Quotes for Entrepreneurs–May 2014

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

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“Ah, May. It should be three months long.”
Elisabeth Ogilvie in “The Silent Ones

h/t Fred O’Bryant’s Quotations Collection, Volume 2

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“The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward.”
Winston Churchill

h/t Fred O’Bryant’s Quotation Collection, Volume 6

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“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”
Coco Chanel

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“Nothing is so dear as what you’re about to leave.”
Jessamyn West

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“Concision in style, precision in thought, decision in life.”
Victor Hugo

In “Postscriptum de Ma Vie” Victor Hugo’s Intellectual Autobiography

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“Life is a biography, not a series of disconnected moments, more or less pleasurable but increasingly tedious and unsatisfying unless one imposes a purposive pattern upon them.”
Theodore DalrympleLife at the Bottom” (Amazon)

h/t Ben Nesvig “A million little decisions

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“Design is the application of intent–the opposite of happenstance, and an antidote to accident.”
Robert L. Peters

h/t Quotes on Design

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“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”
Henry David Thoreau

I think this applies to companies as well.

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“A community lives in the minds of its members–in shared assumptions, beliefs, customs, ideas that give meaning, ideas that motivate.”
John Gardner in “On Leadership”

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“I realized I was very far from home, though I had been born not ten miles away.”
Gregory Sullivan in “Nails

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“One can pay back a loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.”
Malayan proverb

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“Details as they transmute, like a tiny flicker in the sonogram that indicates a heart beat.”

Part my “Details as they ..” riffs on “Details as they unfold.” I came up with it after watching the ultrasound for my first son. I thought it was a good quote for Mother’s Day.

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“Paths do not change when night falls; only the wanderer does.”
Hans Kudszus

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 ”Worried about somebody stealing your amazing idea? Get traction. That shit can’t be stolen.”
Startup L. Jackson (@StartupLJackson) April 25 tweet

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“You are being encouraged to look left and right at potential competition, I would try and walk around the table and look at the situation from your prospect’s perspective.”
Sean Murphy in answer to “Q: How Much Attention Should I Pay To Potential Competition?

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I’m proof against that word failure. I’ve seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure of cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best.
George Eliot in Felix Holt, the Radical (1866) Full text at Gutenberg online

This is the old sense of the word cleave, meaning to stick to. More context

“But I’m proof against that word failure. I’ve seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure in cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best. As to just the amount of result he may see from his particular work—that’s a tremendous uncertainty: the universe has not been arranged for the gratification of his feelings. As long as a man sees and believes in some great good, he’ll prefer working toward that in the way he’s best fit for, come what may. I put effects at their minimum, but I’d rather have the maximum of effect, if it’s of the sort I care for, than the maximum of effect I don’t care for—a lot of fine things that are not to my taste—and if they were, the conditions of holding them while the world is what it is, are such as would jar on me like grating metal.”
George Eliot in Felix Holt, the Radical

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A discovery conversation is with another human: explore their situation and enable a business relationship, don’t “gather data.”
Sean Murphy in “Don’t Ask Your Next Question Before You Learn From the Last Answer

This is my “twitter version” of this passage from  ”Don’t Ask Your Next Question Before You Learn From the Last Answer

“I work in B2B markets where my key objective in a discovery conversation is to understand the other person’s situation in a manner that also lays the foundation for a potential business relationship. If you “gather data” using an interview style that leaves the other party without any desire to do business with you then you will not succeed in a B2B market.”
Sean Murphy

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“Business is more exciting than any game”
Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbook

I credited Kitty O’Neill Collins in July 2008; she may not actually exist.

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“Teaching peers is one of the best ways to develop mastery.”
Jeff Atwood in “The Vast and Endless Sea

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“Technical skill is mastery of complexity,
while creativity is mastery of simplicity.”
Christopher Zeeman in “Catastrophe Theory: selected papers, 1972-1977 “

h/t Quotes on Design

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Lion in Winter: A great man whose prominence and powers have ebbed with age and setbacks and will not be regained.

Who is on your list? Which CEO’s, thought leaders, companies qualify?

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“Art is I; science is we.”
Claude Bernard

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“It is the essence of genius to make use of the simplest ideas.”
Charles Peguy

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“We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem.”
Russell Ackoff

h/t Hermanni Hyytiälä (@hemppah)

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“An impossibility does not disturb us until its accomplishment shows what fools we were.”
Henry S. Haskins in “Meditations in Wall Street (1940)”

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“A good design is driven by needs and defined by constraints.”
Astik Pant

h/t Quotes on Design

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“The trouble with organizing a thing is that pretty soon folks get to paying more attention to the organization than to what they’re organized for.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

h/t Glen B. Alleman

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“Thoughts left unsaid are never wasted.”
Henry S. Haskins in “Meditations in Wall Street (1940)”

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“The hero is known for achievements, the celebrity for well-knownness. The hero reveals the possibilities of human nature. The celebrity reveals the possibilities of the press and the media. Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history. Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.”
Daniel Boorstin in “Who Are Our Heroes?

Used in “Memorial Day 2014” (and earlier in “Quotes For Entrepreneurs–December 2012“)

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“So I am content to tell my simple story, without trying to make things seem better than they were; dreading nothing, indeed, but falsity, which, in spite of one’s best efforts, there is reason to dread. Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult. The pencil is conscious of a delightful facility in drawing a griffin — the longer the claws, and the larger the wings, the better; but that marvelous facility which we mistook for genius is apt to forsake us when we want to draw a real unexaggerated lion. Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings — much harder than to say something fine about them which is not the exact truth.”
George Eliot in Adam Bede

I used this in “Memorial Day 2014.” I think it’s also food for thought in constructing–or de-constructing–a lot of entrepreneurial stories of success, failure, and lessons learned. Abridged on twitter to:

“Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult. Even with no motive to be false, it is very hard to say the exact truth.”
George Eliot

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“Control” doesn’t mean “command”; it means “feedback”
Jason Yip (@jchyip)

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“I’m here to teach you, not entertain you” 
“What’s wrong with doing both?”
“What’s wrong is you judge the teaching by how entertaining it is”
Bret Victor (@worrydream)

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The best design question to ask isn’t: “what’s the best way to solve this?”, but rather “what are 10 different ways to solve this?”
Amir Khella (@amirkhella)

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“An organisation’s results are determined through webs of human commitments, born in webs of human conversations.”
Fernando Flores

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“Without the desire and ability to create new understandings, a relationship can’t grow — it can only be maintained.”
Michael Schrage

h/t David Alan Quote Archive

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“Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire  tapestry.”
Richard Feynman

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“I love all insider memoirs. It doesn’t matter whether it’s truck-drivers or doctors. I think everybody likes to go backstage, find out what people think and what they talk about and what specialised job they have.”
David Mamet

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“Sometimes you have to keep ideas for decades before they have any use.”
Marc English

h/t Quotes on Design

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Memorial Day 2014

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

On Memorial Day we commemorate those who have died in the service of our country. It’s a day of remembrance more than of celebration. I offer some quotes on death, heroism, and the stories we tell for you to meditate on.

“Son. Everyone dies alone. That’s what it is. It’s a door. It’s one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone. But it doesn’t  mean you’ve got to be alone before you go through the door. And believe me, you aren’t alone on the other side.”
Jim Butcher, in “Dead Beat

“The hero is known for achievements, the celebrity for well-knownness. The hero reveals the possibilities of human nature. The celebrity reveals the possibilities of the press and the media. Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history. Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.”
Daniel Boorstin in “Who Are Our Heroes?

“So I am content to tell my simple story, without trying to make things seem better than they were; dreading nothing, indeed, but falsity, which, in spite of one’s best efforts, there is reason to dread. Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult. The pencil is conscious of a delightful facility in drawing a griffin — the longer the claws, and the larger the wings, the better; but that marvelous facility which we mistook for genius is apt to forsake us when we want to draw a real unexaggerated lion. Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings — much harder than to say something fine about them which is not the exact truth.”
George Eliot in Adam Bede

Related Posts


Postscript: I was reading “The Paths of Long Ago” a 1925 book of poems by Wilbur D. Nesbit and came across this one that is apropos Memorial Day.

A Drum Song of To-Day

I hear it roll in the valley, I hear it surge down from the hill;
With rhythmical rally the drum-song is thralling me still.
It comes with a throbbing and thrumming, a mellow insistent refrain
As low as the langorous humming of bees in the clover-edged lane:

“Remember! Remember! Remember! They sleep on the hilldsides afar;
Their camp fires have left not an ember and yet you know well where they are.
I called them one morn with my beating, they leaped at my vibrant behest–
With dull, muffled measures repeating, I bade them lie down in their rest.

“You heap up mounds where they slumber with roses and lilies and rue;
Their battles and marches you number, and tributes of love you renew.
Aye, this for the ones that are sleeping is all that a nation may give–
And what of the faith you are keeping with such of the soldiers as live?

The dead–you have hallowed their ashes; each tomb you have named as a shrine,
Above which the old banner flashes its hues through the shade and the shine.
God bless them, and keep them, and rest them, and hold them in memory yet!
The living one–Ah, do you test them by seeming at times to forget?

I hear it roll out through the morning, I hear it surge on through the day,
Sonorous as though ’twere a warning to us in our work and our play:
“Aye, tears for the ones that are sleeping are all that a nation may give–
And what of the faith you are keeping with such of the soldiers as live?”

Wilber D. Nesbit

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–April 2014

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

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“Churn starts when you fail to deliver the value that was promised or expected.”
Sean Murphy

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“You can’t bluff someone who’s not paying attention.”
David Mamet

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“Internal emptiness inevitably surfaces.”
Richard Kostelanetz

h/t James  Geary

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“…the kind of thing the average person had no idea existed, until you happen upon them, and you realize there’s entire worlds of people doing all kinds of things you never even heard of in a very serious way.”

Gregory Sullivan in “Nails

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“Big data” has arrived, but big insights have not.
Tim Harford in “Big data: are we making a big mistake?

Related quote from same article:

“…there are vastly more possible comparisons than there are data points to compare. Without careful analysis, the ratio of genuine patterns to spurious patterns – of signal to noise – quickly tends to zero.”
Tim Harford in “Big data: are we making a big mistake?

h/t Matt Mullenweg

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Talent is a pursued interest. Anything you are willing to practice, you can do.
Bob Ross.

h/t Quotes on Design

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“We do not learn from experience.
We learn from reflecting on experience”
John Dewey.

h/t Conor Neill (@cuchullainn) who adds “Write. Stuff. Down.”
See also “Record to Remember, Pause to Reflect.

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“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
Michelangelo

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“We don’t get offered crises, they arrive.”
Elizabeth Janeway

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“It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn’t want to hear.”
Dick Cavett

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“We explore promising avenues that, days later, become dead  ends. Sometimes, we solve a month’s problem in an hour.”
Cennydd Bowles (@Cennydd) in “Designers Lie. That’s OK

More context:

And then, of course, you ask us how we work. We respond with confidence, bold Helvetica outlining our design process: research, ideas, prototyping, testing, iteration. We hope you approve of our rigor, and perhaps even believe it ourselves.

But the project is always more fluid. We splash between the phases, unable to separate ideas from output, problem from solution. We explore promising avenues that, days later, become dead ends. Sometimes, we solve a month’s problem in an hour. It seems unfair to charge you the same regardless, but it avoids those difficult conversations.

