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“The Score Takes Care of Itself” Quotes

I recently read “The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership” by Bill Walsh (with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh). Below are the quotes I found most interesting. As always, if you liked the quotes, buy the book here.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 8.26.15 PM“When I give a speech at a corporate event, I often ask those in attendance, ‘Do you know how to tell if you’re doing the job?’ As heads start whispering back and forth, I provide these clue: ‘If you’re up at 3 A.M. every night talking into a tape recorder and writing notes on scraps of paper, have a knot in your stomach and a rash on your skin, are losing sleep and losing touch with your wife and kids, have no appetite or sense of humor, and feel that everything might turn out wrong, then you’re probably doing the job.’” (5)

“When the inevitable setback, loss, failure, or defeat comes crashing down on you – allow yourself the “grieving time,” but then recognize that the road to recovery and victory lies in having the strength to get up off the mat and start planning your next move. This is how you must think if you want to win. Otherwise you have lost.” (10)

“Take pride in my effort as an entity separate from the result of that effort” (16)

“Winning results from your whole team not only doing their individual jobs but perceiving that those jobs contributed to overall success.” (23)

“The leader’s job is to facilitate a battlefield-like sense of camaraderie among his or her personnel, an environment for people to find a way to bond together, to care about one another and the work they do, to feel the connection and extension so necessary for great results. Ultimately, it’s the strongest bond of all, even stronger than money.” (24)

“The culture precedes positive results. It doesn’t get tacked on as an afterthought on your way to the victory stand. Champions behave like champions before they’re champions; they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners.” (25)

“Before you can win the fight, you’ve got to be in the fight.” (26)

“Consistent effort is a consistent challenge.” (27)

“I might do even less strategizing for a Super Bowl game, because in the midst of the extreme pressure I placed a premium on fundamentals.” (30)

“I learned through years of coaching that far-reaching contingency planning gave me a tremendous advantage against the competition because I was no different from anyone else; it was almost impossible for me to make quick and correct decisions in the extreme emotional and mental upheaval that accompanied many situation during a game.” (51)

“All solutions are only temporary. They last until your competitor makes a meaningful countermove to your own countermove. At which time it’s your turn again. The key is to quickly recognize the nature of the threat and then to creatively and expeditiously respond to it. Otherwise, the game will be over before it begins.” (62)

“We have, however, seen a move away from the dictatorial type of leadership, an approach that didn’t fit me and that I do not think is conducive to long-term success, especially in a corporate setting. You may get results for a week or a few months, but the cumulative effects of bullying people, creating an environment of ongoing fear, panic, and intimidation, are a situation where employees become increasingly tuned out and immune to all of your noise. And, of course, the talented ones look for a job with a better outfit.” (77)

“Some leaders are volatile, some voluble; some stoic, others exuberant; but all successful leaders know where we want to go, figure out a way we believe will get the organization there (after careful consideration of relevant available information), and then move forward with absolute determination. We may falter from time to time, but ultimately we are unswerving in moving toward our goal; we will not quit. There is an inner compulsion – obsession – to get it done the way you want it done even if the personal cost is high.
It is good to remind yourself that this quality – strength of will – is essential to your survival and success. Often you are urged to “go along to get along,” solemnly advised that “your plan should’ve worked by now,” or told other variations that mount to backing away from a course you belive in your heart and know in your head is correct. “ (78-79)

“Once the decision was made, the discussion was over. My ultimate job, and yours, is not to give an opinion. Everybody’s got an opinion. Leaders are paid to make a decision. The difference between offering an opinion and making a decision is the difference between working for the leader and being the leader.” (79)

“Proving that you are right or proving that someone is wrong are bad reasons for persisting. Good logic, sound principles, and strong belief are the purest and most productive reasons for pushing forward when things get rough.” (83)

“Plan and prepare for the unexpected. “What happens when what’s supposed to happen doesn’t happen?” is the question that you must always be asking and solving. No leader can control the outcome of the contest or competition, but you can control how you prepare for it.” (85)

