Business Life: Rules, Laws and Quotes

This is my collection of business-related rules. Some are cynical, some are serious – but either way, most of them are more or less true.

They are grouped by topic, with a “miscellaneous” section at the end. I’ll add a list of topics soon. Enjoy!


ABSURDITY
Renard’s Rule — Look for the absurd in everything and you will find it.

ACCOUNTABILITY

  • A duty dodged is like a debt unpaid; it is only deferred, and we must come back and settle the account at last.– Joseph Fort Newton
  • It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.– Sir Josiah Stamp
  • Don’t get up from the feast of life without paying for your share of it. — W.R. Inge
  • We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until… we have stopped saying ‘It got lost’, and say ‘I lost it’.– Sidney J. Harris

ACCURACY
Rule of Accuracy — When working toward the solution of a problem, it always helps if you know the answer.

ADVERTISING
Let advertisers spend the same amount of money improving their products as they do advertising and they wouldn’t have to advertise it.– Will Rogers

APPROVAL
Approval Seeker’s Law — Those whose approval you seek the most give you the least.

ATTITUDE

  • It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome. — William James
  • There are two types of people–those who come into a room and say, ‘Well, here I am!’ and those who come in and say, ‘Ah, there you are.’ — Frederick L Collins
  • I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.– Martha Washington
  • Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.– Lou Holtz, football coach
  • A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.– Anonymous
  • We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. — Unknown

BUREAUCRACY

  • M. Friedman — In a bureaucratic system, useless work drives out useful work.
  • McNaughton’s Rule — Any argument worth making in a bureaucracy must be capable of being expressed in a simple declarative statement that is obviously true once stated.
  • Law of Retroaction — It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.
  • Parkinson’s Law of Delay — Delay is the deadliest form of denial.
  • Peter’s Prognosis — Spend sufficient time confirming the need, and the need will disappear.
  • Parkinson’s 5th Law — If there is a way to delay an important decision, the good bureaucracy, public or private, will find it.
  • Parkinson’s Law of 1000 — An enterprise employing more than 1000 people becomes a self-perpetuating empire, creating so much internal work that it no longer needs any contact with the outside world.
  • Brien’s 1st Law — At some point in the life cycle of virtually every organization, its ability to succeed in spite of itself runs out.
  • Peter’s Bureaucratic Principle — Bureaucracy defends the status quo long after the quo has lost its status.
  • Porter’s Law — The delay and expense involved in any action soar in perpendicular proportion to the number of approvals essential to take that action.

CAUTION

  • It is better to sleep on things beforehand than to lie awake about them afterwards. — Baltasar Graciás
  • You won’t skid if you stay in a rut.
  • Chinese proverb — He who deliberates before taking a step will spend his entire life on one leg.

CHALLENGES

  • Only as a warrior can one withstand the path of knowledge. A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges. — Carlos Castaneda
  • It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself. — Muhammad Ali
  • Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. — Unknown
  • Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors. — African Proverb
  • Nothing great has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe something inside them was superior to circumstances.–– Bruce Barton
  • To be successful you must accept all challenges that come your way. You can’t just accept the ones you like. — Mike Gafka
  • To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.– Peter McWilliams
  • I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them. — E. V. Lucas
  • Bicycling, 1st Law of — No matter which way you ride, it’s always uphill and upwind.
  • Canoeing, 1st Law of — No matter which direction you start, it’s always upwind coming back.
  • Never try to solve all the problems at once — make them line up for you one-by-one.– Richard Sloma
  • Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well-informed just to be undecided about them.-— Laurence J. Peter

CHANGE MANAGEMENT

  • Jonathan Swift — It is useless to try to reason a man out of something he has never been reasoned into.
  • S. I. Hayakawa — Agreement is brought about by changing people’s minds — other people’s.
  • Pallesen’s Paradox — The more particular and painstaking the preparation of published precepts, the less likely they will precipitate the predicted pattern of performance or production.
  • Corcoran’s Threat — If you don’t do it my way, frogs will sneak into your house and nibble your fingers.
  • Hartley’s 1st Law — You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get it to float on its back you’ve got something.
  • Chinese proverb — Be at the centre of a moving wheel, not in front of it.
  • There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.– Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1532)
  • People don’t resist change. They resist being changed! — Peter Senge
  • Ten years ago, Peter Senge introduced the idea of the ‘learning organization’ Now he says that for big companies to change, we need to stop thinking like mechanics and to start acting like gardeners. -— Alan M. Webber, Learning for a Change
  • Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.-— John Kenneth Galbraith
  • If you want to make enemies, try to change something.– Woodrow Wilson
  • Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.-— Howard Aiken
  • You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. — A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