Try as we may, we can’t justify every decision. The birth of an idea is ineffable. Although we hope it came from our research and analysis, we can never know for sure. Intuition and experience influence our every thought.

We try to predict the effect of our work, but the truth is that design is always a gamble. We can tip the odds in your favor, but never guarantee a jackpot. [...] Don’t misunderstand—we aren’t bullshitting you. People who’ve taken our advice have profited from it. But design resists minute analysis—break it into its constituent parts and it crumbles into dust.

Cennydd Bowles (@Cennydd) in “Designers Lie. That’s OK

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“The struggle to reach the top is itself enough to fulfill the heart of man. One must believe that Sisyphus is happy.”
The Myth of SisyphusAlbert Camus

Originally quoted in “Six From Encyclopedia Neurotica

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“Character is not made in a crisis–it is only exhibited.”
Robert Freeman

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“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
Thomas Paine in “The American Crisis No. I

More context

The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘ Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
Thomas Paine in “The American Crisis No. I

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“A map is not the territory, nor is your organization chart your organization.”
Esther Derby (@estherderby)

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“We need to shift from predicting the future to understanding the now.”
Chris Diehl (@ChrisDiehl)  in Understanding the Now: The Role of Data in Adaptive Organizations

h/t Valdis Krebs (@OrgNet) More context:

“We need to shift from predicting the future to understanding the now. By focusing our attention on the present, we uncover and pursue existing opportunities as opposed to projected ones that may never come to pass. By accelerating our pace of response, we increase our potential to benefit from surprises that will surely come. At the same time, we mitigate the cost of our mistakes.”
Chris Diehl (@ChrisDiehl)  in Understanding the Now: The Role of Data in Adaptive Organizations

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“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”
Margaret J. Wheatley

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“Experience has shown that our best customers are ones who have as much respect for our time as we have for theirs.”
Alex King in “I’m Trying to be Respectful but this Drive Me Crazy

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“Better Place is a tragicomic case study of the limits of innovation, the difficulties of getting consumers to embrace new technology, and the perils of believing your own bullshit. ”
Max Chafkin in “A Broken Better Place

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“A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”
Paul Simon

h/t  David Gurteen for spurring me to include this one in April. He has a thought provoking list of favorite quotations at http://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/quotations This quote is actually taken from Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” here is the opening stanza:

“I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest”
Paul Simon “The Boxer

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“Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced.”
Ned Rorem

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“We systematically overestimate the value of access to information and underestimate the value of access to each other.”
Clay Shirky

h/t SwissMiss’s 2013 SXSW Keynote

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“By far the dominant reason for not releasing sooner was a reluctance to trade the dream of success for the reality of feedback.”
Kent Beck in “Approaching a Minimum Viable Product

More context:

When I look back at all my startup experiences (all of them eventually sunk on a Potentially Fatal Assumption), every single one of them could have been shipped much sooner. [...] By far the dominant reason for not releasing sooner was a reluctance to trade the dream of success for the reality of feedback. [...] The MVP is intended to counter this tendency. The process of working backward from the assumption to the least possible investment to validate the assumption saves resources in the case of difficulties and keeps the business on the path of learning.
Kent Beck in “Approaching a Minimum Viable Product

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“You always start with a fantasy. Part of the fantasy technique is to visualize something as perfect. Then with the experiments you work back from the fantasy to reality, hacking away at the components.”
Edwin Land in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 146, no. 1, (March 2002), p. 115

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“My father gave me some excellent advice for college: ‘You can get a job in business with an Engineering degree, but you cannot get a job in engineering with a Business degree.’”
Chris Peluso in his LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/chrispeluso

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“No enemy is so terrible as a man of genius.”
Benjamin Disraeli

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“Caring is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
Ron Kendrick

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“They stood there laughing.
They’re not laughing anymore.
The walls came down.”
Michael Been “The Walls Came Down”

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“If you desire faith, then you have faith enough.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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“The mutual confidence upon which all else depends can be maintained only by an open mind and a brave reliance on free discussion.”
Learned Hand

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“Entrepreneurs think effectually, believing in a yet-to-be-made future that can be substantially shaped by human action.”
Saras Sarasvathy

Condensed for twitter from a longer passage in “What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial” (Annotated version on the Khosla Ventures site:  www.khoslaventures.com/presentations/What_makes_entrepreneurs_entrepreneurial.pdf )

“Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurial, as differentiated from managerial or strategic, because they think effectually; they believe in a yet-to-be-made future that can substantially be shaped by human action; and they realize that to the extent that this human action can control the future, they need not expend energies trying to predict it. In fact, to the extent that the future is shaped by human action, it is not much use trying to predict it–it is much more useful to understand and work with the people who are engaged in the decisions and actions that bring it into existence.”

The full passage was used in “Saras Sarasvathy’s Effectual Reasoning Model for Expert Entrepreneurs

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“The true characteristic of genius—without despising rules, it knows when and how to break them.”
William Ellery Channing

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“Good rule of thumb: always know your customer’s customer and your supplier’s supplier. Gives obvious directions for growth and cost saving.”
Balaji S. Srinivasan @balajis

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“Knowing is half the battle.
Explaining it is the other half.”
Chris Burch

h/t William Porquet’s quotations collection

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“Better spend an extra hundred or two on your son’s education, than leave it him in your will.”
George Eliot in “Mill on the Floss” (1860)

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“I have been feeling very much lately that cheerful insecurity is what our Lord asks of us.”
C. S. Lewis

h/t Fred O’Bryant 

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“Talent is cheap. What really matters is discipline.”
Andre Dubus

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“Success, for some people, depends on becoming well-known; for others, it depends on never being found out.”
Ashleigh Brilliant 

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“Being an early adopter is exhilarating in the same way that riding a rollercoaster can feel like travel.”
Frank Chimero in “No New Tools

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“A man’s bewilderment is the measure of his wisdom.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne in “The House of Seven Gables

more context

“Only this is such an odd and incomprehensible world! The more I look at it, the more it puzzles me; and I begin to suspect that a man’s bewilderment is the measure of his wisdom. Men and women, and children, too, are such strange creatures, that one never can be certain that he really knows them; nor ever guess what they have been, from what he sees them to be, now. “

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Quotes For Entrepreneurs–March 2014

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

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“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”
John Dryden

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“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.”
T. S. Eliot

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“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”
Henry David Thoreau

Other versions of this exist but this version is taken from Thoreau’s letter to his friend, H.G.O. Blake, on 16 November 1857.
h/t The Henry D.Thoreau Mis-Quotation Page at Walden.org

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“It is not enough to tolerate dissent: sometimes you have to demand it.”
Jack Galvin

h/t Brad Pierce in a comment in “Terry Frazier on How to Do Real Competitive Analysis

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“Society functions in a way much more interesting than the multiple-choice pattern we have been rewarded for succeeding at in school. Success in life comes not from the ability to choose between the four presented answers, but from the rather more difficult and painfully acquired ability to formulate the questions.”
David Mamet in The Secret Knowledge

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“Design is creativity with a strategy.”
Rob Curedale

h/t Expa.com (@Expa) also found at Quotes on Design, a great resource for design quotes.

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It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.
T. S. Eliot

In an interview with Donald Hall in the Paris Review “T. S. Eliot, the Art of Poetry No. 1” Eliot said:

“I wanted to get to learn the technique of the theater so well that I could then forget about it. I always feel it’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.” T. S. Eliot

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“Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.”
George S. Patton

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“My capital is time, not money”
Marcel Duchamp

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“Anytime we see a line, the product in question is underpriced.”
Naval Ravikant (@naval) in “The Bitcoin Model for Crowdfunding

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“Opportunity is sometimes hard to recognize if you’re only looking for a lucky break.”
Monta Crane

h/t Gerald Weinberg (@JerryWeinberg)

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“If thou art a writer, write as if thy time were short, for it is.”
Henry David Thoreau

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“How can so many things I’ve no more use for still have so much meaning for me.”
Ashleigh Brilliant

I feel this sensation most strongly when I look through boxes in my garage that store items I kept from old jobs and old startups. I regret loss of things I threw away: pictures and printouts I posted on the walls of my office or cubicle, chip plots, trade show posters, etc…

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“Execution focus yields a prioritized network of interdependent tasks;
exploration yields a portfolio of risks and options.”
Sean Murphy

I have been helping Patrick Steyaert on a new version of his Discovery Kanban talk. This sentence was my attempt at crystallizing the difference between execution and exploration.

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“Sometimes you come to an edge that just breaks off.”
Anne Carson

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“I know the price of success; dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.”
Frank Lloyd Wright

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“Luck cannot be duplicated.”
Richard Kostelanetz

h/t James  Geary
Used as a the opening quote for Feeling Lucky is Not a Strategy

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“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
Benjamin Franklin

Used as the closing quote for Feeling Lucky is Not a Strategy

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“We work to become, not to acquire.”
Elbert Hubbard

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“A focus on revenue is core to bootstrapping but often at odds with the ‘venture lifestyle business.’”
Sean Murphy

In reply to a tweet by Rashaun P. Sourles (@rashaunps) “@skmurphy: Though my last startup failed, I’ve never forgotten the lessons you taught me about hustling early revenue. Just wish I had listened!”

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“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”
John Buchan

I think there are similarities to the early sales process. I can recall once waiting in a conference room with two founders staring at a speaker phone waiting for a scheduled call to start and feeling an eerie similarity to standing at the edge  of a pond with other boys holding our fishing poles with our lines in the water. It led me to write one of my “details as they..” tag lines:

“Details as they stand poised in an expectant silence, like runners before a starting gun, old men waiting for the fish to bite, or a sales team clustered around a speakerphone waiting for the prospect to call back.”

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“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
Max De Pree

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“Patience is a most necessary qualification for business; many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.”
Lord Chesterfield

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“Don’t take business advice from people with bad personal lives.”
Frank Chimero “Some Lessons I Learned in 2013

Used as the opening quote for “Building a Business Requires Building Trust.”

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“The wise speak only of what they know”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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 ”Fame is something that must be won.
Honor is something that must not be lost.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

Used as closing quote for ”Building a Business Requires Building Trust.”

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“You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things.”
Neil Gaiman

h/t Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Aspiring Writers

Gaiman has offered at least two variations on the importance of learning from finishing:

“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from  a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.”
Neil Gaiman during “Question Time” section of “An evening of awesome with Hank and John Green” (Jan 15 2013) [transcript]

and

“Personally, I think you learn more from finishing things, from seeing them in print, wincing, and then figuring out what you did wrong, than you could ever do from eternally rewriting the same thing.”
Neil Gaiman in “No longer the blog without giraffes

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“The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change.”
Edwin H. Friedman

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“The quality I most admire in a man is steadfastness.”
David Mamet

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“There is nothing so fatal to character as half-finished tasks.”
David Lloyd George

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“I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.”
William Stafford

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“Delivering value is a pre-requisite for sustainably capturing value i.e. getting paid.”
Ash Maurya (@ashmaurya)

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“An MVP is about delivering real value to customers for the purposes of maximizing validated learning.”
Shardul Mehta in “A Case Study in Defining an MVP

+ + +

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
George Eliot

Update April 2: this appears to be incorrectly sourced to Eliot and is in fact a quote from Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother Theo Sun-Oct-22-1882

“For the great doesn’t happen through impulse alone, and is a succession of little things that are brought together. ”
Vincent Van Gogh

+ + +

“Sometimes one pays the most for things one gets for nothing.”
Albert Einstein  in “What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck” published in ‘The Saturday Evening Post’ on October 26, 1929

h/t Quoteyard

+ + +

“When you’re more susceptible to interruption, you do more out of the box thinking.”
Don Norman (found at  Quotes on Design)

Seems to be based on the last sentence in this paragraph from “Emotion & Design: Attractive things work better

Affect makes us smart, that’s the lesson of my current research into the role of affect. This is because affect is always passing judgments, presenting us with immediate information about the world: here is potential danger, there is potential comfort. This is nice, that bad. The affective signals work through neurochemicals, bathing the relevant brain centers and changing the way we perceive, decide, and react. These neurochemicals change the parameters of thought, adjusting such things as whether reason is primarily depth first (focused, not easily distracted) or breadth first (creative, out of the box thinking, but easily distractible).