“Be A Leader – Twelve Habits:
Be yourself.
Be committed to excellence.
Be positive.
Be prepared.
Be detail-oriented.
Be organized.
Be accountable.
Be near-sighted and far-sighted.
Be fair.
Be firm.
Be flexible.
Believe in yourself.”
(84-86)

“If your staff doesn’t seem fully mobilized and energized until you enter the room, if they require your presence to carry on at the level of effort and excellence you have tried to install, your leadership has not percolated down.” (90)

“An organization is crippled if it needs to ask the leader what to do every time a question arises. I didn’t want an organizational psyche of leadership dependency, of being sim-dysfunctional without me around making every decision.” (90)

“ A strong company that goes south after the CEO retires is a company whose recently departed CEO didn’t finish the job.” (92)

“Leaders who regularly employ this tactic of demonizing opponents destroy its effectiveness because it’s soon recognized as a ploy to stir up emotions. As soon as that happens, it’s ignored. Nevertheless, it had value in my system because it was used sparingly and performed convincingly.” (95)

“You must be able to make and carry out harsh and, at times, ruthless decisions in a manner that is fast, firm, and fair. Applied correctly, this hard edge will not only solve the immediate difficulty, but also prevent future problems by sending out this important message: Cross my line and you can expect severe consequences. This will have ongoing benefits for your organization.” (97)

“From time to time, leaders must show this hard edge. They must make those around them somewhat uneasy, even ill at ease, in not knowing what to expect from you, the leader. THe knowledge that there is this hardness inside you can have a very sobering effect on those who might otherwise be sloppy – those who occasionally need to be reminded of your policies and practices.” (99)

“Leadership is expertise. It is not rhetoric or cheerleading speeches. People will follow a person who organizes and manages others, because he or she has credibility and expertise – a knowledge of the profession – and demonstrates an understanding of human nature.” (99)

“The true inspiration, expertise, and ability to execute that employees take with them into their work is most often the result of their inner voice talking, not some outer voice shouting, and not some leader giving a pep talk.
For members of your team, you determine what their inner voice says. The leader, at least a good one, teaches the team how to talk to themselves. An effective leader has a profound influence on what that inner voice will say.” (100)

“You don’t need to shout, stomp, or strut to be a great leader – just do the job and treat people right.” (102)

“Remember that praise is more valuable than blame.” (105)

“Believing your own press clippings – good or bad – is self-defeating. You are allowing others, oftentimes uninformed others, to tell you who you are.” (107)

“If you’re growing a garden, you need to pull out the weeds, but the flowers will die if all you do is pick weeds.” (109)

“If you’re perceived as a negative person – always picking, pulling, criticizing – you will simply get tuned out by those around you. Your influence, ability to teach, and opportunity to make progress will be diminished and eventually lost.” (109)

“Employees can thrive in an environment where they know exactly what is expected of them – even when those expectations are very high.” (111)

“You’re not always right, nor is the other person. Sometimes you’re both wrong. Sometimes there are three sides to a coin. I wanted to work with people smart enough to have independent thinking but strong enough to change their opinion when evidence or logic suggested it.” (113)

“Even though I had virtually complete autonomy through most of my ten years as head coach of the 49ers, I was never called Coach Walsh. In fact, everyone in the organization was addressed by their first name, including me. I wanted no barriers such as rank or title to clog up productive interaction.” (115)

“Rank, titles, or inferred status can impede open communication in an environment where people thrive on helping one another.” (115)

“Effective leaders understand that if you’re predictably difficult or predictably easygoing, others become predictably comfortable. In a highly competitive environment, feeling comfortable is first cousin to being complacent.” (118)

“The 49ers had talent and were well schooled. Neither matters if the person in charge falters or fails when it matters most. Having a clear idea of what your options are – situational planning – helps you be a leader when leadership is required.” (121)

