Quotes For Entrepreneurs December 2015

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

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Quotes For Entrepreneurs December 2015

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“Even if you’re blind, there is still light.”
William Stafford in “Sound of the Ax: Aphorisms by William Stafford

In a short essay “The Umwelt” David M. Eagleman begins: “In 1909, the biologist Jakob von Uexküll introduced the concept of the umwelt. He wanted a word to express a simple (but often overlooked) observation: different animals in the same ecosystem pick up on different environmental signals.” Randall Monroe explains it as, “Umwelt is the idea that because their senses pick up on different things, different animals in the same ecosystem actually live in very different worlds. Everything about you shapes the world you inhabit–from your ideology to your glasses prescription to your web browser.”

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“It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.”
Anne Lamott

Doing the uncomfortable is required for the deliberate practice needed to develop your expertise.

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“You don’t drown by falling in water; you only drown if you stay there.”
Zig Ziglar

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“Truthfully, most people can make a lot more money just being a successful freelancer or a successful sole proprietorship than working for somebody else.  To build a business means you have to sacrifice a great deal of that for a long period of time, because what you are trying to do is build a business that is not dependent on you. You are developing equity value in it.”
Mike Duda 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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“Thought begins where habit ends.”
James Geary in “My Aphorisms

It’s a paradox that habit and routine free up time and attention to focus on opportunities but also blind us to them. I selected this for “Ten Aphorisms For Entrepreneurs By James Geary.”

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“Success is not found in your single best, but in the increase of your average.”
Andrew Verboncouer (@averbs)

Sometimes it’s avoiding your worst: arriving on time, keeping your temper, holding your tongue, staying sober, not surrendering to thoughtlessness and poor impulse.

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“The man who plants dreams lives forever.”
Alberto Casiraghy

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

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“How enables, but why motivates.”
Frank Chimero (@frank_chimero)

h/t Andrew Verboncouer (@averbs)  When and where provide strategic guidance: what is something you have to provide.

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“Mark Zuckerberg did not donate $45 billion to charity, he created a limited liability company as an investment vehicle.”
Jesse Eisinger (@eisingerj) in “How Mark Zuckerberg’s Altruism Helps Himself

Also on Pro Publica website. Felix Salmon offers a much more positive perspective of Zuckerberg’s move in “Mark Zuckerberg wants to change the world, again. You got a problem with that?

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“The concept of disruption is about competitive response; it is not a theory of growth.”
Clayton Christensen in “Fresh Insights From Clayton Christensen on Disruptive Innovation.

h/t Horace Dediu (@asymco).  See also “What is Disruptive Innovation” (HBR Dec-2015)

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“One of those strange instants of silence descended, as though a hundred unrelated conversations had simultaneously arrived at the same pause.”
William Gibson in Neuromancer

It’s an astounding effect when multiple concurrent conversations in the same room all pause at once. I use this as an interstitial quote in “Chatter”

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“It is not the cares of today, but the cares of tomorrow, that weigh a man down.”
George MacDonald

h/t John D. Cook (@JohnDCook)

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“Hope is not a strategy, but it is an awfully good tactic.”
Seth Godin in “More of a Realist

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“The first step to thinking clearly is to question what we think we know about the past.”
Peter Thiel in “Zero to One

This reminds me of Harry Truman’s observation: The only surprises are the history you don’t know.” It suggests that a picnic in the graveyard is worthwhile to see what’s been tried before.

