Quotes For Entrepreneurs–October 2016

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

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Quotes For Entrepreneurs October 2016

“The future will be a hybrid of the old and the new, a swirl of gradations and complexity, of incremental change not replacement, unevenly distributed both geographically and demographically. There is both the “changing man” and the “unchanging man.”
Tom Goodwin (@tomfgoodwin) in a tweeted mini-rant

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“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.”
Larry Bird

I like this formulation of relying on deliberate practice to develop innate talents and abilities to skills (where skills are a talent you can summon at will or even rely on unconsciously as habits all of the time), and leveraging your skills to achieve your goals.

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“To sensible men, every day is a day of reckoning.”
John W. Gardner

This reminds me of Carpe Diem and “Be Here Now” as well as:

“Do not wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day.
Albert Camus, The Fall (1956)

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“Sit down before a fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. ”
Thomas Huxley in a letter to Charles Kingsley Sep-23-1860

Huxley wrote this letter three days after the death of his son, Noel. More context:

“My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations. Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth which is embodied in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.”
Thomas Huxley in a letter to Charles Kingsley Sep-23-1860

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“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.”
Louis Pasteur

h/t “Quotations of Wit and Wisdom” by John W. Gardner and Francesca Gardner Reese

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Caroline Kee ADD Hyperfocush/t Susan Barton. Entrepreneurs with ADD don’t always realize they have it. They say they are able to concentrate for hours but don’t realize the hyperfocus on novelty is also a symptom. (Photo credit: Caroline Kee (@CarolineDKee) in “ADD: Distractions Come at Me“)

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“Clean up what you’re tolerating: broken things in your home, office, car; how others treat you; how you treat yourself.
Lynnea Hagen (@LynneaHagen)

This was one of  “Eleven Tips From Lynnea Hagen on Getting Unstuck,” it reminded me of the concept of free, focus, and buffer days from Dan Sullivan’s “The Great Crossover.”

  • Focus Days:  you work with undivided concentration on key business activities.
  • Free Days: time you spend to relax and recharge with family and friends, no business activity.
  • Buffer Days: time you spend cleaning up, preparing, running errands, and otherwise make your focus days more effective.

It’s the start of the Fourth Quarter for 2016: take the time to kill or complete half-finished tasks to make your focus days more effective.

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“When 10 out of 10 people say they don’t want your product, that’s pretty significant.”
Eric Ries

More likely it’s an unconscious or undetected selection bias in choosing your prospects that has ruled out one or more viable niche markets. That’s why you have to work from hypotheses that make assumptions about target customer and value of offer explicit. You cannot just look at numbers in a “random sample” because so few small samples are actually random.

“I would like to thank yesterday’s failures for today’s successes.
I would like to thank today’s losses for tomorrow’s gains.”
Mokokoma Mokhonoana in “Confessions of a Misfit

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“The key challenge in brainstorming is to let go of old ideas.”
Gijs van Wulfen

The ability to see a problem de novo or with newcomer’s eyes allows you to see what the experienced have overlooked. I think a structured approach to letting go of old ideas is what Peter Drucker advocates with his “organized abandonment” concept: if you were not already doing something today, knowing what you know now, would you start doing it. You need to do this to create the resources and management bandwidth to innovate:

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

I used Wulfen’s quote in “Discovery, Invention, Growth, and Renewal.”

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“He who has a secret should not only hide it, but hide that he has to hide it.”
Thomas Carlyle

The secret to managing “stealth mode” is a plausible cover story who ambiguity preserves strategic flexibility that acts as a dog whistle for early adopters but remains relatively opaque to potential competitors.

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Mentor Whiplash
h/t Skip Walter in “…and no communication occurs, the perils of mentor whiplash.” This is why we tell clients to key team members and all of the relevant advisors for a situation in the same conversation, whether it’s a meeting or a phone call. This enables a full and frank exchange of views.
Comic is “Mentor Whiplash” by David Robinson.

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“I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson in Self-Reliance

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“An acre of performance is worth the whole Land of promise.”
James Howell

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“He who would do good to another must do it in minute particulars.
General Good is the plea of scoundrel, hypocrite and flatterer.
For Art and Science cannot exist but in minutely organized particulars.”
William Blake

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“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”
Epictetus

Clarity of purpose enables economy of effort.