“The process – seeing someone I had evaluated, selected, and taught break out and do great things – is what it’s really all about for me, the source of my greatest pleasure in leadership. In my experience, this is what it takes to be a good teacher: passion, expertise, communication, and persistence.” (122)

“I came to understand over my years as an assistant coach that when the audience is bored, it’s not their fault. And when they’re plugged in and excited, it’s because of you, the person in charge.” (126)

“Persistence is essential because knowledge is rarely imparted on the first attempt.” (126)

“Bill would say to us coached, ‘I’m going to yell at you in front of the players once in a while. When that happens, don’t get upset with me. Your players will work even harder for you because they’ll feel sorry for you.” (132)

“The same goes for the individuals on your team. The highest-paid, most talented people that you can go out and hire will not perform to their potential unless they feel as if they are part of something special – a family that treats them right.” (138)

“Mastery requires endless remastery. In fact, I don’t believe there is ever true mastery. It is a process, not a destination.” (144)

“Some individuals have ‘situational character’ – their attitude (and subsequent performance) are linked to results. Good results? Great attitude. Bad results? Bad attitude.” (149)

“In building and maintaining your organization, place a premium on those who exhibit great desire to keep pushing themselves to higher and higher performance and production levels, who seek to go beyond the highest standards that you, the leader, set.” (152)

“When the bottom 20 percent is dissatisfied – doesn’t feel they’re a real part of your team, that is, appreciated – their comments, perspective, and reactions – their ‘bitching’ – is seen, heard, and absorbed by those who are positive and productive.” (156)

“As a leader you must have the strength to let talented members of your organization know you believe in them – nurture their belief in themselves, teach them what they need to know, and then watch what happens.” (161)

“Nobody will ever come back to you later and say “thank you” for expecting too little of them.” (161)

“The art of leadership requires knowing when it makes sense to take people over the top, to push them to their highest level of effort, and when to take your foot off the accelerator a little. If your team is constantly working on adrenaline, in a crisis mode, running as hard as they can, they become vulnerable.” (162)

“What’s difficult to do is recognize when extra effort, extreme exertion, working ‘as hard as possible’ starts to produce diminishing returns.” (164)

“You never stop learning, perfecting, refining – molding your skills. You never stop depending on the fundamentals – sustaining, maintaining, and improving.” (185_

“Achieving success in a competitive environment requires solving a very complicated puzzle. This is true in all big-time competition. The winners know how to get more pieces of the puzzle in place than the losers.” (192)

“The most talented personnel often are very independent minded.” (202)

“Finding yourself in a position where you believe your only option is to pull off a big surprise often means you haven’t prepared, haven’t done your homework.” (211)

“In your efforts to create interest in your own product, don’t get carried away with premature promotion – creating a pretty package with hype, spin, and all the rest. First, make sure you’ve got something of quality to promote. Then worry about how you’re going to wrap it in an attractive package. The world’s best promotional tool is a good product.” (218)

“Losing, however you define it, even the thought of losing, can become so psychologically crippling that winning offers little solace and no cause for celebration because you’ve imposed an internal accounting system on yourself that awards zero points for winning and minus points for losing.” (218)

“Either way, you are putting yourself on a slippery slope when you start believing that the outcome of your effort represents or embodies who you really are as person – what your value as a person is.” (219)

“If your hard work is coupled with intelligence and talent, you may win. If not, you go back to work and get ready for the next fight without feeling that somehow, having given it everything you’ve got, you are somehow inadequate as a person, that you didn’t measure up. You can’t let that happen to yourself.” (227)

“it was unpleasant to know that doing a good job in the NFL wasn’t much different from doing a bad job. Both will get you fired; the latter just gets you fired sooner. You know you’re there as a coach temporarily, only while you’re very successful, only when you do a fantastic job. Then you learn that even a fantastic job is inadequate. The norm becomes the impossible, and when you don’t achieve the impossible, your head’s on the chopping block.” (227)

