Quotes For Entrepreneurs Collected in June 2018

By | 2018-08-08T13:45:55+00:00 June 28th, 2018|Quotes|0 Comments

I collect these 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 2018

These “quotes for entrepreneurs” blog posts normally go out on the last day of the month but we are in the midst of a major site update and it proved simpler to go two days early.

+ + +

“The year was 1977, and I was sitting in a farmhouse in central Illinois. It was snowing, many days and nights of snow, huge drifts, no communication with the outside world, telephone line down, roads closed. I felt like a stranded astronaut. It was not a good feeling for me, because I did not like facing myself. I was not proud of my life. The snow paralyzed me, cut off my chances to lose myself in busywork and be blind to my own weaknesses and failure. I could not call people or fix a fence or drive to town for coffee.”
Asa Baber “Still Counting” opening essay from “Naked at Gender Gap

Born in 1936 Baber would have been 41 in 1977. He left home at 14 to make his way in the world and lived until 2003 dying three days short of his 67th birthday. So 1977 is about the midpoint of Baber’s adult life, I think of June as the midpoint of 2018 and felt that this quote set the tone for a mid-point assessment for accomplishments to date and plans for the second half. I blogged about Asa Baber’s “Going Pro” in December 2006.

+ + +

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.”
Thomas Huxley

+ + +

“A wise man weaves a philosophy out of each acceptance life forces upon him.”
Elizabeth Bibesco

This reminds me of the Serenity Prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
Reinhold Niebuhr

As entrepreneurs we tend to focus more on the courage and insight required to improve the things we can, but it’s as useful to exhibit grace under pressure, to borrow Hemingway’s definition of courage.

+ + +

“Do not try to change yourself—you are unlikely to succeed. But work hard to improve the way you perform.”
Peter Drucker in “Managing Oneself”

h/t Darius Foroux; it’s a fantastic essay by Drucker that changed my approach to self-improvement: focus on building on your strengths, only work on a weakness when it’s clearly holding you back. We did a Book Club for Business Impact webinar on “Managing Oneself” that’s worth listening to (you can skip about the first six minutes it was an early webinar and we spend far too much time explaining the GoToMtg control panels before getting down to the real discussion.

+ + +

“Markets continually evolve, forcing each firm to run it’s own “Red Queen Race,” running faster and faster (or learning more and more) just to maintain market share. But action without reflection is rarely effective.”
Sean Murphy in “Planning and Reflection

Suggested by Frank Funk, Esq.

+ + +

“The proliferation of fake news ultimately rests on the collective decision that society made over the last 15 years to get their news for free. This was a mistake — information costs money to collect and organize, and our decision to free-ride has destroyed news-gathering capabilities, which in turn has led to fake news.”
Jay Cost “Donald Trump is not a would-be totalitarian. He is just full of it.

At some point new opportunities will emerge for new journalistic business models as we remember Lee Kuan Yew‘s insight “When they say, ‘it is free,’ ask ‘who is paying?'”

+ + +

“Discoveries do not arise de novo, like Athene from the brow of Zeus, but are more akin to the living layers of a coral reef built on the past labors of countless predecessors.”
Maurice B. Strauss in Medicine Vol 43, 1964

+ + +

“It is a golden rule not to judge men by their opinions but rather by what their opinions make of them.”
Georg Lichtenberg

It’s much easier to judge people by their actions than their opinions or beliefs, obviously there is a deep linkage but, especially as a manager, it’s better to focus on behavior and outcomes. This also applies to the many things that are done for good reasons that have terrible effects. You still need to distinguish between good decision–evaluated based on the information available at the time oft the decision–and bad outcomes–which may have been due to random or unforeseeable events intervening.

+ + +

“Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Knowing “True North” is more valuable than perfect methods and is critical to effective decision making.

+ + +

The “low hanging fruit” metaphor assumes you’re a nomad, not an orchard keeper.
John D. Cook (@JohnDCook)

The whole metaphor is backward: the fruit at the top of the tree ripens first. But he is correct, it implies a snatch and go mentality.

+ + +

“There are many rare abilities in the world which Fortune never brings to light.”
Thomas Fuller, M.D., in Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs (1732)

A strong argument for experimentation in your career, especially the first decade or two, to determine what you can excel at–and where. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out how to succeed–I like this quote by Mignon McLaughlin which I used in “Success for a Bootstrapper” on the value of perseverance.