[...] Positive affect broadens the thought processes, making it more easily distractible. When the problem requires focus, this is bad, but when the problem is best addressed through creative, out-of-the-box thinking, then this is precisely what is needed.

 

+ + +

“Calvin: I’m a misunderstood genius.”
“Hobbes: What’s misunderstood?”
“Calvin: Nobody thinks I’m a genius.”
Bill Watterson

+ + +

“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself.
Longest way round is the shortest way home.”
James JoyceUlysses

h/t Shaun Moran (@ShaunM_Dub) offered as a response to Einstein quote: ”Sometimes one pays the most for things one gets for nothing.”

+ + +

If you think lemons are bitter try some of that fruit from the bin labelled “experience.”
Sean Murphy

+ + +

“Change careers like Tarzan: don’t let go of the old until the new supports you, but don’t lose momentum.”
Derek Sivers (@sivers) in “Change Careers Like Tarzan

+ + +

“The shortcut that’s sure to work, every time: take the long way. Do the hard work, consistently and with generosity and transparency. And then you won’t waste time doing it over.”

Seth Godin in “The Certain Shortcut

+ + +

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–February 2014

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

+ + +

“I am old enough to see how little I have done in so much time, and how much I have to do in so little.”
Sheila Kaye-Smith

+ + +

“Observation is a passive science, experimentation an active science.”
Claude Bernard

+ + +

“One always has a better book in one’s mind than one can manage to get onto paper.”
Michael Cunningham

+ + +

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
Marcus Aurelius in Meditations

+ + +

“You always have prior information before you do an experiment, because something motivated you to do the experiment.”
John D. Cook (@StatFact)

+ + +

“Bad hires are by definition great interviewees. Think on that.”
Dave Cheney (@davecheney)

h/t Benjamin Sullivan (@bjns)

+ + +

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Viktor E. Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning

+ + +

“The humble improve.”
Wynton Marsalis in ”To a Young Jazz Musician: Letters from the Road” first letter is “The Humble Self

Originally used in “Applying the Agile Manifesto to Software Startups” The ”The Humble Self” was the spine for “Wynton Marsalis on Humility, Self-Mastery, and Learning

+ + +

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”
LL Cool JMama Said Knock You Out

+ + +

“Life is like a taxi. The meter just keeps a-ticking whether you are getting somewhere or just standing still.”
Lou Erickson

+ + +

“There are two great rules of life: never tell everything at once.”
Ken Venturi

+ + +

“If you are not part of the solution you are part of the precipitate.”
Steven Wright

+ + +

“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.”
Lily Tomlin

h/t “Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 166) Lily Tomlin

+ + +

“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Used as closing quote for “Four Questions We Use to Help Improve Our Practice

+ + +

“It requires troublesome work to undertake the alteration of old beliefs.”
John Dewey in “How We Think (Revised Edition)

Used as opening quote for “Four Questions We Use to Help Improve Our Practice

+ + +

“Theory can blind observation.”
Carol Gilligan

+ + +

“Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge.”
Don Henley

+ + +

“Nick: You want to be your own boss but the trouble with that is you don’t pay yourself anything.”
Herb Gardner in “A Thousand Clowns

+ + +

“Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn’t want me to be too famous too young.”
Duke Ellington

+ + +

“If you want to learn about an organization, try to change it.”
Kurt Lewin

+ + +

“I’m more interested in what I discover than what I invent.”
Paul Simon

+ + +

“The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.”
Duke Ellington

+ + +

“Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools.”
Zack Helm

+ + +

A truly creative person rids himself of all self-imposed limitations.”
Gerald Jampolsky

+ + +

“If we do not plant knowledge when young, it will give us no shade when we are old.”
Lord Chesterfield

+ + +

“Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.”
Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

+ + +

“Somewhere along the line all of us must learn this lesson: it costs something to be what we are.”
Clarence Day

+ + +

“It is not impossibilities that fill us with despair, but possibilities which we have failed to realize.”
Robert Mallett

+ + +

“Refrain from following the example of those whose craving is for attention, not their own improvement.”
Seneca “Letter from a Stoic”

+ + +

“A good leader takes care of those in their charge.
A bad leader takes charge of those in their care.”
Simon Sinek (@simonsinek)

+ + +

“An accrual accounting perspective has too much parallax from a bootstrapper’s actual cash position and offers a false sense of security. Do cash flow based planning and management.”
Sean Murphy in “5 Serious Financial Mistakes Bootstrappers Can Avoid.

+ + +

Quotes for Entrepreneurs–January 2014

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

+ + +

“It is never too late to become what you might have been.”
George Eliot

Used as opening quote for “Welcome to 2014

+ + +

“Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it.”
Rumi

+ + +

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”
Willa Cather

+ + +

“Talent develops in tranquility, character in the full current of human life.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

+ + +

“The Information Age should be defined by the scarcity of context as much as it is the abundance of information.”
Andrew Sliwinski (@thisandagain)

+ + +

“It’s not enough to provide some positive benefit. It’s also important to ask whether there are other, better, less expensive and resource-intensive ways of achieving the same goal.”
Peter Suderman (@petersuderman) in “No, ObamaCare Won’t Reduce Emergency Room Usage

Inspired by study results “Having Medicaid increases emergency room visits

Adults who are covered by Medicaid use emergency rooms 40 percent more than those in similar circumstances who do not have health insurance, according to a unique new study, co-authored by an MIT economist, that sheds empirical light on the inner workings of health care in the U.S.

+ + +

“In the struggle for existence, it is only on those who hang on for ten minutes after all is hopeless, that hope begins to dawn.”
G. K. Chesterton

h/t “Discover Chesterton: Quotes

+ + +

“All of us know the rules for getting ahead, but most of us think that our case is important enough to justify a few exceptions.”
William Feather

+ + +

“With laws shall our land be built up but with lawlessness laid waste.”
Njal’s Saga

From the translation by Magnus Magnusson and Herman Palsson, originally quoted in “We Started With Two Empty Hands.” I was reminded of this when I re-read Njal’s Saga over the Christmas holidays.

+ + +

“In the quiet hours when we are alone with ourselves and there is nobody to tell us what fine fellows we are, we come sometimes upon a weak moment in which we wonder, not how much money we are earning, nor how famous we are becoming, but what good we are doing.”
A. A. Milne, in “Our Learned Friends” from Not That It Matters

+ + +

“I hate vacations. There’s nothing to do.”
David Mamet

+ + +

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment intuition.”
Rumi

h/t My Small Boat

+ + +

“The search for a scalable business model does not have a finish line. All businesses must revisit this challenge periodically.”
Sean Murphy in “Product Market Fit Metrics”

+ + +

“In the margin for error lies all our room for maneuver.”
James Geary in “My Aphorisms

+ + +

“Once we know our weaknesses they cease to do us any harm.”
George Lichtenberg

+ + +

“Use, use your powers: what now costs you effort will in the end become mechanical.”
Georg Lichtenberg

Used as closing quote for “Welcome to 2014

+ + +

“To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.”
Nicolaus Copernicus

+ + +

“Tactic is an algorithm.
Strategy is a structure.”
Roman Porotnikov (@deepcode)

+ + +

“To pursue the happiness within our reach, we do best to pour ourselves into faith, family, community and meaningful work.”
Arthur C. Brooks in “A Formula for Happiness

Used a closing quote for “The Intelligent Pursuit of Happiness.

+ + +

“Complex environments often call for simple decision rules. That is because these rules are more robust to ignorance.”
Andrew G Haldane

h/t @StatFact

+ + +

“To an ant, gravity is nothing, but surface tension is a powerful force. When you change scale, you play by different rules.”
Waldo Jaquith (@waldojaquith)

+ + +

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
Franklin Roosevelt

h/t  Arthur C. BrooksA Formula for Happiness“ used as a section head in ”The Intelligent Pursuit of Happiness.

+ + +

“No one makes history: one doesn’t see it happen, any more than we see the grass grow.”
Boris Pasternak

+ + +

“Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money.”
William J. Cameron

I think this is a key principle of entrepreneurship that bootstrappers understand implicitly.

+ + +

“Orientation is the Schwerpunkt. It shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act.”
John Boyd in his “Organic Design” presentation

+ + +

“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.”
Caskie Stinnett

+ + +

1. Make Lists
2. Carry a Notebook Everywhere
3. Try Free Writing
9. Listen to New Music
12. Get Feedback
13. Collaborate
16. Allow Mistakes
18. Count Your Blessings
24. Create a Framework
29. Finish Something

Paul Zappia (@PaulZii) in “29 Ways to Stay Creative.”

These ten were the basis for “Ten from Paul Zappia’s ’29 Ways to Stay Creative.’”

+ + +

“An entrepreneur has more ideas than resources”
Conor Neill (@cuchullainn) in “What is an Entrepreneur?

+ + +

“It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning.”
Claude Bernard

+ + +

“We can only connect the dots that we collect.”
Amanda Palmer

h/t @StatFact (more at BrainPicking’s “Amanda Palmer on Creativity as Connecting the Dots“)

+ + +

“Learn to listen. Opportunity could be knocking at your door very softly.”
Reg Saddler (@zaibatsu)

+ + +

“If you want to get rid of somebody, just tell’em something for their own good.”
Kin Hubbard

+ + +

“It’s only after you fail once or twice and learn to rely equally on thought, analysis, and anticipation–in addition to speed, talent, and execution–that you can really call yourself an entrepreneur. ”
Barry Moltz in “You Need to Be a Little Crazy

Used as closing quote in ‘The Likely Consequences of Entrepreneurship Require Perseverance.”
Originally cited in “You Need to Be a Little Crazy.”

