Sometimes in life you have to confess what you have been doing in the past. I have been guilty of being a “Quotes Collector“ over the years. (My best defense: So is David Allen of GTD fame!)
Also at a certain time in your life, you start mapping everything you see and experience into your own world. So I went through my collection, shortlisted 40 humorous quotes and mapped into the world of Knowledge Workers and their managers!
Don’t laugh at me. As Charles Churchill said in his writings “A joke’s a very serious thing”.
Here you go ….
1 – The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to our ability to reach it.
— Jill Shalvis
There will be things you will not have control over in the organization. They’ll itch. Accept it!
2 – You may never learn to swear until you learn to drive.
— Steven Wright
You never grow up as a professional unless you have lived through a bad project or a bad boss.
3 – He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death.
If you have “one of those”, get rid of them!
4 – Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.
— Gail Godwin
Presentation skills are critical to success!
5 – A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time.
— Alfred E. Wigwam
You’ll run across people who belong to the it-has-always-been-done-this-way club. Do not discard them offhand. Never put a wall down unless you know why it was put up. But if you need to, move past them (or over them if required).
6 – If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving is not really for you.
There are some things that you really cannot fail at. For example, Hiring.
7 – The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it’s unfamiliar territory.
— Paul Fix
Not everyone is a thinker, leave alone smart thinker. It is important to have quality thinkers and not just doers in your team.
8 – Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you.
— Cyril Connolly
Mannerisms and etiquettes are important – and they will let you build good relationships that will help you when you are in trouble!
9 – The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it.
— Franklin P. Jones
But you can always scold them once they start arriving …
11 – There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
— Henry Kissinger
Leave room (even if it’s in your mind) for the unwanted and unforeseen. Have a breathing space on your calendar.
12 – I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I’m in a cabinet meeting.
— Ronald Reagan
A little humor can help explain your organization’s processes!
13 – The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.
— Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876
Never ignore or disparage what your competitor is doing. They may actually be building the next great innovation.
14 – Love thy neighbour as yourself, but choose your neighborhood.
— Louise Beal
Take care of your people. But before that, make sure you hire well!
15 – Dealing with network executives is like being nibbled to death by ducks.
— Eric Sevareid
Been there, been nibbled!
16 – It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.
— Harry S Truman, in Observer, April 13, 1958
Empathy is a key tenet of an effective manager. Try to get into other people shoes!
17 -Why does the Air Force need expensive new bombers? Have the people we’ve been bombing over the years been complaining?
— George Wallace
Just because you are not getting any negative feedback from your people does not imply all is well. You may be decimating them.
18 – The reason there is so little crime in Germany is that it’s against the law.
— Alex Levin
Following the organization’s processes and respect for its policies are for your own good.
19 – An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible.
–– Alfred A. Knopf
Speak to people in the language they understand. Communication is what the listener does.
20 – Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.
— Daniel J. Boorstin
Don’t be Dwight (in the series “The Office”) nor depend on him.
21 – Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.
— Christopher Lasch
Perceptions are important. Think of how you and your work may be perceived by others. Appearances matter!
22 – Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
— Benjamin Franklin
Don’t share a secret if you don’t have to. Beware of those who share theirs with you!
23 – There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say.
— Cyril Connolly
Decisions need to be taken based on what is right and what should be done. The worst thing one can do is not to do it for fear of what others will say.
24 – If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
— Abraham Maslow
Don’t stick to the same mantra, solution or process. Every situation is different, every context needs to be evaluated. It Depends!
25 – Many a man who falls in love with a dimple make the mistake of marrying the whole girl.
— Evan Esar, Esar’s Comic Dictionary
Don’t hire someone just listening to what they say in the interview. Do a thorough evaluation, seek references, make them solve problems, take them to lunch and see how they treat the waiter.
26 – If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read “President Can’t Swim”.
— Lyndon B. Johnson, former US President
Don’t go around pleasing everyone all the time. Manager should do what needs to be done. People will always find something to talk about.
27 – The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.
— Alfred Hitchcock, In Simon Rose, Classic Film Guide (1995)
Don’t hold people in a meeting longer than needed. Don’t test their endurance. Be concise!
28 – I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
— Noel Coward
Get rid of distractions. Give yourself time and space to work on your priorities. Take the long walk yourself!
29 – Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once.
— Evan Esar, Esar’s Comic Dictionary
Effective communication not only means speaking well but also strategic pause to gain an extra bit to think clearly.
30 – Nobody believes the official spokesman… but everybody trusts an unidentified source.
— Ron Nesen
There is a hidden world – an underground unofficial rumor network in operation in all organizations. The best you can do is to keep it as dysfunctional and limited as possible. But it always exists!
31 – We are the people our parents warned us about.
— Jimmy Buffett
We are the bad managers that our first manager warned us about. By default, we end up like our parents – or our early managers and mentors. We need them but then we also need to grow up on our own.
32 – The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible.
— George Burns
Remember the bladder-endurance rule above?
33 – “MSFT could have achieved a bigger saving just by changing the default Outlook meeting time to 45 minutes – at least that way people would have 15 minutes in every hour to be productive!”
— In response to Microsoft announcement of 5000 layoffs in January 2009
Any 30 minute meeting can be finished in 25. That’s what Google Calendar suggests you! Use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage.
34 – It should be noted that no ethically-trained software engineer would ever consent to write a DestroyBaghdad procedure. Basic professional ethics would instead require him to write a DestroyCity procedure, to which Baghdad could be given as a parameter.
— Nathaniel S Borenstein
Effective decisions are made at the highest possible conceptual level. Do not doctor the symptoms or fight the fires only. Solve the bigger problem!
35 – Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.
— Rick Osborne
Any decision you take today will stick with you and may come back to haunt you. Keep the future in mind while deciding today. The psychopath can be sitting in the next cube!
36 – If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.
— Alfred North Whitehead
Not everyone is equally dedicated to the organization. Try differentiating between the dogs and cats around!
37 – Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.
— G. K. Chesterton
Don’t multitask – specially when you are talking to people.
38 – You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.
— Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio
Communication is what the listener does. Its a great art to be able to explain a complex idea in simple terms – so that it makes sense at the intellectual level of the receiver.
39 – Eat a live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
Prioritize. Don’t pend difficult or unpleasant tasks. Get hold of your day early in the morning.
40 – “I see that you have made three spelling mistakes”
–Thomas de Mahay Favras, upon being handed his official death sentence as he was led to the scaffold during the Reign of Terror
Always maintain high standards. Perfection is not an act, but a habit.
So I guess I have been guilty of the dissection crime, which states: “Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.”
But you guys are all scientists right?