“The Passion Economy” Quotes

I recently read “The Passion Economy: The New Rules For Thriving in the Twenty-First Century” by Adam Davidson. Below are the quotes I found most interesting.

“Most businesses that struggle do so because they fail to understand the value they are (or should be) creating or fail to capture the value they have created.” (22)

“What are you selling? Who most wants it? Why do they want it? How do they pay for it?” (24)

“Pick your customer.” (25)

“Pick your competition.” (27)

“Aim for a product whose price is determined by the value it provides the customer, not by the raw material that is used to make it.” (67)

“For most of the twentieth century, the safest, most lucrative strategy was to be as much like others as possible. In the twenty-first century, the best strategy is to be fully yourself and to highlight your areas of difference from everyone else.” (74)

“The very act of charging considerably more ensures that the kinds of customers who won’t truly value [your company’s] offerings won’t hire them.” (120)

“You have a price, and then you find customers who understand that it is worthwhile to pay that price for the benefits they hope to receive: benefits based on very specialized knowledge.” (122)

“Price should be a bit shocking – a couple of notches higher than the prospective customer was prepared for. You want him to have an uncomfortable moment where he truly has to ask himself if this is worth the investment.” (122)

“Always use the word “investment” to signal that this is not money the client is losing but money he is spending so that he can make more money later.” (122)

“For any business to attract some group of passionate followers, it must contain elements that some people will love and others will dismiss, or even find off-putting.” (140)

“The key to success was not coming up with new things to sell; it was in the efficiency of the operation that was used to make a standard product. The victors in key market areas were not those with the most original products but the companies with the best systems for manufacturing standardized goods.” (166)

“Most (textile) companies kept doing the same, safe thing, right until they collapsed.” (180)

“Do not be a commodity. Do not be easily comparable to other people who have, roughly, the same set of skills and the same background.” (187)

“Write down what you do for a living and then circle those things that bring you real joy.” (243)

“Three core values made work more satisfying for employees and, simultaneously, made them more effective at their jobs: One: people want to feel some sense of autonomy over their work, feel that they can make choices that will have an impact. Two: they want to feel a sense of belonging to the organization they work for. Three: they want to trust their company and their bosses.” (263)

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“The Second Mountain” Quotes

I recently read “The Second Mountain: The Quest For A Moral Life” by David Brooks. Below are the quotes I found most interesting.

“It usually starts with a subculture. A small group of creative individuals finds the current moral ecology oppressive and alienating. So they go back in history and update an old moral ecology that seems to provide a better way to live. They create a lifestyle that others find attractive. If you can create a social movement that people want to join, they will bend their energies and ideas to you.” (8)

“In Irish Murdoch’s words: “Man is a creature who makes pictures of himself and then comes to resemble the picture.” (8)

“America has always had a more individualistic culture than other places, which Tacqueville noticed back in the 1830s. But when individualism becomes the absolutely dominant ethos of a civilization – when it is not counterbalanced with any competing ethos – then the individuals within it may have maximum freedom, but the links between individuals slowly begin to dissolve.” (10)

“Colleges generally ask a person distinguished by fantastic career success to give a speech in which they claim that career success is not that important.” (14)

“Freedom sucks. Political freedom is great. But personal, social, and emotional freedom – when it becomes an ultimate end – absolutely sucks. It leads to a random, busy life with no discernible direction, no firm foundation, and in which, as Marx put it, all that’s solid melts to air. It turns out that freedom isn’t an ocean you want to spend your life in. Freedom is a river you want to get across so you can plant yourself on the other side – and fully commit to something.” (20)

“When you choose to work at a certain company, you are turning yourself into the sort of person who works in that company.” (22)

“The meritocracy is the most self-confident moral system in the world today. It’s so engrossing and seems so natural that we’re not even aware of how it encourages a certain economic vocabulary about non-economic things. Words change their meaning. “Character” is no longer ” (23)

“Acedia is the quieting of passion. It is a lack of care. It is living a life that doesn’t arouse your strong passions and therefore instills a sluggishness of the soul, like an oven set on warm. The person living in acedia may have a job and a family, but he is not entirely grabbed by his own life.” (24)