+ + +

“Sooner or later I am going to die, but I’m not going to retire.”
Margaret Mead

+ + +

“What you don’t know may not hurt you,
but what you don’t remember always does.”
Gerald Weinberg (@JerryWeinberg) in “Secrets of Consulting”

+ + +

“People will listen a great deal more patiently while you explain your mistakes than when you explain your successes.”
Wilbur N. Nesbit

+ + +

“One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.”
James Russell Lowell

+ + +

“A hypothesis is what is being tested explicitly by an experiment. An assumption is tested implicitly. By making your assumptions as well as your hypotheses explicit you increase the clarity of your approach and the chance for learning.”
Sean Murphy in “Difference Between a Hypothesis and an Assumption

+ + +

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail. Scientists made a great invention by calling their activities hypotheses and experiments. They made it permissible to fail repeatedly until in the end they got the results they wanted.”
Edwin Land

+ + +

“Surprise exists in the map, not in the territory. There are no surprising facts, only models that are surprised by facts.”
Eliezer Yudkowsky in “Think Like Reality

+ + +

“This is the fundamental thing to realize about undergraduate education, that students are judged by how closely they resemble professors. Excellence in other ways is ignored. It is an incredibly wasteful system. ”
Seth Roberts in “Berkeley Undergraduates and Professors: Then and Now

+ + +

“We build up whole cultural patterns based on past ‘facts’ which are extremely selective. When a new fact comes in that does not fit the pattern we don’t throw out the pattern. We throw out the fact.”
Robert Pirsig in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”

Used in “Discerning the Future

+ + +

Being good means judging yourself in the context “compared to what?”
Gregory Sullivan in “Nails

+ + +

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–December 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

+ + +

“To have and not to give is in some cases worse than stealing.”
Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach

+ + +

“Simplicity is the most difficult thing to secure in this world; it is the last limit of experience and the last effort of genius.”
George Sand

+ + +

“Fortitudine vincimus” (“By endurance we conquer.”)
Ernest Shackleton “Family Motto”

+ + +

“He who limps is still walking.”
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

+ + +

“Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one’s mind.”
W. Somerset Maugham, “Of Human Bondage”,

+ + +

“Eloquence is vehement simplicity.”
Richard Cecil

+ + +

“I don’t like work–no man does–but I like what is in the work–the chance to find yourself.”
Joseph Conrad

More context from page 19 of original version of “Heart of Darkness” (bold added)

“It was a great comfort to turn from that chap to my influential friend, the battered, twisted, ruined, tin-pot steamboat. I clambered on board. She rang under my feet like an empty Huntley & Palmer biscuit-tin kicked along a gutter; she was nothing so solid in make, and rather less pretty in shape, but I had expended enough hard work on her to make me love her. No influential friend would have served me better. She had given me a chance to come out a bit–to find out what I could do. No, I don’t like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that can be done. I don’t like work–no man does– but I like what is in the work,–the chance to find yourself. Your own reality–for yourself, not for others–what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.”
Joseph Conrad “Heart of Darkness”

+ + +

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
George Eliot

Update April 2: this appears to be incorrectly sourced to Eliot and is in fact a quote from Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother Theo Sun-Oct-22-1882

“For the great doesn’t happen through impulse alone, and is a succession of little things that are brought together. ”
Vincent Van Gogh

+ + +

“Want a novel path to success? Try going where nobody else wants to go. I spot where the crowd is fleeing from, fight my way through that  crowd to get to the source of difficulty.”
Edward E. Cohen CEO Resource America

+ + +

“Men fail much oftener from want of perseverance than from want of talent.”
William Cobbett

+ + +

“What you find far away you overlook at home”
Frans Hiddema

+ + +

“Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.”
Eric Hoffer

+ + +

“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”
Arnold H. Glasow in “Glasow’s Gloombusters

+ + +

“If you can’t make a sale happen in a face-to-face discussion, it won’t work on the website.”
Ash Maurya (@ashmaurya)

+ + +

“Hindsight bias makes surprises vanish – it’s important to document your expectations.”
Zach Nies (@zachnies)

In “Thinking Fast and SlowDaniel Kahneman observes that, “Hindsight bias makes surprises vanish.” Ackoff’s Decision Record model is also designed to guard against this. See “Doing Less with Less” and “Overnight Success” as well as “The Challenge of Advising Entrepreneurs.”

+ + +

“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”
John Burroughs

h/t Brett Martin in Sonar: Postmortem of a Venture-backed Startup

+ + +

“Nothing, of course, begins at the time you think it did.”
Lillian Hellman

+ + +

“The secret to happiness through work is earned success.”
Arthur C. BrooksA Formula for Happiness

+ + +

“Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when. and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.”
Napoleon Hill

+ + +

“My main objection to Medium is that I don’t want to give Evan Williams any more free content.”
Chad Mazzola (@ubuwaits)

+ + +

Nobody ever get fired for running an A/B test.
Chad Mazzola (@ubuwaits)

+ + +

“Reality is not broken… it’s just low resolution. To upgrade reality, please visit your local library.”
Kathy Sierra (@seriouspony)

+ + +

“You are cordially invited to my next fiasco.”
Ashleigh Brilliant

+ + +

“Be a lamp, a lifeboat or a ladder.”
Rumi

+ + +

“He wanted me to be rich
the only way we could,
easy with what we had.”
William Stafford “Father’s Voice

+ + +

‘You must push your awareness to the utmost limit without losing your inner quiet, you must be able to see with the eyes of others from within their personality without losing your own.”
Dag Hammarskjold

This is a restatement of

“The other day I was forced by a journalist to try to formulate my views on the main requirements of somebody who wishes to contribute to the development of peace and reason. I found no better formulation than this: ‘He must push his awareness to the utmost limit without losing his inner quiet, he must be able to see with the eyes of others from within their personality without losing his own.”
Dag Hammarskjold in a 1958 letter to Swedish author, Eyvind Johnson

+ + +

“A dragon lives forever;
but not so little boys.
Painted wings and giant’s rings
make way for other toys.”
Lenny Lipton in  “Puff The Magic Dragon” (poem)

h/t Rich Galen in Back to School–2013

Used as a section break in “Through The Rude Wind’s Wild Lament And The Bitter Weather

+ + +

“The uncompromising attitude is more indicative of an inner uncertainty than of deep conviction. The implacable stand is directed more against the doubt within than the assailant without.”
Eric Hoffer

+ + +

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at  Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”
Charles Dickens in “A Christmas Carol

Used as opening quote for “Merry Imminent Christmas 2013

+ + +

“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.”
Charles Dickens in “A Christmas Carol

Used as opening quote for “Merry Immanent Christmas 2013

+ + +

“I get my energy, I think, from being afraid–being afraid to choreograph, being afraid to fail.”
Paul Taylor in Dancemaker documentary

+ + +

“Everyone gets the experience; some get the lesson.”
T.S. Eliot

h/t Mark Graban “Lean Quotes

+ + +

“Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings.”
Charles Douglas Jackson

+ + +

“Time waste differs from material waste in that there can be no salvage. The easiest of all wastes and the hardest to correct is the waste of time, because wasted time does not litter the floor like wasted material.”
Henry Ford

h/t Mark Graban “Lean Quotes

+ + +

Merry Immanent Christmas 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes

“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.”

Charles Dickens in “A Christmas Carol

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–November 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

+ + +

“There is nothing so strong or safe in an emergency of life as the simple truth.”
Charles Dickens

+ + +

“People may or may not say what they mean, but they always say something designed to get what they want.”
David Mamet (@DailyMamet)

+ + +

“A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and
order–willed, faked, and so brought into being.”
Anne Dillard in “The Writing Life

I blogged about ”Annie Dillard on the Appreciation of Grace and Beauty” in December of 2010.

+ + +

“Life will always remain a gamble, with prizes sometimes for the imprudent, and blanks so often for the wise.”
Jerome K. Jerome

+ + +

“Value is determined by the customer in the act of paying for a product. That payment may be in terms of cash, their time spent, private data freely given, or any other means, but payment is the ultimate arbiter of value.”
Tristan Kromer (@TriKro) in “Lean Startup In the Enterprise Anti-Pattern: Lean Waterfall

+ + +

“Your preparation for the real world is not in the answers you’ve learned, but in the questions you’ve learned how to ask yourself.”
Bill Watterson

+ + +

“Life is so largely controlled by chance that its conduct can be but a perpetual improvisation.”
Somerset Maugham

+ + +

“The two chief things that give a man reputation in counsel, are the opinion of his honesty, and the opinion of his wisdom; the authority of those two will persuade.”
Ben Jonson

+ + +

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”
Erma Bombeck

+ + +

“We’re lending money
we don’t have,
to kids who will never be able to pay it back,
for jobs that no longer exist.”
Mike Rowe on “The Worst Advice in the History of the World

+ + +

“Wisdom comes with winters.”
Oscar Wilde

+ + +

“They didn’t want it good, they wanted it Wednesday.”
Robert Heinlein

h/t Kevin Murphy

+ + +

“I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught.”
Georgia O’Keeffe

+ + +

“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.”
Sidney Howard

+ + +

“Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him.”
Lord Chesterfield

+ + +

“Consequences are unpitying. Our deeds carry their terrible consequences, quite apart from any fluctuations that went before–consequences that are hardly ever confined to ourselves.”
George Eliot in Adam Bede (1859)

+ + +

“Take from the altar of the past the fire, not the ashes.”
Jean Juares

+ + +

“You don’t make your character in a crisis, you exhibit it.”
Oren Arnold

+ + +

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
Virginia Woolf

+ + +

“The experimenter who does not know what he is looking for will not understand what he finds.”
Claude Bernard

+ + +

“The waterfall method amounts to a pledge by all parties not to learn anything while doing the actual work.”
Clay Shirky in “Healthcare.gov and the gap between planning and reality

More context:

“Like all organizational models, waterfall is mainly a theory of collaboration. By putting the most serious planning at the beginning, with subsequent work derived from the plan, the waterfall method amounts to a pledge by all parties not to learn anything while doing the actual work. Instead, waterfall insists that the participants will understand best how things should work before accumulating any real-world experience, and that planners will always know more than workers.”

+ + +

“Collaboration apps have two marketing hurdles. You need to first convince one user, and second help them to convince their whole team to use it.”
Des Traynor (@DesTraynor)

+ + +

“Fear is static that prevents me from hearing my intuition.”
Hugh Prather

+ + +

“Business is a conversation because the defining work of business is conversation.”
David Weinberger in Chapter 5 “The Hyperlinked Organization” of “The ClueTrain Manifesto”

More context:

You see, the hyperlinks that replace the org chart as the primary structure of the organization are in fact conversations. They are the paths talk takes. And a business is, more than anything else, the set of conversations going on.

Business is a conversation because the defining work of a business is conversation — literally. And “knowledge workers” are simply those people whose job consists of having interesting conversations.

Conversations are where ideas happen and partnerships are formed.

+ + +

“It is by attempting to reach the top in a single leap that so much misery is caused.”
William Cobbett

+ + +

“Real development is not leaving things behind, as on a road, but drawing life from them, as from a root.”
G. K. Chesterton

+ + +

“If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write.  Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.”
Louis L’Amour

Used as the opening quote for 7 Years & 1226 Blog Posts: Lessons Learned So Far

+ + +

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
W. T. Purkiser

Used as opening quote for “Thanksgiving 2013

+ + +

Authenticity is the new bullshit.
Hugh MacLeod

Used as a section break in 7 Years & 1226 Blog Posts: Lessons Learned So Far.

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“Much unhappiness results from our inability to remember the nice things that happen to us.”
W.N. Rieger

Used as closing quote in “Thanksgiving 2013

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“This stuff is hard. That’s why it’s interesting.”
Hugh MacLeod

Used as a section break in 7 Years & 1226 Blog Posts: Lessons Learned So Far.

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“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Albert Schweitzer

Used as section break in “Thanksgiving 2013

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“A man of genius may sometimes suffer a miserable sterility; but at other times he will feel himself the magician of thought. Luminous ideas will dart from the intellectual firmament, just as if the stars were falling around him; sometimes he must think by mental moonlight, but sometimes his ideas reflect the solar splendour.”
John Foster  Journal

Used as a section break in 7 Years & 1226 Blog Posts: Lessons Learned So Far.