“Learning too soon our limitations, we never learn our full powers.”
Mignon McLaughlin

I am a big fan of Scott Adams “intersection” model where you develop three skills where you are in the top 20% but whose intersection puts you in the top 1%:

“At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. And it could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That’s one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that’s the thing you’ll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%. If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking, develop that too.

It sounds like generic advice, but you’d be hard pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.”

Scott Adams in “Career Advice

I blogged about Adams’ perspective in “Jack of All Trades.

+ + +

“We are no more responsible for the evil thoughts that pass through our minds than a scarecrow for the birds which fly over the seedplot he has to guard. The sole responsibility in each case is to prevent them from settling.”
John Churton Collins

+ + +

“Shared strengths are a potential source of conflict, complementary strengths and weaknesses offer synergy, shared weaknesses create a common blind spot.”
Sean Murphy

Lining up Impact of Two Founders’ Intersecting Strengths and Weaknesses
Blending
Strengths &
Weaknesses
Founder A
Strengths
Founder A
Weaknesses
Founder B
Strengths
Shared Strengths:
Potential Source of Conflict
Complementary Strengths & Weaknesses
Offer Synergy
Founder B
Weaknesses
Complementary Strengths & Weaknesses
Offer Synergy
Shared Weaknesses
Create a Common Blind Spot

+ + +

“The scientist is interested in the right answer, the engineer in the best answer now.”
H. Q. Golder

The entrepreneur is interested in the “good enough” now, letting larger firms wait for the perfect.

+ + +

“I see human freedom as the goal and the creativity of small human societies as the means to achieve it. Freedom is the divine spark that causes human children to rebel against grand unified theories imposed by their parents.”
Freeman Dyson in “The Key to Everything

In “The Key to Everything” Freeman Dyson deconstructs and rebuts many of the proposed scaling laws and conclusions in Geoffrey West’s “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies.” I made time for Dyson’s review and no longer feel the need to wade through West’s 500 page opus.

+ + +

“System eats culture for breakfast and culture eats strategy for lunch.”
Hermanni Hyytiala (@hemppah)

See also Quote Investigator’s “Culture Eats Strategy” for a list of related quotes.

+ + +

“The truth is that the heroism of your childhood entertainments was not true valor. It was theatre. The grand gesture, the moment of choice, the mortal danger, the external foe, the climactic battle whose outcome resolves all–all designed to appear heroic, to excite and gratify an audience. Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality–there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire. No one to see you. Do you understand? Here is the truth–actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested.

True Heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise or probity and care–with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.”
David Foster Wallace “The Pale King”

+ + +

Confirmation Bias Image from Steve King's 'Some Thoughts on Product-Market Fit'
Image Credit: Steve King “Some Thoughts on Product-Market Fit

+ + +

“There is such a thing as reading a disease backwards..and a very profitable method it sometimes is. We may have great need of this retrospect to elucidate it. What I mean by reading a disease backwards is, having the results before us and trying to unravel their series and sequences, and so to interpret the time of their occurrence and to assign them a relation to past events of its clinical history; to learn what took place last year or yesterday, and had a share in the process of dissolution, and what took place earlier and had to do with antecedent attacks, and what took place earlier still, and what was the rudimental change which accompanied the first transition from health to disease. In this way the disease is traced back back from its end to its beginning by the prints or vestiges it leaves of itself during its progress.
Peter Mere Latham “Aphorisms from Latham

+ + +

“The second part of the book entertains conjectures on the nature of teaching and learning, conjectures that grew, in spirit if not in original sequence, from issues raised earlier. But sequence is a fiction, and in a human life what follows may have produced what went before.”
Jerome Brunner in the introduction to “On Knowing”

It’s an offhand observation that later events may allow you to make sense of what’s happened earlier. I think it’s a variation on Kierkegaard’s “Life must be lived forward but can only be understood backwards.”

+ + +

“It is easy–terribly easy–to shake a man’s faith in himself. To take advantage of that to break a man’s spirit is devil’s work. Take care of what you are doing.”
George Bernard Shaw in “Candida

It’s important to be honest, but cruelty is never called for. I see some mentor’s taking a “bootcamp” approach that attempts to break an entrepreneur’s spirit as a prelude to establishing an advisory relationship. I explored this in “Advising Entrepreneurs” which opens with this quote from Thurgood Marshall that I believe is the acid test for advice:

“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

For more on this see “The Challenges of Advising Entrepreneurs

+ + +

“Unlike manager, the conductor of an orchestra doesn’t tell subordinates how to play instruments, but how to play together.”
Russell Ackoff

+ + +

“The longest journey also ends with a single step.”
George Murray

And its still possible to stumble on the threshold / goal line. Always leave time for last minute review and fixes.

