Quotes for Entrepreneurs Collected in August 2019

By | 2019-08-31T21:27:27+00:00 August 31st, 2019|Quotes, skmurphy|0 Comments

My August 2019 collection of quotes for entrepreneurs has a focus on ambition, awe, and facing the reality of a situation, reflecting the mix of my emotions facing a birthday this month.

Quotes for Entrepreneurs Collected in August 2019

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.


“I am now at the age where I’ve got to prove that I’m just as good as I ever was.”
Rex Harrison

My birthday is in August and I find myself reaching an age where I feel Harrison’s frustration from time to time.

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Entrepreneurs Eat Problems for Breakfast. --Sean Murphy

“Entrepreneurs Eat Problems for Breakfast.”
Sean Murphy

Extracted from our trademarked tagline for the Bootstrappers Breakfast: “Join Entrepreneurs Who Eat Problems for Breakfast”® See Silicon Valley Meetups and Bootstrapper Breakafast global website for details on where we meet and past events.  It’s a chance to compare notes on challenges and get new perspectives on opportunities.

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“Entrepreneurship is the way we take control of our lives in a tough economy.”
Lori Greiner (@LoriGreiner)

An thinking like an intrapreneur is how you keep your entrepreneurial reflexes in shape while you are working a high paying job with a future while “Winter is Coming.”

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There’s an odd lack of curiosity about the limits of crowd wisdom.”
Jaron Lanier

h/t John Cook (@JohnDCook); Here is a good one on the topic: “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” by Charles Mackay (1941)

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From 1994 to 2008, management researchers Joseph Raffiee and Jie Feng tracked a group of would-be entrepreneurs to answer just that question. They looked at more than 5,000 people in the U.S. who became entrepreneurs during the 15-year period in question. The study [PDF from ResearchGate] participants were in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, and they started a wide variety of businesses. Regardless of industry, the researchers were seeking the answer to that age-old question: When starting a business, are you more successful if you keep or quit your day job?

There was a pretty definitive answer: Those who kept their day jobs were 33 percent less likely to fail in their new venture. In other words, you’re not just better off keeping your day job–you’re way better off keeping it.”
Melanie Curtin (@melaniebcurtin) in “A 15-Year Study of 5,000 Entrepreneurs Finally Answers the Question: Is It Better to Quit Your Day Job or Keep It?”

h/t Dorai Thodla (@Dorait). We always recommend managing the work/work balance: let your venture pull you out of your day job. Don’t let frustration with your day job push you into a new venture. Derek Sivers’ Tarzan model: make sure new “vine” supports you before letting go of old.

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“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.”
Horace Mann

I used this as the closing quote for “Reciprocal Gift-Exchange and Charity Knit Networks into Communities

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“Insights are often overlooked not because you don’t have all of the relevant facts, but because of a fact that is wrong or an incorrect assumption you are not aware you are making.”
Anthony Jay in Corporation Man (page 28 attributed to Francis Crick)

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“I find that the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it— but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, [Gutenberg] (1858).

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“I believe everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”
Margaret Atwood

From a birthday card my brother sent me, he feels the same way. I guess I do, too.

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“‘Several Issues That Need to Be Clarified Regarding the U.S. China Trade Deficit‘ does not ignore intellectual property; it denies the concept entirely. It essentially says there is nothing for China to say about IP theft since there is nothing to steal. The essay takes the position that intellectual property does not exist and that every person in every country should be free to make use of science and technology without regard to the person or company that developed the technology or made the discovery.”

Steve Dickinson in Does China WANT a Second Decoupling? The Chinese Texts Say That it Does (June 21, 2019)

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“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, others build windmills.”
Chinese proverb

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“There is no fatigue no wearisome as that which comes from a lack of work.”
Charles Spurgeon

This may be one of root causes of Parkinson’s Law that “work expands to fill the time available.” Perfectionism is undoubtedly another. Two of the many challenges entrepreneurs must address to be productive and effective.

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“Price must be part of your initial customer discovery, not an afterthought after you “first make sure there’s a pain. “
Jason Cohen in Kung Fu

Which he links to

It’s often said that you shouldn’t talk about price during customer development interviews. The usual justification is that your goal is to uncover the details of your potential customers’ lives and pain-points, whereas a mention of price turns attention away from that topic, diverting the discussion to budgets and comparative value.

But I disagree. Price is as important as any other feature to determine product/market “fit.”
Jason Cohen in Pricing determines your business

At a minimum you have to be prepared to offer a price and explain your theory of value if asked. If you don’t have a theory of value (which you can always update with new information at any time) then B2B prospects may quickly conclude that you are wasting their time.

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Three very different skills:
1. Creating Opportunities
2. Choosing an Opportunity
3. Seizing an Opportunity.
To improve outcomes, improve the weakest link in this process.

