These days a lot of young people would climb up to the rooftops and shout about the importance of political and economic reforms. But is this what they should focus on? People may criticize me because of my position. “Why are you not promoting political reform?” I would say: “Is there anything you can do about it?” So what if we changed the system? And most of the people who asked this question already have foreign passports. It’s easy for them to flee the country. They don’t have to be responsible for any consequences. We need to turn our dreams into the dreams of our society and nation.
The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.
Marc [Andressen] has this really deep belief that when companies are executing well on their vision they can have a much bigger effect on the world than people think, not just as a business but as a steward of humanity—if they have the time to execute.”
The key to investing is to be aggressive and to fight your instinct to pattern-match.
As a general rule of thumb, then, growing industries with relatively low start-up costs offer more opportunities for those who want to get rich than declining industries, or those that require huge start-up investment. This is not an iron-clad rule, however. While magazine and newspaper sales have been in slow decline in the Western world for decades, this ‘declining’ industry is where I made a great deal of my own money.
In concept, concept and reality are the same, but in reality, concept and reality are not the same at all.
Some of the most exciting innovations of our time, such as Google, iTunes, Salesforce.com, Netflix, Zipcar, and many more are, at their core, business model innovations.
I think it’s the analytic abilities. Having a system this large means that there’s a lot of data coming in. Having a PhD helped me comb through massive data sets and determine where to spend my effort.
From [Grothendieck], I have also learned not to take glory in the difficulty of a proof: difficulty means we have not understood. The idea is to be able to paint a landscape in which the proof is obvious.
[The linear model] will get you faster planes, but it won’t get you stealth. It will more efficient hotels, but it won’t get you Airbnb.
You fold the linear model [basic science, applied science, production] on top of itself. You must create this hot cauldron with basic scientists and production engineers stirred in.
We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic.
World class entrepreneurs create their own luck. They do the hard work when others aren’t willing to.
Selling is about helping people.
There are only two reasonable sources of capital for startup entrepreneurs: your own pocket and your customers’ pockets.
I didn’t know failure.
I always tell the senior engineers to be aware of trends in technology and hardware.
Nam Nguyen (on discussing how the worldwide flash storage influences tech companies)
We want to use the popular paperback model whereby the author is responsible for making himself clear and not the academic model where it is the scholar’s job to dig the meaning out of the paper.
Excerpt From: Martin, Robert C. “Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship.” iBooks.
The nature of the human species is to reject what is true but unpleasant and to embrace what is obviously false but comforting.
Thinking is very upsetting. It tells us things we’d rather not know.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
As human beings, most of us tend to project our own worldview onto other people. This is especially common in less experienced executives, and I was once one of them.
When you want to change things, you can’t please everyone. If you do please everyone, you aren’t making enough progress.
He that hath once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.
Ben Franklin, on convincing people to help him
PayPal had a culture of only accepting smart people. They had a lot of self-esteem built up inside the company after beating Yahoo! and eBay with payment mechanism.
Paypal’s secret sauce
I think that being young is a big advantage, but to me, the real correlation is the amount of time you have available to focus on the idea.
Mike Maples, on the advantages of pursuing entrepreneurship in your youth
It is often against human nature, particularly as we get older, to consider alternative ways of thinking or doing things.
The beef was particularly tender because it came from a cow’s front legs. Beef from a cow’s rear legs just wouldn’t taste the same!
Unknown, on the importance of attention to detail
Be crafty. Don’t follow conventional tactics when better ones exist.