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“…to whom much is given much will be required…”
Luke 12:48

Full verse:

“But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.”
Luke 12:48 (Revised Standard Version)

Used as section break in “Thanksgiving 2013

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“We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.”
Somerset Maugham

Used as the closing quote for 7 Years & 1226 Blog Posts: Lessons Learned So Far.

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Thanksgiving 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
W. T. Purkiser

In the last few weeks I have visited two different friends who were in intensive care. One is now back home playing with his son and the other is in good spirits, recovering in a rehabilitation center. I am grateful for their recovery.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of  those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Albert Schweitzer

My son is back from his first half-semester at college. We celebrated his sister’s birthday with all of our children and grandchildren. I am grateful we were able to gather together and that we all get along well.

“But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.”
Luke 12:48 (Revised Standard Version)

We have so much in Silicon Valley, I hope we can do more in the next year to help others less fortunate not only with charity but by innovations that create new opportunities for employment, education, and better medical care.

“It is very dangerous to go into eternity with possibilities which one has oneself prevented from becoming realities. A possibility is a hint from God. One must follow it.”
Soren Kierkegaard

It can be hard to tell what possibilities to focus on, often what first appear to be difficulties are in fact opportunities. I need to challenge myself in 2014 to remember to look for the deeper implications of what seems like a setback.

Please have a happy Thanksgiving.

“Much unhappiness results from our inability to remember the nice things that happen to us.”
W.N. Rieger

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–October 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

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“An explorer cannot stay at home reading maps other men have made.”
Susanna Clarke in “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

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“It would be an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.”
Francis Bacon

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“The aspect of things that are most important are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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“The dystopia often imagined in the world of artificial intelligence—in which computers somehow take on a life of their own and come to rule mankind—has actually happened in the world of finance. The giant Wall Street firms have taken on lives of their own, beyond human control. The people flow into and out of them but have only incidental effect on their direction and behavior. The firms may not be intent on evil; they aren’t intent on anything except short-term profits: they’re insensible. If anyone attempted to seize control of one of these strange machines and impose upon them a clear moral direction, the machine would hit its own button and he would be ejected.

Stop and think once more about what has just happened on Wall Street: its most admired firm conspired to flood the financial system with worthless securities, then set itself up to profit from betting against those very same securities, and in the bargain helped to precipitate a world historic financial crisis that cost millions of people their jobs and convulsed our political system. In other places, or at other times, the firm would be put out of business, and its leaders shamed and jailed and strung from lampposts. (I am not advocating the latter.) Instead Goldman Sachs, like the other too-big-to-fail firms, has been handed tens of billions in government subsidies, on the theory that we cannot live without them. They were then permitted to pay politicians to prevent laws being passed to change their business, and bribe public officials (with the implicit promise of future employment) to neuter the laws that were passed—so that they might continue to behave in more or less the same way that brought ruin on us all.”

Michael Lewis “The shocking news that Goldman Sachs is greedy

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“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars.
You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”
C. S. Lewis

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“Bootstrapping does not preclude seeking investment when your active business merits and requires it. But it starts by making a difference and building a real business as proof of both the need for and the value of your products.”
Sean Murphy in “How To Bootstrap Your Startup

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“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.”
Jonathan Winters

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“Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, and where there is no continuity there is no growth.”
C.S. Lewis

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“No man remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself.”
Thomas Mann

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“A prosperous fool is a grievous burden.”
Aeschylus in Fragment 383

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“Keep your plan on an index card: key problem, customer, value, and what success looks like in 30 and 60 days”
Anne Kallus

She offered this insight at the SVCC13 Working For Equity Founders Panel, see slide 30 for a summary. This really resonated with me: I find 3×5 index cards as useful as the UX folks find post-it or sticky notes.

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“My old father used to have a saying, ‘if you make a bad bargain, hug it all the tighter.’”
Abraham Lincoln in a letter To Joshua F. Speed,  February 25, 1842

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“Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.”
Bill Veeck

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“I was a peripheral visionary. I could see the future, but only way off to the side.”
Steven Wright

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“It’s when you’re safe at home that you wish you were having an adventure.
When you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.”
Thornton Wilder

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“Education is about the only thing lying around loose in this world: a fellow can have as much as he is willing to haul away.”
George Horace Latimer

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“Never ask a man what he knows, but what he can do.”
George Horace Lorimer

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“An adventure story is fear recalled in comfort.”
Christopher Moore in the “Author’s Note for Fluke

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“Books are all right, but dead men’s brains are no good unless you mix a live one’s with them.”
George Horace Lorimer

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“The limit to innovation in business is not technology, but managers’ obsolete viewpoints.”
David Gurteen

I have learned that whenever I want to figure out what’s holding my business back–or earlier in my life my career-the first place to start is by taking a good look in the mirror and examining my own actions, attitudes, beliefs, and policies.

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“Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain”
Henry Ford

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“You don’t build communities to exploit them, you build communities to be a part of them. You have to think about  yourself as being a member of the community, not just creating and tending to the community…If the whole basis of your company is the success of others, that’s what a true community is: helping other people be successful.”
Chad Dickerson in “Etsy CEO talks offline retail, people power and 3D printers as the new sewing machines

h/t Scott Rosenberg @Scottros

This is why I was moved to start the Bootstrapper Breakfasts, I wanted to be a part of serious conversations about bootstrapping and organic growth, which were very hard to find amidst all of the intake events to the VC ecosystem.

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“I have lived in this world just long enough to look carefully the second time into things that I am most certain of the first time.”
Josh Billings

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“Unvalidated hypotheses are the WIP (inventory) of product development.”
Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei)

Making your hypotheses explicit and developing tests or experiments to validate them tends to spread the amount surprise over the development cycle instead of letting it accumulate until launch.

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“I’m always jotting things down on pieces of paper. I’ve got pieces of  paper all over my house.”
Don Henley

Used as the opening quote for “In a Wilderness of Free Association Surrounded by Insurmountable Opportunities

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“Unhealthy people have more time than energy. Healthy people have more energy than time.”
Ed Weissman

Used as the closing quote for “In a Wilderness of Free Association Surrounded by Insurmountable Opportunities

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“It’s better to recall something you wish you’d said than something you wish you hadn’t.”
Frank A. Clark

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“Always be shorter than anyone dared to hope.”
Lord Reading

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“Not everyone who is worth knowing is famous.
Not everyone who is famous is worth knowing.
You meet your community of practice,
those who can help you see the adjacent possible,
in line waiting for the famous.”
Sean Murphy

Triggered by Elia Freedman’s “Accidental Meetings” this was later used as the opening quote for “Reflections on Startup Conference 2014 in Redwood City.”

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We need to teach the highly educated person that it is not a disgrace to fail and that he must analyze every failure to find its cause. He must learn how to fail intelligently, for failing is one of the greatest arts in the world.”
Charles Kettering

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“Squint with your ears. Listen to what people are really saying to you.”
Perry Smith #4 in “30 Blazing Flashes of the Obvious

See also his “Rules and Tools for Leaders

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“Every man has three characters–that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.”
Alphonse Karr

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“The main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”
Thomas Carlyle

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“Some people look for things that went wrong and try to fix them.
I look for things that went right and try to build on them.”
Bob StoneConfessions of a Civil Servant

Ed Weissman (@edw519) replied on twitter

“And I look for things that don’t make sense and try to build what does.”
Ed Weissman (@edw519)

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“Think as you work, for in the final analysis, your worth to  your company comes not only in solving problems, but also in  anticipating them.”
Harold Ross

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“Map out your future, but do it in pencil.”
Jon Bon Jovi

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“To ‘see both sides’ of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.”
Idries Shah

h/t Mary Sorber “Polypharmacy Solutions Should Be Multi-Faceted

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“It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.”
W. Somerset Maugham in “Of Human Bondage

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“It’s not about youthful enthusiasm, it’s all about grim middle-aged persistence.”
Bruce Sterling in the ”Viridian Design Speech (Oct 14, 1998)

I was re-reading an old e-mail I had sent at Cisco that was a re-evaluation of an existing program and I had cribbed the line “our youthful enthusiasm must give way to the grim persistence of middle age” and I thought “that’s too good to be mine, I must have borrowed that from somewhere.” A web search reminded me of Sterling’s Viridian Design speech. Probably the best overview of the principles he was outlining is in “Viridian Note 00003: Viridian Design Principles.”

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“Pay attention, here’s the thick of the plot.”
Will Smith in “Parents Just Don’t Understand

A clever play on words for “the plot thickens” For example

“The plot thickens,” he said, as I entered; “I have just had an answer to my American telegram.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “A Study In Scarlet

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Quotes For Entrepreneurs–September 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

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“The basic unit of information in creative, social work is not content in the form of documents but interaction in the form of conversations.”
Esko Kilpi (@EskoKilpi)

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“When people are confused, they overuse their strengths.”
Michael Bowen (@mdcbowen) in “That Culturally Embarrassing Moment

See also #14 in “Cobb’s Rules.” There is an alternate earlier version

“People don’t have weaknesses so much as they overuse their strengths”
Michael Bowen in “The (Old) Guide to Cobb – Concepts & Terms.”

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“Experience and enthusiasm are two fine business attributes seldom found in one individual.”
William Feather

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“Unless a man has been kicked around a little, you can’t really depend upon him to amount to anything.”
William Feather

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“Next to a sincere compliment, I think I like a well-deserved and honest rebuke.”
William Feather

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“Fast is fine but accuracy is final. You must learn to be slow in a hurry.”
Wyatt Earp

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“In many lines of work, it isn’t how much you do that counts, but how much you do well and how often you decide right.”
William Feather

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“No research without action, no action without research.”
Kurt Lewin

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“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

more context

At that moment Elrond came out with Gandalf, and he called the Company to him. “This is my last word,” he said in a low voice. “The Ring-bearer is setting on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone is any charge laid; neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servant of the Enemy nor indeed to let any handle it, save members of the Company and the Council, and only then in gravest need. The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. the further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid upon you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.”
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,” said Gimli.
“Maybe,” said Elrond, “but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.”
“Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,” said Gimli.
“Or break it,” said Elrond. “Look not too far ahead! But go now with good hearts!”

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“Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.”
Dorothy Sarnoff

h/t “Quotes for Public Speakers (39)

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“You need a team to keep you honest, to keep you humble, to give a different perspective on a problem, to question your assumptions, and to provide support when things look bad.”
Tristan Kromer in Startups, Go Out and Talk to Your Customers!

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“The nature of revolutions is that they destroy the perfect and enable the impossible. ”
Seth Godin in “Tried and False

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“I get quiet joy from the observation of any man who does his job well.”
William Feather

Used as the closing quote in “BeamWise Blends Biophotonic and Model Based Design Expertise

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“I not only bow to the inevitable, I am fortified by it.”
Thornton Wilder

Used as closing quote for “Remembering 9-11: Our Children Will Also Live in Interesting Times.

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“No one sees further into a generalization than his own knowledge of detail extends.”
William James

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“Curiosity is the mother of intelligence and the father of creativity.”
Eugene Cheong

“Curiosity is the mother of intelligence” appears as an unsourced quote in Alan Fletcher’s great book“The Art of Looking Sideways. See also February 2013 Quotes for Entrepreneurs. This is also implied in ”The Marriage Between Necessity and Curiosity ” by Michelle Blade. I think I would phrase it  ”invention and creativity are the children of necessity and curiosity.”