Eric Jorgenson (@EricJorgenson)

There is also:

  • Identifying Risks and Potential Losses
  • Avoiding Risks and Losses
  • Minimizing Risks and Losses

These need to be paired with identifying and exploiting opportunities.

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“Yet even when I was exulting in my solitude, I became conscious of a strange lack. I wished a companion to lie near me in the starlight, silent and not moving, but ever within touch. For there is a fellowship more quiet than solitude, and which rightly understood is solitude made perfect. And to live out of doors with the woman a man loves is of all lives the most complete and free.”
Robert Louis Stevenson in “A Night Among the Pines” (Chapter 13 in “Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes

I used this for the closing quote in “Some Reflections on My Life Triggered by a Recent Birthday

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“It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”
Arnold Toynbee (1852-1883)

This Arnold Toynbee is the uncle of more famous Arnold J. Toynbee I think by aiming higher you give yourself not only margin for error but room to maneuver.

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“Every successful investment is some combination of change that drives competition and things staying the same that drives compounding.”
Morgan Housel in “Betting on Things that Never Change

More context:

“Things that change are amazing. They can fuel massive growth. But change by itself is hard. Investors have to spot it before it’s obvious. Consumers have to change their behaviors to make it viable. Those two points repel each other like magnets. And things that change tend to keep changing. […]

Change often creates bursts of opportunity. Huge opportunity, yes. But businesses and their investors need more than slippery bursts to succeed. They need endurance. And endurance resides in long-term bets. Things you can pour energy and capital into today with a reasonable chance of still bearing fruit ten years from now. Which tend to be things that are stable in time. […]

Every successful investment is some combination of change that drives competition and things staying the same that drives compounding.”

Morgan Housel in “Betting on Things that Never Change

Housel lists 11 timeless strategies:

  1. Lower prices.
  2. Faster solutions to problems.
  3. Greater control over your time.
  4. More choices.
  5. Added comfort.
  6. Entertainment/curiosity.
  7. Deeper human interactions.
  8. Greater transparency.
  9. Less collateral damage.
  10. Higher social status.
  11. Increased confidence/trust.

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“At the moment you are most in awe of all there is about life that you do not understand, you are closer to understanding it all than at any other time.”
Jane Wagner in “Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

Awe is appreciation and wonder, it opens the door to leaps of insight.

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“Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you, and just before you realize what’s wrong with it.”
Rex Harrison

I find myself frequently exhilarated, but I think it’s good idea to take three steps back think big, savor how good something could become and then work out the details. I am not always disappointed, I have been able to plot a viable course of action and execute it to achieve a significant step forward

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“Who shrinks from knowledge of his calamities but aggravates his fear; troubles half seen do trouble all the more.”
Seneca the Younger in the play “Agamemnon

Reconsider any time you tell yourself

  • “I am afraid to look.”
  • “I am afraid to ask.”
  • “I am afraid to run the numbers.”
  • “I don’t want to know.”

if you are an entrepreneur, a leader, a manger, or a change agent. Go and see. Find out how bad it is now.

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“As a rule, what is out of sight disturbs men’s minds more seriously than what they see.”
Julius Caesar in “The Gallic War” (Chapter 84)

Exploring your uncertainties to at least bound them, to define a worst case, allows you to start on ways you can then address the risks that you have identified. It’s what you refuse to consider, either out of fear or disbelief, that is the most dangerous. More context:

“The fight went on simultaneously in all places, and all expedients were attempted, with a rapid concentration on that section which was seen to be least strong. With lines so extensive the Roman army was strung out, and at several points defense proved difficult. The shouting which arose in rear of the fighting line did much to scare our troops, as they saw that the risk to themselves depended on the success of others;  for, as a rule, what is out of sight disturbs men’s minds more seriously than what they see.”
Julius Caesar in “The Gallic War” (Chapter 84)

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“There is something pleasurable in the calm remembrance of a past sorrow.”
Cicero in Letter to Lucceius (in “Ad Familiares”)

More context:

“Nothing is more likely to delight a reader than a variety of circumstances and vicissitudes of fortune. Even though we found no pleasure in experiencing them:  There is something pleasurable in the calm remembrance of a past sorrow.”
Cicero in Letter to Lucceius (in “Ad Familiares”)

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“The Golden Rule of  Politics: admire those who would make good allies.”
Kevin Simler in “Social Status: Down the Rabbit Hole”

Simler’s essay is well researched and thought provoking. The risk is that this devolves into tribalism but on the upside favors trustworthy experts. He elaborates on this rule:

“Unlike the ethical rule, which has to be hammered into us (because it cuts slightly against the grain of our nature), the political rule comes to us quite naturally. It’s deeply embedded in our instincts, and we follow it, without effort, because it’s to our advantage to admire potential teammates, especially when they’re impressive or likely to be helpful. It has has arguably created more prosperity for our species than the original Golden Rule.”
Kevin Simler in “Social Status: Down the Rabbit Hole”

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“With just the slightest bit of finesse
I might have made a little less mess
But it was what it was”
R. E. M. in “Discoverer”

Interesting that narrator realizes he has made a mess but is not inspired to try and fix it. For me, it stresses the importance of caring, mindfulness, and kindness.

