Quotes For Entrepreneurs Collected in August 2018

By | 2018-09-12T14:34:09+00:00 August 31st, 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 August 2018

Some months I find there is a theme to the quotes  for entrepreneurs I have found. About midway through August I realized that  many of the quotes I had selected were about perseverance.

+ + +

“Give us grace and the strength to forebear and persevere.
Give us courage, gaiety, and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be, in all of our innocent endeavors.
If it may not, give us strength to encounter that which is to come,
that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation,
temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune, down to the gates of death,
loyal and loving one to another.”

excerpt from Robert Louis Stevenson “For Success” in “Prayers Written at Vailima” [Internet Archive]

“Quiet mind” implies patience and equanimity. Stevenson used the phrased in his first book, “An Inland Voyage.

“An imperturbable demeanor comes from perfect patience. Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”
Robert Louis StevensonAn Inland Voyage” [Gutenberg]

+ + +

“Working software: software that is actively used by customers in their real jobs.  Until and unless it’s actually being used for the core purpose for which it was built, no one will be any the wiser as to its fitness for purpose.”
Bob Marshall “What is Working Software?

I like this definition for working software and often shorthand it as  “in production use.”

+ + +

“The engineer uses facts, not as pieces on a chessboard to be moved back and forth in a contest of wits, but rather as foundation stones to be assembled in orderly fashion to hold up the superstructure of conclusions.”
George Otis Smith in “What are the facts?” in “Civil Engineering” Vol 2 Number 3 March 1932

+ + +

“Getting a business moving can be a little like opening a combination lock: you can be working on the right things, but if you don’t focus on them in the right sequence they may not have any impact.”
Sean Murphy  in an answer to “Ask HN: How to Prioritize?” on Hacker News

+ + +

“Restaurants fail more frequently than gas stations because no one dreams of quitting his corporate job to open a gas station.”
Aaron Haspel in “Everything: A Book of Aphorisms

+ + +

“Every day I’m reminded that relationships are outrageously important  and that I constantly underestimate the importance of relationships.”
Brent Beshore (@BrentBeshore)

Network weaving–making introductions between strangers that are not acquainted–is a critical aspect of value creation and cultivating an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

+ + +

“Develop a honeybee mind. Don’t be afraid to associate ideas freely. Let your mind buzz from one idea source to another; other people’s views can give you a fresh slant on your own problems.”
Don Hoefler “But You Don’t understand the problem” in Electronic news Jul-17-1967

Hoefler was the first to use the phrase “Silicon Valley ” in print, January 11, 1971 but it was in common use in the semiconductor industry in the late 1960’s. This quote reminds me of this one:

“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 for “Jack of All Trades”

+ + +

“Maybe one of the reasons people are so easily discouraged is because of their education. During all of our years at school we were examined two or three times a year. If we failed once we were out. In contrast, all Research work is 99.9 per cent failure and if you succeed once you are in. If we are going to progress in any line we must learn to fail intelligently so we won’t become discouraged at the 99.9 per cent failure.”
Charles F. Kettering “Research is a State of Mind” (Radio Talk)

+ + +

Quotes for Entrepreneurs: 'Give up trying to make me give up' Masashi Kishimoto

“Give up trying to make me give up”
Masashi Kishimoto

+ + +

“The remedy may be administered and the disease may cease; and yet the treatment and the cure may not be cause and effect. You cannot be sure of the success of your remedy while you are still uncertain of the nature of the disease.”
Peter Mere Latham in “Aphorisms from Latham

It can be hard to correlate your actions and their impacts. Developing an explicit hypothesis or diagnosis, looking at a situation as one of a category instead of a one-off allows you to compare different but related events, digging for root causes, all of these can help. The reality is that few things have a single cause and a multiple hypothesis approach combined with a systems perspective is likely to offer more explanatory power and more effective actions.

+ + +

“If it is not in the customers hands it is not an iteration. It might be a time box but it is not an iteration.”
Llewellyn Falco (@LlewellynFalco)

h/t Em Campbell-Pretty (@PrettyAgile) I would allow for an exception where one or more customers have provided test cases or test data and asked not to be contacted until the software correctly processes the data per the customer’s specification.

+ + +

“There are no shortcuts to creation. The path is one of many steps, neither straight nor winding but in the shape of a maze.”
Kevin Ashton in “How to Fly A Horse

I highly recommend this book. This is the opening two sentences to the second chapter “Fail.” Here are some more excerpts: these are Ashton’s insights that are supported by numerous examples in the text.

“There are no shortcuts to creation. The path is one of many steps, neither straight nor winding but in the shape of a maze.

Creation is not a moment of inspiration but a lifetime of endurance. The drawers of the world are full of things begun. Unfinished sketches, pieces of invention, incomplete product ideas, notebooks with half-formulated hypotheses, abandoned patents, partial manuscripts.

