Quotes for Entrepreneurs – March 2009

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“Would you like the formula for success? Double your rate of failure.”
Thomas J. Watson Sr. (1874-1956)

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“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it is.”
Wayne Gretzky

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“A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.”
John Le Carre in “The Honourable Schoolboy

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“Old-school Silicon Valley: don’t be afraid to say what you think. Ideas are the way things get invented and problems get solved.”
Mike Cassidy from “Looking Ahead with Tech Icon Bob Metcalfe

It’s a quote about Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet. More context:

“See, when Metcalfe takes the stage, everyone wants to hear the old stories and about how he co-invented Ethernet, a stunning breakthrough in the ’70s and a key way computers talk to each other today. But Metcalfe would prefer to talk about what lies ahead.

Metcalfe, who lives in Boston now, was telling me this at the end of an informal lunch at the computer museum with about 30 of the institution’s backers. He’d just finished provoking, inspiring and entertaining the lunch crowd with a brief talk about the future of energy production. A talk that he warned would be in parts “controversial and annoying.”

But that’s the way Metcalfe is. Not so much controversial and annoying, but old-school Silicon Valley. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks. But he doesn’t say it just to upset people. He says what he says because he thinks ideas have value, that ideas are the way things get invented and problems get solved. If you disagree with him? Good. Let’s hear it.”

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“A customer who says anything is more important than price is the Holy Grail: few times in life will you find such a market.”
Steve Blank
in “SuperMac War Story 2: Facts Exist Outside the Building, Opinions Reside Within–So Get the Hell Outside


5. Performance over price: In fact, for over half of these customers performance was even more important than price!  (If you haven’t stopped reading, please do so.  To find a customer who says anything is more important than price is the Holy Grail for a marketer.  Few times in his/her life will they find such a market.)

See also “Steve Blank on Leaving the BatCave to Learn from Customers

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“Embrace the ‘fertile void’ of sleepless nights. Lots of creativity can occur then.”
Cecily Drucker

Quote is from a guest post on the “What Would Dad Say” blog by Cecily Drucker entitled “Secrets of a 64 year old Startup Virgin” [blog and post have disappeared and are not available from archive.org] My analysis of the post is here: “Cecily Drucker’s Startup Secrets

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“Real revolutions: old stuff is broken faster than new stuff is put in its place. Big changes stall, small changes spread.”
Clay Shirky in “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

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“No matter what the tax rates have been, in post WW2 America tax revenues have remained at about 19.5% of GDP.”
Kurt Hauser

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“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I used this in “Three Advantages of Younger Entrepreneurs in B2B Startups

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“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
George Orwell in “In Front Of Your Nose” (First published: Tribune. London — March 22, 1946.

Longer excerpt:

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it. Political predictions are usually wrong. But even when one makes a correct one, to discover why one was right can be very illuminating. In general, one is only right when either wish or fear coincides with reality. If one recognizes this, one cannot, of course, get rid of one’s subjective feelings, but one can to some extent insulate them from one’s thinking and make predictions cold-bloodedly, by the book of arithmetic. In private life most people are fairly realistic. When one is making out one’s weekly budget, two and two invariably make four. Politics, on the other hand, is a sort of sub-atomic or non-Euclidean word where it is quite easy for the part to be greater than the whole or for two objects to be in the same place simultaneously. Hence the contradictions and absurdities I have chronicled above, all finally traceable to a secret belief that one’s political opinions, unlike the weekly budget, will not have to be tested against solid reality.”
George Orwell in “In Front Of Your Nose” (First published: Tribune. London — March 22, 1946.

I used the longer version in “Entrepreneurs Need To See With Newcomer’s Eyes And Ask Stupid Questions.”

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“Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.”
Alasdair Gray

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