Collected quotes

Collected quotes

Life & Business

  • The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. Jack London
  • You are a most unusual species. Worthy of a second chance. Proceed. Paxan inhabiting Deanna Troi while Cpt. Picard saving the Enterprise, Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Clues" (4:14)
  • You can never understand everything. But, you should push yourself to understand the system. Ryan Dahl (Creator of Node.js)
  • Poverty is resolved with education and jobs. You don’t need to teach a man how to fish, as the Chinese used to say. Instead of giving him the fish, instead of teaching him how to fish, you have to teach him how to sell the fish, so that he eats something else besides a fish. Carlos Slim
  • I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance… Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about; otherwise, you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. Steve Jobs
  • Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower Steve Jobs
  • Move fast and break things Mark Zuckerberg, internal Facebook motto until 2014
  • A great man doesn't seek to lead; he is called to it. Duke Leto Atreides in “Dune” (2021)
  • People who do not spend five to 10 hours a week in online learning will obsolete themselves with technology. Randall Stephenson, AT&T
  • You're also adding qualitatively different kinds of people to the team. One metaphor I use to explain this shift is to take yet another analogy from the military history: the marines take the beach, the army takes the country, and the police govern the country. Marines are start-up people who are used to dealing with chaos and improvising solutions on the spot. Army soldiers are scale-up people, who know how to rapidly seize and secure the territory once your forces make it off the beach. And police officers are stability people, whose job is to sustain rather than disrupt. The marines and the army can usually work together, but the marines and the police rarely work well together. As you blitzscale, you may need to find new beaches for your marines to tak rather than ask them to help patrol the existing ones. Reid Hoffman et al. in “Blitzscaling”
  • I failed my way to success. Thomas Edison
  • Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds. Albert Einstein
  • If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse. Jim Rohn
  • Success isn't just about what you accomplish in your life; it's about what you inspire others to do. Unknown
  • Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Edison
  • The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. It's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere. Barack Obama
  • Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit. Conrad Hilton
  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell
  • The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do. Anonymous
  • All progress takes place outside the comfort zone. Michael John Bobak
  • If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time. Steve Jobs
  • I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. G. K. Chesterton
  • Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success. Thomas J. Watson
  • If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. Jim Rohn
  • Opportunities don't happen. You create them. Chris Grosser
  • There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed. Ray Goforth
  • Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don't wish it were easier; wish you were better. Jim Rohn
  • Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. Calvin Coolidge
  • Well done is better than well said. Benjamin Franklin
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started. Mark Twain
  • It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. Confucius
  • No Excuses. No Explanation. You don't Win on Emotion. You Win on Execution. Unknown
  • [...] We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. Alfred Tennyson, “Ulysses”
  • It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. Mark Twain
  • Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain
  • Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds. Albert Einstein
  • The only person who likes change is a wet baby. Mark Twain
  • First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Mahatma Gandhi
  • The keystone of successful business is cooperation. Friction retards progress. James Cash Penney
  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure. Colin Powell
  • But in capitalist reality, as distinguished from its textbook picture, it is not (price) competition which counts but the competition from the new commodity, the new technology, the source of supply, the new type of organization [...] competition which [...] strikes not at the margins [...] of the existing firms but at their foundations and their very lives. Joseph A. Schumpeter in “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”
  • The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary. Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer. Peter Drucker: The Practice of Management, 1954
  • Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Peter Drucker
  • The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. Milton Friedman, 1970: 32ff
  • Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., 1904
  • Innovation requires builders not bean-counters, and the last person who should be running something is the man who controls the costs. Sure, you need that man in there somewhere to keep a rein on things, but he shouldn't be at the top. James Dyson, “Against the Odds”, 2003
  • No plan survives contact with the enemy. Helmuth von Moltke
  • Lead, follow or get out of the way! George S. Patton
  • You're not an Abercrombie and Fitch model, you're fucking hardcore. Recon Marine Instructor
  • Details, details. Things to do. Things to get done. Don't bother me with details, just tell me when they're done. Jimmy Price in “Layer Cake”
  • The art of good business is being a good middleman. Eddie Temple in “Layer Cake”
  • You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake son. Eddie Temple in “Layer Cake”
  • I'm not going to lie: I despise children. There. I've said it. Frank Underwood in "House of Cards"; 1.07
  • Can't execute a perp on 99%. Judge Dredd in “Dredd”
  • My strong suspicion is that we get the world we deserve. Ray Velcoro in “True Detective” [2.2]
  • An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. Benjamin Franklin
  • Fortschritt ist der Weg vom Primitiven über das Komplizierte zum Einfachen Wernher von Braun
  • If you show people the problems and you show people the solutions they will be moved to act. Bill Gates
  • In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin
  • The best customer service is if the customer doesn't need to call you, doesn't need to talk to you. It just works. Jeff Bezos
  • The keystone of successful business is cooperation. Friction retards progress. James Cash Penney
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started. Mark Twain
  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure. Colin Powell
  • Things do not change; we change. Henry David Thoreau
  • A few honest men are better than numbers. Oliver Cromwell
  • Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Henry Ford
  • Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. Albert Einstein
  • I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress. Mark Zuckerberg
  • In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Never look back unless you are planning to go that way. Henry David Thoreau
  • No plan survives contact with the enemy. Helmuth von Moltke
  • The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading. David Bailey
  • The progress of the world depends almost entirely upon education. George Eastman
  • There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. Sam Walton
  • Unity is strength... when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. Mattie Stepanek
  • When you need to innovate, you need collaboration. Marissa Mayer

