Inspirational Quotations #582

The successful people are the ones who can think up stuff for the rest of the world to keep busy at.
Don Marquis

By the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression.
Edmund Burke

If you can speak what you will never hear, if you can write what you will never read, you have done rare things.
Henry David Thoreau

Jealousy is the most dreadfully involuntary of all sins.
Iris Murdoch

There’s no correlation between how good your idea is and how likely your organization will be to embrace it.
Seth Godin

What holds most people back isn’t the quality of their ideas, but their lack of faith in themselves.
Russell Simmons

The weak are more likely to make the strong weak than the strong are likely to make the weak strong.
Marlene Dietrich

The praise of a fool is incense to the wisest of us.
Benjamin Franklin

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
Carl Jung

The happy life is thought to be one of excellence; now an excellent life requires exertion, and does not consist in amusement.

Inspirational Quotations #581

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.
Ernest Hemingway

I venerate old age; and I love not the man who can look without emotion upon the sunset of life, when the dusk of evening begins to gather over the watery eye, and the shadows of twilight grow broader and deeper upon the understanding.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What I need is someone who will make me do what I can.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dreams are real as long as they last. Can we say more of life?
Havelock Ellis

When you accept yourself completely you do not have to maintain a phony front, drive yourself to “achieve” or feel insecure if people tune-in to you and what you are doing.
Ken Keyes, Jr.

The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either.
Mark Twain

Attach yourself to those who advise you rather than praise you.
Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux

True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.
Albert Einstein

The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
Bertrand A. Russell

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.
Leonardo da Vinci

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Edwin Hubbell Chapin

Justice consists in doing no injury to men; decency in giving them no offense.

Starbucks Founder and CEO Howard Schultz’s Onward [What I’ve Been Reading]

Starbucks founder, Chairman, and CEO Howard Schultz’s “Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul” is an interesting case study of organizational change as orchestrated by a passionate entrepreneur. The book covers the first two years of the turnaround of Starbucks after Schultz returned as CEO.

'Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul' by Howard Schultz, Joanne Gordon (ISBN 1609613821) In 2007, in the face of falling consumer spending and the upcoming Great Recession, the consumer discretionary sector was hit hard. Like other companies in that realm, Starbucks’ sales and profitability had dropped. The company’s stock price plummeted after Wall Street pared the rich valuations (high price-to-earning) of the company’s once-hot growth stock. Through these trials, Schultz worked at the company’s Seattle headquarters as chairman. Even after retiring as CEO in 2001, he had never left the company entirely and had even interjected often during Starbucks’ presentations to investors.

Starbucks’ financial under-performance was likely as much due to the economic slowdown as it was self-inflicted. In an apparent instance of misplaced cause-and-effect, Schultz blamed the company’s leadership for focusing too much on rapid expansion, opening too many stores, and diluting the in-store Starbucks experience. Behind the CEO’s back, Schultz started working with strategy consultants and other board members to develop a “transformational agenda” centered on the core values of the company he had founded in 1982.

In January 2008, Schultz invited the CEO home on a Sunday evening, fired him, and assumed the CEO position for a second stint. Over the next two years, Schultz rejuvenated the company’s mojo by making operational improvements and focusing on employee engagement, Starbucks’ specialty coffee products and its distinctive in-store customer experience.

Schultz’s vision, focus, and execution of this transformation makes up the bulk of “Onward”. One dominant theme in the book is founder’s syndrome—the intense reluctance of entrepreneurs like Schultz to cede control of their businesses.

Starbucks founder, Chairman, and CEO Howard Schultz

Towards the end of 2009 (when “Onward” was authored,) the economy started to improve. A measured recovery in consumer confidence invigorated the fortunes of most consumer discretionary companies that had suffered during the downturn. At Starbucks, customers returned to stores and spent more. Sales and profitability improved. The company’s valuation on Wall Street soared again. Conceivably, Starbucks may have enjoyed a comeback even if Schultz had remained just the chairman, retained and supported the CEO, and worked with the company’s leadership team to initiate course corrections.

That Starbucks continues to be an American success story and has done extraordinarily well to date under Schultz’s leadership is one more instance of a beloved fairy tale in the world of business—that of a company in distress rescued by the return of its visionary founder.

“Onward” is Schultz’s somewhat grandiose narrative of his return as CEO. The 350-page book is brimming with peripheral details, self-congratulatory superlatives, recurring claims, and Pollyanna-isms that are illustrative of a charismatic entrepreneur and a brilliant corporate cheerleader.