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schopenhauer art of not reading

“The art of not reading is highly important. In order to read what is good one must never  read the bad: life is short, and both time and strength limited.”
Arthur Schopenhauer in his “On Reading and Books” in “Essays of Schopenhauer” [TXT]

h/t Austin Kleon (also photo credit); Note that text varies from photo because Kleon based his extract on a revised and condensed version from a different translation. More context:

Hence the numberless bad books, those rank weeds of literature which extract nourishment from the corn and choke it. They monopolize the time, money, and attention which really belong to good books and their noble aims; they are written merely with a view to making money or procuring places. They are not only useless, but they do positive harm. Nine-tenths of the whole of our present literature aims solely at taking a few shillings out of the public’s pocket, and to accomplish this, author, publisher, and reviewer have joined forces. […]
The art of not reading is highly important. This consists in not taking a book into one’s hand merely because it is interesting the great public at the time—such as political or religious pamphlets, novels, poetry, and the like, which make a noise and reach perhaps several editions in their first and last years of existence. Remember rather that the man who writes for fools always finds a large public: and only read for a limited and definite time exclusively the works of great minds, those who surpass other men of all times and countries, and whom the voice of fame points to as such. These alone really educate and instruct.

One can never read too little of bad, or too much of good books: bad books are intellectual poison; they destroy the mind. In order to read what is good one must make it a condition never to read what is bad; for life is short, and both time and strength limited.”
Arthur Schopenhauer in essay “On Reading and Books” in “Essays of Schopenhauer” [TXT]

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“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end–which you can never afford to lose–with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
James Stockdale

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“It’s not a validation effort or an experiment if you are not willing to kill the idea.”
Jono Mallanyk (@jonomallanyk)

h/t Andrew Verboncouer (@averbs) This reminds me  of

“Don’t measure anything unless the data helps you make a better decision or change your actions. If you’re not prepared to change your diet or your workouts, don’t get on the scale.”
Seth Godin in “Analytics Without Action

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“As part of our philosophy of command, we must recognize that war is inherently disorderly, uncertain, dynamic, and dominated by friction. Moreover, maneuver warfare, with its emphasis on speed and initiative, is by nature a particularly disorderly style of war. The conditions ripe for exploitation are normally also very disorderly. For commanders to try to gain certainty as a basis for actions, maintain positive control of events at all times, or dictate events to fit their plans is to deny the nature of war. We must therefore be prepared to cope—even better, to thrive—in an environment of chaos, uncertainty, constant change, and friction.”
Marine Corps Doctrine Publication “Warfighting” (MCDP-1) page 80

h/t Donald Reinertsen for connecting the dots between maneuver warfare and startup strategy. Here friction is a term of art from Clausewitz meaning the loss of efficiency from operating in a highly uncertain and dynamic environment and poor communication between team members.

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“For evil, unmet, propagates.”
Roger Cohen in “

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“Machines are becoming much more sensitive–where you once had to push, now you need only touch.”
Ashleigh Brilliant

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“To have what we want is riches; but to be able to do without is power.”
George MacDonald

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“People resist coercion much more strenuously than they resist change.”
Peter Block in “The Answer to How is Yes

I worry when entrepreneurs talk about resistance to change it’s really a response to force.

h/t Jabe Bloom (@cyetain)

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“You can only succeed when you know who you are.
You can only succeed when you know what you want.”
Adeo Ressi in his StartupFest 2015 keynote

I used this as a point of departure in “Adeo Ressi: Don’t Lose Your Purpose In A Pivot” and compared it to Eric Berne’s definition of a winner:

“A winner is defined as a person who 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. […] If he accomplishes his goal, he is a winner.”
Eric Berne

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“The problem you seek to solve should be the guiding light, not the solution itself.”
Andrew Verboncouer (@averbs)

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“Panic is worry on a tight schedule.”
George Murray (@bookninja) in “Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms of George Murray

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“Listening is very hard work.”
Frank Chimero (@frank_chimero)

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“Feed the soul, starve the ego.”
Adam Goldstein

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“You are not the oil, you are not the air–merely the point of combustion, the flash-point where the light is born. You are the lens in the beam. You can only receive, give, and possess the light as the lens does. If you seek yourself, you rob the lens of its transparency. You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency, your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end, and remain purely as a means.”
Dag Hammarskjold in Markings

h/t David Gurteen (bold added)

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“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward.”
Amelia Earhart 

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“Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately.”
R. Buckminster Fuller in “Synergetics”

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“The trick to being kind and honest is to be honest about your motivations as well as your observations.”
Quinn Norton (@QuinnNorton)

This reminded me of an aphorism by Mignon McLaughlin: “True remorse is never just a regret over consequences; it is a regret over motive.” Norton was responding to this tweet:

“Work in small increments.
Be kind. Be honest.
The rest is details.
Let’s have a conference about that.”
Kent Beck (@KentBeck)

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“I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays–let them overtake me unexpectedly–waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why this is Christmas Day!’”
David Grayson (pen name for Ray Stannard Baker)

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“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
Henry Ward Beecher

h/t Lani Picard; I think startups reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the founding team; successful ones accept “corporate DNA” from early employees and early customers.

