Quotes for Entrepreneurs Curated in May 2024

Quotes for entrepreneurs curated in May 2024 on a theme of learning from experience by exploring markets and launching new products.

Quotes for Entrepreneurs Curated in May 2024

My theme for this month’s “Quotes for Entrepreneurs” is learning from experience by exploring markets and launching new products.

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“In 1984, I began teaching via games and simulations, and I still rely on these tools today. I always encourage adult students to look at games as reflecting back to them what they know and what they need to learn. Most importantly, games reflect behavior. They are instant feedback systems. Instead of the teacher lecturing you, the game is giving you a personalized lecture, one that is custom-made just for you.”
Robert Kiyosaki in “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”

I have “explore simulation-based experiential learning for entrepreneurs” on my dance card for 2024.

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“Drunk driving reduces your risk of dying of cancer.
That’s why it’s important to look at all-cause mortality.
More subtle examples are drugs that slightly lower one risk and slightly elevate others.”
John D. Cook

Context is key.

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“The discovery of truth by slow progressive meditation, is wisdom. Intuition of truth, not preceded by perceptible meditation, is genius.”
Johann Casper Lavater “Aphorisms on Man” (1788)

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“The enemy for most startups isn’t the competition, it’s confusion. The easiest thing for a prospect to do is nothing. If you talk and they leave confused, they will write off the wasted half-hour and move one.”
Dave Kellog in “Does Your Marketing Pass the Duck Test

See also Customer Buying Process: Understand, Believe, Act

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Redesis a feeling of queasiness while offering someone advice, knowing they might well face a totally different set of constraints and capabilities, any of which might propel them to a wildly different outcome—which makes you wonder if all of your hard-earned wisdom is fundamentally nontransferable, like handing someone a gift card in your name that probably expired years ago.
Etymology: Middle English rede, advice + pedesis, the random motion of particles. Pronounced “ruh-dee-sis.”

From Redesis in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig There is also a print version and very well done videos on YouTube. I blogged about another word from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows in “Kenopsia: Bare Ruined Choirs Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang.”

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“As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.”

E. B. White in  30 March 1973 letter to Mr. Nadeau

I blogged about E. B. White in Finding Silicon Valley in Two Passages from E. B. White’s “Here Is New York”

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“Many people here think Move Fast must go together with Break Things, whereas the best product people move fast by simulating the effects of their decisions and applying A+ judgment to what to break/what not to break, neither of which takes much time if you have great product sense.”
Shreyas Doshi (@shreyas)

Great point: research and simulation are faster than prototype/MVP based experiments. Expert judgment is also an important differentiator. Alas not everyone who rates themselves A+ is actually A+ Decision record review coupled with after actions can help everyone improve.

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From a 2021 exchange on twitter I uncovered looking for quotes related to the value of simulation in learning and planning.

  • Allen Holub (@allenholub): Create an up front plan and then use KPIs to assure that we’re aligned with that up-front plan. It’s the opposite of agility and waterfall thinking at its worst. Measuring things for no useful purpose is just waste.
  • Charles Lambdin (@CGLambdin): Do you claim this across the board? For example, how would the next generation of CPUs be designed and developed without requirements and stage gates and KPIs?
  • Adelbert Groebbens (@agroebbe): Sounds like “how would we work if we don’t work like we always did”?
  • Charles Lambdin (@CGLambdin): Say more. There are areas where waterfall really does make more sense. It’s not just because “that’s how we’ve always done it.”
  • Adelbert Groebbens (@agroebbe): What would that ‘sense’ be like? Where does it come from? What if in 20 years things are done fully different?
  • Sean Murphy: (@skmurphy): Ever since they passed Moore’s Law for semiconductor devices, chips have done things “fully differently” every 20 years (1960 -> 1980 -> 2000 -> 2020) but the complexity and expense of prototypes and rework has driven waterfall for physical design–using simulation to explore first

I used the phrase “passed Moore’s Law” in EDA Business Climate: A Retrospective and Applying Design Automation Tools Beyond Semiconductors

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“Conversation is more than the sum of the words. It is also a way of signaling the importance of another person by showing your willingness to give that person your rarest resource: time. It is a way of conveying respect. Conversation reminds us that we are part of a greater whole, connected in some way that transcends duty or bloodline or commerce. Conversation can be many things, but it can never be useless.”
Scott Adams in “God’s Debris

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“A better way to frame luck is by asking, ‘what is not repeatable?'”
Morgan Housel in “Lucky vs. Repeatable

I like this framing because it focuses on extracting skills from an experience that enable reliable, predictable performance. I think of tactics as skills, techniques, and approaches that can be applied to many situations and achieve predictable results–or at least mitigate risks. Strategy is a unique approach tailored to the particulars of a situation. Operational art incorporates or links tactics in support of your strategy.

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“Just about every great, brave or beautiful thing in our culture was created by someone who didn’t do it for money.”
Seth Godin in “The Story of Money is Not a Straight Line

Attract missionaries not mercenaries. Team offers a more enjoyable work environment and is more likely to achieve at least a modest win by offering your customers value.

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“Conservatism starts from the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created.”
Roger Scruton

Entrepreneurs focus on bringing change but the risk is they can leave customers worse off–or waste their time and effort–if they are not careful.

“Take care. It is so easy to break eggs without making omelettes.”
C. S. Lewis in “Letters to Malcolm

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Quotes for Entrepreneurs: "The most important skill in the 21st century is the ability to happily live with uncertainty." Mark Manson (@IAmMarkManson)

“The most important skill in the 21st century is the ability to happily live with uncertainty.”
Mark Manson (@IAmMarkManson)

This sounds a lot like “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” which is another one of those “it depends.” It is one of the ways that frogs get boiled. They don’t jump out of the pot because they continually accommodate themselves to an escalating level of discomfort.

