Quotes for the ages

Quotes for the ages

Innovation / Change

  • “If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘A faster horse'” – Henry Ford
  • “Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” – James Bryant Conant
  • “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
  • “Don’t be the one who puts the “no” in innovation.” – Unknown
  • “The single biggest reason companies fail is they overinvest in what is, as opposed to what might be.” – Gary Hamel
  • “Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.” – Samuel Johnson
  • “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
  • “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” – Chinese proverb
  • “It’s not the ice you see that rips the hull.” – Doug Riddle
  • “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution” – The Shirky Principle
  • “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Unknown
  • “If you’re getting chased by a lion, you don’t need to run faster than the lion, just the people running with you.” – Unknown
  • “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.” – Grace Hooper
  • “Deciding on or announcing a change is not the same as implementing the change.”
  • “Businesses spend lots on change management; but very little if anything on agility.” – Sarah Finch
  • “Be quick but don’t be in a hurry.” – John Wooden
  • “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn
  • “The problem with doing nothing is you never know when you’re done!” – Unknown
  • “If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.” – Unknown
  • “A good question: ‘What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?'”
  • “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
  • “The walls of the box from which we are asked to think out of are thickened by years of experience.” – Unknown
  • “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” – General Shinseki
  • “I am convinced that if the rate of change inside an organization is less than the rate of change outside the end is in sight.” – Jack Welch
  • “We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.” – Marshall McLuhan
  • “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” – Alfred N. Whitehead
  • “You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.” – Unknown
  • “Something must be done; this is something; therefore it must be done.” – Unknown (On how NOT to do innovation and change management!)
  • “If you don’t take risks… you actually risk everything.” – Jimmy Vee
  • “You are not stuck where you are unless you decide to be.” – Wayne Dyer
  • “To succeed your rate of learning must be greater than your rate of change.” – Unknown

Learning / Knowledge

  • “In times of change, learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer
  • “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” – Unknown
  • “We complain that learners want to be spoonfed, but then we won’t let them hold the spoon.” – Jane Bozarth
  • “The only thing worse than learning from experience is not learning from experience.” – Unknown
  • “Bad training is a monologue delivered in the presence of hostages.” – Sardek Love
  • “Where my reason, imagination or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn.” – Winston Churchill
  • “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” – Winston Churchill
  • “Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge; let your learning lead to action.” – Jim Rohn
  • “You have seen, but not observed.” – Sherlock Holmes
  • “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” – Henry Ford
  • “To succeed your rate of learning must be greater tan your rate of change.”
  • “To conserve a physical resource, you must limit its use. To conserve knowledge, you must increase its use.” – Unknown


  • “Opportunities are not lost. They are just taken by others.” – Jane Bozarth
  • “2 classes of failure: those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought.” – Unknown
  • “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” – Jonathan Winter
  • “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”
  • “It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.” – Henry Ford
  • “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn
  • “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky
  • “The bad news is time flies. The good news is… you’re the Pilot.” – Michael Althsuler
  • “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln


  • “I am easily satisfied with the very best.” – Winston Churchill
  • “It’s not enough to do your best; you must know what to do & then do your best.” – W. Edwards Deming
  • “Do what needs to be done and don’t announce to everyone that you’ve done it. Repeat and the right people will find out anyway.” – Unknown
  • “Passion for a goal doesn’t guarantee success, but without it, you can’t even begin.” – Rosabeth Kanter


  • “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” – Plato
  • “You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument.” – Samuel Johnson
  • “I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks.” – Winston Churchill
  • “Listen and Silent are spelled with the same letters.” – Unknown
  • “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Peter Drucker
  • “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.” – Unknown
  • “I’m just laying down some tracks for your train of thought.” – Unknown


  • “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos
  • “Be dramatically willing to focus on the customer at all costs, even at the cost of obsoleting your own stuff.” – Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit
  • “Customer Service is not a department… its an attitude.” – Unknown
  • “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.” – Zig Ziglar

