Quotes for Entrepreneurs–April 2017

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes

I collect quotes for entrepreneurs from a variety of sources and tweet them on @skmurphy about once a day where you can get them hot off the mojo wire. At the end of each month I curate them in a blog post that adds commentary and may contain a longer passage from the same source for context. Please enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.


Quotes for Entrepreneurs–April 2017

“Our job is to see our misbelief and replace it with better belief, thoughtful belief, belief in things that actually work.”
Seth Godin in “Misbelief” (Apr-1-2017)

The whole post is worth reading.

+ + +

“It is only by harsh experience that we learn which principles take priority over which other principles; as mere words they all sound equally persuasive.”

Eliezer Yudkowsky in “Harry Potter and the Methods of RationalityChapter 108

h/t Eric Jorgenson (@EricJorgenson)

+ + +

“Systems fool us by presenting themselves–or we fool ourselves by seeing the world–as a series of events”
Donella Meadows in “Thinking in Systems: A Primer”

Meadows’ “Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System”  is a great article to get acquainted with systems thinking, more resources at Donella Meadows Project Systems Thinking Resources.

+ + +

“The pursuit of knowledge and the maintenance of a free and democratic society require the cultivation and practice of the virtues of intellectual humility, openness of mind, and, above all, love of truth.”

opening line to “Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression–A Statement by Robert P. George and Cornel West

Startups can fall victim to groupthink as easily as college campuses. Iconoclasts and mavericks who start firms can find it as easy to stifle dissent as the bureaucrats in organizations they fled if they are not careful. Diversity of perspective–and actively soliciting diverse but relevant opinions–is key to detecting and disassembling an echo chamber you may have inadvertently contributed to.

+ + +

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
William James

+ + +

“Like a flywheel, a culture of innovation builds momentum with small inputs, but releases great energy when needed.”
Marty Neumeier in “The Designful Company

The discipline of a steady accumulation of small improvements is as important as a breakthrough idea. Here is a longer version the tweet was extracted from:

“With the efficiency of a flywheel, a culture of innovation builds momentum with very small inputs, but can release large amounts of stored energy when needed. A culture of innovation combines a deep bench with a lightning response time.”
Marty Neumeier in “The Designful Company

I originally collected this in “Ten Design Thinking Quotes From Marty Neumeier.

+ + +

“You live in interesting times. Interesting times are always enigmatic times that promise no rest, no prosperity or continuity or security. Never has humanity joined so much power and so much disarray, so much anxiety and so many playthings, so much knowledge and so much uncertainty.”
Paul Valery in a 1932 speech to a graduating class in 1932

h/t “A Boat Against the Current: Quote of Day for Feb-16-2017

+ + +

“When in doubt, tell the truth.”
Mark Twain in Chapter II of “Following the Equator

Always the easiest story to remember later. I used this in Honesty in Negotiations.

+ + +

“If the wind blows in your sails, take advantage of it to discover the world;
if the wind does not blow, take advantage of it to clean your ship.’
Daniel Desbiens

+ + +

“8. War is a harsh distillery of talent. Good leaders and generals in peace are not necessarily skilled in conflict. They can perform as badly in war as good wartime generals do in peace. Assume that the commanders who start a war won’t be there to finish it.”
Victor Davis Hansen in “Ancient Laws, Modern Wars

The decision to launch a new product or enter a new market calls for different skills than managing customer satisfaction and the continued growth of a successful product.

+ + +

“Those that are the loudest in their threats are the weakest in the execution of them.”
Charles Caleb Colton

+ + +

“You can’t change the tale so that you turned left one day instead of right, or didn’t make the mistake that might have saved your life a day later. We don’t get those choices. The story is what got you here, and embracing its truth is what makes the outcome bearable.”
Gail Caldwell in New Life, No Instructions: A Memoir

h/t Boat Against the Current. It’s not just what happened but the story you tell yourself–and others–of what happened. For more on this see Be Careful How You Tell Yourself “The Story So Far”

+ + +

“To be unacquainted with events which took place before you were born, is to be always a child; for where is human life if the memory fails to connect past events with others before?”
Cicero

When you are trying to understand a new product or a sudden market development it’s always useful to construct a timeline and to look back decades or even centuries for earlier solutions and earlier events the anticipate what otherwise may appear sudden and unprecedented.

+ + +

“Big breakthroughs don’t happen on their own. They are a conglomeration of small discoveries. They are an unforeseen part of talent leveraging itself off hundreds of inventors, often from multiple industries and multiple eras. This fact alone makes them more plausible than they might seem.”
Margan Housel in “Wonders of the Future

+ + +

“Provide the nourishment and let people grow themselves. They’ll amaze you.”
Robert Townsend
in “Up the Organization

I used this in “Combine Clear Goals with Delegation Based on Expertise for High Impact

+ + +

“What’s blindingly obvious cannot be looked at.”
Gregory Norminton

I used this as an opening quote in “Entrepreneurs Need To See With Newcomer’s Eyes And Ask Stupid Questions.”