“Commitments, publicly to their team, of high performance in the coming battle.” (240)

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“Poking A Dead Frog” Quotes

I recently read “Poking A Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers” by Mike Sacks. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. (Since this is an interview book, the person saying it is the underlined name above the quote). If you like the quotes, please buy the full book here.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.40.35 PM“Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” -Teller

“All great comedy has managed to circumnavigate executive meddling. But this is easier said than done.” (xiv)

“Each came to this business primarily because he or she wanted to create the sort of comedy that they themselves enjoyed the most. For all of them – be they writers of sketches, graphic novels, screenplays, New Yorker cartoons, fiction, nonfiction, television, stand-up, the radio – success was a by-product, not the goal.” (xv)

James Downey
“I avoid anything I feel is a cheap laugh based on shock or just being dirty. You can always get a laugh, but you don’t want it to come at the price of your dignity.” (11)

(Sometimes the audience just wants to laugh.) “They do, that’s right. But sometimes writers overlook this. Not performers, though. If the audience is laughing, they’re happy.” (12)

“Writers are much more interested, and maybe even obsessed, with originality. We sometimes treat comedy as a science, where advances are made, and we must always move forward, never backward. So that once something has been done, it should perhaps be built upon, but never, ever repeated. For performers, the fact that something has been done before is, I think, neither here nor there. For writers, it’s a real problem, and sometimes we can tie ourselves up in knots worrying, ‘Is this too similar to that other thing?’” (12)

“I think we need to be ahead of our audiences, but not so much that we lose them.” (12)

“Unless you’re making an observation, and that observation is true – and I hope fresh – it’s not worth writing a piece.” (14)

“I’m less worried about a bad piece than about missing a great one.” (22)

Terry Jones
“We made it a point to end sketches when they might have just been beginning on other shows.” (25)

Diablo Cody
“Always be working on your own material. Write specs! Though I’ve been hired to write studio projects, everything I’ve ever gotten produced has been an original spec script that I just wanted to write on my own. I wasn’t being paid for them. Other people’s ideas are never as important as yours.” (31)

Mike Schur
“TV comedy writing is a team sport. That’s just the deal.” (34)

“Something David Mamet once said sums it up perfectly: ‘Doing a movie or a play is like running a marathon. Doing a television show is like running until you die.’” (35)

“The number of people watching TV on their own schedule, through Hulu or iTunes or whichever platform they prefer, is rising exponentially. And it’s never going back the other way.” (36)

“TV comedies only work long-term if the characters are three-dimensional and great.” (42)

“Shows get picked up based on their pilots, which is directly analogous to judging a book by its first ten pages.” (42)

“TV is about presenting an inviting world in which audiences want to invest their time, regularly, over many years. Jokes help because, you know, they make people happy. But what makes people love a show, and get attached to it, is great characters having great adventures.” (43)

“Television is not about quantity anymore; it’s very much about quality – and specificity.” (44)

“The most valuable and unteachable asset in a comedy writer is a unique voice. That is my top priority in hiring people-does this person sound like everyone else, or is there something about how he or she puts words and sentences and ideas together that sticks out?” (47)

“Complacency is a classic mistake. Some people get to a certain point and go, ‘Okay, I’ve figured it out!’ Writing isn’t a thing you figure out – ever. My favorite things I’ve ever written, I hate.” (47)

“To stay vibrant and successful, you can’t ever feel like you know what you’re doing. Your attitude has to constantly be, ‘Who is this rank amateur, and how can I teach him how to write?’” (48)

“No writer should ever breathe easy. You should constantly figure out how to write better stories and better jokes, more three-dimensional characters, how to change what isn’t work. If you don’t, you’re gonna lose your touch.” (48)

Todd Levin
“A desk piece must be generic enough to accommodate all kinds of jokes, familiar enough to require very little setup, and fresh enough that it hasn’t already been attempted in more than a half century of late night comedy.” (52)