CLARITY

  • Boren’s Law — When in doubt, mumble.
  • Boultbee’s Law — If the converse of a statement is absurd, then the original statement is an insult to the intelligence, and should never have been said.
  • Communication, Theory of — I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
  • Gummidge’s Law — The amount of expertise varies in inverse proportion to the number of statements understood by the general public.
  • “I characterized his remarks in a folk tradition observed in some rural areas of this country” — Henry Precht, U.S. State Department, on being asked if he had really said “bullshit.”
  • “I don’t see much sense in that,” said Rabbit. “No,” said Pooh humbly, “there isn’t. But there was going to be when I began it. It’s just that something happened to it along the way.”

COMMUNICATION

  • Ashleigh Brilliant — Let’s not complicate our relationship by trying to communicate with each other.
  • Ashleigh Brilliant — Inform all the troops that communications have completely broken down.

COMMITTEES

  • Martin-Berthelot’s Principle — Of all possible committee reactions to any agenda item, the action that will occur is the one that will liberate the greatest amount of hot air.
  • Bradley’s Bromide — If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into committees. That’ll do them in.

COMMITMENT

  • If you drop the ball, you shouldn’t complain about how it bounces.– D. E. Friday
  • Too many people are ready to carry the stool when the piano needs to be moved. — Unknown

COMPETITION

  • When you starve with a tiger, the tiger starves last.
  • Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.

COMPLAINING
Ashleigh Brilliant — The wheel that squeaks the loudest often gets replaced.

COMPLEXITY

  • There is no subject, however complex, which, if studied with patience and intelligence, will not become more complex.
  • Muir’s Law — When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
  • Fink’s 5th Law — Muddle increases as the square of the number of people involved.
  • Suhor’s 2nd Law — The universe is intractably squiggly.

COMPUTERS

  • Leibniz — It is unworthy of excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labour of calculation.
  • T.H. Nelson — Any nitwit can understand computers, and many do.
  • The computer allows you to make mistakes faster than any other invention, with the possible exception of handguns and tequila.– Mitch Ratcliffe
  • I don’t know what percentage of our time on any computer based project is spent getting the equipment to work right, but if I had a gardener who spent as much of the time fixing her shovel as we spend fooling with our computers, I’d buy her a good shovel. At least you can buy a good shovel. – Erasmus Smums
  • Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.– Joseph Campbell

COMPUTER PROGRAMMING

  • Murphy’s Law of Programming — The sooner you start coding your program, the longer it is going to take
  • T.H. Nelson — A program is like a nose — sometimes it runs, sometimes it blows.
  • Weinberg’s Law — If builders built buildings the way programmers write programs, the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.
  • If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.– Unknown

CONFIDENCE

  • We will either find a way, or make one.– Hannibal
  • To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.–– Muhammad Ali

CONTROVERSY
Gregory Benford — Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.

COURAGE

  • Do just once what others say you cannot do and you will never pay attention to their limitations again. — James Cook
  • “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. -— Winston Churchill
  • With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity. — Keshavan Nair
  • The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.– Vance Havne

CREATIVITY

  • Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.– Edwin Land
  • Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated awesomely simple, that’s creativity.– Charles Mingus

CRISIS

  • Horowitz’ 1st Law of the Admiralty — A collision at sea can ruin your entire day.
  • Jones’ Law — The man who can smile when things go wrong
    Has thought of someone he can blame it on.
  • Zall’s Law — Any time you get a mouthful of hot soup, the next thing you do will be wrong.
  • Rudin’s Law — In a crisis that forces a choice to be made among alternative courses of action, most people will choose the worst one possible.
  • Beauregard’s Law — When you’re in it up to your nose, keep your mouth shut.
  • Mahr’s Law of Restrained Involvement — Don’t get any on you.
  • Clint’s Cure-All: When in trouble or in doubt, Run in circles, scream and shout.