Creating is more monotony than adventure. It is early mornings and late nights: long hours doing work that will likely fail or be deleted or erased–a process without progress that must be repeated daily for years.

Beginning is hard, but continuing is harder.

Creation is a long journey, where most turns are wrong and most ends are dead. The most important thing creators do is work. The most important thing they don’t do is quit.”

Kevin Ashton in “How to Fly A Horse” excerpts from Chapter 2:  Fail

+ + +

“Modern society is based on the utilization of widely dispersed knowledge. We can achieve the great utilization of available resources only because we utilize the knowledge of millions of men. Profit is the signal which tells us what we must do in order to serve people whom we do not know. By pursuing profit, we are as altruistic as we can possibly be, because we extend our concerns to people who are beyond our range of personal conception.”
Friedrich A. Hayek in an interview by John O’Sullivan in 1985.

related: Leonard Read’s I, Pencilnot a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.

+ + +

“Man is a Tool-using Animal. Weak in himself, and of small stature, he stands on a basis, at most for the flattest-soled, of some half-square foot, insecurely enough; has to straddle out his legs, lest the very wind supplant him. Feeblest of bipeds! Three quintals are a crushing load for him; the steer of the meadow tosses him aloft, like a waste rag. Nevertheless he can use Tools; can devise Tools: with these the granite mountain melts into light dust before him; he kneads glowing iron, as if it were soft paste; seas are his smooth highway, winds and fire his unwearying steeds. Nowhere do you find him without Tools; without Tools he is nothing, with Tools he is all.”
Thomas Carlyle in “Sartor Resartus” [Gutenberg]

+ + +

“Problems often boil down to the simple form of a dilemma. A dilemma presents a choice of two solutions to a problem, both of which are unsatisfactory.”
Edward Hodnett in “The Art of Problem Solving”

I blogged about the need to embrace “The Best Bad Plan” inspired by a short exchange in the film “Argo”
Tony Mendez: “There are only bad options. It’s about finding the best one.”
Warren Christopher: “You don’t have a better bad idea than this?”
Jack O’Donnell: “This is the best bad idea we have, sir, by far.”

+ + +

“Fortunately the way to make a startup recession-proof is to do exactly what you should do anyway: run it as cheaply as possible. For years I’ve been telling founders that the surest route to success is to be the cockroaches of the corporate world. The immediate cause of death in a startup is always running out of money. So the cheaper your company is to operate, the harder it is to kill. And fortunately it has gotten very cheap to run a startup. A recession will if anything make it cheaper still.

If nuclear winter really is here, it may be safer to be a cockroach even than to keep your job. Customers may drop off individually if they can no longer afford you, but you’re not going to lose them all at once; markets don’t “reduce headcount.”

Paul Graham in “Why to Start a Startup in a Bad Economy“(October 2008)

As much as I hate the “cockroach” name for frugal startups it’s been popularized first by Graham in the 2008 post above and then by two early stage VC’s in 2015:

I think we are still two to three years away from a recession–I’ve been wrong before but normally by being a too early bear–but the bad habits you develop in good times come back to bite you in the ass in a downturn. Some related posts you will need at some point on managing through a downturn:

+ + +

“Maybe we should simply scrap the idea of a “tech desk” altogether: The sector needs scrutiny, but since technology now touches every aspect of our society, keeping it siloed from the rest of the newsroom now feels artificial. Let it be covered, extensively, across desks.”
James Ball in “We need a new model for tech journalism”

Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google–to name a few–are going to face some serious regulatory oversight, including anti-trust and potential break-ups or divestitures, as they transition from quirky teenage startups to grownup corporations held to the accountability standards of the Fortune 500 (which they are all solidly members of).

“It’s easy to see why some readers would feel whiplashed by the current, critical coverage of Facebook and Google, which seems to come out of nowhere.  That’s our fault as journalists: We’ve been too slow to spot how things have changed and to cover the sector as the corporate behemoth it is.  Today, the four biggest tech companies—Alphabet (Google’s parent), Amazon, Apple and Facebook—have a combined market capital of more than three trillion dollars, dwarfing anything J.P. Morgan was able to achieve in his day, and customer numbers in the billions.”
James Ball in “We need a new model for tech journalism”

This is a natural part of the technology development cycle as outlined in Carlota Perez‘s “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital”

+ + +

“Of course newborns look ancient: they’ve just come in from eternity.”
Greg Norminton in “The Lost Art of Losing

+ + +

“What can’t be avoided must be endured.”
William Stafford

+ + +

“The poor on the borderline of starvation live purposeful lives. To be engaged in a desperate struggle for food and shelter is to be wholly free from a sense of futility.”
Eric Hoffer in “The True Believer” (1951)

+ + +

“Do not despair of life. Think of the fox, prowling in a winter night to satisfy his hunger. His race survives; I do not believe any of them ever committed suicide.”
Henry David Thoreau

This is quote is widely attributed to Thoreau but I was not able to find a cite from his written works. I have paired it with the quote from Hoffer because I think despair stems from something other than desperate circumstances. I think it’s triggered by the loss of a sense of control–the difference between a setback or curable condition and a permanent or immutable outcome. Few problems can resist an intelligent and sustained effort.