“Never underestimate the importance of carefully weaving your own voice into your submission well enough that it cannot easily be separated from your ideas. That’s the balance that I think is important to strike: supplying something familiar that no one ever saw coming.” (57)

Henry Beard
“You hate to admit it, but it’s all luck. It’s just really all luck.” (73)

James L. Brooks
“If it’s good, you will be noticed. If you’re an actor, you need other people in order to act; a director needs other people in order to direct. But writers can be alone in a room and do what they do, without any help. It’s all in their hands. And sooner or later, someone will give it a read.” (82)

Peter Mehlman
“The (Seinfeld) writers would come up with their own storylines, and then we’d pass them to Jerry and Larry, who would either accept or reject them. If you couldn’t come up with story lines, you were let go. But there was no one room in which the writers had to sit and write and pitch out ideas.
You know, having a writers’ room is very conducive to getting nothing done. You get a lot of people in there and you go off on tangents and people are going to the bathroom and going out and getting coffee. Everybody just wants to get out of that room.” (109)

Paul F. Tompkins
“If you approach everything from a pure creative angle, the work and employment will take care of itself.” (113)

“Just be around and engage people in a pure way and you’re going to get more work that way.” (113)

Adam McKay
“We always try to make our movies one-third satire, one-third parody, and one-third original storytelling.” (118)

“Del Close had a key tenant: always go to your third thought.” (123)

“Now, filmmakers can record the laughs from a test audience at a screening, and we can then cut to the rhythm of those laughs, the rhythm of the audience. We synchronize the laughs with the film. We can really get our timing down to a hundredth of a second.” (130)

“There’s no greater comedy killer than receiving a note that says a character’s not likable enough. The second you see someone write that, you know they don’t know a thing about comedy. The entire game is to make your character as awful and irresponsible as possible, while still keeping at oe in the pool of his still being a human being. I mean, that’s the game. That’s the game you’re playing. The more despicable your guy can get away with behaving while still remaining on the side of the audience, the funnier it’ll be. Seinfeld is the greatest example of that ever.” (131)

“I wasn’t as obsessed with “Why didn’t aht sketch get in?” Your first couple years, you think everything should be perfect. Once you let that go, it’s a really fun show to work on.” (134)

Bruce Jay Friedman
“A more accurate term (instead of black humor) would have been tense comedy-there’s much to laugh at on the surface, but with streaks of agony running beneath.” (151)

“I’m hesitant to begin a short story unless I know the last line, or a close approximation of it.” (170)

Gabe Delahaye
“I was once told, ‘You aren’t good at writing, but if you can get over that, then one day maybe you will be okay at writing.’” (203)

“Write what you think is funny. This does not mean anyone else will agree, but if you write what you hope others will think is funny, you have already alienated at least some readers.” (204)

“If you are lucky enough to get an audience for your comedy, be nice to that audience. You are lucky to have them.” (204)

Glen Charles
“There’s a sadness to all the characters. Someone once described Taxi as being a show about hell. All of the characters were essentially stuck in a very bleak environment, struggling to get out.” (216)

“We had a rule that if writers were pitching jokes and two writers came up with the same punch line at once, it was gone.” (221)

“Every show has a voice. The better the show, the better the voice.” (228)

Joel Begleiter
“I think it’s easier to get one of those gigs on pure merit (late night writer) than it is to get a traditional sitcom writing job.” (231)

“We receive SPAM e-mails all day long at the major agencies from writers who have bought e-mail address lists. They are deleted immediately. There’s not even the slightest consideration. I don’t read the letters. When a client has referred a friend of theirs, the letter is not necessary.” (233)

Marc Maron
“You never know when success is going to happen. It’s not a meritocracy; so much of it is about some weird shit aligning that’s usually out of your control, and you catch your break. And a lot of people don’t ever catch it.” (237)

George Saunders
“At the highest level, revision is about anticipating what most writers would do and then asking: Well, is there anything deeper or better or livelier that I could make happen?” (251)