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“Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.”
Peter F. Drucker

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“All business proceeds on beliefs, or judgments of probabilities, not on certainties.”
Charles William Eliot

This led to an interesting exchange with Bob Marshall:

  • Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei): Surely “beliefs” ARE “certainties”?
  • Sean Murphy (@skmurphy): What is believed may not be certain; certainties are commoditized knowledge without competitive advantage.
  • Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei): Way to go with the unilateral definition, dude :{
  • Sean Murphy (@skmurphy): I had believed that you would find it useful but was not certain. Surely reasonable men may differ.
  • Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei): Surely :)

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“The success of everything depends on intuition, the capacity of seeing things in a way which afterwards proves to be true, even though it cannot be established at the moment, and of grasping the essential fact, discarding the unessential, even though one can give no account of the principles by which this is done.”
Joseph Schumpeter

Which I posted in 140 characters on twitter as:

“Success depends on intuition, on seeing what afterwards proves true but cannot be established at the moment.”
Joseph Schumpeter

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“Some men will never ask for information, because it implies that they do not know.”
Henry Cardinal Manning

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“Exercise the writing muscle every day. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”
Jane Yolen

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“When you’re managing a project, peer pressure is the your most effective tool for keeping everyone on schedule.”
Robert Lewis in “Random Thoughts From a Spanish Vacation

Recruiting a team members who set high standards for themselves and asking for their advice on how to improve shared performance–and following it–are key to a early startup success. Founders are often highly self-motivated and often experts in their field, this can blind them to the value of soliciting alternative perspectives and suggestions and letting the team set goals. It’s much hard to let the team down when you participated in the decision than if you are responding to an edict.

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“Memory is a net: one finds it full of fish when he takes it from the brook, but a dozen miles of water have run through it without sticking.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Have you stocked the stream of words in your presentation with at least a few of the fish that your audience is looking for? Used as the opening quote and inspiration for the title of “Is the Stream of Your Presentation Stocked with Fish for your Audience?

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“An MVP is an offer to a particular type of customer for a specific need; it must provide enough value to justify an initial purchase.”
Sean Murphy

this is the twitter version of the slide from “MVP: What’s Really Under Your Control

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“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”
Robert McKee

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“Inspiration exists but it has to find us working.”
Pablo Picasso

I have gone back to morning pages to kickstart me on those mornings when I need to start working before inspiration shows up.

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“A man needs a purpose for real health.”
Sherwood Anderson

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It is More Complicated Than ThatFrom Edward Tufte‘s series of “Philosophical Diamond Signs

Using the format of diamond signs that provide alerts and warnings about the road ahead, this series of works  on canvas shows philosophical alerts, imperatives, and thoughts about the path past and future.

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–August 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

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“Hold a book in your hand and you’re a pilgrim at the gates of a new city.”
Anne Michaels

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“Zuckism says that if you can tap a deep enough need at a big enough scale you can strip-mine a billion intimate lives for profit.”
Kevin Kelleher in “The Trouble with Zuckism

I think Facebook and GMail are well no their way to becoming highly regulated, or perhaps third party services that monitor private communications to inject ads will simply be outlawed. I think the pendulum will start to swing back in the next five or ten years, especially as firms continue to erode privacy boundaries purely to increase their profits. In the same article Kelleher observes: “Facebook is, in its DNA, a cold-blooded parasite, subsisting on ad dollars extracted from necessary human relationships.”

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“The greatest pleasure is obtained by improving.”
Ben Hogan

h/t Torbjörn Gyllebring (@drunkcod)

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“Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are.”
George Santayana

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“Children see magic because they look for it.”
Christopher Moore in “Lamb”

I think this is why entrepreneurs see opportunities that others miss: they are alert to the possibility of better tools, better methods, and the repurposing of existing tools to new uses.

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“To broaden your horizons take a step forward.”
Frans Hiddema

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“A standpoint reached as the result of an ascent has a different meaning from that same standpoint reached as a result of a fall.”
Eduard Douwes Dekker

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“Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore, we can never count on it as we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we could not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.”
Albert Hirschman in “Development Projects Observed

Used as the opening quote for If You Knew How Hard a Startup Would Be

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“It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”
Winston Churchill

Used as the closing quote for If You Knew How Hard a Startup Would Be

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“Don’t start with the details. Start with the key ideas, and in a hierarchical fashion, form the details around these larger notions.”
John Medina in “Brain Rules

Used as organizing paradigm for “Lego Box Presentation Method

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“If we had cake, we could have cake and ice cream, if we had the ice cream.”

First principle of ineffectual entrepreneurship, the opposite of effectual entrepreneurship which works from assets and relationships you have instead of what you don’t have. A favorite expression of my Uncle John.

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Why don’t we listen well? The person we’re listening to isn’t important. Change that perspective, and you fix the problem.
Susan de la Vergne in “We’re Terrible Listeners — And Here’s Why

Suggested as a postscript to “Use E-Mail Like a Walkie-Talkie Not a Bullhorn” by Brad Pierce (@learningloving). Here is a longer excerpt for context but the entire article is worth reading.

In technology, when we find a problem with a product, we pursue its root cause. What’s really making this happen? Then we fix the root cause. We know we could just tinker with things so the symptoms stop appearing, but without getting at what’s really wrong, it’s only a matter of time before the problem shows up again.

Same thing applies here. When we’re trying to listen, we could count to seven before speaking or remind ourselves not to interrupt, but those are just symptoms. Becoming a better listener requires taking a deeper dive into the problem. We need to get at the root cause.

Why don’t we listen well? The person we’re listening to isn’t important. Change that perspective, and you fix the problem.

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“The true characteristic of genius–without despising rules, it knows when and how to break them.”
William Ellery Channing

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“Bold action coupled with frank expression has inadvertently launched many a deeply felt entrepreneurial career.”
Sean Murphy

A wry observation I made in “Life Is Too Short.” Probably inspired as much by personal experience as anything else.

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“Ideas often flash across our minds more complete than we could make them after much labour.”
La Rochefoucauld

h/t @LaRochefoucau1d

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“There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment.”
Jeff Bezos in his announcement on buying the Washington Post

More context:

“There will, of course, be change at The Post over the coming years. That’s essential and would have happened with or without new ownership. The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there. I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention.”

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“I have lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened.”
Mark Twain

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“The value of culture is its effect on character. It avails nothing unless it ennoble and strengthens that. Its use is for life. Its aim is not beauty, but goodness.”
Somerset Maugham

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“When two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as he wants to be seen, and each man as he really is.”
Michael de Saintamo

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“Success always obsoletes the very behavior that achieved it.”
Peter Drucker in Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices

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“The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.”
Pierre de Coubertin

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“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Bruce Lee

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“Solvency First, Consistency Second, Growth Third”
Rob Saric in “Startups Are Hard

More context:

2. Solvency First, Consistency Second, Growth Third
If you don’t have enough money to survive you die. [...] focus on ‘Minimum Viable Cash flow (MVC)’. Once you determine what the MVC is for both you and your team, work towards achieving that by whatever means you can. Consistency allows for predictability and the more predictable your business (‘X inputs results in Y outputs’) the faster you’ll grow.

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“To teach is to learn twice.”
Joseph Joubert

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“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”
Henry David Thoreau

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“Genius unexerted is no more genius than a bushel of acorns is a forest of oaks.”
Henry Ward Beecher

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“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.”
George Eliot in “Impressions of Theophrastus Such” (1879)

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“I’m always looking to vector in on a problem from multiple directions and perspectives, and that includes process. This means chewing on lots of different ideas, mashing them up, and keeping what works.”
Giff Constable (@giffco) in “The Point of Stupid Buzzwords

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“Solve real problems that people will pay for where you add unique value.”
Sean Murphy

I used as title for ”Solve Real Problems That People Will Pay For Where You Add Unique Value.” h/t Brad Pierce for a tweet on @learningloving that reminded me of this.

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“The two most fundamental strategic choices are deciding where to play and how to win.”
Roger L. Martin in “Why Most CEOs are Bad at Strategy

More context

The two most fundamental strategic choices are deciding where to play and how to win. These two decisions–in what areas will the company compete, and on what basis will it do so–are the critical one-two punch to generate strategic advantage. However, they can’t be considered independently or sequentially. In a great strategy, your where-to-play and how-to-win choices fit together and reinforce one another.

In ”Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works” Martin, writing with A. G. Lafley, offers two slightly different definitions of strategy:

“A strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of five choices: a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities, and management systems.”

and

“A strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of where-to-play, how-to-win, core capability, and management system choices that uniquely meet a consumer’s needs, creating competitive advantage and superior value for a business.”

h/t Matt Wensing “Why Most CEOs are Bad at Strategy”

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“There is no such thing as a long piece of work, except one that you dare not start.” Charles Baudelaire

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“Confusion is a word we have invented for an order that is not yet understood.”
Henry Miller

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“Innovation opportunities do not come with the tempest but with the rustling of the breeze.”
Peter Drucker

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“The direction worth going in isn’t up, down, forward, or backward. It’s towards. And beyond.”
Umair Haque (@umairh)

Part of a five tweet series on finding your direction:

  1. The direction worth going in isn’t up, down, forward, or backward. It’s towards. And beyond.
  2. To find your direction, look inside. Not outside.
  3. Tear up the map and throw it away. You can’t use a map if you’re already lost .

  4. Get lost if you want to be found.
  5. You can calculate the best direction with your mind. But you can only find the right direction with your heart.

+ + +

“True religion is the life we lead, not the creed we profess.”
Louis Nizer

According to Quoteyard this appears in “Reflections without mirrors an autobiography of the mind” (1978) by Louis Nizer on page 94, but there is an earlier citation to “The Ministers manual: a study and pulpit guide: Volume 38 (1962)” by Gerard Benjamin Fleet Hallock on  page 61.

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–July 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail address if you would like have new blog posts sent to you.

+ + +

“There is no distance on this Earth as far away as yesterday.”
Robert Nathan

+ + +

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

+ + +

“The shrewd guess, the fertile hypothesis, the courageous leap to a tentative conclusion–these are the most valuable coin of the thinker at work. But in most schools guessing is heavily penalized and is associated somehow with laziness.”
Jerome S. Bruner

I used this as the closing quote for “Early Markets Offer Fluid Opportunities

+ + +

“Good design successfully manages the tensions between user needs, technology feasibility, and business viability.”
Tim Brown

From an interview in “Imagine Design Create

+ + +

“The secret to success is constancy of purpose”
Benjamin Disraeli

+ + +

“The right way to build a company is to experiment in lots of small ways, so that you have plenty of room to make mistakes and change strategies.”
Vinod Khosla quoted in “What Does Vinod Khosla Know About Web 2.0 That Others Don’t?” (2005)

Used as closing quote in “Making Our Business More Credible in 2006

+ + +

“A reputation for good judgment, for fair dealing, for truth, and for rectitude, is itself a fortune.”
Henry Ward Beecher

+ + +

“Don’t save the canary. Fix the coal mine.”
Seth Godin in “Canaries and Coal Mines

This is not the best line in the blog post, it’s “My own little Potemkin Village” which highlights Godin’s insight into the perils of celebrity.

+ + +

“Innovation is fostered by information gathered from new connections; from insights gained by journeys into other disciplines or places; from active, collegial networks and fluid, open boundaries. Innovation arises from ongoing circles of exchange, where information is not just accumulated or stored, but created. Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren’t there before.”
Margaret J. Wheatley

h/t Valeria Maltoni
Used as closing quote in “Byron Wien’s Lessons Learned in 80 Years: Seven for Entrepreneurs.”