Business Strategy / Culture

  • “Committees are places to lure great ideas to be killed while absolving everyone of the blame.” – Unknown
  • “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” – Thomas Pynchon
  • “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” – Unknown
  • “Selling social software to traditional organization is like selling condoms to priests. No value without new behaviors.” – Unknown
  • “When you’re in an earthquake on a unicycle, juggling chain saws, the only way to survive is to tack down what you can tack down, so you can deal with what you can’t.” – Stephen Chakwin
  • “Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight, whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle, will arrive exhausted.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
  • “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker
  • “You overestimate what you can do in one year & underestimate what you can do in ten years.” – Unknown
  • “Getting the right people in the right jobs is a lot more important than developing a strategy.” – Jack Welch
  • “Work should be something you do, not someplace you go.” – Unknown
  • “You cannot fix by analysis what you bungled by design.” – Unknown
  • “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go…” – 38 Special (applies nicely to social learning, enterprise 2.0)
  • “It is important to be clear on what is a trend and what is a fad, and what are the faddish elements at the margins of a trend.” – Tom Stone

Talent Management and TM Practices

  • “Hiring may slow or stop, but talent acquisition never does.” – Lou Manzi, former VP of GLobal Talent Solutions, GlaxoSmithKlein
  • “Succession planning is like hospice: everyone talks about it but no one wants to go there.” – Lynne Cunninham
  • “Getting the right people in the right jobs is a lot more important than developing a strategy.” – Jack Welch

Information Management

  • “We need to avoid deploying more knowledge coffins in our organization (portals, etc.)” – Unknown
  • “If only [Company X] knew what the people at [Company X] know, we’d be 3x more productive.” – Unknown
  • “Email is where knowledge goes to die.” – Unknown
  • “To conserve a physical resource, you must limit its use. To conserve knowledge, you must increase its use.” – Unknown
  • “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it’s hard to eat spaghetti.” – David Allen

Misc. Other Business

  • “Facebook is for meeting people you know or used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know.” – Unknown
  • “You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.” – Doug McDuff
  • “If Tetris has taught me anything it’s that errors pile up and accomplishments disappear.” – Unknown
  • “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Ben Franklin
  • “Wikipedia only works in practice. In theory, it’s a total disaster.” – Sue Gardner
  • “If it takes more than 15 seconds, I get irritated. Come on, I haven’t got all minute!” – Unknown
  • “The definition of a legacy system is something that works.” – Josh Bersin, in a webinar


  • “I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.” – Unknown
  • “I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks.” – Winston Churchill
  • “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.” – Unknown
  • “Selling social software to a traditional organization is like selling condoms to priests. No value without new behaviors.” – Unknown
  • “That’s like trying to catch and anvil in mid-air… if successful, what’s your next move?” – Unknown
  • “Though ‘desserts’ is ‘stressed’ spelled backwards, it will not help to eat desserts when stressed.” – Unknown
  • “A word to the wise ain’t necessary – it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.” – Bill Cosby
  • “Things are more like they are now than they have ever been.” President Gerald Ford
  • “Mike Andrews’ limits are limitless.” Danny Ozark, former Phillies manager, about a player
  • “A SQL query walks into a bar. He approaches two tables and says, mind if I join you?” – (programmer joke)
  • “96.7% of all statistics are made up.” – Unknown
  • “Most things in life are not cut and dried. Beef jerky is.” – Unknown
  • “I remember when I was really into nostalgia.” – Unknown
  • “If atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby.” – Unknown
  • “My favorite 4-letter F-Word: Free.” – Unknown
  • “Research has shown that marriage is the leading cause of divorce.” – Unknown
  • “Something must be done; this is something; therefore it must be done.” – Unknown
  • “An apostrophe is the difference between a business that knows its shit and a business that knows it’s shit.” – Unknown
  • “I don’t always read fiction, but when I do it’s a spreadsheet with timelines in a developer meeting.” – Unknown
  • “I’m really interested to be here, because I’m interested to hear what I have to say…” – Unknown