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“If belief consists in an emotional reaction of the entire man on an object, how can we believe at will? We cannot control our emotions. Truly enough, a man cannot believe at will abruptly. Nature sometimes, and indeed not very infrequently, produces instantaneous conversions for us. She suddenly puts us in an active connection with objects of which she had till then left us cold. “I realize for the first time,” we then say, “what that means!” This happens often with moral propositions. We have often heard them; but now they shoot into our lives; they move us; we feel their living force. Such instantaneous beliefs are truly enough not to be achieved by will. But gradually our will can lead us to the same results by a very simple method: we need only in cold blood act as if the thing in question were real, and keep acting as if it were real, and it will infallibly end by growing into such a connection with our life that it will become real. It will become so knit with habit and emotion that our interests in it will be those which characterize belief.[Pg 322]

William James “Principles of Psychology Vol 2 page 322” (1890)

Act your way into the character you want. This is not “fake it until you make it” it’s “act as if you have faith and faith will be given.”

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Sometimes you immediately recognize the truth and act on it.

  • Gaurav Sharma (@Gaurav1105): You will never be changed by something you instantly agree with.
  • Sean Murphy (@skmurphy): Sometimes a remark can crystallize an insight that’s been percolating. It’s not always the case that you initially reject a truth that transforms you.

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“Simplicity requires more work at the beginning of a project to reduce an idea to its essence and more discipline over the lifetime of a project to distinguish good changes from bad or pernicious ones. With sufficient effort, a good change can be accommodated without compromising what Fred Brooks called the “conceptual integrity” of the design but a bad change cannot, and a pernicious change trades simplicity for its shallow cousin, convenience. Only through simplicity of design can a system remain stable, secure, and coherent as it grows.”
Alan A. A. Donovan and Brian W. Kernighan in “The Go Programming Language

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“If you are an expert, you must understand the organizational decisions your expertise bears on. You must then be able to articulate the assumptions and limitations that constrain your options and your recommendations. The A/B testing of copy on your e-commerce site tells you nothing about the people who never visit your site.”
Jim McGee in “Leading Self-Managed Experts”

Know the limits of your expertise and state them clearly.

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“It’s not always easy for a father to understand the interests and ways of his son. It seems the songs of our children may be in keys we’ve never tried. The melody of each generation emerges from all that’s gone before. Each one of us contributes in some unique way to the composition of life.”
Fred Rogers in “The World According to Mr. Rogers: Important Things to Remember”

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“Nature does not ask your permission, she has nothing to do with your wishes, and whether you like her laws or dislike them, you are bound to accept her as she is, and consequently all her conclusions.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky in “Notes from Underground”

h/t Morgan Housel

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“I know what it means to work hard on machines,
It’s a labor of love, so please don’t ask me why.”
The Thompson Twins, “You Take Me Up”

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“In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of.”
George Miller

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“You should always have pen, paper, and a good book nearby.”
Michael Wade in “Random Thought: Brief Reflections and Moments of Clarity

I keep all three next to my bed: pen and paper to capture my thoughts as I am falling asleep or I awake–sometimes at 3am–with an inspiration, a book to help with insomnia or if I want to make a lazy start on a weekend morning. I do collect books a little faster than I read them. The Japanese have a word for it: tsundoku.

Tsundoku: the act of acquiring books and letting pile up without reading them.

Tsundoku: the act of acquiring books and letting pile up without reading them.

Image Credit: “Tsundoku” by Jono Hey – sketchplanations.com

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“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.”
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

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“A windmill is eternally at work to accomplish one end, although it shifts with every variation of the weathercock, and assumes ten different positions in a day.”
Charles Caleb Colton

I used this in “Dharmesh Shah’s Pithy Thoughts for Startup Co-Founders” It’s a nice way to visualize objective vs. strategy or strategy vs. tactic.

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“Innovation almost invariably threatens the status quo, and consequently, innovation is an inherently political activity.”
Jeffrey Pfeffer

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“To my father: at a crisis in my youth he taught me the wisdom of choice. To try and fail is at least to learn; to fail to try is to suffer the inestimable loss of what might have been.”
Chester Barnard in the dedication to “The Functions of the Executive” (1938)

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“The more unexpected something is, the more there is to learn from it.”
Michael J. Fox

This echoes an insight I had in “Customer Interviews: Allow Yourself to be Surprised” that, “A surprise means that you are learning. Or at least that you have an opportunity to learn if you embrace it.”

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“Don’t make plans, create options.”
Jennifer Aniston

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“Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”
Ted Williams
 
True also for enterprise sales and serial entrepreneurs

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