+ + +

“Before you can score you must have a goal.”
Greek proverb

Used as the title for “Before you can score you must have a goal.

+ + +

The days you work are the best days.
Georgia O’Keeffe

+ + +

“Nothing happens to you that has not happened to someone else.”
William Feather

I really liked William Feather’s 1949 book, “The Business of Life.” It’s a collection of short notes, letters, newspaper columns magazine articles. Very insightful, and something like reading a blog from the 1930?s and 40?s. I used it as the basis for four blog posts:

+ + +

“If you were were really crushing it,
you’d be too busy crushing it
to tell people how much you’re crushing it.”
Griffin Caprio (@gcaprio)

+ + +

“I like breakfast-time better than any other moment in the day,” said Mr. Irwine. “No dust has settled on one’s mind then, and it presents a clear mirror to the rays of things”.
George Eliot in Adam Bede (1859)

+ + +

“When you struggle to reach for something you don’t know, that’s where most of the interesting stuff is.”
Herbie Hancock

+ + +

“Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.”
Alice Walker

Added as part of a July 2013 postscript to “Good Fortune.

+ + +

“Look around. Find the stories that are the ones that one day, you’re going to wish somebody had told sooner. Tell them.
Scott Rosenberg (@scottros)  in Missed stories: About that Horace Mann School article in the Times

+ + +

“That’s the scary thing about hope, if you let it go too long it turns into faith.”
Christopher Moore in “Coyote Blue

Used as the closing quote for “Christopher Moore’s Coyote Blue.”

+ + +

“Sometimes when you start losing detail, whether it’s in music or in life, something as small as failing to be polite, you start to lose substance.”
Benny Goodman

+ + +

“To select well among old things is almost equal to inventing new ones.”
Nicolas Charles Joseph Trublet

+ + +

“What is the quality of your intent? Certain people have a way of saying things that shake us to the core. Even when the words do not seem harsh or offensive, the impact is shattering. What we could be experiencing is the intent behind the words.”
Thurgood Marshall

Used as the opening quote for “Advising Entrepreneurs

+ + +

“It is too late now for earlier ways;
now there are only some other ways,
and only one way to find them–fail.”
William Stafford excerpt from “Level Light”

+ + +

“The point of a notebook is to jumpstart the mind.”
John Gregory Dunne

+ + +

“One startup’s earlyvangelist is another enterprise’s intrapreneur.”
Sean Murphy

It’s taken me a while to recognize this duality. I think “change agent” is an equally useful term for intrapreneur.

+ + +

“There is a difference between knowing a thing and understanding it.
You can know a lot about something and not really understand it.”
Charles Kettering

+ + +

“I try to do the right thing at the right time. They may be just little things, but they usually make the difference between winning and losing.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

+ + +

“Marry for love, stay married, and raise happy children who are quick to laugh and slow to judge.”
Christopher Moore in “Coyote Blue

Great advice. I used this quote in “Christopher Moore’s Coyote Blue.”

+ + +

“True deception goes unnoticed.”
Les Coleman

+ + +

“‘Fortune favors the bold,’ but only if they are playing a game they thoroughly know.”
Lois Grafe

I think Grafe adds a useful qualification to Virgil‘s “Fortune favors the bold.” (line 284 of Book 10 of the Aeneid: “Audentes fortuna juvat.”)

+ + +

The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas.”
Edward de Bono

h/t Jabe Bloom (@cyetain)

+ + +

“Try to be one on whom nothing is lost.”
Henry James

From his essay “The Art of Fiction” James advises:

The power to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implication of things, to judge the whole piece by the pattern, the condition of feeling life in general so completely that you are well on your way to knowing any particular corner of it–this cluster of gifts may almost be said to constitute experience. [...]I should certainly say to a novice, “Write from experience and experience only” [...] and “Try to be one of those people on whom nothing is lost.”

+ + +

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–June 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail if you would like Feedburner to deliver new blog posts to your inbox.

I have highlighted a number of good quotes by Russell Ackoff this month. He was one of the most insightful contributors to systems thinking of the last 50 years.

+ + +

“Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.”
Howard Rheingold

h/t Scott Rosenberg

+ + +

“Necessity may be the mother of invention,
but play is certainly the father.”
Roger von Oech

Originally used in “Understanding vs. Mastery

+ + +

“Science is not about control. It is about cultivating a perpetual condition of wonder.”
Richard Powers in “The Gold Bug Variations

Fuller excerpt:

“Science is not about control. It is about cultivating a perpetual sense of wonder in the face of something that forever grows one step richer and subtle than our latest theory about it. It is about reverence, not mastery.”

+ + +

“They had names for everything but understood so little.”
Ned B. Johnson

+ + +

“The performance of a system depends on how its parts interact, not on how they act taken separately”
Russell Ackoff in “Re-Creating the Corporation”

h/t Torbjörn Lundquist @torbjornlu

+ + +

“No problem stays solved in a dynamic environment.”
Russell Ackoff

h/t Farbood Nivi @farbood

longer excerpt from “Redesigning Society” (highlighting added).

Problem solving usually involves research, often using experimentation, quantitative analysis, and uncommon sense.

Unfortunately, few problems, once solved, stay that way; changes in the environment, changing societal goals, and new information cause solutions to deteriorate. For example, streetcars (trolleys) once solved urban transportation problems. They no longer do so; today they are considered to contribute to the congestion in an automobile-dominated environment. Furthermore, the first three ways of solving problems generally do not change the structure or functions of the entity that uses them.

Moreover, solutions generally do not exist in isolation from other problems. Solutions obtained to problems isolated from the other problems with which they interact generally produce one or more new problems. These are often more serious and difficult to solve than the original problem. For example, the use of insecticides to control crop-destroying insects created a number of health problems involving plants and animals (including humans) that are more serious than the problems they solved.

+ + +

“The future is better dealt with using assumptions than forecasts.”
Russell Ackoff “Management F-Laws” #11

h/t  Hermanni Hyytiälä  more context

“The future is better dealt with using assumptions than forecasts. Forecasts are about probabilities; assumptions are about possibilities. We carry a spare tire in our cars not because we forecast that we will have a puncture on our next trip but because we assume that a flat tire is possible. We plan for serious contingencies–floods, hurricanes, illness–however unlikely they may be. Carrying a spare tire cannot prevent our having a flat tire but it can reduce its undesirable effect; for example, being stranded on a remote highway at night in the rain.”

+ + +

“Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.”
Robert Orben

+ + +

“The reason we so often struggle is we forget to study first principles. Or even believe in their existence.”
Torbjörn Gyllebring @drunkcod

+ + +

“People generally think that it is the world, the environment, external relationships, which stand in one’s way, in the way of ones’ good fortune… and at bottom it is always man himself that stands in his own way.”
Soren Kierkegaard

+ + +

“English does not contain a suitable word for ‘system of problems.’ Therefore, I have had to coin one. I choose to call such a system a mess”
Russell Ackoff in “Redesigning the Future”

+ + +

“Talent is a long patience.”
Gustave Flaubert

+ + +

“Decisions exist only in the present.”
Peter Drucker

+ + +

“I’m interested in the moment when two objects collide and generate a third. The third object is where the interesting work is.”
Bruce Mau

+ + +

“You cannot compete on common knowledge.”
Valdis Krebs (@orgnet) in Social Capital the Key to Success in the Connected Age

More context:

“In the knowledge economy, knowledge and content are no longer sufficient – everyone has access to many sources of content and knowledge. You cannot compete on common knowledge — what everyone knows.
[...]
The new advantage is context – how internal and external content is interpreted, combined, made sense of, and converted to new products and services. Creating competitive context requires social capital – the ability to find, utilize and combine the skills, knowledge and experience of others, inside and outside of your organization. Social capital is derived from employees’ personal and professional networks.
[...]
Innovation happens at the intersections — innovative organizations have many more intersections of diverse thinking and approaches than we see above.  Competing effectively in the connected economy is based on combining (and re-combining) unique knowledge from different parts of the business ecosystem (both within and outside of the organization). ”

Valdis Krebs in Social Capital the Key to Success in the Connected Age

See also his article “Social Capital: The Key to Success for the 21st Century Organization” [PDF]

+ + +

‘The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.”
Marcus Aurelius

+ + +

“If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.”
Dianna Booher

h/t Jon Zimmer in “Quotes for Public Speakers #136

+ + +

“When we see a mirage what is it that we see?”
Les Coleman in “Thunks

h/t James Geary “Les Is No More

+ + +

“Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.”
Conan O’Brien

+ + +

“Shrinking product lifetimes will force large firms to reconsider a strategy of outsourcing all customer development to acquired startups.”
Sean Murphy

+ + +

“You shall know the truth, and it will make you odd.
Flannery O’Connor

+ + +

“When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men’s minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind.”
Cicero

h/t John Zimmer “Quotes for Public Speakers #140

+ + +

“In the spring of 2009 I started on ‘Startup: An Owner’s Manual’ a how-to instructional guide for building new companies.”
Nathan Beckord “Foundersuite Origin Story Part Deux

+ + +

“Boring routines mean you can save your energy to solve big problems every day.”
Chris Oliver (@excid3)

h/t Charlie Park

+ + +

“The 1920s are the decade that signaled the arrival of a gift that still means a lot to us: Saturday.”
Amity Shlaes in “The Myth of Gatsby’s Suffering Middle Class

+ + +

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–May 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail if you would like Feedburner to deliver new blog posts to your inbox.

+ + +

“Hearing is listening to what is said. Listening is hearing what isn’t said.”
Simon Sinek (@simonsinek)

+ + +

“Naps are essential to my process. Not dreams, but that state adjacent to sleep, the mind on waking.”
William Gibson, interview with Paris Review Summer 2011

h/t Steve Mays

+ + +

“A learning experience is one of those things that says, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”
Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

+ + +

“Just because everything is different doesn’t mean that anything has changed.”
Irene Peter

+ + +

“Every $25k in revenue is another entirely dilution-free Angel investor.”
Ted Rheingold in a comment on “Revenue vs. Value

more succinct than my “Revenue, especially break even revenue, is never dilutive of your ownership.” in “8 tips for evaluating funding alternatives.

