10 quotes on careers

conference lecture

conference lecture

The quotes (10, plus a bonus):

“Each of the professions means a prejudice. The necessity for a career forces every one to take sides. We live in the age of the overworked, and the under-educated; the age in which people are so industrious that they become absolutely stupid.” -Oscar Wilde

I’ve found this to be quite true; people are so overworked that they make stupid decisions about their careers. It’s not that people are stupid, but the pressure and the stress make them ACT stupid. Big difference, same result.

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” -Marilyn Monroe

Amen, Marilyn. I spent a lot of years working like a maniac at my career and amazingly, those TPS reports don’t curl up with me on a cold night. On the other hand, they don’t steal my covers.

“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life” -Hillary Clinton

Yes, that Hillary Clinton. I’m sure she enjoys a lot of free time outside of her political career (there is no sarcastic font), but hey, politicians are free to dispense all sorts of advice that they themselves don’t take. She makes a great point, though. Don’t assume that being the hotshot assistant manager for the Northeast III region is “a life.” It’s a great accomplishment… but it’s not “a life” if it doesn’t fulfill your goals.

“Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.” -Bobby Unser, 3-time Indianapolis 500 winner

Wish I had thought about this a little before completing 7 years of school for two degrees. Eh, actually I’m happy with my education but Bubelah and I have this conversation all the time, with the same result (I will be annoying and put it in all caps for emphasis’ sake): AMERICANS CONFUSE EDUCATION WITH ACHIEVEMENT. Just because you have degrees out the wazoo doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. My suspicion is that successful people would be successful regardless of where they went to school or whether they went at all. Some of the least successful people I know are very educated.

“No man can succeed in a line of endeavor which he does not like.” -Napoleon Hill

If you read brip blap, you know I really (really, really) admire Napoleon Hill and his work. This is a straightforward statement that sums it up. I have never been successful in my line of work – accounting and finance – to the level I could’ve been because, quite frankly, I am bored by it. I don’t hate it. I’m actually pretty good at what I do, and I can hammer away at exceptionally complex accounting and finance problems with the best of them. But I get very, very bored with it very quickly. Because of that I’ve been moderately successful instead of extremely successful.

“I think everyone should experience defeat at least once during their career. You learn a lot from it. ” – Lou Holtz

I remember when I experienced defeat. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t in my career, but when I was attending mathematics PhD school I woke up one morning and said “this is NOT for me.” I had never seriously considered a career path other than “college professor in some type of math/computer science/linguistics/other technical type of study.” I sat down with a piece of paper and started writing down what I wanted, how I could do it, and how quickly I could do it. I came up with going back to school, getting a BA in accounting and an MBA in accounting… in two years. Doing that, though, achieved one of my dearest dreams: years of traveling the world at somebody else’s expense. My “defeat” in not completing PhD school led to some great things in my life.  So Lou, the absolutely awful analyst and overrated coach, got this one right.

” I’ve reached the pinnacle of my career. I just feel that I don’t have anything else to prove.” – Michael Jordan

I have little to say to this except this: can you even begin to imagine what it feels like to say that? I can’t.

“Everything I have, my career, my success, my family, I owe to America.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

I’m not exactly an America-firster; I have some big problems with what my country has demonstrated about itself by making some poor electoral choices in 2000 and 2004.   At the same time, I’ve traveled around the world enough to know that it’s a humbling thing to realize that people all over the world dream of achieving something that we got through the dumb accident of birth: being an American (and this applies to Canada, too). I also doubly appreciate the privilege considering my wife and her family, who lost everything in the collapse of the Soviet Union but have rebuilt a middle class lifestyle in a little more than a decade despite coming to this country with nothing more – literally – than the clothes on their backs. America still has a lot going for it.

“My whole career can be summed up with ‘Ignorance is bliss.’ When you do not know better, you do not really worry about failing.” – Jeff Foxworthy

I don’t remember all of it, but I read an interesting interview with Foxworthy a while back. He was some cubicle dweller for IBM, I think, and was prodded by friends to give comedy a shot. A few redneck jokes later and he’s done alright. He said he had no idea of the odds against succeeding in comedy, and if he had he would have clung to his crap job for dear life.

“I don’t want to get into the habit of thinking about my career because when it comes down to it, it’s not that important. I could die tomorrow and the world would go on. I don’t want to separate myself from the rest of the world. If the world is not going too good, I’m part of that. I’ll be happy to take the blame. I’m along for the ride.” -River Phoenix

Er, I’m including this in the “how’s that working out for you” category. Don’t be along for the ride – the river can get bumpy and there are a few hard turns there. You need to keep a hand on the rudder (or whatever the boat-thingy that steers is called).

