My favorite quotes from 2019

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the past year.

Online

I don't believe people can be inspired or learn much from business books/pamphlets/resources. Entrepreneurs reading books about entrepreneurship are like romantic people reading romance novels for inspiration.

From $0 to $10k/mo with a Geoparsing/Geocoding API in Under Two Years

If you're writing things you don't want to write, why not just get a real job? You'll get a regular paycheck and benefits.

Why All Of Our Games Look Like Crap

Once you have won someone’s trust by reflecting their own views back at them, you are in a position to influence them.

Undercover reporter reveals life in a Polish troll farm

One of the biggest traps for engineers is optimizing something a thing that shouldn't even exist.

Elon Musk interview

The apparently random projects you take up to stave off decline will read to outsiders as evidence of it.

The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius (Paul Graham)

Books

By not making a choice, you are actually making a choice: you are choosing the status quo.

Gabriel Weinberg, Super Thinking

For unpleasant tasks, you should imagine what you would have someone else do if you were delegating it. Then do that.

The Mom Test

The secret to shareable content is showing readers they have a problem they didn’t know about, or at least couldn’t fully articulate.

Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, Traction

I would have been embarrassed to ask for these things, let alone to give my reasons for wanting them. They were all so totally emotional, so illogical.

They want to work for people who have created a clearly defined structure for acting in the world. A structure through which they can test themselves and be tested. Such a structure is called a game.

The E-Myth Revisited on how customers sometimes have preferences they cannot put into words, and how designing the way your company operates is a bit like game design.

Negative thoughts compound. The more you think of yourself as worthless, stupid, or ugly, the more you condition yourself to interpret life that way. You get trapped in a thought loop.

One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking.

Professionals take action even when the mood isn’t right. They might not enjoy it, but they find a way to put the reps in.

Work hard on the things that come easy. Genes do not determine your destiny. They determine your areas of opportunity. What feels like fun to me, but work to others? The mark of whether you are made for a task is not whether you love it but whether you can handle the pain of the task easier than most people.

The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements. It’s remarkable what you can build if you just don’t stop.

You can’t improve a habit that doesn’t exist.

Every action you take is a vote for the kind of person you want to become.

James Clear, Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

Which five pieces of information would you want to look at each day, immediately upon arriving at your office?

As a rule of thumb, a manager whose work is largely supervisory should have six to eight subordinates; three or four are too few and ten are too many.

When you say “yes” to one thing you are inevitably saying “no” to another.

Andrew S. Grove, High Output Management

He would place this urgency that he expected the revenue in ten years to be ten million dollars a day and that every day we were slower to achieve our goals was a day of missing out on that money.

Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

It’s probably not going to happen, but I should do things that keep me moving in the right direction, just in case—and I should be sure those things interest me, so that whatever happens, I’m happy.

Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

"The finder of a new elementary particle used to be rewarded by a Nobel Prize, but such a discovery now ought to be punished by a $10,000 fine."

Marcus du Sautoy, What We Cannot Know quoting Nobel Prize winner Willis Lamb.

The way to do really big things seems to be to start with deceptively small things.

Our ego wants the ideas and the fact that we aspire to do something about them to be enough. Wants the hours we spend planning and attending conferences or chatting with impressed friends to count toward the tally that success seems to require.

We’re required to tell stories in order to sell our work and our talents, and after enough time, forget where the line is that separates our fictions from reality.

Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first call promising.

Talk depletes us. Talking and doing fight for the same resources. Research shows that while goal visualization is important, after a certain point our mind begins to confuse it with actual progress.

There’s a weak side to each of us, that—like a trade union—isn’t exactly malicious but at the end of the day still wants get as much public credit and attention as it can for doing the least. That side we call ego.

Ryan Holiday, Ego Is the Enemy

It’s comfortable as hell in that box. Not just for us, but for our closest family and friends. The limits we create and accept become the lens through which they see us. Through which they love and appreciate us.

Don’t focus on what you think you deserve. Take aim on what you are willing to earn.

David Goggins, Can't Hurt Me

I would pack my development system up and we would go somewhere. In a week, I would design a microprocessor system. That’s how I built my sales up.

Bagnall, Brian, Commodore - A Company On The Edge

He would have been lost except he started out lost and when you start out completely lost, it's hard to get loster.

Orson Scott Card, Ender's Shadow

I select the writing of the passages of this book by means of procrastination. If I defer writing a section, it must be eliminated. This is simple ethics: Why should I try to fool people by writing about a subject for which I feel no natural drive?

Since procrastination is a message from our natural willpower via low motivation, the cure is changing the environment, or one’s profession, by selecting one in which one does not have to fight one’s impulses.

Remarkably, what the author is bored writing bores the reader.

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, Antifragile

Too many men work on parts of things. Doing a job to completeness satisfies a man.

Chores are easier if forethought is given to them and they are looked upon as little pleasures to perform instead of inconveniences that steal time and try the patience.

Keith, Mr. Sam, One Man’s Wilderness

I’d rather see my founders fail at a big goal than succeed at a small one.

Jason Calacanis, Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups

You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive.

Richard P. Feynman, Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From the Beaten Track