War & Peace

  • In war, there are no winners, only widows General Shang in "Arrival"
  • I distinguish four types of officers. There are clever, hardworking, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and hardworking; their place is the General Staff. The next ones are stupid and lazy; they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the mental clarity and strength of nerve necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is both stupid and hardworking; he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always only cause damage. Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord
  • There are four types of people who join the military. For some, it's family trade. Others are patriots, eager to serve. Next you have those who just need a job. Than there's the kind who want the legal means of killing other people. Jack Reacher in "Jack Reacher"


  • Das Geheimnis des Glücks ist die Freiheit, das Geheimnis der Freiheit aber ist der Mut. Thukydides in “Peloponnesischer Krieg” 2, 43, 4 / Perikles
  • Fortschritt ist der Weg vom Primitiven über das Komplizierte zum Einfachen Wernher von Braun
  • Ich bin Unternehmer geworden, weil ich nicht für einen anderen Armleuchter arbeiten wollte Peter Dussmann
  • Kameradschaft ist die Tugend, aufgrund der seelischen Verbundenheit innerhalb einer zielgerichteten Schicksalsgemeinschaft [...] unterschiedslos nächstenliebend zu wirken. Werner Sorg in “Das Wesen der Kameradschaft”, S. 65.
  • Aber der Mensch, der Mensch fängt erst beim Leutnant an [...] Carl Zuckmayer in “Der Hauptmann von Köpenick”
  • Die erste Generation schafft Vermögen, die zweite verwaltet Vermögen, die dritte studiert Kunstgeschichte, und die vierte verkommt vollends. Otto von Bismarck
  • Machen Sie sich frei von Kleinarbeit. Dazu halten Sie sich einige wenige kluge Leute. Lassen Sie sich aber viel Zeit, sich Gedanken zu machen und sich vor sich selbst ganz klar zu werden. Sorgen Sie dafür, dass Ihre Gedanken ausgeführt werden. Nur so können Sie richtig führen. Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord

Leaders are readers

Leaders are readers. When Larry Page, CEO of Google, was asked how he learned to run a company, he responded, "I read a lot." He read three books on how to name things. Bill Gates maintains his famous "Think Week" for decades, devouring a record of 112 books, articles, and whitepapers in just one week.

Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, reads for three hours per day. His goal is to find just one idea he can use to give him and the over 150 companies he's invested in an edge in the marketplace. Mark Zuckerberg's development priority in 2015 was reading a book every two weeks, exceeding by two the number of books (24/year) Topgrading author Brad Smart found separated A-player executives from B and C players.

And Charlie Munger, reflecting in 2015 on the 50-year record of investing by his partner Warren Buffett, said: "His (Warren's) priority would be reservation of much time for quiet reading and thinking, particularly that which might advance his determined learning, no matter how old he became."

All these great business leaders know one thing: Nothing interesting can come out of our brains that we don't put in it first. Having a natural curiosity and thirst for learning separates the good from the great in our experience. Happy reading!

Source: Verne Harnish: Scaling Up, page 2 (slightly adapted for better understanding)