Somehow those simple words were more powerful than any harsh blame or elaborate lecturing. That understated one line brought up a sudden sense of loss in me and made me reflect upon myself. Then it stayed within me, coming out every time I was going to make a decision. I haven’t disappointed myself or my family ever since.
on raising kids
I learned from the experience that mastering a language was more than knowing how to express oneself in the language. I realized the importance of cultural knowledge. Then I began to read more and more English books, newspapers and magazines in order to increase my understanding of American culture.
on learning a foreign language
Although it may not seem relevant to my later career choices of science and entrepreneurship, I believe those literary readings I did in my formative years stimulated my creativity, deepened my understanding of Western culture, and helped make me what I am today.
the importance of literature
I burst laughing in front of my computer. All of a sudden I realized how blissful our college years had been despite our tight budgets. After going through lots of complicated life experiences, we would probably never regain the kind of simple joy that had once filled our young hearts.
friendship and simple joys
Success is waking up in the morning, whoever you are, wherever you are, however old or young, and bouncing out of bed because there’s something out there you love to do, that you believe in, that you’re good at – something that’s bigger than you are, and you can hardly wait to get at it again today.
the definition of success
When I followed Joshua to visit the Computer Science building, he pointed at a vending machine and said, “This is connected with the internal network of our school so that you can check from any computer on campus to see if your favorite drink is available. Those guys (Ph.D. students in Computer Science) are lazy. They want to know what drinks and snacks are available in the machine when they are in their dorm rooms. That’s why they spent two weeks figuring out how to install a chip in the machine. This way they won’t come here for nothing.”
Those who can think, but cannot express what they think, place themselves at the level of those who cannot think.
I remember a passage from a book that essentially says, “Forgiving is a kind of salvation. It saves everyone from the shadow of a past disaster. This is the only way to reconcile with history.”
If I go out there and miss game winners, and people say, “Kobe choked, or Kobe is seven for whatever in pressure situations.” Well, [expletive] you. Because I don’t play for your [expletive] approval. I play for my own love and enjoyment of the game. And to win. That’s what I play for. Most of the time, when guys feel the pressure, they’re worried about what people might say about them. I don’t have that fear, and it enables me to forget bad plays and to take shots and play my game.
Indeed, a bad habit is the last thing that most of us are afraid of. We think that we are acting always from our own choice, that it is no matter what we do now, because another time, whenever we wish, we can do differently. But all the while a certain habit is forming and hardening, until at last we find ourselves almost helpless. Thus, even our tastes, our amusements, our selection of books, the tendency even of our most secret thoughts, are becoming fixed, and we are becoming permanently the persons we meant to be only for the moment.
on bad habits
You can recognize a fad when everyone seems to be talking about it. Then plan your exit.
John D. Spooner
We are about to study the idea of a computational process. Computational processes are abstract beings that inhabit computers. As they evolve, processes manipulate other abstract things called data. The evolution of a process is directed by a pattern of rules called a program. People create programs to direct processes. In effect, we conjure the spirits of the computer with our spells.
A computational process is indeed much like a sorcerer’s idea of a spirit. It cannot be seen or touched. It is not composed of matter at all. However, it is very real. It can perform intellectual work. It can answer questions. It can affect the world by disbursing money at a bank or by controlling a robot arm in a factory. The programs we use to conjure processes are like a sorcerer’s spells. They are carefully composed from symbolic expressions in arcane and esoteric programming languages that prescribe the tasks we want our processes to perform.
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
If you’re not trying to bust your own idea, you think the idea is working out and you don’t look at the challenges.
Our society idolizes the genius who stares at a whiteboard, but to farm good ideas, work in the trenches and generally that’s where your insights will come from.
Put yourself in an environment where your mind will be consistently stimulated.
You get the good ideas by being down in the mud and working on the problems. It’s the hard work that leads you to the insights that are hopefully the great ideas…Everybody loves the idea of the lone inventor that has the brilliant idea, they patent it, they get rich afterward…these memes run through our culture in different ways.
If you wanna know about the future, you need to ask the young people who will create it. Young people don’t know what can’t be done, and so they go ahead and do it.
The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before. Creativity in living is not without its attendant difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt. And the unfortunate thing about being ahead of your time is that when people finally realize you were right, they’ll say it was obvious all along. You have two choices in life: You can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can be distinct. To be distinct is to be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be.
You have to either make the decision to accept being controversial and confrontational or you need to accept that you will go through life with everyone being neutral towards you. You CANNOT be an attractive and life-changing presence to some … without being a joke or an embarrassment to others. You have to polarize.