+ + +

“Reid Hoffman is a genius, with a great vision. I just wish he’d join LinkedIn, and implement some of it.”
Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) in ”LinkedIn Annoys Me

+ + +

“He who is outside his door already has the hard part of his journey behind him.”
Dutch proverb

+ + +

“Okay, are you really ‘experimenting’? How do you know if you’re really experimenting? You’re working on it methodically and you’re publishing the results! It’s not an experiment if you don’t publish the results in some verifiable and falsifiable form, okay?”
Bruce Sterling in a blog post “Transcript of Reboot 11 Speech (June-25-2009)

h/t Jennifer Anne Gergen (@palebluejen) on www.palebluejen.com

+ + +

“They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.”
Dorothy Parker

+ + +

“We believe the typewriter is obsolete. Let’s prove it inside before we try to convince our customers.”
Mike Scott Apple memo 1980

Found in an Oct-1-1981 Inc. Magazine article by Steve Ditlea “An Apple On Every Desk

Mike Scott ushered in a new age in office procedures. “EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY!! NO MORE TYPEWRITERS ARE TO BE PURCHASED, LEASED, etc., etc. Apple is an innovative company. We must believe and lead in all areas. If word processing is so neat, then let’s all use it! Goal: by 1-1-81, NO typewriters at Apple… We believe the typewriter is obsolete. Let’s prove it inside before we try and convince our customers.”

h/t http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_your_own_dog_food

+ + +

“Capability: what kind of value can we provide?
Capacity: how much?
Throughput: how often?”
Torbjörn Gyllebring (@drunkcod)

+ + +

“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”
Barbara Sher

+ + +

“I learned, when hit by loss,
to ask the right question:
“What next?” instead of
“Why me?” . . .
Whenever I am willing to ask
“What is necessary next?”
I have moved ahead.
Whenever I have taken no for a final answer
I have stalled and gotten stuck.”
Julia Cameron

+ + +

“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.”
Edwin Schlossberg

h/t David Gurteen (@DavidGurteen)

+ + +

Ancient wisdom:
deal in personal trust;
your word is your bond;
avoid extremes;
treat the money you invest for others as something sacred;
don’t take any more perks than you would wish others to take;
don’t borrow what you couldn’t suddenly pay back;
imagine the worse case financial scenario and expect it very may well happen;
the wealthier you become the more humble you should act.

Victor Davis Hanson in “Ten Random Thoughts

 

+ + +

“That’s the problem! We need to find smarter prospects!”
VP of Sales from $1B company now at a startup.

Recounted in “For New Products, Prospect Objections Are Valuable Data”

+ + +

“Do something.
Do something small.
Do something small but useful.
Do something small but useful now.”
Bob Bemer

Unwrapped from his motto:  ((((DO SOMETHING!) SMALL) USEFUL) NOW!) and used in

+ + +

“Truth is much too complicated to allow anything but approximations.”
John von Neumann

+ + +

“A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave.”
Benjamin Franklin

+ + +

“Projects shouldn’t start off green, they should start off red.
Risky assumptions have not yet been validated.”
David J. Bland (@davidjbland)

+ + +

“Life is short,
skill is long,
opportunity fleeting,
experiment perilous,
judgement difficult.”
Hippocrates in Aphorisms (first one ”Ars Longa, Vita Brevis“)

Skill is sometimes translated as “art” but Hippocrates is offering advice to physicians and the Greek word, “Techne” has more to do with skill or craft than art. Here is the second sentence:

The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.

+ + +

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
Buckminster Fuller

+ + +

“Nothing is more effective than sincere, accurate praise.”
Bill Walsh

+ + +

“Focusing on solving the problem is often the biggest impediment to actually understanding it.”
Torbjörn Gyllebring (@drunkcod)

+ + +

“Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work:
the work of becoming expert through study and practice,
the work of finding solutions to problems
and problems with those solutions
the work of trial and error,
the work of thinking and perfecting,
the work of creating.

[...] The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.”
Kevin Ashton “Creative People Say No

+ + +

“A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong.”
Francis Crick

+ + +

Quotes For Entrepreneurs–April 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

You can follow @skmurphy to get these hot off the mojo wire or wait until they are collected in a blog post like this one at the end of each month. Enter your E-mail if you would like Feedburner to deliver new blog posts to your inbox.

+ + +

“Hope begins in the dark,
the stubborn hope that if you just show up
and try to do the right thing,
the dawn will come.
You wait and watch and work:
you don’t give up.”
Anne Lamott

+ + +

“When you need it, it’s to late to start building it. This goes for all kinds of capital, and no one accepts an IOU for social capital.”
Torbjorn Gyllebring (@drunkcod)

+ + +

“Usually zero product adoption isn’t because that one feature wasn’t added but rather that the problem wasn’t properly understood.”
Asif Khan Mandozai (@asifmandozai)

+ + +

“Not being able to govern events, I govern myself.”
Michel de Montaigne

+ + +

“In my opinion dividing work into small, but different, batches (eating elephant one bite at a time) should not be called iteration. My reference case for iteration is Newton’s method: improving your solution by repeating an operation on improved approximation of answer.”
Donald Reinertsen (@DReinertsen)

+ + +

“If at first you don’t succeed that’s one data point.”
Randall MunroeResolution

More context:
If at first you don't succeed that's one data point.

+ + +

“If there’s a common thread between endless startup failure stories, then it is “we talked to a bunch of people who said they’d spend money on this” and when push came to shove said people didn’t actually spend money.
We’re not failing, but even from a (modestly) successful startup perspective, the vast gulf between “people who like to talk to you as if they will spend real money” and “people who will actually spend money” is painfully apparent.”
onan_barbarian on Hacker News

+ + +

“There is no such thing as simple. Simple is hard.”
Martin Scorsese

+ + +

“The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.”
John Maynard Keynes  from “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” (1935)

+ + +

“Don’t think of it as failure. Think of it as time-released success.”
Robert Orben

+ + +

“To see takes time.”
Georgia O’Keeffe

+ + +

Conway’s Law For Startups: Attack a large firm at an interstitial between two or more business units.”
Sean Murphy in Conway’s Law: the Co-Evolution of Business Organization and Product Design

More context from  “How do Committees Invent” where Melvin Conway’s observed what come to be known as “Conway’s Law.”

The basic thesis of this article is that organizations which design systems (in the broad sense used here) are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations. We have seen that this fact has important implications for the management of system design. Primarily, we have found a criterion for the structuring of design organizations: a design effort should be organized according to the need for communication.

Another formulation of Conway’s Law is that communication problems in an organization will be manifested in their finished products. One example of this is from Tracy Kidder’s “The Soul of a New Machine” has a scene where Tom West, the leader of the Data General effort to develop a 32 bit mini gets a look at the VAX, DEC’s competing machine:

“Looking into the VAX, West had imagined he saw a diagram of DEC’s corporate organization. He felt that the VAX was too complicated. He did not like, for instance, the system by which various parts of the machine communicated with each other; for his taste, there was too much protocol involved. He decided that VAX embodied flaws in DEC’s corporate organization. The machine expressed that phenomenally successful company’s cautious, bureaucratic style. Was this true? West said it didn’t matter, it was a useful theory.”

Conway’s Law for startups: Attack a much larger competitors at “interstitial opportunities” that will require two or more divisions of a larger firm to collaborate to be able to compete with you.

+ + +

“The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
George Eliot in Middlemarch

h/t Emily Esfahani Smith in “Relationships Are More Important Than Ambition

+ + +

“Passitivity starves opportunity killing her in no less a direct way than deliberate action, but it often goes unnoticed and without question.”
Torbjörn Gyllebring (@drunkcod)

+ + +

“Whats the biggest thing that makes you better? IQ, education, health, experience, determination, other people? I suggest: having suffered.”
Ed Weissman (@edw519)

+ + +

“Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain and gaining new and wider views.”
Albert Einstein

+ + +

“Beware how you take away hope from any human being.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.  in his valedictory address to medical graduates at Harvard University (10 March 1858)

More context:

You can never be too cautious in your prognosis, in the view of the great uncertainty of the course of any disease not long watched, and the many unexpected turns it may take.

I think I am not the first to utter the following caution: Beware how you take away hope from any human being.

Nothing is clearer than that the merciful Creator intends to blind most people as they pass down into the dark valley. Without very good reasons, temporal or spiritual, we should not interfere with his kind arrangements. It is the height of cruelty and the extreme of impertinence to tell your patient he must die, except you are sure that he wishes to know it, or that there is some particular cause for his knowing it. I should be especially unwilling to tell a child that it could not recover; if the theologians think it necessary, let them take the responsibility. God leads it by the hand to the edge of the precipice in happy unconsciousness, and I would not open its eyes to what he wisely conceals.

+ + +

“Be content to seem what you really are.”
Marcus Aurelius

+ + +

“We can be knowledgeable with other men’s knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other men’s wisdom.”
Michel de Montaigne

+ + +

Ignorance gives one a large range of probabilities.
George Eliot in Daniel Deronda (1876) [Text on Gutenberg]

+ + +

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners.”
Dale Carnegie

h/t  John Zimmer ”Quotes for Public Speakers #129

+ + +

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
G. K. Chesterton

+ + +

A triplet of quotes from Matt Barcomb (@mattbarcomb) on projects, programs, and portfolios.

“A group of people is not a team and a group of projects is not a portfolio.”
Matt Barcomb (@mattbarcomb)

“A program is a group of related projects working towards a similar end goal.”
Matt Barcomb (@mattbarcomb)

“A portfolio should strategically guide the use of capacity for
organization objectives.”
Matt Barcomb (@mattbarcomb)

+ + +

“There are no secrets, only information you don’t have yet.”
Adam Curry

h/t Steve Mays

+ + +

“Shallow ideas can be assimilated; ideas that require people to reorganize their picture of the world provoke hostility.”
James GleickChaos: Making a New Science

16 Quotes on Customer Development From Asif Mandozai

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, Quotes, skmurphy

I have been following Asif Khan Mandozai (@asifmandozai) on twitter for several months now and thought I would curate a set of is best quotes on customer development for posterity. He is consistently practical and insightful.

If your customers just want to go from point A to point B. Build them a go-cart not a Ferrari.

Good idea for an initial offering, and an absolute requirement for any minimum viable product (MVP).

Design is NOT everything. Consider products in the market customers pay for which solve STRONG problems but lack good design.

Customers will forgive you on bad design if you are solving a strong enough problem.

There’s a difference between STRONG problems and BIG problems. One is around pain level and the other around market size.

I like his “strong problem” formulation where the gap or delta between current results and outcomes that your product or service can offer is large.

Always look out for problems on the periphery of the main problem you’re addressing where competition may be much lower.

If your prospects repeatedly show interest in something unrelated to what you are validating – swerve & follow what’s really bothering them.

Let your customers guide what your product must become by showing you the problems your product must address.

Be guided by where your prospects are telling you to focus your efforts.

Innovation is like fire – It’s magical until it’s understood. When understood, it becomes accessible to everyone. Value shifts to execution.

Be careful of “lighting the way for your competitors” by being unprepared for the need to continue to refine your offering and improve the quality and speed of your execution once you start to gain traction.

“The whole world” is NOT a good answer when you are asked “Who is your target customer?”

You find your thousandth customer only after your hundredth & your hundredth after your tenth. Your tenth after your first. Start there.

Even one customer is an achievement – go find out why they paid.

Find out the story behind why they selected you. That requires a conversation. Here are three related blog posts

“It’s a great sign to see when your prospects get emotionally charged when talking about problems or solutions.”

Conversely a lukewarm response or little emotional involvement or energy around a problem probably means that either the problem isn’t very important or your proposed solution is not seen as providing much value.

“The calm before the storm is always riddled with assumptions.”

If you cannot think of a dozen things that might go wrong or that you need to understand better you probably aren’t thinking about your customer’s situation hard enough.

There’s a big difference between Users, Customers and Channel Partners. Who are you really validating with?

Customers pay you, they are the only ones who can validate an MVP.

Don’t be afraid to tell your customers you’re still in early stages and need their help: serve and learn.

I think this is better done with a “we are just getting started so we are going to try harder” rather than using it as an excuse for  poor performance. Most startups that fail run out of trust before they run out of money. Social capital is more important than financial capital in the early market.

“Usually zero product adoption isn’t because that one feature wasn’t added but rather that the problem wasn’t properly understood.”

Zero product adoption often involves targeting the wrong customer or trying to engage with a poor message that obscures the value of your offering.

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