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

Quotes for Entrepreneurs Collected in June 2017

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“Hunger is the handmaid of genius.”
Mark Twain in Chapter XLIII of “Following the Equator

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“Stubbornness can make someone stupid or brilliant.”
Daniel Desbiens

I think stubbornness that flows from an unwillingness to admit mistakes makes you stupid, if it’s persevering in the face of difficulties and setbacks, learning from your mistakes as you go, then it can lead to brilliant outcomes.

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“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
William Bruce Cameron

h/t Quote Investigator and Alan Klement in “The Illusion of Measuring What Customers Want” I used this in “Three Tests For Goals” and “The Limits of Customer Relationship Management Systems

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“Treat yourself like a piece of your writing which you set aside for a week so you could look at it fresh.”
Tyler Cowan in “How to Seem Telepathic

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“You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need. ”
Jerry Gillies

Gillies added a clarification on this quote in 2010:

“I am sure you are aware of how your energy levels change, depending on what you are doing. Are you doing something you enjoy, your level of energy will be high and you will get a lot done. Are you doing something that you do not enjoy so much, both your energy level and productivity will be down. So, as you go about figuring out what your path is in this life, pay attention to what you REALLY enjoy doing.
I can guarantee you that your path is NOT to be doing something that you do not enjoy.
I am not sure where the imagination fits into this, but I will take a stab at it: When you are doing something that you enjoy, you are likely to come up with lots of ideas on how to improve what you are doing or how to reach your goal.”
Jerry Gillies in “Favorite Quotes Make them Your Own”

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The study found that patients who reported their side effects more frequently via the Web-based tool got quick attention from nurses, who frequently adjusted medications for nausea, constipation and pain. As a result, Basch said, those patients had fewer emergency room visits, were able to tolerate chemo longer and were more active — all factors that contributed to their living five months longer than the patients who were not in the real-time reporting group.”
Laura McGinley “How a Simple Tech Tool Can Help Cancer Patients Live Longer

h/t Dr. Eric Topol; This is essentially extending the closer monitoring and treatment adjustment in a clinical setting to very ill out patients and reducing the number of E.R. admissions due to treatment side effects. The median survival improved from 26 to 31 months essentially due to more finely adjusted treatment. This is using a very simple technology to make adjustments in a broken care model.

Scott Ramsey, director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said Basch’s approach represents a “promising, low-cost way to reduce suffering and save millions of dollars in preventable emergency-department visits.”

Ramsey, who was not involved in the study, said that most oncology practices rely on patients to contact their offices when they run into trouble during chemotherapy. “But unfortunately, most patients don’t know when to call for help and often wait until it’s too late,” he said. In Washington state, more than 50 percent of chemotherapy patients end up at the E.R. or in the hospital within six months of starting treatment, according to Ramsey.

Laura McGinley “How a Simple Tech Tool Can Help Cancer Patients Live Longer

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“True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it.”
Karl Popper

Willful ignorance is being afraid to ask, afraid to go and see, afraid to record observations and take measurements and keep a log so that you can spot trends.  It’s the refusal to acknowledge the possibility you are wrong.

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“And would some Power give us the gift
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion.”
Robert Burns in “To a Louse

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“We need more of the Office Desk and less of the Show Window in politics. Let men in office substitute the midnight oil for the limelight.”
Calvin Coolidge in “Have Faith in Massachusetts

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“The desire to be right and the desire to have been right are two desires, and the sooner we separate them the better off we are. The desire to be right is the thirst for truth. On all counts, both practical and theoretical, there is nothing but good to be said for it.

The desire to have been right, on the other hand, is the pride that goeth before a fall. It stands in the way of our seeing we were wrong, and thus blocks the progress of our knowledge. Incidentally it plays hob with our credibility rating.

The desire to be right is the unimpeachable member of the pair, but even here a word of caution is in order: being right is not always a sign of right reason, or of being reasonable. One might succeed in drawing two to a flush, but it is still bad poker. The best strategy does not win every time; what makes it best is just that in the long run it promises most. ”

Willard V Quine and J.S. Ullian in The Web of Belief [PDF]

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“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us.”

Marcel Proust “Remembrance of Things Past: Swanns Way & Within a Budding Grove

h/t Brent Beshore (@BrentBeshore) who observes: ” Knowledge can be learned vicariously. Wisdom is discovered through uncomfortable experience, from which no one escapes.” Here is more from the same passage for context:

“There is no man however wise, who has not at some period of his youth said things, or lived a life, the memory of which is so unpleasant to him that he would gladly expunge it. And yet he ought not entirely regret it, because he cannot be certain that he has indeed become a wise man – so far as it is possible for any of us to be wise – unless he has passed through all the fatuous or unwholesome incarnations by which that ultimate stage must be preceded.”

We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, who no one else can spare us. .

I can see that the picture of what we were at an earlier stage may not be recognizable and cannot, certainly, be pleasing to contemplate in later life. But we must not repudiate it, for it is proof that we have really lived.”

Marcel Proust “Remembrance of Things Past: Swanns Way & Within a Budding Grove

h/t Sean Brady in “We do not receive wisdom we discover it for ourselves.

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Andre Nieto Porras: Tree Of Ideas“It is often asserted that discussion is only possible between people who have a common language and accept common basic assumptions.

I think that this is a mistake.

