Quotes, December 2013

“All companies that grow really big do so in only one way: people recommend the product or service to other people.”
-Sam Altman

“Bookstores can blame Amazon all they want, but frankly most of them just really suck at selling books.”
-Shane Parrish

“You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.”
-Paul Graham

“People who end up being right about things, mostly do so by changing their minds. They see their conclusions as temporary. They are constantly revising their points of view based on new information, new ideas, resolving contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking. People who end up being wrong about things, mostly do so because they only look at facts that support one point of view. If you can’t explain why the other side might be right and see multiple angles toward your problems, then you’re going to be wrong most of the time too.”
-Tucker Max

“I can think of several heuristics for generating ideas for startups, but most reduce to this: look at something people are trying to do, and figure out how to do it in a way that doesn’t suck.”
-Paul Graham

“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; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. 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 of it.”
-Viktor Frankl

“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”
-Herbert Simon

“I think it’s far more important to write well than most people realize. Writing doesn’t just communicate ideas; it generates them. If you’re bad at writing and don’t like to do it, you’ll miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated.”
-Paul Graham

“I’ll tell you how to succeed, it’s very simple. Imagine the life you want to live. What does that life require from you that you aren’t doing now? Go do that. You won’t get it right at first, so repeat that 2 step process over and over until you get where you want to be. Knowing what to do is not hard. Doing it, that’s hard.”
-Tucker Max

“The way you deliver a message to them is a cue to how they should react. If you make an argument, you’re implicitly asking them to evaluate your argument—judge it, debate it, criticize it—and then argue back, at least in their minds. But with a story you engage the audience—you are involving people with the idea, asking them to participate with you.”
-Chip Heath

“I’ve been a student of Zen philosophy for many years. In Zen archery, for example, you forget about the goal — hitting the bull’s-eye — and instead focus on all the individual movements involved in shooting an arrow. You practice instead your stance, reaching back and smoothly pulling an arrow out of the quiver, notching it on the string, controlling your breathing, and letting the arrow release itself. If you’ve perfected all the elements, you can’t help but hit the center of the target. The same philosophy is true for climbing mountains. If you focus on the process of climbing, you’ll end up on the summit. As it turns out, the perfect place I’ve found to apply this Zen philosophy is in the business world.”
-Yvon Chouinard

“People won’t listen to reasons why you’re better than something else. But they will listen to reasons why you’re different than something else, especially if those distinctions can benefit them directly.”
-Tucker Max