“I often thought that if there had been a good rap group around in those days, I might have chosen a career in music instead of politics.” -Richard M. Nixon

I am including this quote because, well, read it! Really? What I would give to see Tricky Dick representin’! Gas face! “I am not a criminal – I am the O.G.!” His new moniker? Janky Forty Sippa. Please visit this site to put a smile on your face on the way out of the workplace!

According to that site, brip blap should be redubbed “Rotten Tree Hugga.” Good idea?

LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by runneralan2004

25 quotes on perseverance

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” – Walter Elliott

“No man is ever whipped, until he quits — in his own mind.” – Napoleon Hill

“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” – John D. Rockefeller

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” – Thomas Foxwell Buxton

“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” – Samuel Johnson

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Even after a bad harvest there must be sowing.” – Seneca

“For all things difficult to acquire, the intelligent man works with perseverance.” – Lao Tzu

“The characteristic of a genuine heroism is its persistency. All men have wandering impulses, fits and starts of generosity. But when you have resolved to be great, abide by yourself, and do not weakly try to reconcile yourself with the world. The heroic cannot be the common, nor the common the heroic.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.” – Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

“Thankfully, perseverance is a good substitute for talent.” – Steve Martin

“Saints are sinners who kept on going.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” – Buddhist Saying

“Paralyze resistance with persistence.” – Woody Hayes

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” – Abraham Lincoln

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.” – C. S. Lewis

“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” – Hank Aaron

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, ‘press on’ has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – General Dwight Eisenhower

“Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.” – Dr. Samuel Johnson

“If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying. “Here comes number seventy-one!” – Richard M. Devos

“Keep on keeping on.” – Edgar Allen (founder of Easter Seals)

You can also check out 25 quotes on ambition here on brip blap.

Photo Attribution Some rights reserved by Dominic’s pics

Friday quote: changing yourself



Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

– Leo Tolstoy

I’ve written before about why I don’t watch the news, political or otherwise.  I do get some news – I check the local news to make sure there’s not a road closing near me or a new farmers’ market I should be aware of.  I include myself in the large pool of people who dream of change throughout the world – ending American wars!  fixing Wall Street! ensuring equality for women throughout the developing world!  ending poverty! etc.  I’d love to see these things happen, but the simple fact is that it’s unlikely that my individual efforts would affect ALL of these things.  With concentrated effort and a lifelong focus, I could affect one of these things, perhaps.  But I, like so many others, focus on changing the world (to little effect) and miss focusing on changing ourselves (at great affect).

I’ll suggest that there is no greater first step to changing the world than changing yourself.  Make yourself better and you’ll be better able to serve the world.  Get more fit – live longer.  Get richer – be able to give more.  Get smarter – provide more help.  It’s easy to see that self-improvement is the first step to take in serving others.

This post is as much a reminder for myself as it is any sort of advice for others.  Remember, with me, that improving ourselves is the first step in improving the world, as Tolstoy pointed out.

Photo Attribution Some rights reserved by R’eyes

Steve Jobs – an obituary

I’m sure I’ve made it clear during the four years I’ve written here at brip blap that I’m no fan of Apple.  I don’t like the pretentious nature of their advertising, their closed source software, or the fawning attention paid to their products that command a tiny percentage of the market.  But when I learned of Steve Jobs’ passing yesterday, I realized that I did admire him.  He created something that people love.  He should be admired for that.  How many of us have created things that others love passionately?  I’d desperately love for brip blap to be admired as deeply as so many people admire Apple.

Steve Jobs was a brilliant man, but the thing I admire most about him was that he failed several times and kept coming back with greater success after each failure.  Even though it’s legend now, think about it:  he got fired from Apple, the company HE founded.  He went from there to Pixar, a company you might have heard of, and then back to Apple, resurrecting them from near-irrelevance.

By all accounts he was a good person, creative, and even though I’ve never loved his products, I’ll miss him.  Rest in peace, Steve.

Here are three great quotes from his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

And the best quote – which reflects the largest part of the aspirational goals of my life going forward:

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.

Photo Attribution Some rights reserved by Keng Susumpow

friday quote: learning versus creating

It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life. — Barthold Georg Niebuhr

Niebhur was a German statesman and philosopher in the late 18th/early 19th century, whose most well-known contribution is his “Roman History” (shameless affiliate link, natch) .

He’s probably not therefore that well-known, but his quote is excellent. If I learned everything about everything ever learned by others, I have still not added to the total sum knowledge of the human species. To create one new thing is to have added something to this big amorphous blob we call humanity. Whether or not you feel that there is value to that addition is a matter of personal opinion, but step back for a second and consider: even the stupidest, most banal movie you’ve seen that elicited a chuckle added something to your life, and most likely others.  Learning about something adds to your life, but nothing to others.

