Quotable quotes and other observations on business, finance and life…

“The tyranny of numbers.”
Randy Park


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the cast and endless sea.”
Antoine De Saint Exupery


“What breaks down in chaos is not the chain of action and reaction, but the predictability.”


Begin with an earthquake and work up to a climax.”
Samuel Goldwyn


“Every generation has to start again from zero. There are no certainties about the future. We must always have our antennae alert to the way things are changing.”
Carlo Petrini – Slow Food Founder


“Don’t grow up: it’s a trap!”


“The solution to a problem never arises at the same level as the problem itself.”
Mark Haynes Daniell


Our acquaintance, Globe&Mail columnist Harvey Schachter, recently ran a column which stated that “the ideal vacation would seem to be eight days”! This was based upon Doctoral research by Jessica de Bloom from Europe. Her research studied short, medium and long vacation leaves. The feeling of well-being tops at eight days, and declines thereafter for longer breaks. The metrics included quality of sleep, mood, energy and stress before and after the vacation leave. For Canadians, who tend to have longer vacation entitlements than our American counterparts and less than our European counterparts, the potential implication is that there is greater bang for the vacation buck to take several shorter breaks in the year. She also has found that cognitive flexibility rises after vacation leave, leading to increased creativity. Ms de Bloom’s field is positive psychology and focuses on the impact in the work-place. Her other research includes, for instance, the impact of relaxation during lunch breaks. You can google her to delve deeper into her research.


Hope is not a strategy”


We are born
We die, and
Somewhere along the way,
To a greater or lesser extent
And whether we like it or not
We become involved
With accounting.
It just happens.
Thea Foster


Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for (one’s) reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.
J.M. Keynes


Accountants’ Christmas

Two accountants exchanging gifts:
“You buy YOURSELF a gift from ME and I’ll buy MYSELF a gift from YOU, and we’ll call it square.
But DON’T spend more than a thousand bucks, ’cause that’s all I can afford!”


Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.


A journalist asked Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart: “To what do you attribute your success?”
Walton: “Doin’ things right.”
Reporter: “How did you learn to do things right?”
Walton: “Experience.”
Reporter: “How did you get experience?”
Walton: “Doin’ things wrong.”


“A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history — with the possible exceptions of hand guns and tequila.”
Mitch Ratliffe


“Chance favours the prepared mind.”


“Nothing is safe anymore…” Facing three years of a terrible bear in the stock market, investors might have been
inclined to stash their cash under the mattress for greater safety. However, risk management is a complicated thing in life,
and ALL potential consequences are not easily contemplated. An investor in Shenzhen, China stored 6000 yuan notes under his mattress,
only to discover that his life savings were eaten up, not by a bear or inflation, but by termites!


“I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing,
the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.”
Bruce Grocott


“No one ever dreamed of becoming an accountant.”
Airline Training International


“Philosophical questions come naturally to us, at least in our early years. I remember the first time my son, Matt, asked me a philosophical question. One day, when he was three years old, I came home from work and saw him in the dining room with our old dog, whose name was Roo. He was standing over Roo and staring into his face, motionless. The dog’s tail was wagging nervously. I saw them from the living room, walked into the kitchen, and looked back. Matt was still staring. And at this point the dog was glancing around, a little edgy and concerned over what might be going on. Curious myself, I walked into the room and joined them. Matt finally looked up and said, with a great look of wonderment on his face, “Dad-does Roo know he’s a dog?” from, If Aristotle Ran General Motors
Tom Morris


“That guy’s so rich … he pays somebody else to golf for him!”
Overheard at the 19th hole


“I cannot think where this will stop … I have seen so many changes in my lifetime that I do not know how to go on.
What will it be like for those who are born today and have long lives before them?”
Teresa of Avila in the mid-16th century


“Without Trenet, we would all be accountants.”
Singer/songwriter Jacques Brel on the late Charles Trenet, one of France’s most beloved popular singers.


