical development of character died when it was discovered that the unconscious motivations are entirely at odds with fabricated conventions. Human beings do not grow in perfect symmetry. They oscillate, expand, contract, backtrack, arrest themselves, retrogress, mobilize, atrophy in part, proceed erratically according to experience and traumas. Some aspects of the personality mature, others do not. Some live in the past, some in the present. Some people are futuristic characters, some are cubistic, some are hard-edged, some geometric, some abstract, some impressionistic, some surrealistic!”
Anais Nin, The Novel of the Future

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“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”
Peter F. Drucker

This is the core of his organized abandonment model and implicit in Schumpeter’s creative destruction.

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“The logical statements entered into the notebook are broken down into six categories: (1) statement of the problem, (2) hypotheses as to the cause of the problem, (3) experiments designed to test each hypothesis, (4) predicted results of the experiments, (5) observed results of the experiments and (6) conclusions from the results of the experiments.”
Robert Pirsig in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

h/t David Sifry “Zen and the Art of Bugfixing

Added as a postscript to “When Exploring, Keep a Log” and part of a longer excerpt in “Organizing Your Experiment Log.

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“A realist knows that a positive attitude, a generous posture and a bit of persistence makes things better.”
Seth Godin in “More of a Realist

He closes with another good line: “Hope is not a strategy, but it is an awfully good tactic.”

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“To do easily what is difficult for others is the mark of talent.
To do what is impossible for talent is the mark of genius.”
Henri Frederic Amiel in his Journal

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“Smart people are attracted to stories, not feature lists.”
Johnnie Manzari (@Johnnie)

h/t Quotes on Design

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“There are those who love to get dirty and fix things. They drink coffee at dawn, beer after work. And those who stay clean, just appreciate things. At breakfast they have milk and juice at night. There are those who do both, they drink tea.”
Gary Snyder

I have switched from coffee and beer to tea but I am not sure I appreciate things any more.

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“I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuities. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat may come along and make a fortuitous life preserver. This is not to say, though, that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

Startup teams can make the same mistake, following an early “beaten path” process instead of revisiting assumptions and continuing to make improvements.  Time pressure can lead to a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality that traps the team in low quality low productivity methods–albeit often ingenious.

h/t Conal Elliott Quotes Collection

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“Enough is abundance to the wise.”
Euripides in “The Phoenissae” (The Phoenician Women)

A more modern translation by Andrew Wilson with key lines bolded:

“JOCASTA: There’s not a lot to say for being old, Eteocles my son;
But we do have one advantage over the young – experience of life.
Why do you worship Selfishness, that most foul of idols, boy?
Don’t do it. She is a false god. She visits families –
And cities too – that before were quite content,
And leaves whoever deals with her destroyed.
[..]
You want a houseful of valuables –
And a houseful of worries to go with them?
What is the point of having “more”?
“Rich” is just a word, an empty name.
To have sufficient for your needs:
For anyone of sense that’s quite enough.
There’s no such thing in fact as “property”.
Ownership stays with the gods; they lend us things,
Then when it suits them, take them back.”
Euripedes “The Phoenician Women”

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“Hope is generally a wrong Guide, though it is very good Company by the way. It brusheth through Hedge and Ditch till it cometh to a great Leap, and there it is apt to fall and break its Bones.”
George Savile  in “Complete Works” [PDF]

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“Stop selling.
Start helping.”
Zig Ziglar

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“More listening.
Less interrupting.
More questioning.
Less telling.
More contemplating.
Less reacting.”
John Haprian (@fshapps)

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Comments (1)

  • Conor Neill

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    Great collection of powerful reflections!

    Reply

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