[Google] uses a metric. Take our very best programmer. Suppose we had a choice. Either we could lose that programmer, or we could lose our N worst programmers. It’s either worst or average, I don’t remember which one, but N other programmers. How big is N when that balances? And he said at Google the answer is about 300.
Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel, gets his ideas by asking , “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”
I used to think you should try to deconstruct everything. Experience everything. Just get yourself out there. But I don’t believe that any more. Having adventures is all very well, but an imagination can make up for all that. That’s the more intelligent way to be. And it keeps you out of harm’s way.
I wish that I had better access to the proposals that I had personally written because I had a whole bunch of f** terrible, terrible ideas and [Slack] was the one that had the broadest consensus among the team as being something that would be valuable.
My mentor Luis Alvarez set aside an hour or two every Friday afternoon for thinking out of the box. He reviewed what he knew, with particular attention to what he had learned in the last week. He thought about all the outstanding problems he was aware of, and reviewed whether his new knowledge had any bearing. He didn’t restrict himself to being practical, but tried to open his imagination. He knew about major discoveries (and Nobel Prizes) that had been missed by him, by his father (who was a medical scientist), and by many others simply because they didn’t forget their daily cares for just an hour or two and think openly.
You cannot invent and pioneer if you cannot accept failure. To invent you need to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it is not an experiment…They’re inseparable twins, failure and invention.
Invention isn’t disruptive. Only customer adoption is disruptive.
The most creative insights happen at the boundaries between disciplines.
As a filmmaker you’re looking for gaps in the culture, pop culture at least; you’re looking for things that haven’t been addressed in movies.
Very little is truly new in innovation…Innovations don’t have to be new to the world-only to a market or industry.
On my second day, Mark [Zuckerberg] said to me, “Hey, I need you to write Facebook’s search engine.” I had no clue how to do that. I’d never built a search engine before. And I remember Mark looking at me and saying, “Yeah, I didn’t know how to write Facebook. So if I can write Facebook, why can’t you write the search engine?” And yeah, that was logically consistent.
Aditya Agarwal, early Facebooker, former Dropbox CTO
You can do so much in ten minutes’ time. Ten minutes, once gone, are gone for good. Divide your life into ten-minute units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activity.
Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA
People usually compare the computer to the head of the human being. I would say that hardware is the bone of the head, the skull. The semiconductor is the brain within the head. The software is the wisdom. And data is the knowledge.
If you look at these carefully, you don’t think the skull has the most value. The brain is more valuable than the skull. But everybody has a brain. Inside the brain are wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom and knowledge are the most valuable things in the body. I want to be number one in the business of supplying wisdom and knowledge all over Japan. But the knowledge industry is too big, too wide. So we specialize in the PC industry’s knowledge.
For a year and a half, I did research and made business plans. While I prepared, I had no income. I spent money, I had a new baby. My wife was worried. All my friends, my father, my mother, everybody was worried. They asked me, what are you going to do? You spent years studying in the United States, and now you aren’t doing anything. I spent all my time just thinking and thinking, studying what to do. I went to the library and bookstores. I bought books, I read all kinds of materials to prepare for what I would do for the next 50 years.
I came up with 40 new business ideas—everything from creating software to setting up hospital chains, since my wife’s father is a doctor and has a hospital. Then I had about 25 success measures that I used to decide which idea to pursue. One success measure was that I should fall in love with a particular business for the next 50 years at least. Very often, people get excited for the first few years, and then, after they see the reality, they get tired of the business. I wanted to choose one that I would feel more and more excited about as the years passed.
Another factor was that the business should be unique. That was very important to me. I didn’t want anyone else doing exactly the same thing. A third was that within 10 years I wanted to be number one in that particular business, at least in Japan. And I wanted to pick a business where the business category itself would be growing for the next 30 to 50 years. I didn’t want to choose a sinking ship.
I had all those measurements, about 25 in all, and 40 new ideas. I took a big sheet of paper, and I drew a matrix and put down scores and comments for each. Then I picked the best one, which turned out to be the personal computer software business. That was the start of Softbank.