+ + +

“The mantra of permission conflicts with the mechanics of frequency. If people are loaning you their attention and you’re delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages, your need for frequency goes way down.”
Seth Godin in “Frequency, Repetition, and the Power of Saying It More Than Once

+ + +

“There are many of those who have sense enough to come in out of the rain who do not have sense to go out in the sun.”
William Stafford

+ + +

“One man’s constant is another man’s variable.”
Alan PerlisEpigrams on Programming” SIGPLAN Notices Vol. 17, No. 9, September 1982

It’s very important to square this away with regard to you and your cofounder(s) ethics: are you aligned on what are the constants?

+ + +

“You never violate your principles: you only discover that they are not what you thought they were.”
Aaron Haspel  in “Everything

+ + +

“Learn what is true, in order to do what is right,” is the summing up of the whole duty of man.
Thomas Huxley in “Aphorisms and Reflections

+ + +

247. “We are dismayed at our failures, and to find that even misfortune cannot cure us of our faults.”
Vauvenargues in Maxims

+ + +

“You say the materialist universe is “ugly.” I wonder how you discovered that! If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it that you don’t feel at home there? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (“How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up & married! I can hardly believe it!”) In heaven’s name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal.”
C.S. Lewis in a letter to Sheldon Vanauken 23 December 1950

Quoted in “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanuaken.

+ + +

“It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom.”
Antoine de Saint Exupéry in “The Little Prince

+ + +

“If you are trying to build trust at team level it happens much much faster with conversation. Shared trust makes a team 10x more efficient.”
Sean Murphy

A tweeted critique of

“3. We’re big believers in asynchronous communication–write it down now and other people can absorb it later when they’re ready. Real-time communication in person or virtually forces synchronization of schedules which is highly inefficient.”

Jason Fried in “How We Structure Our Work and Teams at Basecamp.

Interesting article and I agree with much of it, I am also a fan of wikis and email and other forms of asynchronous communication. But it’s unfortunately too often the case that entrepreneurs look at personal productivity without regard to implications for trust, reputation, team dynamics.

+ + +

“The man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.”
Seneca

+ + +

“The true method of succeeding in one’s affairs is to seek also to ensure the success of one’s contracting party, in order to act in concert to good advantage. There needs to be much simplicity in agreements and much facility brought to bear in them. That way, we engage honorable people to contract with us, which is the greatest advantage of civil life.”
Montesquieu in “My Thoughts

+ + +

“If we wish to erect new structures, we must have a definite knowledge of the old foundations.”
Calvin Coolidge in inaugural address, Mar. 4, 1925

+ + +

“Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.”
Caterina Fake

h/t The Motley Fool (@themotleyfool)

+ + +

“I know them, you see, Mr. Mont; if these people thought about the future, they could not go on living. And if you do not think about the future, you cannot have one.”
John Galsworthy “Swan Song

+ + +

“The value of a company is the sum of the problems you solve together.”
Martin Lorentzon,

+ + +

“I’m sorry but those are vanity metrics, we need to track clarity metrics to build a great business.”
Lloyd Tabb in “I’m sorry but those are vanity metrics.

+ + +

“All my life I’ve seen things differently. Where others see adversity I see opportunity. Where others see problems I see profit. And while this has led me to many successes, it has also led to many problems.
[…]
Historically, when these “opportunities” arise and I share my ideas with those around me inevitable I am met with the same questions. “Hasn’t that already been tried?” “If that idea is so great why hasn’t anyone else thought of it?” and my favorite “If all of those other people have tried to do that and failed what makes you different?”
[…]
Just because they don’t see what you see does not mean it’s not there. It means that they don’t have your eyes. Don’t let anyone project their fear of failure onto you. The reason you can do what you do is because you’re you.”
Nathaniel Crawford in “The I’m Me Theory

+ + +

“Coaches can talk and talk and talk about something, but if you get it on tape and show it to them, it is so much more effective.”
Larry Bird

+ + +

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton would find most startups to be a massive adventure

+ + +

“The world doesn’t change one person at a time. It changes as networks of  relationships form among people who discover they share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.”
Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze in “Using Emergence To Take Social Innovations To Scale

Used In “Margaret Wheatley’s Social Change Model.”

+ + +

“Everybody’s dangerous, given the wrong circumstances.”
Ross Macdonald in “The Doomsters

Two of the principles for building successful scalable internal processes are

  • Don’t rely on just one person for quality.
  • Don’t tempt an honest man.

This applies most of all to the founders as they have an outsize influence on the culture and success of the startup. Don’t tempt yourself too much and don’t trust yourself too much.

+ + +

“Long live the pioneers
Rebels and mutineers
Go forth and have no fear
Come close and lend an ear

All hail the underdogs
All hail the new kids
All hail the outlaws
Spielbergs and Kubricks

It’s our time to make a move
It’s our time to make amends
It’s our time to break the rules
Let’s begin…”

X Ambassadors “Renegades”

This has been my go to song for April: it encourages for my entrepreneur glands.

+ + +

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment

Quick Links

Bootstrappers Breakfast Link Startup Stages Clients In the News Upcoming Events Office Hours Button Newsletter SignUp