Recommendation: Skim. (For Starbucks aficionados: Read.)

Inspirational Quotations #580

It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do for which we are accountable.

If the pain wanders, do not waste your time with doctors.
Mignon McLaughlin

An Italian philosopher said that “time was his estate” an estate indeed which will produce nothing without cultivation, but will always abundantly repay the labors of industry, and generally satisfy the most extensive desires, if no part of it be suffered to lie in waste by negligence, to be overrun with noxious plants, or laid out for show rather than for use.
Samuel Johnson

Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake.
Martin Luther

I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad.
William Shakespeare

In the hope of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.
Albert Schweitzer

Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.
Warren Bennis

When something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren’t grabbed by the collar or struck on the skull by a presence or an event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
Cynthia Ozick

Inspirational Quotations #579

Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.
Zig Ziglar

Big ideas are little ideas that no-one killed too soon.
Seth Godin

When we know how to read our own hearts, we acquire wisdom of the hearts of others.
Denis Diderot

It is impossible on reasonable grounds to disbelieve miracles.
Blaise Pascal

Embraces are cominglings from the head even to the feet, and not a pompous high priest entering by a secret place.
William Blake

A great literature is chiefly the product of inquiring minds in revolt against the immovable certainties of the nation.
H. L. Mencken

To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.
T. S. Eliot

Those people who are uncomfortable in themselves are disagreeable to others.
William Hazlitt

For knowledge, too, is itself power.
Francis Bacon

When thinking won’t cure fear, action will.
W. Clement Stone

Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is ridiculous for any man to criticize the works of another if he has not distinguished himself by his own performances.
Joseph Addison

Just as courage imperils life; fear protects it.
Leonardo da Vinci

Inspirational Quotations #578

In contemplation, if a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
Francis Bacon

Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.
Ralph Marston

Admonish your friends privately, but praise them openly.
Publilius Syrus

Achievement is not always success while reputed failure often is. It is honest endeavor, persistent effort to do the best possible under any and all circumstances.
Orison Swett Marden

All men have happiness as their object: there are no exceptions. However different the means they employ, they aim at the same end.
Blaise Pascal

Truth will ultimately prevail where there are plans taken to bring it to light.
George Washington

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our every man must take on a science fictional way of thinking.
Isaac Asimov

Many people would be more truthful were it not for their uncontrollable desire to talk.
E. W. Howe

The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.
Jim Rohn

The tender friendships one gives up, on parting, leave their bite on the heart, but also a curious feeling of a treasure somewhere buried.
Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Collegial Goal-Setting and Goal-Monitoring?

An article in The Economist (7-Mar-2015 Issue) mentions a new trend in setting and monitoring goals. The “Quantified Work” system lets employees collaborate with each other to set targets for their peers.

Collegial Goal-Setting and Goal-Monitoring Apparently, this collegial system has improved performance and transparency at Google, Twitter, Intel, and Kroger, among other organizations. “Quantified Work” is a checks-and-balances system which allows peers to set and monitor goals for each other. This both enforces accountability and ensures that goals are neither too hard nor too easy.

Kris Duggan, CEO of BetterWorks, the Silicon Valley startup behind “Quantified Work,” argues, “The traditional once-a-year setting of employee goals and performance review is totally out of date. To really improve performance, goals need to be set more frequently, be more transparent to the rest of the company, and progress towards them measured more often.” Amen to that.

Interestingly, the article mentions that achieving 60–70% of the goals thus set is considered normal rather than a failure. The article also cautions that salary raises and bonuses should not be linked to these goals. I deduce that “Quantified Work” is more for collaborative task-and-deadline management than for meaningful employee performance assessment.

In my consulting practice, I have tested collaborative task management. It’s not as efficient as it purports to be: employees tend to get carried away and spend more time adding goals and checking performance than doing actual work.

Inspirational Quotations #577

It is those who have this imperative demand for the best in their natures, and who will accept nothing short of it, that holds the banners of progress, that set the standards, the ideals, for others.
Orison Swett Marden

The more connections you and your lover make, not just between your bodies, but between your minds, your hearts, and your souls, the more you will strengthen the fabric of your relationship, and the more real moments you will experience together.
Barbara De Angelis

Next to ingratitude, the most painful thing to bear is gratitude.
Henry Ward Beecher

We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.
Dale Carnegie

There is one thing one has to have: either a soul that is cheerful by nature, or a soul made cheerful by work, love, art, and knowledge.
Friedrich Nietzsche