“I just want to raise the level of the folks that are around me if I can.
Sometimes words are needed and sometimes actions are needed
and sometimes just being quiet and understanding the whole picture.
Leadership means understanding the situation and
that’s what I’ve been blessed with being able to do here.”
Aeneas Williams
Professional football player


“If you haven’t figured out that you failed the first time…..try again!”
Don Nilson

“The measure of a culture is its integration of the arts with everyday life”

Victoria Intl airport

We load our entire office with artworks produced by a variety of amazing artists. Most of its is representational art. I try to encourage our staff to take a moment’s respite whilst solving difficult problems to withdraw from the problem and place themselves inside the art that lies before them. Drink in the ancient totem pole, walk through the forest, imagine George Vancouver sailing past Spanish Banks. Take a mindful minute and then return to your problem.

“Believe that small things can become large”

Richard Tompkins

I met a guy from Texas on a day cruise on the Danube River. We sat and chatted on the open deck while trees and the odd ancient monastery passed us by. He told me he started the habit years ago of coming home from work every day, opening his wallet and giving his wife $5 to put in a travel fund, and that is how he finances their vacations.

“Obsta principiis”

On the other side of the coin, there is a saying from Ancient Rome, which literally translates as “resist beginnings”. It was then an invocation to not let little things get out of hand and grow into big problems. It remains a clarion piece of advice across the millennia.

“Really understand and respect the people who love your brand”

Vitalie Taintinger

“An oligopoly of incompetence”

My recent experience with the insurance industry spawned the thought: If you all agree to be bad, then no one needs to be good!

 “It is not that we are so good, it is that all of our competitors are so bad”

Nordstrom CEO

“The path to greatness is paved with passion”

“Solitude is required for the unconscious to process and unravel problems. Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves us, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers”

Ester Buchholz

“Ideas come a great deal from being alone ”

Dale Chihuly

Psychologists reckon there are two traits for success: intelligence and self control; the latter draws on willpower, which is a limited resource. Cumulative exertion of willpower dissipates it, ie it is like a muscle, meaning that it needs rest and can be strengthened accordingly. Furthermore, there is only one common pool of willpower—not silos for different purposes. And here’s a hint: glucose can refill the jar!

As we have suggested in the past, embrace a structured, periodic Personal Retreat to re-inspire and refill the all-important willpower bucket.     

“There is no such thing as a BAD idea…there are only good ideas that aren’t good enough to execute”

Encourage yourself, and your surrounding culture, to free-think and NEVER fear for saying something stupid. I am reminded of my inventor Uncle who designed a solar powered snow blower!

“Encouraging the collisions of creative people is always a good idea”

Jonah Lehrer

“New forms of human mixing produce periods of excess genius”

“Hang out in a diverse world”

“You can’t create something new unless you kill something old”

 A concept in mythology

“In exploration, there needs to be a set of people (who operate with) no rules”

“Jumping from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm is a secret of success”

Scientists at Hadron

“I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious”

Albert Einstein

Psychologists today suggests that the showing of curiousity creates a biological reaction that can transact across two or more parties to elevate the conversation and interaction. Chemicals are released in the brain that feed this and result in a connective psychological phenomenon: empathy. Like a feeding frenzy in nature, lets call it a conversation frenzy.

“Boredom is what happens when I fail to make you interesting”

Warren Bennis, USC Leadership Institute

“…and what do you do here at Cape Canaveral?-I am helping America get to the moon, Sir”

Apocryphal exchange between John Kennedy and a  janitor at Kennedy Space Centre

“All happy families resemble each other, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” 

Leo Tolstoy, in Anna Karenina

Money, genes, race and schooling only account for a third of the correlation between opportunity and success. Social capital contributes far more. Parenting style contributes little, but parenting behavior contributes enormously through conveying of cultural norms and values.

“History is largely about energy flows being captured, contained, released, transferred and subsiding. And new energy sources correlate with innovation. Major advances in civilization are almost invariably triggered by dramatic increases in the flow of energy through society”

Steven Berlin Johnson

And so it may be, too, for individuals. Civilizations have reinvented energy from sticks to coal to oil and to nuclear fission. We humans have to find our own way to reinvent our energy sources to propel our own life trajectories and fend off personal entropy.