+ + +

“Fortune does not change men, it unmasks them.”
Suzanne Necker

Power and prosperity are much more difficult test of character than adversity.

“A man is never so on trial as in the moment of excessive good-fortune.”
Lew Wallace in “Ben Hur

+ + +

“It is more important to have a clear understanding of general principles, without, however, thinking of them as fixed laws, than to load the mind with a mass of detailed technical information which can readily be found in reference books or card indexes. For creative thinking it is more important to see the wood than the trees; the student is in danger of being able to see only the trees. The scientist with a mature mind, who has reflected a good deal on scientific matters, has not only had time to accumulate technical details but has acquired enough perspective to see the wood.”

W. I. B. Beveridge “The Art of Scientific Investigation” (1950)

+ + +

“To get all there is out of living, we must employ our time wisely, never being in too much of a hurry to stop and sip life, but never losing our sense of the enormous value of a minute.”
Robert R. Updegraff

Updegraff is also the author of “Obvious Adams” [Full Text in Google Books]

+ + +

“The difference between bitterness, confusion, nostalgia–and resilience is…a plan.”
Alain De Botton (@AlainDeBotton)

A plan looks forward to shape the future, it’s informed by the past but lets go of it to improve the future.

+ + +

“Wilderness begins at the outer edge of routine.”
George Murray

+ + +

“The less you are contradicted, the stupider you become.
The more powerful you become, the less you are contradicted.”
Aaron Haspel

Good working relationships with partners and cofounders helps mitigate this: a full and frank exchange of views immunizes you against stupidity.

+ + +

“We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

+ + +

“Change is not something that happens between periods of stability, rather, change is always happening at varying rates of speed.”
Hermanni Hyytiala @hemppah

This is a fantastic insight, we think of change in organizations like earthquakes or a punctuated equilibrium, when in fact things are always changing. It reminds me of this:

“The future is an abstraction, all change is happening now.”
Marcelo Rinesi

+ + +

“Winners work hard and find more time.
Losers are always ‘too busy.'”
Sydney J. Harris in “Winners and Losers

Used in “12 From Sydney J. Harris’ “Winners and Losers” For Entrepreneurs

+ + +

“The essence of training is to allow error without consequence.”
Orson Scott Card in “Ender’s Game” (novel, introduction to hardcover)

More context with an additional observation about unanticipated modalities of competition:

“Soldiers and commanders would have to think very differently in space, because the old ideas of up and down simply wouldn’t apply anymore. I had read in Nordoff’s and Hall’s history of World War I flying that it was very hard at first for new pilots to learn to look above and below rather than merely to the right and left, to find an enemy approaching them from the air. How much worse, then, would it be to learn to think with no up and down at all.

The essence of training is to allow error without consequence.

Three-dimensional warfare would need to be practiced in an enclosed space, so mistakes wouldn’t send trainees flying off to Jupiter. It would need to offer a way to practice shooting without risk of injury; and yet trainees who were “hit” would need to be disabled, at least temporarily. The environment would need to be changeable, to simulate the different conditions of warfare—near a ship, in the midst of debris, near tiny asteroids. And it would need to have some of the confusion of real battle, so that the play-combat didn’t evolve into something as rigid and formal as the meaningless marching and maneuvers that still waste an astonishing amount of a trainee’s precious hours in basic training in our modern military.”

Orson Scott Card in “Ender’s Game” (novel, introduction to hardcover)

To learn new techniques you cannot start by applying them to the hardest problems you are facing (especially against tight schedules). Capability development requires taking a step back.

+ + +

“It is much easier to do business with the owner of the business than some employee who is likely to lose his job next year.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb in “Skin In the Game

h/t Brent Beshore (@BrentBeshore) who observes “Predictability lowers transaction costs. Especially important in complicated, long-dated situations. Tenure becomes a currency.”
I think it’s expected tenure–having to live with the consequence, not past tenure. This means that a family business that is expected to be passed to the next generation will be managed with a longer term view than a public company aiming to please next quarter’s shareholders.

+ + +

“The way to get things done is not to mind who gets credit for doing them.”
Benjamin Jowett

A very useful rule of thumb for both fostering social and organizational change.

+ + +

About the Author:

Leave A Comment