Fundamentally, uncertainty is not a bit it’s a continuum. Uncertainty should inspire curiosity and a desire to find out. A large amount of uncertainty in a mathematical sense indicates risk, at an emotional level is should inspire caution not happiness.

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“Our education system really only works for students who would probably thrive in any system. They’re thriving not because of the system but rather in spite of it.”
Natalie Wexler in a Racket interview.

Longer excerpt for context:

“The basic problem in the U.S., and some other countries, is a deeply entrenched philosophical approach to education that is well-intentioned but conflicts with evidence from cognitive science about how learning actually works. There is beginning to be some recognition of that but not nearly enough. The fact is that our education system really only works for students who would probably thrive in any system. They’re thriving not because of the system but rather in spite of it.”
Natalie Wexler in a Racket interview.

Wexler wrote “The Knowledge Gap” and blogs at https://nataliewexler.substack.com/

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“There is room for optimism … but not for rest. Much work to be done.”
Commander Salamander @cdrsalamander in “Japan’s Renaissance

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“As producers enlarge output, they learn how to produce more cheaply and well. Impelled by these increases in the real value of the commodity, demand for it increases. Quantified as a “learning curve,” this concept shows that efficiency in manufacturing any product increases some 30 percent with each doubling of accumulated volume. Not only physical economies of scale but also efficiencies of learning and experience, metaphysical and inexhaustible, lead to lower costs.

Just as important as the producer’s experience in Say’s dynamic of growth is the learning curve of the customers. As the price of a product drops, customers learn new ways to use it and improve it. The customers’ knowledge may increase as fast as the producers. Particularly in impelling new technologies, the experience of customers is as important as the experience of the producers.

Immured in expensive laboratories, academic and industrial researchers tend to eschew this entire interplay of learning between manufacturers and users. Thus, in an intellectual environment outside the marketplace, products miss the spiral of increasing knowledge that steadily increases the share of intellect in the output of goods and services.”
George Gilder in Microcosm

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“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
Mark Twain quoted in “Mark Twain: A Biography: The Personal and Literary Life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens” by Albert Bigelow Paine.

h/t Quote Investigator “New Idea

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“Nobody who says, ‘I told you so’ has ever been, or will ever be, a hero.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

It has more of a “solvent” than “glue” impact on team morale and future work relationships.

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“What’s well begun, is half done.
Whatever advice you give, be short.
Remember to be calm in adversity.”

h/t “Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical” (1917) compiled by C.N. Douglas

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“It is through logic that we prove, but through intuition that we discover”
Henri Poincare in “Science and Method [1908]

Reminds me of a quote I curated in July 2014 and referenced in “The Phoenix Checklist for Framing a Problem and Its Solution

“I make all my decisions on intuition. I throw a spear into the darkness. That is intuition.
Then I must send an army into the darkness to find the spear. That is intellect.”
Ingmar Bergman from “Ingmar Bergman Confides in Students” New York Times, May 7, 1981

Here is a longer excerpt from Poincare’s Science and Method “Mathematical Definitions and Education” section 9 (page 129) [1908]

“It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover. To know how to criticize is good, but to know how to create is better. You know how to recognize whether a combination is correct, but much use this will be if you do not possess the art of selecting among all the possible combinations. Logic teaches us that on such and such a road we are sure of not meeting an obstacle; it does not tell us which is the road that leads to the desired end. For this it is necessary to see the end from afar, and the faculty which teaches us to see is intuition. Without it, the geometrician would be like a writer well up in grammar but destitute of ideas.”
Henri Poincare in Science and Method “Mathematical Definitions and Education” section 9 (page 129) [1908]

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“I don’t think AI is actually the big revolution that we’re living through right now. The real revolution is what we’re seeing coming out of the war in Ukraine. The nature of that revolution is that sensors and devices are giving people the ability to do things that they could never do before.”
Paul Romer interviewed in “AI Hype and Skepticism

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+”Over my 20-years building teams, I have consistently found that the most crucial element in building successful teams is establishing a strong and exemplary leadership tone. It is imperative for leaders to embody the values and behaviors they wish to see in their teams. If a leader cuts corners, arrives late, or is unprepared, these actions will inevitably be mirrored by the team. Setting high standards for oneself and the team, and never asking team members to undertake tasks you have not personally executed, will be the most effective tool to create a highly adaptable, high achieving team. This approach not only fosters a culture of excellence but also ensures collective accountability and sustained high performance.
Travis O. Johanson

Travis is a successful serial entrepreneur. We were fortunate to have him as a moderator for Bootstrappers Breakfasts in Chicago and Detroit for many years.

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“On what grounds should LLMs be evaluated? On the only grounds anything should be evaluated. By showing what works in the real world.

Not with theories, not with expert opinions, not with institutional affiliations, not with suppositions, not with hypotheses, not with cherry-picked studies, not with online clout, not with bogus comparisons.

AI either recognizes faces or it doesn’t. It either solves the math problem or it doesn’t. People trying to make statements about what AI is doing internally is both irrelevant and epistemically untenable.

AI is about conversations, not answers. Evaluate it on those grounds. What are people making in collaboration with AI? That’s it. If the team scores goals when Jim is on the ice, you keep Jim on the ice.”

Sean McClure in “On what grounds should LLMs be evaluated?” (started as a long tweet)

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“The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Better products often find ready acceptance; breakthrough products often embed shortcomings and “sharp edges” that require care and experimentation to make them acceptable.

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