The Life and Times of Paul Graham (Part 2) – Hour 1

Breaking down the Notable Quotables of Paul Graham. Paul Graham is the man behind AirBNB, DropBox, Reddit, Stripe, Weebly and ViaWeb (Yahoo! Store). Learn more from business coach Thrivetimeshow.com


NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man.” – Benjamin Franklin

NOTABLE QUOTABLE #1 – “If you want to make money at some point, remember this, because this is one of the reasons startups win. Big companies want to decrease the standard deviation of design outcomes because they want to avoid disasters. But when you damp oscillations, you lose the high points as well as the low. This is not a problem for big companies, because they don’t win by making great products. Big companies win by sucking less than other big companies. ” – Paul Graham

NOTABLE QUOTABLE #2 – “You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible.” – Paul Graham

NOTABLE QUOTABLE #3 – “When we funded Airbnb, we thought it was too crazy. We couldn’t believe large numbers of people would want to stay in other people’s places. We funded them because we liked the founders so much. As soon as we heard they’d been supporting themselves by selling Obama and McCain branded breakfast cereal, they were in. And it turned out the idea was on the right side of crazy after all.” – Paul Graham

NOTABLE QUOTABLE #4 – “Though the most successful founders are usually good people, they tend to have a piratical gleam in their eye. They’re not Goody Two-Shoes type good. Morally, they care about getting the big questions right, but not about observing proprieties. That’s why I’d use the word naughty rather than evil. They delight in breaking rules, but not rules that matter. This quality may be redundant though; it may be implied by imagination.” – Paul Graham

DEFINITION – Proprieties – The state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE #5 – “The situation with time is much the same as with money. The most dangerous way to lose time is not to spend it having fun, but to spend it doing fake work. When you spend time having fun, you know you’re being self-indulgent. Alarms start to go off fairly quickly. If I woke up one morning and sat down on the sofa and watched TV all day, I’d feel like something was terribly wrong. Just thinking about it makes me wince. I’d start to feel uncomfortable after sitting on a sofa watching TV for 2 hours, let alone a whole day.

And yet I’ve definitely had days when I might as well have sat in front of a TV all day—days at the end of which, if I asked myself what I got done that day, the answer would have been: basically, nothing. I feel bad after these days too, but nothing like as bad as I’d feel if I spent the whole day on the sofa watching TV. If I spent a whole day watching TV I’d feel like I was descending into perdition. But the same alarms don’t go off on the days when I get nothing done, because I’m doing stuff that seems, superficially, like real work. Dealing with email, for example. You do it sitting at a desk. It’s not fun. So it must be work.

With time, as with money, avoiding pleasure is no longer enough to protect you. It probably was enough to protect hunter-gatherers, and perhaps all pre-industrial societies. So nature and nurture combine to make us avoid self-indulgence. But the world has gotten more complicated: the most dangerous traps now are new behaviors that bypass our alarms about self-indulgence by mimicking more virtuous types. And the worst thing is, they’re not even fun.”

NOTABLE QUOTABLE #6 – “If you can keep hope and worry balanced, they will drive a project forward the same way your two legs drive a bicycle forward.” – Paul Graham

NOTABLE QUOTABLE #7 – “The easy, conversational tone of good writing comes only on the eighth rewrite.” – Paul Graham

NOTABLE QUOTABLE #8 – “The right way to collaborate, I think, is to divide projects into sharply defined modules, each with a definite owner,” – Paul Graham

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