“Start with the idea that all of our enemies get up in the morning feeling like they’re out to serve good. That’s a more realistic and effective view of evil, I think, even just in terms of how it actually occurs and also how one might start to defend oneself or work against that evil.” (255)

“The thing is, writing is really just the process of charming someone via prose – compelling them to keep reading.” (260)

Byrd Leavell
“Don’t even submit to an agent. you are just going to get rejected anyway. Because these days the idea isn’t enough. Going to publishers with ‘I’ve got a great idea for a humor book’ is about as useful as tweeting your breakfast menu. No one cares. Especially not publishers. All they care about is platform. They care if you’ve written something really, really funny and it’s gone viral and five thousand people have commented on it. They care that your product is the perfect thing to turn into a book that works in the market. They care how many readers you can make aware of your book when it is finally published. You have to show agents that you can do all of these things, and then, and only then, do you get to show them how good your book is.” (264)

Dave Hill
“Because I wrote only for wanting to crack up my friends, and I was cracking myself up in the process, it worked. It was the first writing packet I ever wrote that I had any fun doing, and that’s why I was able to make it good. Normally, you put pressure on yourself. And as soon as you think that you absolutely have to do a good job on it, you’re in trouble.” (266)

“Once I was truly at the point where I was not trying to get anyone’s attention, that’s when I got everything I wanted, including a manager.” (266)

“It’s going back to not really giving a shit. Do your best to entertain yourself. Or entertaining the fifteen-year-old in you. Or just creating something that you want to see exist.” (267)

Tom Scharpling
“If you know how to build jokes, you can write any other genre, including mystery and horror.” (272)

“They weren’t attempting to win a huge audience. But they stuck with it, they eventually found their audience, and it’s what they needed to do. You have to trust what you’re doing. There’s something running through everybody that others will eventually respond to.” (279)

“Look, you couldn’t pay me to listen to their music, but I still feel like I have more in common with Insane Clown Posse than I do with someone who just sits on the sidelines and shits on other people’s work and who never puts themselves on the line.” (284)

“”TV and movies are such collaborative mediums. You have to be ready to not have everything go your way – even if you’re in the top position.” (285)

“You have to appreciate the journey. You can’t control where you’re going to end up. You better appreciate the experience; otherwise you’ll never be happy.” (289)

Jon Wurster
We’re so ingrained to think that we have to do things the exact way of the status quo, but 80 percent of the status quo is miserable, you know? Everything came together for me when I stopped caring about it.” (287)

Patton Oswalt
“Have trust in amusing yourself.” (326)

“Just keep going onstage.” (326)

Daniel Clowes
“I’ll receive a lot more of a reaction when something appears on a small website than I will when something’s published in a major magazine or newspaper. The easier it is for a reader to contact you, the more responses you receive.” (334)

“The people who make the decisions in Hollywood are never the oddballs or creative types, so you have to tell them what they want to hear. It didn’t take long for us to start saying things like, ‘We want to make another There’s Something About Mary.’ We had no intention of doing that, but you must at least make the effort to be reassuring.” (343)

“I learned to get rid of everything that doesn’t work, even though I might have spent a long time on it.” (346)

Adam Resnick
“It was done for the wrong reasons-by everybody. And it was a valuable lesson – never do anything just for the opportunity. Always go with your gut – your original instinct. But then again, my gut fails me constantly, so maybe there is no lesson.” (381)

“You can’t think logically when it comes to something you’re passionate about. All you can do is keep trying. And write a lot of projects you’re not passionate about to pay the bills.” (386)

“If you’re in this business and you can cover your overhead by writing exactly what you want, you’re living the dream. And if you’re getting rich by writing what you want, you’re in an enviable position. But for most writers, it’s usually a compromise.” (387)

