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“Access to information doesn’t make you well-informed any more than a library card makes you well-read.”
Bernard Robertson

This seems related to

“Knowledge is of two kinds.
We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it.”
Samuel Johnson

But I think it’s a more appropriate warning for the Age of Google we find ourselves in. I came across this originally in Mark Zimmerman’s Zhurnaly entry “Superficial Research” which also points to “If a Tree Doesn’t Fall on the Internet, Does it Exist?

Here is the deeper issue for entrepreneurs: early markets aren’t directly discoverable through Google.

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“I hope that all of you act on this. If you don’t, fewer of you will be listening to someone else next year at this time.” Irwin Federman

I like this approach of the CEO putting himself “in the same box” with his employees. It was at the core of two blog posts:

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“The Industrial Revolution did not occur when we built steam engines, but when we used steam engines to build steam engines.”
Phillip Armour

I always thought the computing revolution was the first to build on itself but clearly steam, electricity, steel, mass production, and others had the same effect.

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“The umpire’s mantra of quick to decide, slow to anger has served me well professionally for many years.”
Mike Coop

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“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
Mark Twain

Particularly good advice to bear in mind during a demo or a sales call.

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“The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.”
Richard Hamming

Hamming’s lecture “You and Your Research” deserves a blog or two at some point.

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“Don’t confuse selling with installing. ”
Hal Stern

Strictly speaking this quote may predate Hal Stern. My source is Larry McVoy. This would be #6 on “5 Things to Remember When Selling a New Product

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“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
Mark Twain

Used in the opening paragraph of  “3D Printing IP Issues

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“Fairness is not an attitude. Fairness is a skill.”
Brit Hume

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“A nexialist is skilled in the science of linking the knowledge of one field of learning with that of other fields.”
A. E. Van Vogt

Context (full quote from Van Vogt’s “The Voyage of the Space Beagle“) is

“Nexialist: one skilled in the science of joining together in an orderly fashion the knowledge of one field of learning with that of other fields.”

This quote inspired Ted Nelson from an early age. In Chapter 7 there is another version:

“Nexialism is the science of joining together in an orderly fashion the knowledge of one field of learning with that of other fields. It provides techniques for speeding up the process of absorbing knowledge and of using effectively what has been learned.”
A. E. Van Vogt in  “The Voyage of the Space Beagle“ [opening quote Chapter 7]

I used this as a section quote in “Jack of All Trades.

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“Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.”
Gehm’s Corollary to Clarke’s Third Law

Arthur C. Clarke’s Three Laws from his essay collection “Profiles of the Future

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Advanced technology is indistinguishable from a sufficiently rigged demo.”
Andy Finkel

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“A successful firm’s cash flow provides a good living for owners and employees and the profit necessary for continued growth.”
Norm Brodsky

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“I’m not afraid…I was born to do this.”
Joan of Arc

My pick for the opening quote of 2009. And an emotion I identify with as an entrepreneur.

Brad Pierce used this as a point of departure in the comments:

I love Joan of Arc, but mystical visions drove her to martyrdom. That’s not far from my own fears about startups.

As a demotivational poster ( ) says, “The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly.”

If you “look at yourself as a point in the distribution” ( ), isn’t failure of a startup more likely than success?

As another demotivational poster ( ) says, “For every winner, there are dozens of losers. Chances are you’re one of them.”

I know successful entrepreneurs exist, but I also know there are only 432 players in the NBA and 435 members of the US House of Representatives.

What are the statistics for tech startups?

— Brad Pierce

My short answer is much better, many markets offer levels of success that allow you to bootstrap your way into them. If you have domain expertise and good work habits I think you odds of success are better than 50% at the 5 year mark, roughly equivalent to your tenure in a Silicon Valley job.