Whether or not you feel there’s any value to contributing to the entity we call humanity is entirely up to you.  Many people – rightly so – feel that there’s no particular need to contribute further. I have a desire to contribute something to the world that will last beyond me, however small or short-lived.  For most people that desire manifests itself in children, but you can look on your own great-grandparents and see how short-lived that contribution can be.  How many of us can even recall our own great-grandparents’ first names?  But having been recently introduced to the idea of the singularity, I’m now quite focused on the idea of making a contribution to the human entity as a whole, or at least hanging  on until you do.  Even today, pre-singularity, we’re at a point where things we write/compose/develop will live long after we do.  That’s been true for millenia, but never more true than now with the explosion of electronic media.  If that idea doesn’t inspire you start creating, I don’t know what will.

Learning in our society is often confused with contribution.  Learning is supposed to be the springboard for contribution.  Creation is contribution.  There’s really no other way that you can establish your worth to the future other than to teach, to create or to contribute to something greater than yourself.  Learning for your own sake is ultimately satisfying for no one other than yourself.  Whether you view this as an admirable goal is entirely dependent on your own view of life.

I’ll be harsh:  learning is prelude.  Creation and its results are epilogue.  Creation is the only thing that really matters: everything else is stasis. Share what you learn.  If you don’t, you’re irrelevant.

friday quote: self-education

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.

-Jim Rohn

Rohn’s right.  Most of my formal education (a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a failed stint in math PhD school, then a successful unclassified accounting-major equivalency followed by a master’s degree in accountancy) helps me land consulting work via the old-fashioned “pass around the resume” method.  But truth be told, almost all of the work I do today is derived from the technical skills I’ve acquired on my own over the last few years.  I’ve become proficient at Excel and mastered a few other arcane skills (Sarbanes-Oxley and the minutiae of Wall Street financing).  My self-education in these areas is far more valuable in doing the work than it is in obtaining the work.

I think employers will have to catch up to this at some point. They like to look at resumes and past achievements, but frankly what their employees/consultants can do today is the critical question.  Sure, I have a fancy degree in accounting from the mid-90s, but you know what?  Accounting’s changed a lot since then.  My master’s degree indicates one thing:  I have the intellectual discipline and personal focus to complete that kind of degree: I worked well with others and managed my time.  But in terms of technical skills, it doesn’t mean much today.

25 quotes on ambition

Larry Walters

For no real reason, I was looking up quotes on ambition and quickly found a number worthy of keeping on hand.  I thought some were funny, some were thought-provoking, and the last one (check out the link) reminded me that ambition can come in all shapes, sizes and flavors.

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it. The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who also knows why will always be his boss. ”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition. ”
– Timothy Leary

“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
-Henry Ford

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.”
– Samuel Johnson

“If you want more, you have to require more from yourself.”
– Dr Phil

“I had no ambition to make a fortune. Mere money-making has never been my goal, I had an ambition to build. ”
– John D. Rockefeller

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

– Mark Twain

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.  If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. ”
-Henry David Thoreau

“Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“If you believe that some day it’s going to happen, some day it probably will happen. You just have to make sure you’re there when it’s happening, and ideally you’re at the front of the parade, and the principle beneficiary of when it happens, but it’s not a kind of thing where you just sort of sit back and wait.”
– Steve Case

“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. ”
– Salvador Dali

“I’m hopeful. I know there is a lot of ambition in Washington, obviously. But I hope the ambitious realize that they are more likely to succeed with success as opposed to failure.”
– George W. Bush

“If I weren’t as talented as I am ambitious, I would be a gross monstrosity.”
– Madonna

“I am very ambitious. I want to enjoy this and then really go for it.”
– Ronaldo

“A slave has but one master; an ambitious man has as many masters as there are people who may be useful in bettering his position.”
– Jean de la Bruyere

“My ambition is to have beautiful encounters, not to make money.”
– Juliette Binoche

“It’s stasis that kills you off in the end, not ambition.”
– Bono

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”
– Bill Bradley

“My ambition is to be happy.”
– Penelope Cruz

“A wise man is cured of ambition by ambition itself; his aim is so exalted that riches, office, fortune and favour cannot satisfy him.”
– Samuel Johnson

“Ambition is so powerful a passion in the human breast, that however high we reach we are never satisfied.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.”
– Bob Marley

“Ambition has one heel nailed in well, though she stretch her fingers to touch the heavens.”
– Lao Tzu

“A man can’t just sit around.”
–  Larry Walters

Are you ambitious?  Wonder what the best way to satisfy that ambition is?  I recommend checking out Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss.
You can also read 25 quotes on perseverance here on brip blap.