All that is needed is a readiness to learn from one’s partner in the discussion, which includes a genuine wish to understand what he intends to say.

If this readiness is there, the discussion will be the more fruitful the more the partner’s backgrounds differ.”

Karl Popper in “Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge” (1963)

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“You have to sell your product yourself, before letting others do it.”
Ash Maurya

Steve Blank was clearer on the fact that “founders must sell” in his early customer development talks. Otherwise you buffer yourself from critical feedback necessary to debug both product / market fit and product / sales process fit. I think Ash is a little optimistic with his “letting others do it,” it’s rarely the case that experienced sales people are lining up to sell an unproven product–which is the other reason the founders must learn to sell, no one else really can.

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“Keep a pad of paper and a pen by on your night table to capture those ideas that sometimes come when you are falling asleep or when you awake in the middle of the night.”
Sean Murphy

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“True contentment consists of not worrying about the first of each month.”
Kin Hubbard in “Abe Martin’s Almanack” (1908)

One of the advantages of  selling subscription services is that when you open the books on the new month you have a start on covering your expenses.

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“Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better,
whereas enslavement is a certainty of the worst.”
Albert Camus

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116.You think you know when you learn, are more sure when you can write, even more when you can teach, but certain when you can program.
Alan PerlisEpigrams on Programming” SIGPLAN Notices Vol. 17, No. 9, September 1982

Effective delegation, whether to a computer or a person, requires a clear view of requirements, constraints, and failure modes.

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“When I was a kid my father would say,
if you get lost, don’t look for me.
Stay there. Stay there and I will find you.

He’s gone now.”

Maria Kalman and Daniel Handler in “Hurry up and wait

h/t Maria Popova; I find this very poignant for some reason. I used it for my Father’s Day 2017 blog post.

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“He knew the world was the way it is for a reason and that efforts to change the world for the better would have to take account of those reasons or they would lead to folly.”
Jonah Goldberg in his elegy for his father “Hop Bird

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“The first abuse of power is not realizing that you have it.”
James Richardson in “44 Aphorisms by James Richardson

As founders gain customers and become managers they can gain control over important aspects of people’s lives. With this control comes power and with power comes responsibility

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“I regret nothing, says arrogance;
I will regret nothing, says inexperience.”
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Regret can be a source of learning if you manage it.  Turn “if only I had…” into “Next time I will…” but you have to play forward from where you are and there is no gain without loss.

One watches things that make one sick at heart.
This is the law: No gain without a loss,
and Heaven hurts fair women for sheer spite.
The Tale of Kieu” translated by Huyn Sanh Thong

h/t Ralph Peters in his forward to “War in 2020″

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“We don’t need more hustle. We need more care and generosity”
Seth Godin in “Gorilla Marketing

More context

When marketing was expensive, it was done with care. Not only by committees that worked hard to keep things consistent, but by creators who thought deeply about their long-term reputation.

Today, because noise is everywhere, […] subtlety flies out the window, along with a desire to engage for the long haul.

It turns out that there’s a useful response… to ignore them. To stick to the work, to the smallest possible audience, to building something worth talking about.

What actually works in a noisy environment isn’t more noise—it’s the challenging work of earning the benefit of people telling people.

We don’t need more hustle. We need more care and generosity.

Seth Godin in “Gorilla Marketing

I think this is the best one of my quotes for entrepreneurs this month.

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“You can have as many voting shares as you like, but you aren’t in control of your company until you’re profitable.”
unsourced by HN:mabbo but attributed to a comment in another thread

h/t Michael Mayer (@mmay3r); this is the “Bootstrapper’s Insight.”

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“Technology leadership is not defined by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers.”
Elon Musk in “All Our Patent Are Belong To You” (June-12-2014)

I like Gerald Weinberg’s “Motive-Organize-Innovate” model from “Becoming a Technical Leader” but this is also a good definition. More context from the announcement:

“Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.”

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“Shared understanding is expensive. And it is an investment. No silver bullets.”
John Cutler (@johncutlefish)

I would restate this: “Cultivating and maintaining a shared understanding of a problem or shared situational awareness requires continued investment in open communication and building shared trust. There are no shortcuts but the investment pays substantial returns in group problem solving ability.”

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“Every business dreams of answering “How much does it cost?” with “How much have you got?” Only college achieves it.”
Aaron Haspel  in “Everything

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“Beware of solutions in search of a problem: look for problems begging for a solution, these are real opportunities.”
Bernadette Jiwa in “Hunch

I think it’s useful to collect interesting effects and methods so that when you run up against a new problem you have a richer repertoire of solutions to evaluate. Hunch is a quick read but not recommended, I kept waiting for it to get better and then I was finished.

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“Knowledge is a big subject.
Ignorance is bigger.
And it is more interesting.”
Stuart Firestein

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“Curiosity is contagious.
So is incuriosity.”
Ian Leslie

A shared incuriosity can also be called a taboo. It’s always worth understanding what the taboos are in a prospect’s organization and investigating what are they protecting or designed to prevent.

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“Lewis’s Law of Metrics: You get what you measure—that’s the risk you take.”
Robert Lewis in “Time to Give Up on Metrics?

This first appeared in his 1996 “What you measure wrong you manage wrong

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Photo Credit Andrés Nieto Porras: El árbol de las ideas