CRITICISM

  • Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.
  • Harold Macmillan — I have never found from long experience in politics that criticism is ever inhibited by ignorance.
  • Yulish’s Law — Persons disagreeing with your facts are always emotional and employ faulty reasoning.
  • Potter’s Law — The amount of flak received on any subject is inversely proportional to the subject’s true value.
  • Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.– Jack Handey

CURIOSITY

  • When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. — Walt Disney
  • We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. — Walt Disney

DECISION-MAKING

  • Lord Falkland’s Rule — When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.
  • Mullins’ Observation — Indecision is the key to flexibility.
  • Murphy’s 18th Law — The more urgent is the need for a decision, the less apparent is the identity of the decision maker.
  • Scottish prayer — O Lord, grant that we may always be right, for thou knowest we will never change our minds
  • Fischer’s Law — A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

DELEGATION

  • Wetler’s Law — Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself.
  • Peter’s Proposal — Anything worth doing is worth getting someone else to do.

DISAGREEMENT
Ashleigh Brilliant — The more we disagree, the better the chance that at least one of us is right.

EGO

  • You can get almost anything you want if you don’t care who gets the credit.
  • Charlie Brower — Few people are successful unless a lot of other people want them to be.

ETHICS
If I am to be drowned, let it be in clean water.

EVENT PLANNING
Sol Hurok — If people don’t want to come, nothing will stop them

EXPECTATIONS
Ross’s Law — Never characterize the importance of a statement in advance.

EXPERIENCE

  • Horner’s Five-Thumb Postulate — Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.
  • Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.– F. P. Jones
  • Finagle’s 1st Law — If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.
  • Finagle’s 2nd Law — No matter what result is anticipated, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it; (b) fake it; or (c) believe it happened to his own pet theory.
  • Harvard Law of Experiments — Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity and other variables, the organism will do as it damn well pleases.
  • Osborn’s Law — Variables won’t, constants aren’t.

EXPERTS
Werner Heisenberg – An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject and how to avoid them

FAILURE

  • Pratt’s 2nd Rule — Failure to complete any task within the allotted time and budget proves the task was more difficult than expected and therefore requires promotions for those in charge.
  • There are two kinds of failures: those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought.– Laurence J. Peter
  • I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.– Michael Jordan
  • If you’re doing your best, you won’t have any time to worry about failure.– Anonymous

FINANCES

  • Lewis’s Law — If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep is your downfall.
  • Wiker’s Law — Government expands to absorb revenue and then some.

FLEXIBILITY

  • When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
  • Mullins’ Observation — Indecision is the key to flexibility.
  • Theodore Roosevelt — Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
  • Ashleigh Brilliant — The narrower the mind, the broader the statement.

FOOLS
Matsch’s Maxim — A fool in a high station is like a man at the top of a mountain — everything appears small to him, and he appears small to everyone.

FORCE

  • Anthony’s Law of Force — Don’t force it. Get a larger hammer.
  • Lowrey’s Law — If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.

GAMBLING
Canada Bill Jones — It’s morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.

Corollary:A Smith & Wesson beats four aces.

GENIUS

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson — In every work of genius we recognize our rejected thoughts.
  • Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.– Arthur Schopenhauer

HASTE

  • The length of a minute depends which side of the bathroom door you’re on.
  • Meskimen’s 1st Law — When they want it bad, they get it bad.

HUMAN BEHAVIOUR

  • Katz’s Law — Men and nations will act rationally when all other possibilities have been exhausted.
  • Kegley’s Principle — No matter what, there are makers, takers and fakers.

IDEALISM
H. L. Mencken — An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also makes better soup.

IDLENESS

  • It is better to have loafed and lost than never to have loafed at all.
  • If you agree, wink by opening one eye.
  • Stovall’s Law — The only problem with doing nothing is that you never know when you’re finished.
  • Charles Winchester on M.A.S.H. — I have absolutely nothing to do, and you’re interrupting me, you crustacean.

IGNORANCE
Short’s Rule — A little ignorance can go a long way.

INDIVIDUALITY

  • Hull’s Theory — He who trims himself to suit everybody will soon whittle himself away.
  • Jiminez’ Maxim — If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.

INDULGENCE
Everything to excess! To enjoy the full flavour of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks. Yield to temptation: it may never pass your way again.

KNOWLEDGE
Preston’s Postulate — He who trains his tongue to quote the learned sages will be known far and wide as a smartass.