+ + +

“We’re all self-made men, but not very many of us have stayed on the job.”
Kin Hubbard in “Short Furrows

+ + +

“Life has heuristics, only games have rules.”
Aaron Haspel in “Everything

+ + +

“The psychic task which a person can and must set for himself is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”
Erich Fromm

Especially true for entrepreneurs, they need the ability to navigate conditions of high uncertainty and ambiguity.

+ + +

“If you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech.
That’s free speech for the speech you hate.
That’s what free speech means.
We’re losing the thread of the concepts that are important to this country.”
Bill Maher on Aug-17-2018 “Real Time with Bill Maher”

+ + +

“One is always seeking the touchstone that will dissolve one’s deficiencies as a person and as a craftsman. And one is always bumping up against the fact that there is none except hard work, concentration, and continued application.”
Paul William Gallico in “Tell Me a Story” by George Kirksey
in Columbia Library Columns Volume XXI November, I971 Number I

+ + +

  1. Make rituals, not resolutions: start with a payoff and work backward, include multiple triggers for the desired action, and visualize achieving what the ritual is designed to accomplish. Eliminate choice
  2. Start exercising six time a week: schedule 20 minutes a day when you are more active than normal.
  3. Sleep well every day: be careful of stimulants. Too little sleep triggers negative aspects of ADHD.
  4. Eat only when you are hungry and eat well avoid junk food.
  5. Simplify your environment to remove distractions.
  6. For doing things you don’t want to do, put on your favorite music.
  7. Always keep a notebook or note cards with you to keep track of momentary insights and inspirations.

Peter Shankman in “Faster Than Normal” my key take-aways.

It’s a fast read but I have found these three books more useful:

+ + +

“Hardship without purpose creates suffering.
Hardship with purpose creates growth.”
Alexander De Heijer in “Nothing You Don’t Already Know

De Heijer elaborates: “Hardship stretches us and enables us to reach our potential. This is how we grow. But if we are unable to find meaning in the hardship, we just wither.” Be careful of the story you tell yourself. This reminds of two other quotes

“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice. […] But let me make it perfectly clear that in no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering–provided, certainly, that the suffering is unavoidable. If it were avoidable, however, the meaningful thing to do would be to remove its cause, be it psychological, biological or political.”
Viktor Frankl in his “Man’s Search for Meaning

and

“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

+ + +

“Dreaming is neither consistently wise nor consistently useless. The dream’s power lies in the fact that is it so different a mode of thought–that it supplements and enriches what we’ve already done while awake.”
Deidre Barrett in “The Committee of Sleep

+ + +

“Advice for nearly everything: start slowly and maintain traction.”
Michael Mayer (@mmay3r)

+ + +

“If it is not in the customers hands it is not an iteration. It might be a time box but it is not an iteration.”
Llewellyn Falco (@LlewellynFalco)

I would allow for an exception where one or more customers have provided test cases or test data and asked not to be contacted until the software correctly processes the data per the customer’s specification. My $.02

+ + +

“It always comes back to the same necessity: go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard.”
May Sarton

+ + +

Narratives are interconnected sets of beliefs that influence the way we interpret the meaning of things.
Algorithms are institutionalized narratives.
Deb Lavoy (@deb_lavoy)

Narratives are at risk for “group think” and an echo chamber or filter bubble effect, where the dominant paradigm filters out perception of dis-confirming evidence.
Algorithms are at risk for providing opaque decisions, a lack of requisite variety when the intake distribution changes, and disconnect from an evolving narrative if implemented by a technical priesthood.

+ + +

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.”
Leo Tolstoy

True for entrepreneur success and failure stories as well. An entrepreneur’s “lessons learned” are an effort to extract meaning from suffering–and prevent future suffering.

+ + +

“There is, after all, no such thing as security in this world. The only resource for the soul of man is the cheerful acceptance of insecurity: steeling the spirit to bear whatever happens. Nothing will take the place of inner fortitude.”
David Grayson

+ + +

“Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it. ”
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

A useful variant of “look before you leap” for entrepreneurs.

+ + +

“A viable product is rarely like a work of art, the pure result of personal insight and expression. Instead it flows from conversation and negotiation and feedback from prospects and customers.”
Sean Murphy in “The Illusion of Progress

+ + +

“Many people have the ability to review something and make it better. Few are able to identify what is missing.”
Donald Rumsfeld in “Rumsfeld’s Rules

+ + +

About the Author:

Leave A Comment