Quotes for Entrepreneurs Curated in January 2024

My theme for quotes for entrepreneurs this month is effective preparation: looking back, looking forward, learning from past mistakes, and avoiding needless worry.

Quotes for Entrepreneurs Curated in January 2024

My theme for this month’s quotes for entrepreneurs is effective preparation

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Max DePress

Quotes for Entrepreneurs Curated in January 2024

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“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
Alice to the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s  “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

I find it hard to discern the future right now, or even the trends at work that may represent leading indicators. My magic 8 ball says “ask again later.” Effective preparation requires you to know the goals you are training for and the events that may interpose on your journey. Here is a longer excerpt from Alice’s encounter with the Cheshire Cat

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where——” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“—— so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Lewis Carroll “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” [Gutenberg]

Perhaps the answer is to “keep on keeping on.” The Promised Land lies on the other side of this windswept desert without tracks or trails. I am too restless to stand still and want to work while I have the light.

“We only appear to be rooted in time. Everywhere, if you listen closely, the spitting fuse of the future is crackling. ”
Carol Shields

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“Life has not taught me to expect nothing, but she has taught me not to expect success to be the inevitable result of my endeavors. She has taught me to seek sustenance from the endeavor itself, but leave the result to God.”
Alan Paton

The trick to perseverance is to enjoy the journey.

“My advisers ought to have known and I ought to have been told and I ought to have asked.”
Winston Churchill on vulnerability of Singapore to land attack in “Hinge of Fate” Vol 4 of of “Second World War.”

h/t Jim Erickson;  longer excerpt for context:

“I do not write this in any way to excuse myself. I ought to have known. My advisers ought to have known and I ought to have been told and I ought to have asked. The reason I had not asked about this matter, amidst the thousands of questions I had put, was that the possibility of Singapore having no landward defences no
more entered my mind than that of a battleship being launched without a bottom.”

Winston Churchill in “The Second World War Volume 4: “The Hinge of Fate” (Chapter 3: Penalties in Malta)

See also Fred Glueckstein’s “Churchill and The Fall of Singapore” Erickson’s also suggests this quote by Donald Rumsfeld as a preventative against getting blindsided.

“Look for what’s missing. Many advisers can tell a President how to improve what’s proposed or what’s gone amiss. Few are able to see what isn’t there.”
Donald Rumsfeld

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“We had good intentions, but we were misinformed. It sucks to admit that you’re wrong. It’s not just humbling; you also have to take a closer look at how you were complicit in misleading others. When I realized I was wrong, I didn’t instantly conclude that everything I’d been taught throughout my life was a lie. Instead, it just stirred in me the desire to be more vigilant and informed. I educated myself.

I hope my children explore the world, question everything, and read books that shake them to the core. Above all, I want them to make mistakes and have the courage to say, “I was wrong. I’ll do better.”

Imagine a world where we all had the grace to say that—and mean it.

Jamie Reedin “The Courage to Admit You’re Wrong

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“I ask myself: How many of your fears came true last year? And of the hard or painful things which did occur, how many did you anticipate? Fear really is a waste”
Walter Kirn Jan-2-2024 tweet

Fear is helpful when you take action to mitigate or prevent the outcome you are worried about and focus on the most significant risks you face. It’s always possible to be blindsided, especially if you are focused on a low-probability risk when you should have been attending to more likely setbacks and failures. I certainly give in to needless worry from time to time, where I focus on what might go wrong that I either cannot affect or don’t take action to address.

My test: am I worried about the key risks I can affect and taking action that will make a difference?

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“Your long-term integrity is your long-term wealth, once you gain the reputation of being a short-term opportunist, no one is going to bother doing business with you anymore. Never forget what you stand for, protect what you believe in, and it all starts with your core values.”

Orange Book  (@OrangeBook)

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“The lesson of history is that most advances are by half-step, most progress by partial success.”
Robert Brault

The trick is to accumulate small wins that compound.

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“Product managers need to serve the business, they need to focus on revenue, costs, and profit. Because a company needs profit to survive.

Product sense is intuition, intuition is compressed experience, and compressed experience comes from having lots of experience. If you don’t have a lot of experience, you need to learn what models work and why they work.

Naive or raw intuition rarely offers useful insights that drive value. Product managers should start as engineers or designers and learn the business.”

Christine Wodtke (edited and condensed from condensed from 1:01:30 to 1:04:00 of a Mar-16-2023 podcast interview with Lenny Rachitsky

h/t Raghad Alafif (@Ralafif0911)

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“The single ingredient necessary to turn impossible to possible is a determined person hungry to improve.”
Angela Jiang (@angjiang)

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“Think-Write-Pair-Share” is a powerful technique for refining ideas that starts with each person capturing their ideas privately and ends with a group critique and feedback. Teams can also use it as a more effective approach to brainstorming. This discussion technique allows people the opportunity to respond to questions in written form before engaging in meaningful conversations with peers.  Writing and discussing ideas with a partner before sharing with the larger group results in more thoughtful discussions and encourages greater participation and collaboration.

Sean Murphy in “Enhance Collaboration with Think-Write-Pair-Share

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Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl
Bob Dylan in “All Along the Watchtower

A key aspect of effective preparation is defining the tripwires for when you move from relaxed alertness to a high state of readiness. You will burn out on high alert for too long, so maintaining a calm awareness, mindful of key risk indicators is critical to avoiding trouble. The Japanese denote “calm awareness” or “relaxed alertness” as zanshin and is akin to mindfulness and the opposite of someone who is daydreaming or oblivious.

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“If you choose no to decide, you still have made a choice.”

Rush in Freewill

Choosing not to prepare is a form of preparation, an ineffective one.

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“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Atticus Finch in  “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

A critical aspect of preparing for a negotiation or a sale is to put yourself in shoes of the other party.

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“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
W. Somerset Maugham

Don’t rely on inspiration, but take advantage when it strikes. Effective preparation involves developing habits that allow you to persevere without it. Steve Pressfield’s “War of Art”  is a good short read on overcoming resistance and develop habits that allow you to persevere.

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“He who is prepared has the battle half fought.”
 Miguel de Cervantes  in “Don Quixote”

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“The universe is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
Eden Phillpotts in “A Shadow Passes

Often credited to Yeats or Russell; h/t Quote Investigator for source. Longer excerpt for more context:

“In the marshes the buckbean has lifted its feathery mist of flower spikes above the bed of trefoil leaves. The fimbriated flowers are a miracle of workmanship and every blossom exhibits an exquisite disorder of ragged petals finer than lace. But one needs a lens to judge of their beauty: it lies hidden from the power of our eyes, and menyanthes must have bloomed and passed a million times before there came any to perceive and salute her loveliness. The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
Eden Phillpotts in “A Shadow Passes

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“Anne Wojcicki is a great startup founder because she has stuck to her big vision despite tough obstacles. Anne has a willful ignorance of constraints.”

Patrick Chung (board member at 23andMe) quoted in “23andMe’s Fall from $6 Billion to Nearly $0″ by Rolfe Winkler (Jan. 31, 2024)

I think effective preparation means you acknowledge constraints and come up with a plan to manage or surmount them. See also “Constructive Pessimism” and “How to Tell When Your Team Has a Workable Plan of Action.”

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“Men are never so likely to settle a question rightly as when they discuss it freely.”
Thomas Babington Macaulay

A full and frank–but respectful–exchange of views between team members is excellent preparation for avoiding crises and finding your way out if you find yourself in one.

Image source: Licensed from  123rf.com/profile_niserin

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