Arthur Miller Quote

June 15, 2009

“One can’t stand forever on the shore. At some point, filled with indecision, skepticism, reservation and doubt, you either jump in or concede that life is forever elsewhere” – Arthur Miller

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Gossip Stoppers

April 17, 2009

My friend April Callis just published a nice spiral-bound book entitled “Gossip Stoppers: 101 Insights to Stop Gossip.”  Although I don’t think it is available yet for purchase, I wanted to share two of the quotes.

Half the world is composed of people who have something to say but can’t, and the other half of people who have nothing to say and keep on saying it. – Robert Frost

Great minds discuss ideas.  Average minds discuss events.  Small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Therefore, have great ideas – and share them with the world.  We need less gossip (and reality TV shows) and more creative thinking.

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Jefferson Loved Books Not Banks

March 3, 2009

Here is something courtesy of Barry Kibrick, host of the PBS TV show, “Between the Lines.”  I was on his show a few years ago with my Goal-Free Living book.  Barry is one of the best interviewers on television.

200 years ago today (March 3), Thomas Jefferson spent his last day in office as President. On that day he issued a special report to the Treasury focused on the Bank of the United States. It was a dismal report, for the nation at that time was in desperate financial straits due to an embargo that was hurting all aspects of the economy.

As most of us know, President Jefferson was no fan of the banks, big business, or of big government intervention, but he was a fan of books and the “capital” they provide. So, on that note I leave you with these words by our 3rd President.

“Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.” Thomas Jefferson – President of the United States, 1801-1809

Thanks Barry.

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My Quought of the Day

August 18, 2008

My friend, Rajesh Setty, has been collecting “Quoughts.  He describes these as questions that provoke thought. In particular, he wants to know, what is one question that you wish someone had asked you when you were young…and why?

My response will be posted on his site soon – along with his commentary.  But I thought I would share my response with my readers first.

My Quought is:

“What matters most?”

Why did I choose this quought?   There are two reasons:

  1. Einstein once said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” From my personal experience, most people (and organizations) spend 60 minutes finding solutions to problems that don’t matter. So relevance is one aspect of “what matters most.”
  2. Recently, I have been asking myself, “Is what I do significant?” I know my work changes organizations. And I like to believe that it also changes lives. But is the change significant? Lately I have been restless. I think the reason is that I want greater significance in my life.

The second point, significance, is something I am wrestling with right now.  In fact, I have decided that this will be my theme for the rest of this year.  As we move into the last third of the year, maybe it is time for you to revisit your theme.  If you are not familiar with my concept of themes, please read my article on the topic.

Maybe it is time to ask yourself, “What matters most?”  What matters most to your organization?  What matters most in your personal life?  What matters most to your family?  When you focus on the things that matter most, you have more time.  And you can spend that free time on more things that matter.

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George Carlin Quote

June 23, 2008

Today’s quote is from the great comedian, George Carlin, who passed away Sunday.  Although this quote is less raunchy than most, it’s still not quite “G” rated…

“I got a lot of ideas.  Trouble is, most of them suck.”

Although this is a simple saying, there is some real depth to it. 

The reality is, you have a lot of ideas.  Your team has lots of ideas.  And guess what, most of those ideas do indeed stink.

And this is what stifles innovation.  As adults, we worry about our bad ideas emerging.  We don’t want to look silly, so we filter everything, including the good ideas. 

How can you stop people from filtering their ideas? 

I ask teams (during brainstorming, in particular) to strive for a “high suckiness factor.” Give me all of your bad ideas; not just your good ones.  

This serves two purposes:

  1. When you allow the bad ideas to flow, you also allow the (submerged) good ideas to emerge.  Everyone has them. They just get filtered along with all of the other ideas.
  2. Quite often, the worst idea can be the seed for a great idea.  One of the questions I like to ask a group is, “What is the funniest, craziest, or worst idea? ” After they create a list, I ask them, “How can you make that into a great idea?”

Let’s remember George Carlin by surfacing all of our buried ideas – the good, the bad, and the sucky.

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Shapiro Quotes

June 19, 2008

I did not know this, but excerpts from my blogs have been appearing regularly in a newsletter containing inspirational quotes.  Members of the Gaia Community select their favorite tidbits and then distribute them via email and the website. 

Click here if you want to read a bunch of my quotes.

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Idiots Out-Innovate Intellectuals

March 1, 2008

Here’s a great quote from Ville Keränen from Finland:

“One idiot who walks gets further than five intellectuals who only talk…”

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How to Be Unique

February 18, 2008

“The more you are like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.” — Walt Disney

This quote is quite appropriate given my recent blog entries (and this one too).

This is great advice for any organization that wants to be more innovative.

I play golf — not well, but I play golf. My handicap is in double digits. For me to shoot par would be a dream. But for Tiger Woods, par would be a nightmare.

I am reminded of this comparison when I see companies that are satisfied to focus on their understanding of “par,” otherwise known as best practice. It was once an admirable aim, but is not sufficient today. Your competitors are more like Tiger Woods than they are like me. Par won’t keep you alive in the current environment.

Instead of copying what worked for someone else, find what makes you distinctive and target your innovation efforts there.

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Crazy Goals Drive Your Crazy

February 8, 2008

43Things.com,” a community-based online to-do list, allows you to list your top goals in life. A blog reader, Antony, culled  some interesting statistics from that website.

  • 5,716 people set the goal: “Decide what the hell I would like to do with the rest of my life.”
  • 21,100 people set the goal: “Stop procrastinating”

What’s funny about the second goal – stop procrastinating – is that I once quoted Paul Graham as saying, “The to-do list is itself a form of type-B (something less important) procrastination.”

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What is Passion?

February 6, 2008

The other day I was having lunch with Mike Bell, the man who hired me for an engineering co-op job during university – an opportunity that changed my life. He has also changed the lives of over 250,000 students who have been educated with his math instruction methods.

During our time together, he gave me his definition of passion. He said:

“When I see the word ‘passion,’ I actually see three words. In the middle is ‘I’ and on either side are “pass” and “on.” To me, passion is when ‘I pass on’ something I love to others. It’s when I make a contribution to the world.”

Works for me.

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