LEADERSHIP

  • I must go now, for there go my people, and I am their leader.– M. Gandhi
  • If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabeled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny. — Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus, VISA International

LIFE

  • Life is a sexually transmitted disease, invariably fatal.
  • Sander’s Rumination — Life is a game, the object of which is to discover the object of the game.

LOGIC
Kettering’s Law — Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence.

MANAGEMENT
Heller’s Law — The first myth of management is that it exists.

MEDIA

  • Never get into an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel.
  • Hagerty’s Law — If you lose your temper at a newspaper columnist, he’ll get rich or famous or both.

MEETINGS

  • Anonymous — We’ve talked about it a lot, but we haven’t thought about it yet.
  • Hendrickson’s Law — If you have enough meetings over a long enough period of time, the meetings become more important than the problems the meetings were intended to solve.
  • Shanahan’s Law — The length of a meeting rises with the square of the number of people present.
  • Conference — A group of people who prefer to substitute conversation for the dreariness of labour and the loneliness of thought.
  • A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.

These are, of course, nonsense. Meetings are part of your job. If you don’t like them, go and learn how to run an effective meeting. – T.H.

MISTAKES

  • Learn by the mistakes of others — you don’t have time to make them all yourself.
  • No executive devotes time to proving himself wrong.
  • W.B. Prescott — Some people learn by the mistakes of others, but most of us are the others.
  • Finagle’s 3rd Law:
    • In any collection of data, the figure most obviously correct, beyond all need of checking, is the mistake.
    • Corollary 1: No one whom you ask for help will see it.
    • Corollary 2: Everyone who stops by with unsought advice will see it immediately.

MISUNDERSTANDING

  • People hear half of what you say, understand half of that, believe half of that, and remember half of that.
  • Army Axiom — Any order that can be misunderstood has been misunderstood.
  • Chisolm’s 3rd Law — Proposals, as understood by the proposer, will be judged otherwise by others.

    If you explain so clearly that no one can misunderstand, someone will.
    If you do something which you are sure will meet with everyone’s approval, someone won’t like it.

OPTIMISM
R.L. Stevenson — Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.

PASSION

  • One of the things that may get in the way of people being lifelong learners is that they’re not in touch with their passion. If you’re passionate about what it is you do, then you’re going to be looking for everything you can to get better at it. — Jack Canfield
  • “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.”– E. M. Forster
  • There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a businessperson. -— Anthony Robbins

PERSISTENCE

  • The major difference between the big shot and the little shot is the big shot is just a little shot who kept on shooting.– Zig Ziglar
  • Consider the postage stamp; its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there.– Josh Billings

PESSIMISM

  • Grosch’s 2nd Law — It is possible for things to get continually worse without limit.
  • Kurt Vonnegut — Things are going to get worse and worse and never get any better again.
  • Bittel’s Theory — I’d be a pessimist, but it wouldn’t work.

PLANNING

  • To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.– Anatole France
  • Patton’s Law — A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
  • Peter’s Principle of Management by Objectives — If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.
  • Dwight Eisenhower — In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

POLITICIANS

  • Jacquin’s Postulate — No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.
  • Walinsky’s 1st Law of Campaigns — If there are 12 clowns in a ring, you can jump in the middle and start reciting Shakespeare, but to the audience you’ll just be the 13th clown.
  • Parker’s Law of Political Statements — The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility and vice versa.
  • Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly and for the same reason.

PROBLEMS

  • Scott’s Laws:

    No matter what goes wrong, it will probably look right.
    When an error has been detected and corrected, it will be found to have been correct in the first place.

  • The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.– Theodore Rubin
  • Simon’s Law — Everything put together sooner or later falls apart.
  • 4th SNAFU Rule — Badness comes in waves.
  • Peers’ Law — The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.
  • Murphy’s Laws (see also separate page in this site)

    Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.
    Murphy’s 9th Law: Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
    Murphy’s 10th Law: Mother Nature is a bitch.
    Murphy’s 17th Law: The more complex the idea or technology, the more simpleminded is the opposition.
    Murphy’s 19th Law: If there is a 50% chance of success, that means there is a 75% chance of failure

    • O’Toole’s Commentary — Murphy was an optimist.
    • Sodd’s Law — When you attempt a task, you will be thwarted in that task by the unconscious intervention of some other presence (animate or inanimate). Nevertheless, some tasks are completed, since the intervening presence is itself attempting a task and is itself subject to interference.
    • Boyle’s 8th Law — Success can be ensured only by devising a defence against failure of the contingency plan
    • Law of Divine Intervention (an old German saying)– Alle kunst ist umsunst wenn ein engel auf das zundloch brunzt (All skill is in vain when an angel pees in the touchhole of your musket).
    • Gumperson’s Law — The probability of anything happening is in inverse ratio to its desirability.
    • Chisolm’s Law of Human Interaction — Any time things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.