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“First way to tell you are ‘done’ with customer development is that you closed the deal. The second is that you are never really done.”
Sean Murphy

This was my answer to someone who dropped by a Bootstrapper Breakfast and said, “I finished the customer development phase, now I just have to get it written down into a formal proposal.”

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“Nothing is as mean as giving a child something useful for Christmas.”
Kin Hubbard

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“Be useful, like Thomas the Tank Engine who always tried to be a ‘very useful engine.’ Too many marketers want to be ‘a very loud interruption.’ Help people.
Scott Robertson (@RobertsonComm) in “How Any Brand Can Be Interesting

h/t Bruce La Fetra; I used this in “Scott Robertson Offers Five Tips on Content Marketing.”

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“I was born a Scotsman and a bare one. Therefore I was born to fight my way in the world, with my left hand, if my right hand failed me, and with my teeth if both were cut off.”
Sir Walter Scott

h/t Craig Ferguson, who uses a shortened version as an opening quote for “American on Purpose

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“Curiosity may not extend our life but it can certainly broaden it.”
Beston Jack Abrams

I used this in Beston Jack Abrams on Curiosity, Experimentation and Action

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“This is a very good article, we have to stop improving it, freeze and publish. Crappy content published today is beating our fantastic unpublished article.”

From a recent E-mail to a client.

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Startup Wisdom Quotes for Entrepreneurs -- The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. Peter Drucker“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” Peter Drucker in “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” (1985)

I used this in my first batch of “Quotes for Founders” in April of 2008, when I started to collect the quotes that I was tweeting into blog posts. I liked it so much I used it again in “Quotes For Entrepreneurs – March 2010.” It’s included again this month as we reboot our “Startup Wisdom Book” offering…details to follow.

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“Just the slightest bit of finesse
Might have made a little less mess.”
Michael Stipe in “Discoverer” (R. E. M.)

Skill in human relations allows you to judge how hard to push for change before you start to trigger a backlash. A certain amount of impatience for change can be helpful to encourage people to give your ideas consideration but much more and you start to put people off and beyond that you trigger resistance and backlash. People, teams, and organizations have different change constants (how much they are able to change in a given period of time) that are a function of personality, interpersonal trusts, and the environment the team is accustomed to working in.

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“I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.”
Thomas Edison

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“The time to worry is three months before a flight. Decide then whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying. To worry is to add another hazard. It retards reactions, makes one unfit.”
Amelia Earhart

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“The removal of error is not the same as adding insight: while removing errors may bring a novice up to a journeyman level of performance,  journeyman will need more than that to overtake a master.”
Sean Murphy in “Moore’s Law Enables New Uses For Old Algorithms

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“Give them the third-best to go on with; the second-best comes too late, and the best never comes.”
Robert Watson-Watt in “Three Steps to Victory” (a book on the of the development of radar by one of the men chiefly responsible for its creation).

