Quotes for Entrepreneurs Curated in April 2023

The theme for this month’s collection of quotes for entrepreneurs is getting and giving advice. 

Quotes for Entrepreneurs Curated in April 2023

Theme for this month: Getting and Giving Advice

Quotes for Entrepreneurs: Don't Go it Alone - Create an Advisory Board

Don’t Go it Alone – Create an Advisory Board”
Christine Comaford Lynch

+ + +

“So much of what people call “conviction” is actually a willful disregard for facts that might change their minds. It’s dangerous because conviction feels like a good attribute, while its opposite–being wishy-washy–makes you feel and sound like an idiot.”
Morgan Housel in “Mental Liquidity

+ + +

“Multiple reports from Silicon Valley whistleblowers have revealed that technology companies use manipulative designs to prolong our time online. They have not innovated. Instead, they have followed the playbook put together by the tobacco and food industries.”
Gaia Bernstein

This is the tweet-length contraction of this paragraph from Gaia Bernstein:

“The past can answer one of today’s most perplexing problems. Why, despite multiple reports from Silicon Valley whistleblowers revealing that technology companies are using manipulative designs to prolong our time online, do we feel personally responsible? Why do we still blame ourselves and keep seeking new self-help methods to decrease our time online? We can learn from the past because in this case the tech companies did not innovate. Instead, the technology industry manipulated us following an old playbook, put together by other powerful industries, including the tobacco and food industries.”
Gaia Bernstein in “Technology Addiction Has Created a Self-Help Trap

I blogged about the super-stimulus effect that some online apps cultivate in “Superstimulus: Refining Online Interactions into Digital Heroin” in 2018. I think it’s still a challenge. I am including this quote in this month’s roundup because finding the right peer group that provides insight into better behaviors and helps you hold yourself accountable is at least a partial solution to the challenge.

There were two follow-ups to this tweet

Charlene McBride  (@ursonate): Is this news? i mean these things have been metrics forever. (not saying it’s a good thing)

Sean Murphy (@skmurphy): The message here is not that this is new information–this is not “news.” But we have accepted the consequences on our behavior, our mental outlooks, our public conversations, and our politics. We are boiled frogs but we can leave the pot if we choose.

Jonathan Korman (@miniver): We need a term for the school of design which vigorously refuses to do this.

My answer was to suggest a list of possible adjectives:

  • Humane
  • Forthright
  • Plain-Spoken
  • Bona Fide
  • Truthful
  • Trustworthy
  • Credible
  • Upright
  • Honorable

+ + +

“Focus on your relationships. You will naturally get lucky.”
Harsh Darji (@harshdarji_4)

We invited Harsh Darji to speak at Lean Culture and blogged about it on “How to Innovate Using Visual Thinking.”

+ + +

“How to be civil though busy is a mighty rare accomplishment.”
Kin Hubbard in “Abe Martin’s Primer (1914)”

Friends and acquaintances will ask for help and advice at inconvenient times. You don’t have to drop everything–unless they need immediate help like a ride to the hospital–but you must support them.

Sometimes you get an urgent request for help. Recently a neighbor knocked on my door in an agitated state. She was bleeding and asked for a ride to the hospital. My wife canceled what she had planned for the rest of the afternoon and gave her a ride. It all worked out and both were back home in about two hours.

+ + +

“The truth is never dignified.”
Aaron Haspel  in “Everything

+ + +

“Humility is invulnerability.”

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

I find that reflecting on my own shortcomings and misdeed allows me to put other’s mistakes into a better context. None of us is perfect and Hanlon’s Razor is a good place to start when evaluating motives: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” This pairs nicely with Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

+ + +

“Right now I’m having amnesia and deja-vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.”
Stephen Wright

I have this reaction when I hear the same good advice for the second or third time. I have to ask myself, “What is the barrier to taking action?” Also when I make the same mistake again that I told myself I was not going to make again.

“Never again is what you swore
The time before”
Depeche Mode “The Policy of Truth”

I know the song is actually advocating to lying, not embracing the policy of truth. But the “never again..” resonates with making the same mistake again.

+ + +

A thought for Good Friday.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Jesus Prayer

A prayer short enough to be useful as a mantra for 20-30 minutes of prayerful meditation. I first learned of it from E. F. Schumacher‘s “A Guide for the Perplexed” but it’s been part of the Orthodox Tradition for the better part of two millennia. I have blogged about “A Guide for the Perplexed” in

+ + +

“Good Friday, and again we are reminded to never lose hope — or at least give it the weekend.”
Robert Brault April-19-2019 Thought for the Day

Giving it some time–except in a clear emergency–allows for reflection and generation of alternate options. Sometimes what looks like the start of a trend is an outlier.