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“The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly one you’ll never have.”
Soren Kierkegaard

I have not been able to find an exact source for this, it may be a condensation of a longer passage from his “Either/Or” which also includes this passage

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.”
Soren Kierkegaard in “Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

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“You should celebrate any day that you don’t have to sell off another part of your company.”
Shem Magnezi (@myrollgallery) in “F*ck You Startup World

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“Demo: the presentation of the set of Specific Capabilities needed to solve a customer’s Critical Business Issue.”
Peter Cohan

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“The finest eloquence is that which gets the thing done.”
Lloyd George

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“Patience and tenacity of purpose are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.”
Thomas Huxley

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“My goal is not to fail fast.
My goal is to succeed over the long run.
They are not the same thing.”
Marc Andreessen (@pmarca)

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“Everyone needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.”
Saul Bellow

h/t “Quotations of Wit and Wisdom” by John W. Gardner and Francesca Gardner Reese. Past performance is an indicator of future success. More importantly, we need to remember our past problems and how difficult prior accomplishments were, as this observation by Eric Hoffer suggests:

“Our achievements speak for themselves. What we have to keep track of are our failures, discouragements, and doubts. We tend to forget the past difficulties, the many false starts, and the painful groping. We see our past achievements as the end result of a clean forward thrust, and our present difficulties as signs of decline and decay.”
Eric Hoffer

I like this Hoffer quote so much I have used it in 5 prior blog posts but never in a “quotes for entrepreneurs” roundup:

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“I have had the following experience more than once: I am speaking with a professional academic who is a liberal. The subject of the underrepresentation of conservatives in academia comes up. My interlocutor admits that this is indeed a reality, but says the reason why conservatives are underrepresented in academia is because they don’t want to be there, or they’re just not smart enough to cut it. I say: “That’s interesting. For which other underrepresented groups do you think that’s true?” An uncomfortable silence follows.”

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in “How academia’s liberal bias is killing social science

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“A good natured fellow gets all of the thankless jobs.”
Kin Hubbard in “Abe Martin’s Almanack” (1911)

Utility infielders who can help anywhere play a key role in startups.

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“A diary would have been a conversation if it could.”
Francis Balfour-Browne

A diary entry can also be good preparation for a conversation. A blog post has the advantage that it can gather comments–although most seem to be spam.

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“RadioShack was one of Silicon Valley’s creative epicenters from the late 1970s into the early 1990s because it supported the soul of Silicon Valley, the generations of tinkerers and builders who started small. RadioShack-type people loved making things work, taking things apart and (sometimes) putting them together again.

A new idea rarely comes with cash in its pockets, so we’d breadboard each new iteration by scavenging the debris from older versions. If it was quiet enough, we could approximate an audio test; if not, there was always 2 a.m. when the rest of the world was asleep.”

Jeffrey Rodman in How I Founded a $2 Billion Company with a 95 Cent Book from RadioShack

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“An idealist believes the short run doesn’t count.
A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter.
A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.”
Sydney J. Harris in “Thoughts at Large”

Used as the opening quote in “12 From Sydney J. Harris’ “Winners and Losers” For Entrepreneurs.”

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“There are three men in the world that should never show natural anger–a judge, a schoolteacher, and a father.”
Austin O’Malley “Keystones of thought

Fortunately when I am really angry I talk very softly. It’s a trait that’s also useful in negotiations. I used this originally in Father’s Day 2016.

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“A half truth presented as a whole truth becomes, in the end, a total lie.”
Robert Ardrey

At least that’s how it will be judged in retrospect.

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Bullshit Asymmetry Principle: the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”
Alberto Brandolini (@ziobrando)

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“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin–real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”
Fr. Alfred D’Souza (in Obstacles of Life)

Entrepreneurs who expect startups to get easier will also discover that it never gets any easier. Failure requires a painful re-examination of assumptions and success attracts competition. And from time to time customer needs and tastes change.

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“Networking is just asking for directions.”
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans in “Designing Your Life.”

h/t Andrew Shindyapin (@ph0rque). Or offering directions if and when asked.

