Nothing happens until somebody sells something. If a company doesn’t have profits over the long haul, then it’s gonna be a short haul.
The key to success is to give society things that it wants, but doesn't know how to get on its own.
"You boys going to get somewhere, or just going?" We didn’t understand his question, and it was a damned good question.
— Jack Kerouac, On the Road
I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was—I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that’s why it happened right there and then, that strange red afternoon.
— Jack Kerouac, On the Road
We tried never to fall in love with a plan, because that breeds complacency.
— Mark Owen, No Easy Day
I regard it as a criminal waste of time to go through the slow and painful ordeal of ascertaining things for one's self if these same things have already been ascertained and made available by others.
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
Don't be intimidated by anything. In the vast majority of the professions and vocations, the people who succeed are not any cleverer than you. The adult world is not full of gods, just people who have acquired skills and habits that work for them. And specialize—the great human achievement is to specialize as a producer of goods or services so that you can diversify as a consumer. Self-sufficiency is another word for poverty.
— Naval Ravikant, Tribe of Mentors
Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.
— Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.
I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is so far as I can tell. It doesn’t frighten me.
— Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
What gets measured gets done.
Equally in the future one are the milestones by which you measure your financial success will be not just how many zeros you can add to your net worth, rather whether you can structure affairs in a way that enables you to revise full individual autonomy and independence.
— James Dale Davidson & William Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual
One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.
— Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
— David Allen, Getting Things Done
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills. There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. [...] So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.
Don't fight forces; use them.
If we can keep competitors focused on us while we stay focused on customers, we'll turn out all right.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
— Reinhold Niebuhr, Serenity Prayer
Still, as one IBM insider remembered it, 'Every time I talked to Bill, he gave me the impression I was his most important customer.'
— Stephen Manes, Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry and Made Himself the Richest Man in America
Build a little. Test a little. Learn a lot.
Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.
Look at what caused people to make a lot of money and you will see that usually it is in proportion to their production of what the society wanted.
— Ray Dalio, Principles
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.
A problem well stated is a problem half solved.
[A]ll exact science is based on the idea of approximation. If a man tells you he knows a thing exactly, then you can be safe in inferring that you are speaking to an inexact man.
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.
I wasn’t the fastest guy in the world [...] I wouldn’t have done well in an Olympiad or a math contest. But I like to ponder. And pondering things, just sort of thinking about it and thinking about it, turns out to be a pretty good approach.
— Jim Simmons, Seeker, Doer, Giver, Ponderer: A Billionaire Mathematician’s Life of Ferocious Curiosity
The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.
Creativity is more likely in places where new ideas require less effort to be perceived.
Gradatim Ferociter (Step by step, ferociously)
Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.
It's not what you say, it's what the other person hears.
— Frank Luntz, Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear
And that's one of the key lessons I’ve learned over the years – don't be over-protective of your own work, understand that it might not always be quite right, and that there's always something new to learn or understand.
— Andrew Latham, Chief Engineer at McLaren, What I learned from my biggest mistake as an F1 engineer
If you want to build a ship,
don't drum up the people
to gather wood, divide the
work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to yearn
for the vast and endless sea.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince
Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness.
— Jean de la Bruyere, David Allen, Getting Things Done
A vision without a task is but a dream,
a task without a vision is drudgery,
a vision and a task is the hope of the world.
— Unknown, David Allen, Getting Things Done
Melius est nomen bonum quam divitiae multae: 'A good name is better than great wealth.'
[W]ealthy people tend to have their preferences dictated by a system meant to milk them.
— Nassim Taleb, Commencement Address, American University in Beirut, 2016
I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.
If anyone can refute me – show me I'm making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective — I'll gladly change.
It's the truth I'm after and the truth never harmed anyone.
What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.
No carelessness in your actions. No confusion in your words. No imprecision in your thoughts.
Through chances various, through all vicissitudes, we make our way...
— Virgil, Aeneid
Any organization that designs a system (defined more broadly here than just information systems) will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.
— Melvin Conway, How Do Committees Invent
Work is love made visible. And if you can't work with love, but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of the people who work with joy.
— Kahlil Gibran, On Work
The amateur tweets. The pro works.
— Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro
Everything that happens is either endurable or not.
If it's endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining.
If it's unendurable... then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well.
Just remember: you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so.
This is what you deserve. You could be good today. But instead you choose tomorrow.
When you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, remember that your defining characteristic - what defines a human being - is to work with others. Even animals know how to sleep. And it's the characteristic activity that's the more natural one - more innate and more satisfying.
The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.
The field is level, only in heaven
The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.
Fundamentalism is the philosophy of the powerless, the conquered, the displaced and the dispossessed.
We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.
Men of genius themselves were great only by bringing all their power to bear on the point on which they had decided to show their full measure.
— Antonin-Dalmace Sertillanges, the Intellectual Life
[Great creative minds] think like artists but work like accountants.
Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.
— Ayn Rand
The worst fate of any shipping of any product is that nobody cares. You don’t get any feedback at all. That’s what most features or most products do. They’re just dead weight.
— Eric Reis, Minimum Viable Produc: a Guide
All progress depends on the unreasonable [human being].
Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest. Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity - it is very much like compound interest. I don't want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime. I took Bode's remark to heart; I spent a good deal more of my time for some years trying to work a bit harder and I found, in fact, I could get more work done.
— Richard Hamming, You and Your Research
Losers have goals. Winners have systems.
If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.