“What the show really hangs on are the characters and what kind of a life they have. I’d much rather see a writer come up with, ‘I knew somebody like this.’ Or, ‘What would it be like if these three people got mixed together?’ At that point, you can then ask, ‘Okay, what’s the best context for them to be in? What situation?’” (391)

Dan Guterman
“The nice thing about working aloud, where you’re basically talking out every line of a script, is that it kept the show from sounding overly written. When you write alone, and have all the time in the world, you end up rewording sentences, editing and re-editing clauses, playing around with syntax-and your jokes tend to stiffen up as a result. They sound labored over. Your writing is more prone to feeling unnatural. The oral process at Colbert was great at preventing that.” (413)

Alan Spencer
“Now the marketing people come in and tell the executive what projects to make.” (425)

Mel Brooks
“Everything I’ve ever done, I’ve started with characters. I learn what they want, what they need. Where they need to go and how they have to go about achieving that. I listen to them. You can’t just have pure action.” (438)

“Movies to me were much more lasting. TV happens too quickly, and most is never remembered.” (444)

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“Improv Wisdom” Quotes

I recently read “Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up” by Patricia Ryan Madson. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. As usual, if you like the quotes, Improv Wisdom.

“I had tried to be worthy of receiving tenure. I didn’t understand that this worthiness could come only from honoring my own voice. Making decisions solely to please others is a formula destined to fail. THe people I admired were not looking over their shoulders to see if their peers were applauding. They were heeding their inner promptings. “I do this because I know it needs to be done.” My search for validation has diverted me from discerning what was uniquely mine.” (13)

“Keith Johnstone’s encouraging quotation form Impro reminds us that this habit can be acquired:

There are people who prefer to say “yes,” and there are people who prefer to say “No.” Those who say “Yes” are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say “No” are rewarded by the safety they attain. There are far more “No” sayers around than “yes” sayers, but you can train one type to behave like the other.” (18)

“Art is simply what one does, now who one is.” (39)

“All starting points are equally valid. They being where they are, often in the middle.” (53)

“You can improve how you give a lecture by using the principle of improvised speech. Instead of writing out your notes in precise language, try writing questions to yourself.” (57)

“When you try hard to do your best, the effect on your performance is often to jinx it.” (60)

“Getting a laugh is easy – trivial, actually. Anything unexpected seems funny. This kind of humor is like a sugar hit. It gives a temporary lift, but it is a poor diet and won’t nourish artistically. If you give up making jokes and concentrate on making sense, the result is often genuinely mirthful.” (65)

“Life is attention, and what we are attending ot determines to a great extent how we experience the world.” (67)

“The Japanese have a word, arugamama. It is the virtue of abiding with things as they are.” (77)

“The most consistent road to unhappiness that I know comes from turning a blind eye to reality.” (78)

“in the act of balancing, we come alive. Sensations change moment by moment; sometimes we feel secure, sometimes precarious. In the long run we develop tolerance for instability. As we come to accept this insecurity as the norm, as our home ground, it becomes familiar and less frightening. We can stop trying to flee from the wobble. And sometimes this sense of being off balance is exhilarating and reminds us of the impermanence and fragility of life, nudging us to appreciate each imperfect, teetering moment we are alive.” (82)

“99.9 percent of the time, a mistake is just an unanticipated outcome giving us information.” (105)

“When you make a mistake, turn your attention to what comes next. Focus on doing that well, with full mind and heart. Look ahead, not back.” (108)

“The French word bricolage. It’s the art of commandeering the materials at hand – what is most obvious – to solve the problem.” (111)

“Natalie Goldberg’s first rule for writers, “Keep your hand moving.”” (115)

“Keep adjusting to how it is rather than how you’d like it to be.” (129)

“Tom Byers says these five ruls are essential for the successful entrepreneur:

  1. Show up on time.
  2. Be nice to people.
  3. Do what you say you’ll do.
  4. Deliver more than you promise.
  5. Work with enthusiasm and passion.”

“Enjoyment is a way of approaching an activity, not the activity itself.” (138)

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