    Laws of Selective Gravity:

    Any object will fall so as to do the most damage (The Buttered Side Down Law)
    Jennings’ Corollary: The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
    You cannot determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
    Anthony’s Law of the Workshop: Any tool, when dropped, will roll into the least accessible corner of the workshop.

    • Finagle’s 4th Law — Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it only makes it worse.
    • Finagle’s 5th Law — The perversity of the universe tends toward a maximum.
    • We have not succeeded in answering all our problems. Indeed, we sometimes feel we have not completely answered any of them. The answers we have found only serve to raise a whole set of new questions. In some ways we feel that we are as confused as ever, but we believe we are confused on a much higher level and about more important things.– attributed to Bertrand Russell
    • The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them –Albert Einstein

    PROCRASTINATION

    • Never put off till tomorrow what you can just as well do next week.
    • Ashleigh Brilliant — I need more time — and I probably always will.
    • Ashleigh Brilliant — Thinking about it is easier than doing it — but so far I haven’t even thought about it.

    PROGRESS

    • John Foster Dulles — I’m making progress if today’s problems are different from yesterday’s
    • Ashleigh Brilliant — Slowly but surely, I’m getting nowhere.

    PROJECT PLANNING

    • On budget, on time, on specification — pick two.
    • Cheops’ Law — Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
    • Golub’s Law — A carelessly-planned project will take three times longer to complete than estimated. A carefully-planned project will take only twice as long.
    • Hofstadter’s Law — Things always take longer than you think, even if you allow for Hofstadter’s Law.
    • Miller’s Law — Exceptions prove the rule — and wreck the budget.
    • Q’s Law — No matter what stage of completion one reaches in a large project, the cost of the remainder of the project remains the same.
    • Sparkes’ definition — Negative slack is the depth of the **** in the creek up which you are without a paddle.
    • Westheimer’s Rule — To estimate the time it takes to do a task, estimate the time you think it should take, multiply by two, and change the unit of measure to the next highest unit. Thus we allow two days for a one-hour task.
    • Wynne’s Law — Negative slack tends to increase.
    • Zymurgy’s Law of Evolving System Dynamics: Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can.

    QUALITY

    • Quality means doing it right when no one is watching.– Henry Ford
    • Kitman’s Law: Pure drivel on TV tends to drive out ordinary drivel.
    • George Bernard Shaw (The Doctor’s Dilemma): No man who is occupied in doing a very difficult thing, and doing it very well, ever loses his self-respect.
    • Theodore Sturgeon (on having his latest work called “crap” by a critic): Ninety percent of everything is crap.
    • Law of Superiority: The first example of superior principle is always inferior to the developed example of inferior principle.

    QUESTIONS

    • Sydney Harris — People who are afraid to ask dumb questions are always surprised when they make dumb mistakes
    • James Thurber — It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers.
    • Hawkinson’s Law — Every clarification breeds new questions.
    • The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.-— Peter Drucker
    • The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.-— Anthony Jay

    REORGANIZATION
    attributed to Petronius Arbiter, Greek Navy, 210 B.C. — We have trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be re-organized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by re-organization; and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization.

    RESTRAINT

    • Will Durant — Nothing is often a good thing to do, and always a clever thing to say.
    • Munnecke’s Law — If you don’t say it, they can’t repeat it.
    • Ashleigh Brilliant — When your mind goes blank, be sure to turn off the sound.

    RESULTS

    • Longfellow — We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, but others judge us by what we have actually done.
    • Ashleigh Brilliant — To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first, and whatever you hit, call it the target.