+ + +

“I will not abandon a previous approach whose logic I understand even though it may mean forgoing large, and apparently easy, profits to embrace an approach which I don’t fully understand, have not practiced successfully and which, possibly, could lead to substantial permanent loss of capital.”
Warren Buffett

+ + +

“We came from Caladan–a paradise world for our form of life. There existed no need on Caladan to build a physical paradise or a paradise of the mind–we could see the actuality all around us. And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life–we went soft, we lost our edge.”

Frank Herbert in Dune

I wonder if this is a source of some of the challenges facing Silicon Valley: humans lose their edge living in a paradise.

+ + +

“If your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right”
Talking Heads “Found a Job”

+ + +

Something to ponder Easter Sunday

“The resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a prison, but a passage into God’s presence. Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”
Clarence W. Hall

+ + +

“I believe in order to gain the most fundamental knowledge of which we are capable it is necessary to continually and sincerely question our assumptions and test our theories. […]”

Halton Christian Arp in the preface to “Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies” (1987).

Helping others to understand and test their critical assumptions is a crucial part of giving good advice.

+ + +

“When you start to measure someone, measure him right: make sure to take into account the hills and valleys he came through to get where he is.”
Mama to Beneatha in Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun

An edited version of this exchange from the play:

BENEATHA Love him? There is nothing left to love.
MAMA There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing. (Looking at her) Have you cried for that boy today? I don’t mean for yourself and for the family ’cause we lost the money. I mean for him: what he been through and what it done to him. Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning—because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ’cause the world done whipped him so! When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.
Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun

+ + +

“The best aphorisms manage to encapsulate important ideas in a few words. But they can be too beguiling. They trick us into thinking we’ve grasped a deep thought by their wit and brevity. Poke them, however, and you find they ride roughshod over all sort of complexities and subtleties.”
Julian Baggini

h/t “Brevity May Be the Soul of Wit, but Does It Teach Us Anything?” (the quote is taken from the preface to Baggin’s “Should You Judge This Book by It’s Cover?” ) The challenge is that rules of thumb must be compact to be memorable. But knowing when and how to apply them requires skill.

+ + +

“The hardest thing is to unlearn the secrets of your past success.”
Jiro Tokuyama

+ + +

“What the world wants is good examples, not so much advice; advice may be wrong, but examples prove themselves.
Josh Billings

+ + +

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said.”
Peter Drucker

+ + +

“If it’s spur-of-the-moment, it’s called heroism. It’s when you’ve had a chance to think it over that it’s called courage.”
Robert Brault

+ + +

“Our ancestors knew that open flame was a feral power, which deserved reverence and even fear. The same technology that made civilization possible also flattened cities. The ancient myths about fire were never simple. When Prometheus stole it from the gods, he transformed the life of mortals but was doomed to live in agony. The people building artificial general intelligence today don’t need media mythmaking to inflate their ego; they already clearly believe in the humanity-altering potential of their invention. But it is a complex thing, playing at Prometheus. They have stolen from the realm of knowledge something very powerful and equally strange. I think this technology will expand our minds. And I think it will burn us.”

Derek Thompson  in Why All the ChatGPT Predictions Are Bogus: The makers of AI should learn the tale of Prometheus

I think there are two significant risks: ChatGPT lies fluently and will mislead people with convincing answers that are completely fabricated; ChatGPT does not disclose it’s sources–unlike Google–and like Google can influence your perspective by the facts that it omits.

+ + +

“Sometimes the best thing to do is to just sit back quietly and let people come to their senses.”
Robert Brault Sep-19-2019 Thought for the Day

Let people express their thoughts, let them get their ideas out of their heads, and they will naturally expose them to critical analysis. Just the act of voicing them forces them to compose them into a coherent narrative–or at least a start on one. Sometimes a stream of urgent disconnected thoughts related to a challenge is a critical first step. I see this happen in face-to-face Bootstrapper Breakfasts when an entrepreneur voices their ideas, challenges, or needs to a group of peers who listen, take them seriously, and provide advice and perspective.