I told him, I have very little money, very little business experience. I have no product, nothing. What I do have is the greatest enthusiasm, the greatest desire to succeed. I said, you have already been purchasing some PC software. Today you probably have more knowledge and more experience at this than I do. You are older than I am and more talented. But in addition to purchasing PC software and hardware, you are also going to purchase home electronics products, refrigerators, televisions, VCRs. I will dedicate all my time and effort, all my energy, my entire spirit to PC software only. Several months from now, who do you think will be more knowledgeable, more of a specialist in this business? If you want to be the number one PC dealer in Japan, you have to find the number one guy in software distribution. That’s me. I have no evidence, but I strongly believe in myself.
It is vital for you to choose the industry which will become the mainstream in the future. You should perceive the growing trends at first and adjust the business condition in time. Spot the trend and invest firmly, running through it by action instead of sticking to trifles.
The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.
Man is flowing. In him there are all possibilities: he was stupid, now he is clever; he was evil, now he is good, and the other way around. In this is the greatness of man.
But influence in society is a capital that must be used sparingly, lest it disappear. Prince Vassily knew that and, having once realized that if he were to solicit for everyone who solicited from him, it would soon become impossible for him to solicit for himself, he rarely used his influence.
War and Peace, translated by Richard Pevear
“Many a man who is supposed to have, say, ten years’ experience has really had only one years’ experience repeated ten times over.”
J. Paul Getty, How to be Rich, quoting Roger Falk
“They’re mercenaries. You’re missionaries.”
Paul Graham, Blitzscaling, advising Brian Chesky not to buy Samwer brothers’ European Airbnb clone
“Passive Information Acquisition: What you see or read determines what kind of person you are and what kind of thoughts you will have.”
Allen Zhang, Source
“Modern war always causes governments to spend far more than they can possibly collect from their taxpayers while the war is being waged. This causes a vast increase in the amount of money, so that each individual unit of money, such as a dollar, becomes worth less than it was before. It takes lots more dollars to buy the same number of shares of stock. This, of course, is the classic form of inflation.”
Philip Fisher, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits
“You don’t need to be better or faster or cheaper than everyone…In life there are multiple gold medals. If you try to be the best at everything and better than everyone…you’ll be the best at nothing and better than no one.”
Reid Hoffman, The Start-Up of You
“Fall in love with the process and the results will follow.”
“One of the early products you worked on was Chrome. You led the team, and initially, there was some pushback. High development costs, competitors in the space, but you had conviction that the browser was the way to go…” “Eric Schmidt said, ‘Do you know what it takes to build a browser?’ Partly how did I do it, I didn’t tell people for a while. Just had a small team and worked on it, and only when we had something to show, we had a chance to show the product, and that got people excited.”
“It says, ‘Look at your fish.’ It’s the test that Louis Agassiz, the nineteenth-century Harvard naturalist, gave every new student. He would take an odorous old fish out of a jar, set it in a tin pan in front of the student and say, Look at your fish. Then Agassiz would leave. When he came back, he would ask the student what he’d seen. Not very much, they would most often say, and Agassiz would say it again: Look at your fish. This could go on for days. The student would be encouraged to draw the fish but could use no tools for the examination, just hands and eyes. Samuel Scudder, who later became a famous entomologist and expert on grasshoppers, left us the best account of the ‘ordeal with the fish.’ After several days, he still could not see whatever it was Agassiz wanted him to see. But, he said, I see how little I saw before. Then Scudder had a brainstorm and he announced it to Agassiz the next morning: Paired organs, the same on both sides. Of course! Of course! Agassiz said, very pleased. So Scudder naturally asked what he should do next, and Agassiz said, Look at your fish.
I love that story and have used it often when teaching classes on writing, because seeing is so important in this work. Insight comes, more often than not, from looking at what’s been on the table all along, in front of everybody, rather than from discovering something new. Seeing is as much the job of an historian as it is of a poet or a painter, it seems to me. That’s Dickens’s great admonition to all writers, ‘Make me see.’”