    SERVICE

    • Risser’s Law of Bad Service: If it’s in stock, we have it.
    • Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it. Peter Drucker
    • To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.– Donald A. Adams
    • There are no traffic jams along the extra mile. Roger Staubach
    • The purpose of a business is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between itself and those that it serves. When it does that well, it will be around tomorrow to do it some more. — John Woods
    • The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer.– Peter Drucker
    • When you serve the customer better, there’s always a return on your investment.– Kara Parlin
    • When you start viewing your customers as interruptions, you’re going to have problems.– Kate Zabriski
    • You’ll never have a product or price advantage again. They can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can’t be copied.– Jerry Fritz
    • We can believe that we know where the world should go. But unless we’re in touch with our customers, our model of the world can diverge from reality. There’s no substitute for innovation, of course, but innovation is no substitute for being in touch, either. — Steve Ballmer

    SIMPLICITY

    • Making things easy is hard.– T.H. Nelson
    • A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.– John Gaule
    • Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.– John Maeda

    STUPIDITY

    • Hanlon’s Razor — Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
    • Did the brain fairy leave a quarter under his pillow last night?
    • from Pinky & the Brain – It must be inordinately taxing to be such a boob.
    • from Pinky & the Brain – Brilliant, Pinky! Oh, no, wait. What if we want to use a plan that works?

    SUCCESS

    • J.B. Stearns — Success is like a fart — only your own smells good.
    • Peter’s Rule of Peak Experience: Climb the ladder of success, reach the top, and you find you’re over the hill.
    • What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing and knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.– Margaret Thatcher
    • The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.– John Foster Dulles
    • The most successful people are those who are good at Plan B.
      — James Yorke, mathematics and physics professor
    • Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. — Abraham Lincoln
    • Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.– Arnold H. Glasow

    TEAMWORK

    • Teamwork: simply stated, it is less me and more we.– Unknown
    • Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.– Unknown
    • I’m proud of you for the times you said “yes” when all it meant was extra work for you and seemingly helpful only to somebody else.– Mr. Rogers
    • We are most effective as a team when we compliment each other without embarrassment and disagree without fear.– Unknown
    • A group becomes a team when all members are sure enough of themselves and their contributions to praise the skill of others. — Anonymous
    • Team player: one who unites others toward a shared destiny through sharing information and ideas, empowering others and developing trust.– Dennis Kinlaw
    • Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.– Vince Lombardi
    • Ashleigh Brilliant — If things don’t improve, I may have to ask you to stop helping me.
    • Ashleigh Brilliant — Please don’t ask me to keep in step — it’s hard enough just to stay in line.

    TRUST
    Finley Peter Dunne — Trust everyone — but cut the cards.

    TRUTH

    • Winston Churchill — Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
    • G.K. Chesterton — I have seen the truth, and it makes no sense.

    UNCERTAINTY
    You can’t turn around in this world without bumping into a question. The answers are all hiding somewhere.

    UNEMPLOYMENT
    Nowlan’s Truism — “An acceptable level of unemployment” means that the economist to whom it is acceptable still has a job.

    WISDOM

    • Horowitz’ 1st Rule — Wisdom consists of knowing when to avoid perfection.
    • Long’s 7th Law — It’s amazing how much “mature wisdom” resembles being too tired.

    WORK
    Pastore’s Truth — Most jobs are marginally better than daytime TV.

    MISCELLANEOUS
    I just couldn’t decide where to put these …

    • Abbott’s Systems Theory — A system is an ill-assorted collection of non-integrated parts forming a chaotic whole.
    • Aurelius, Marcus — Never make business an excuse to decline the offices of humanity
    • Barber’s First Law — A stone in your shoe always migrates against the pressure gradient to the point of most pressure.
    • Barth’s Distinction — There are two types of people — those who divide people into two types, and those who don’t.
    • Cole’s Law — Shredded cabbage.
    • Debate, 1st Law of — Never argue with a fool. People might not know the difference.
    • Ettore’s Observation — The other line moves faster.
    • Feldstein’s Law — Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.
    • Gilb’s 4th Law of Unreliability — Investment in reliability will increase until it exceeds the probable cost of errors, or until someone insists on getting some useful work done.
    • Ginsberg’s Version of the Three Laws of Thermodynamics — You can’t win; You can’t break even; You can’t quit the game.
    • Oliver’s Law of Location — Wherever you go, there you are.

    This collection represents a lifetime’s reading and scribbling down ideas. The only title that survives is Paul Dickson’s The Official Rules, but there are hundreds of others. Peter, Parkinson and Brilliant are just three of the authors quoted here who have excellent books out. Nevertheless, this collection is © TRH Communications, 2014.