+ + +

School should teach kids how to crush life in the world they’ll be adults in. Given that new AI magic wands keep appearing every few months, schools should focus less on teaching obsolete skills and more on teaching kids how to be the world’s most amazing wizards. Things I’d want schools to teach my kid:

  • Earth orientation (science, history, a broad range of philosophy)
  • Independent thinking skills
  • Collaborative thinking skills (Idea Labs!)
  • Independent learning skills
  • Nurture curiosity & creativity
  • How to use wizardry to achieve goals

Things I don’t want schools to teach my kid:

  • Foreign language unless the kid wants to
  • High level math unless the kid wants to
  • Boring literature unless the kid wants to (let them choose the books)
  • How to write a boring essay
  • A single political ideology presented as the Truth

Tim Urban (@WaitButWhy)

I agree with everything on his “want schools to teach” list. I think exposure to a foreign language expands your thinking and gives you new paradigms to look at the world. I think it’s useful to be exposed to literature for the same reason. I would like to see more focus on creating simple mathematical models over “problem solving.” Writing assignments that are graded on length (page count, word count) encourage the wrong approach to communication.

+ + +

“Remember when personal computers made us so efficient we only had to work one day a week? AI will be like that.”
Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays)

+ + +

“Another person’s secret is like another person’s money: you are not as careful with it as you are with your own.”
Edward Howe in “Country Town Sayings” [Archive.org]

I think this can be a risk but I in my experience a lot of people are good stewards and reliable fiduciaries.

+ + +

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning

Elon Musk

h/t Marcel Schwantes; Entrepreneurs can benefit from a peer advisor group to help them reflect. This is one of the benefits of SKMurphy Mastermind for entrepreneurs.

+ + +

“All governments suffer a recurring problem. Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts, but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.
Missionaria ProtectivaText QIV (decto)”

Frank Herbert in “Chapterhouse Dune

+ + +

“Anybody who thinks talk is cheap should get some legal advice.”
Franklin P. Jones

+ + +

“Many receive advice, few profit by it.”
Publilius Syrus

+ + +

I’m a very naturally talented man. Nature has gifted me with

  • the face for radio
  • the voice for silent movies
  • the athletic prowess needed for academia,
  • the literary skill needed for athletics.

Dave Freer (@davefreersf)

h/t Charles Martin (@ChasRMartin); In 2006 I blogged that I was “Born With a Face Made for Podcasting.”

+ + +

“A mark of mastery is the persistent ability to simplify correctly.”
Angela Jiang (@angjiang)

+ + +

“Your longtime friends are never the age they’re supposed to be.”
Sven Birkerts (svenbirkerts)

+ + +

“There are silences harder to take back than words.”
James Richardson

Overcome your  fear and inertia to offer public support and private comfort. I know it’s “very easy to say, very hard to do,” but I think a major source of regret is inaction when we do not follow our first instinct to speak up in support or to help.

+ + +

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”
Carl Jung

True as well for things we want to change about our spouse, friends, acquaintances,  strangers, and enemies. Many times they are just showing us what our own words and actions look like to others.

+ + +

“Something unpleasant is coming when men are anxious to tell the truth.”
Benjamin Disraeli in “The Young Duke

I used this in “Silicon Valley Bank Shutdown — A Recap” in a comment about the Fri-Apr-28 the FDIC report [PDF] on the collapse of SVB. I noted that “the report  is surprising for its candor and acknowledgement of the negative impact of new regulation and their own “contributory negligence.  I am reminded of Benjamin Disraeli’s observation, “Something unpleasant is coming when men are anxious to tell the truth.”

More context from”The Young Duke

The letter from his bankers informed the Duke of St. James that not only was the half-million exhausted, but, in pursuance of their powers, they had sold out all his stock, and, in reliance on his credit, had advanced even beyond it. They were ready to accommodate him in every possible way, and to advance as much more as he could desire, at five per cent.! Sweet five per cent.! Oh! magical five per cent.! Lucky the rogue now who gets three. Nevertheless, they thought it but proper to call his Grace’s attention to the circumstance, and to put him in possession of the facts. Something unpleasant is coming when men are anxious to tell the truth.

Benjamin Disraeli in “The Young Duke

+ + +

“If you wish to change a man’s beliefs you must give him something to replace them.”
Aaron Haspel  in “Everything

+ + +

“You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.”
Henri Frederic Amiel

+ + +

“My aim is to agitate and disturb people. I’m not selling bread, I’m selling yeast.”
Miguel de Unamuno in “Religion” collected in “Essays and Soliloquies

Image Credit: “Don’t Go It Alone” is a derivative work (c) SKMurphy, Inc.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top