Watson-Watt called this his “cult of the imperfect,” it echo similar aphorism by Voltaire that the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Cited by L. Brown in “Technical and Military Imperatives: A Radar History of World War 2

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“Children are only surprised by changes other than their own; for adults it’s the exact opposite.”
George Murray (@bookninja) in “Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms of George Murray

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“There is nothing sadder than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.
Erma Bombeck

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“Awe is the harvest of a keen eye.”
Lani Picard

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“We build statues out of snow, and weep to see them melt.”
Walter Scott

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“The slow death of good intentions: no development team slips a product to make it worse.”
Sean Murphy in “Better” is the Enemy of “Good Enough”

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“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”
Peter Drucker in “The Effective Executive” (1967)

He revisited this in a 2004 article “What Makes An Effective Executive

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“Things we know but have not applied constitute a backlog of potential insights to be harvested.”
Sean Murphy in “Moore’s Law Enables New Uses For Old Algorithms

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“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think.”
Nikola Tesla

h/t @LegionAvalon

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“It is one thing to show a man he is in error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.” John Locke

h/t Glenn Alleman and @LegionAvalon

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“In 1995  having a website was a little like having a pet monkey. Rare, expensive and difficult. Now everyone is a publisher–blogs, photos, videos.”
Seth Godin in “Powering a Digital Future

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“The minute that you have a backup plan, you’ve admitted that you’re not going to succeed.”
Elizabeth Holmes in “I Wasn’t Weighted by Influences That I Couldn’t Do It

From the next paragraph in the article my sense is that she means you need to fully commit to the mission but to expect setbacks and learn from failures:

“You don’t do something like this [Theranos] without embracing failure constantly. Our approach is to take the most swings at the bat. We’ll get the most home runs, we’ll also get the most strikeouts, and we’re just not going to make the same mistake twice.”
Elizabeth Holmes in “I Wasn’t Weighted by Influences That I Couldn’t Do It

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“What comes easy, won’t last.
What lasts, won’t come easy.”
banksy (@thereaIbanksy)

h/t Carl Jonas Sjönander

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“This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavoring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self. We must feel as a brother toward the man beside us, and say to him the things that we should like to have said to us, and treat him as we should desire to be treated when are hands are hanging down and our hearts are heavy. And this is the very essence of courtesy.”
John Watson in “Courtesy” from “The Homely Virtues” (1903) [Google Books]

John Watson also used a pen name Ian MacLaren.  Garson O’Toole,  the Quote Investigator,  credits him as the source for “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I used this as part of a deeper exploration of the “Courtesy” essay in “Courtesy Keeps The Spirit Of Christmas Alive.”

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“The mature man lives quietly, does good privately, assumes personal responsibility for his actions, treats others with friendliness and courtesy, finds mischief boring and keeps out of it. Without this hidden conspiracy of good will,  society would not endure an hour.”
Kenneth Rexroth in his 1961 Introduction to Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God Is Within You

I used this quote in 2007 for “Success For a Bootstrapper” and again this month in “No Man Is a Failure Who Has Friends.”

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“About the only laws that cut any ice these days are the unwritten laws.”
Kin Hubbard in Abe Martin’s Broadcast (1930)

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“You may dispense with pleasantries…I am here to put you back on schedule.”
Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi

This quote seemed apropos of my efforts to fit a month’s worth of impact into the last work week of the year (Mon-Dec-28-2015 to Sun-Jan-3-2016). For a variety of reasons the last two to three weeks in December are always a busy time in our business.

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“The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success. The bludgeon of circumstances may bruise you, but keep your head erect. First, analyze your failure and its causes, benefit from the experience, and then dismiss all thought of it. Though he fail many times, the man who keeps on striving, who is undefeated within, is a truly victorious person.”
Paramahansa Yogananda

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“Persistent people begin their success where others end–in failure.”
Edward Eggleston

h/t Conal Elliot Quotes Collection

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“Just walk. The road knows where you are going.”
Arne Nyman

h/t Lani Picard

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“When I was alive, I believed – as you do – that time was at least as real and solid as myself, and probably more so. I said “one o’clock” as though I could see it, and “Monday” as if I could find it on the map; and I let myself be hurried along from minute to minute, day to day, year to year, as though I were actually moving from one place to another. Like everyone else I lived in a house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days, and I never went outside until I died because there was no other door. Now I know that I could have walked through the walls.”

The Skull’s speech in “The Last Unicorn” by Peter Beagle

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“An optimist stays up to see the New Year in,
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old one leaves.”
Bill Vaughan

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