The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.
Ambrose Bierce

Treat your body like a temple, not a woodshed. The mind and body work together. Your body needs to be a good support system for the mind and spirit. If you take good care of it, your body can take you wherever you want to go, with the power and strength and energy and vitality you will need to get there.
Jim Rohn

Ability is important in our quest for success, but dependability is critical.
Zig Ziglar

You do not wake up one morning a bad person. It happens by a thousand tiny surrenders of self-respect to self-interest.
Robert Brault

Life is like sailing. You can use any wind to go in any direction.
Robert Brault

Some people do not become thinkers simply because their memories are too good.
Friedrich Nietzsche

How to Process that Pile of Books You Can’t Seem to Finish [+ 5 Other Reading Hacks]

How to Read a Pile of Books

If you’re an avid reader, you most likely have a stack of books you’ve started reading but never seem to complete. You may have the habit of eagerly devouring a book until another arrives. Consumed by enthusiasm, you start reading that new book and set the first aside. Continually finding more to read, this shortcoming repeats itself. Inevitably, you are left with a pile of books on your nightstand.

The following tips will help you read more than one book at a time, process a pile of books, and finish all the works you’ve ever wanted to read.

  1. Rotate your reading and stick to a pile before adding more books to your reading list. To process a pile of three to five books, use this disciplined system: when you’re in the mood to read, choose the book on top of your pile. Then, read it as long as you feel like reading it. When you’re done reading, don’t put back the book back on the top of your pile. Instead, put the book at the bottom of the pile. During your next reading session, pick up the second book, which is now at the top of the pile. Rotate your reading. In this way, you can progressively read every book and finish everything before taking on a new pile.
  2. Don’t add new books to your reading list until you’ve finished the texts at hand. As you process each group of books, don’t add anything to your reading list before you’ve finished everything in the existing pile. Focus on one pile of books at a time.
  3. You may not need to read every page or chapter to “read” a book. Pre-read a book by finding its summary on the Internet. Customer reviews on often have useful summaries or a list of significant ideas. To read a book quickly, first skim through its preface, table of contents, and index. Next, browse its substance by scanning section titles, subtitles and chapters, and by glossing over any pictures and illustrations. Read the first and last paragraphs of each chapter, and executive summaries. If you feel like reading any section of the book, read each paragraph’s first line to develop a conceptual understanding before reading the content more closely. Consider taking a speed-reading course to improve reading speed and comprehension.
  4. Give up if you find a volume uninteresting or unnecessary. You’re not obligated to finish a book just because you’ve committed to reading it.
  5. Choose books with a variety of topics, themes, or genres. The variety will keep your interest.
  6. Abraham Lincoln reading to his son Tadd at the White House Review what you’ve read. If you’re not sure which book to read next, instead of choosing from a wealth of new titles, consider rereading a book that you’ve previously read and found useful. A good book’s valuable concepts can’t be entirely absorbed with just one reading. As film critic Dana Stevens once wrote, “Going back to a book is a way of daring that past self to find new evidence for that old love.” Some books invite periodic perusing for further intellectual stimulation or for reinforcement of various insights. Moreover, it often takes multiple exposures to a useful concept for you to store it in your “little brain attic” (to borrow Sherlock Holmes’s term for mental models) and incorporate it in your behavior.

If you’re looking for something good to read, here’s a list of books I read in 2014 and recommended in an earlier article.

While we’re on the topic of reading, I recommend How to Read a Book, American educator Mortimer Adler’s classic guide to intelligent reading.

Inspirational Quotations #576

Creativity means believing you have greatness.
Wayne Dyer

Great crises produce great men and great deeds of courage.
John F. Kennedy

The realist sees reality as concrete. The optimist sees reality as clay.
Robert Brault

Up to a point a man’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him. Then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, “This I am today; that I will be tomorrow”.
Louis L’amour

Everything is possible for him who believes.
The Holy Bible

To love and be loved is the great happiness of existence.
Sydney Smith

A good conscience fears no witness, but a guilty conscience is solicitous even in solitude.—If we do nothing but what is honest, let all the world know it.—But if otherwise, what does it signify to have nobody else know it, so long as I know it myself?—Miserable is he who slights that witness.
Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

Living is being born slowly. It would be a little too easy if we could borrow ready-made souls.
Antoine De Saint-Exupery

I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back.
Abraham Lincoln

There is an ongoing battle between conscience and self-interest in which, at some point, we have to take sides.
Robert Brault

Be more aware of responsibility than you are of your rights.

Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.
Norman Vincent Peale