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“If you wish to be heard, speak gently. The same holds true in speaking to ourselves.”
Yahia Lababidi

This reminds me of  a quote I collected in “Quotes For Entrepreneurs–November 2011

“Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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“Travelers, as you pass by,
View the ground wherein we lie:
As you are now, so once were we;
As we are now, so you shall be.”
A common epitaph with many variations dating from the 15th century

I used this as a closing quote for “What a Mixmaster our dreams make for our memories.

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“Night opens a door into a cellar–you can smell it coming.”
William Stafford in “Sayings of the Blind” (collected in “Sound of the Ax“)

I used this in “Working in Silence” It reminds me of a passage from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain [bold added, italics in original, spelling preserved]

“I was pretty tired, the first thing I knew I was asleep.  When I woke up I didn’t know where I was for a minute.  I sat up and looked around, a little scared.  Then I remembered.  The river looked miles and miles across.  The moon was so bright I could count the drift logs that went slipping along, black and still, hundreds of yards out from shore. Everything was dead quiet, and it looked late, and smelt late. You know what I mean–I don’t know the words to put it in.”
Mark Twain in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“When you struggle with a problem that’s when you understand it…anyone who struggles hard with a problem, never forgets it.”
Elon Musk in Interview at Ignite 2013

More context:

“When you struggle with a problem that’s when you understand it…when I interview people, I ask them to tell me about the problems that they worked on and how they solved them. And if someone is really the person who has solved it then he would be able to answer it at multiple levels, If they aren’t then you can say, “Oh! this isn’t the person who really solved the problem.” Because anyone who struggles hard with a problem, never forgets it.”
Elon Musk in Interview at Ignite 2013

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“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.”
Albert Camus

The way to have great ideas is to have a lot of ideas and write them down.

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The next time someone tells you to “do what you love no matter what,” ask to see their tax return.
Austin Kleon in “How Will I Pay The Bills?

I used this as an interstitial quote in “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

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“I know no harder practical question than how much selfishness one ought to stand from a gifted person for the sake of his gifts or on the chance of his being right in the long run.”
George Bernard Shaw “The Sanity of Art

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“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.
The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward.
When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”
Karl A. Menninger

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“Small steps are as valuable as big ones: in the end they bring us to the same place.”
Beston Jack Abrams

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“With luck, we may be inoculated by experience. The only immunity against stupidity is to have contracted it at last once.”
Greg Norminton in “The Lost Art of Losing

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“Always wanted to travel back in time to try fighting a younger version of yourself Software development is the career for you!”
Elliot Loh (@loh) in a tweet 3:51 PM – 12 Dec 2013

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“Don’t make any of your dependencies too big to fail. Whatever advantage you gain in the short term by saying yes is dread and misery later when you can’t say no.”
David Heinemeier Hansson in “Make losses affordable

A clever restatement of the Saras Sarasvathy’s affordable loss principle: understand what you can afford to lose, pick courses of action with upside even in the worst case and avoid large all or nothing strategies.

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“Impatience is not wanting to understand that you don’t understand.”
James Richardson

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“Text is precise, compact, indexable, transmissible, translatable, asynchronous & quick to absorb. Intelligent, busy people prefer text.”
Naval Ravikant (@naval)

Part of a longer conversation about the value of blending text with voice calls. This apply to taking advantage of skype text chat and skype voice as well as leveraging a shared edit document (e..g. a wiki page or a Google Doc) during a conference call or even a face to face meeting.

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  • Naval Ravikant (@naval): Be the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.
  • Vincent Dowling (@stogachess): how did you make sure you are moving in the right direction?
  • Naval Ravikant (@naval): It won’t feel like hard work to you but will look like work to everyone else.

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“If there is a trail, you have taken a wrong turn.”
William Stafford

You have to get two or three steps off the beaten path to discover a new opportunity.

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“Nature’s discipline is not even a word and a blow, and the blow first; but the blow without the word. It is left to you to find out why your ears are boxed.”
Thomas Huxley in Aphorisms and Reflections

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“It wasn’t an easy team to manage. Most of the time it was like trying to baptize a cat.”
Management Speak (@ManagerSpeak)

True for managing some clients–and some consultants–as well.

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“To my eyes, two of the most fascinating sights to behold are hot metal in motion and a group of people in headlong pursuit of a shared purpose.”
Ken Iverson in “Plain Talk

Opening quote for Innovation Principles from Ken Iverson’s “Plain Talk”

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