Archive for the ‘Quote of the Month’ Category

Quote of the Month: Lloyd Dobler

June 1, 2009
Cover of "Say Anything"
Cover of Say Anything

It’s June, which here in the US means “Dads and Grads” is the most repeated (and my least favorite) phrase in advertising for the next month. For those of you graduating from something in the face of a difficult job market I repeat for you the best movie answer ever to being questioned about your job future:

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

—Lloyd Dobler, Say Anything

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Quote of the Month: Dan Canin

May 4, 2009

At the recommendation of one of my bosses, I’m reading a book called Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales, which examines the psychology behind accidents (aviation, space flight, hiking, rock climbing, etc.).  It takes a very interesting look at how we are capable of being very intelligent but have blind spots in our thought process.  In a weird way, it is very similar to the recent Wired article featuring Teller about the psychology of magic.

On page 113 of my paperback version, Gonzales quotes Lockeed engineer Dan Canin who was commenting on the trade-offs between safety and pushing boundaries with NASA:

“Shit happens, and if we want to restrict ourselves to things where shit can’t happen . . . we’re not going to do anything very interesting.”

We all take on projects with a certain amount of risk.  In Mr. Canin’s case, that risk equates to whether or not people will live or not, something I’m not experienced with seeing as I’m pretty sure no web site ever reached through someone’s screen and attacked them.

Still, the path to greatness usually comes with risk.  The Apollo astronauts knew there was a pretty good chance they would die but they took on that risk in the name of pushing boundaries.  Space Shuttle launches sometimes become common enough that we almost tend to think of them as commercial flights, but they aren’t.

In order to make new discoveries, to “do anything interesting” as Mr. Canin put it, comes with risk.  But when you mitigate those risks and avoid them, the results can be spectacular.  Don’t assume you can make those big leaps without the risk that comes along with it.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Quote of the Month: Conan O’Brien

April 16, 2009
American comedian Conan O'Brien at "Stand...
Image via Wikipedia

Conan O’Brien recently appeared on Inside the Actors Studio and had a really deep thought about knowing, really knowing, your craft:

“Nobody knows really what they’re doing.  That’s, they don’t, they don’t know what they’re doing. And there’s two ways to go with that information: one is to be afraid and the other is to be liberated.  I choose to be liberated by it.”

I find myself in situations every once in awhile where I’m forced to question whether or not I’m qualified to be making a certain decision.  As O’Brien points out nobody can ever know with 100% certainty what they are doing and you can let that ignite you if you simply choose to think of it that way.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Quote of the Month: A Nerd Joke

February 2, 2009

I saw an old software joke the other day:

“There are 10 kinds of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don’t.”

You only get that joke if you were forced to learn byte codes in a computer science curriculum of some sort.  If you went through that, like I did, then you’d know that using binary numbers, the symbol “10” means “2”.

The reason I used it here is that it assumes you have a certain context and if you don’t the joke is completely meaningless to you.  To assume a similar context when making a presentation to a senior executive or a marketing expert about your very technically oriented topic is every bit the same mistake except that it can help get you fired instead of just not getting a laugh.  

It illustrates why I write the things I do here, reinforcing the notion that those of us who are technically savvy can lose a whole bunch of folks who don’t understand the same context we do and that can be really bad for your career.

Quote of the Month: Walt Disney

January 6, 2009

I’m back from my annual Disneyworld pilgrimage and since January is a month of new beginnings, I thought this often quoted statement from Walt himself was particularly fitting:

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

Today, of course, The Walt Disney Company is a 35+ billion dollar operation but it started with a huge failure: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.  The cartoon itself was entertaining, but in 1927 Walt got completely screwed over by Universal on the distribution of it and company lore tells us that on the train ride back to Hollywood after unsuccessful negotiations, Mickey Mouse was born as a replacement.

That begat the first talking cartoon (“Steamboat Willie” although that has been disputed), the first feature length cartoon (“Snow White”), the first theme parky (Disneyland), and a host of other innovations.  Oswald returned to the Disney fold in 2006 when he was traded for Al Michaels, and you know you have a Disney geek like myself on your hands when that’s trivia they know off the top of their heads.

A bad time and a starting over, something a lot of folks can relate to after recent world economic events, sparked a media empire.  Walt never forgot that and didn’t let his people forget either, as this quote reminds us.

Quote of the Month: My Dad

December 2, 2008

A big part of the job description for a dad is to dish out advice.  Throughout my life, I’ve tended to put a lot of pressure on myself.  It’s just the way I am.

To combat this, my favorie piece of advice my Dad has ever given me is:

“Whether you succeed or fail, there are a billion people in China who don’t care either way.”

While the origins of this statement predate globalization (Dad had no way of knowing when I was 10 years old that maybe some day a few folks in China might actually care since they were working on the same project as me), the fundamentals of the quote ring true.  The sun will rise again tomorrow no matter what happens, so it doesn’t hurt to not take things so seriously all the time.

Quote of the Month: Barack Obama

November 3, 2008

Given the big day tomorrow, I thought it fitting to start off November with my favorite Obama quote, which comes from the introduction section in The Audacity of Hope:

“No one is immune to the call to find common ground.”

I like this quote because epitomizes the idea that you should appreciate the perspectives of others, something I’ve written about before.  That concept surfaces all over the place, whether it’s a political discussion, technical design session, or marketing meeting.  You are going to find people whose opinions differ from yours and you owe it to the greater good to figure out why they have the reasons they do so you can find common ground.

Quote of the month: Bill Simmons

October 2, 2008

Given the financial crisis in the US, things are bad fight now for a lot of people, which reminded me of a Bill Simmons quote where he described a point in his life prior to his blogger-before-we-called-them-that rise to sports writing stardom:

“You know things are bad when you’re setting your alarm clock for noon every day, only you still have to hit the snooze button a few times before rolling out of bed.”

Bill Simmons, January 2008

Everybody has ups and downs and I’ve found that nothing resets my expectations or priorities in life quite like a down.  If you happen to be in one now, rest assured that it won’t last forever.  It worked out for the “setting your alarm clock for noon every day, only you still have to hit the snooze button a few times before rolling out of bed” guy it can work out for you too.