“When you have nothing but your identity and job title to res on, then you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others.” (25)

“Every age group in America is less trusting than the one before, and, as Robert Putnam of Harvard points out, that’s for a very good reason: People are less trustworthy. It’s not that perception is getting worse. It’s actual behavior.” (33)

“Individualism, taken too far, leads to tribalism.” (34)

“Once politics becomes your ethnic or moral identity, it becomes impossible to compromise, because compromise becomes dishonor.” (35)

“Suffering that is not transformed is transmitted.” (40)

“The ultimate heart’s desire… is the desire to lose yourself in something or someone.” (45)

“In Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, he tells her, “Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.” (46)

“C.S. Lewis observed, there’s never been a country where people are admired for running away in battle, or for double-crossing people who were kind to them.” (47)

“You have to be loved first so you can understand love, and you have to see yourself actively loving others so that you know you are worthy of love.” (53)

“That’s the paradox of privilege. When we are well-off we chase the temporary pleasures that actually draw us apart. We use our wealth to buy big houses with big yards that separate us and make us lonely. But in crisis we are compelled to hold closely to one another in ways that actually meet our deepest needs.” (57)

“As the theologian Tim Keller puts it, real freedom “is not so much the absence of restrictions as finding the right ones.” (58)

“Alasdair MacIntyre has pointed out, the concept of altruism was invented only in the eighteenth century. Once people decided that human nature is essentially egoist and selfish, then it was necessary to invent a word for when people weren’t driven by selfish desires. But before that, what we call altruism – living for relationships – was just how people lived. It wasn’t heroic or special.” (64)

“If you wanted to generalize a bit, you could say there are six layers of desire:
Material pleasure. Having nice food, a nice car, a nice house.
Ego pleasure. Becoming well-known or rich and successful. Winning victories and recognition.
Intellectual pleasure. Learning about things. Understanding the world around us.
Generativity. The pleasure we get in giving back to others and serving our communities.
Fulfilled love. Receiving and giving love. The rapturous union of souls.
Transcendence. The feeling we get when living in accordance with some ideal.” (67)

“Giving is the primary relationship between on person and another, not the secondary one.” (71)

“Annie Dillard once asked a friend how he knew he was meant to become a painter. “I like the smell of paint,” he replied.” (90)

“Vocations invariably have testing periods – periods when the costs outweigh the benefits – which a person must go through to reach another level of intensity. At these moments, if you were driven by a career mentality you would quit. You’re putting more into this thing than you are getting out. But a person who has found a vocation doesn’t feel she has a choice. It would be a violation of her own nature. So she pushes through when it doesn’t seem to make sense.” (91)

“Lucky is the man who does not secretly believe that every possibility is open to him,” Walker Percy observes.” (98)

“When the expert is using her practical knowledge, she isn’t thinking more, she is thinking less. She has built up a repertoire of skills through habit and has thereby extend the number of tasks she can perform without conscious awareness.” (101)

“The right question is not What am I good at? It’s the harder questions: What am I motivated to do? What activity do I love so much that I’m going to keep getting better at it for the next many decades? What do I desire so much that it captures me at the depth of my being? In choosing a vocation, it’s precisely wrong to say that talent should trump interest. Interest multiplies talent and is in most cases more important than talent.” (111)

“All vocational work, no matter how deeply it touches you, involves those moments when you are confronted by the laborious task. Sometimes, if you are going to be a professional, you just have to dig the damn ditch.” (124)

“There are (at least) two kinds of failure. In the first kind you are good, but other people can’t grasp how good you are. Melville’s Moby-Dick sold only 2,300 copies in its first eighteen months and only 5,500 copies in its first fifty years. It was savaged by reviewers. Some artists have to create the taste by which they will be judged. In the second kind, you fail because you’re not as good as you thought you were, and other people will see it.” (131)

“There’s a moment in many successful careers when the prospect of success tires to drag you away from your source, away from the daemon that incited your work in the first place. It is an act of raw moral courage to reject the voices all around and to choose what you have chosen before. It looks like you are throwing away your chance at stardom, but you are actually staying in touch with what got you there.” (133)

“People don’t become lovely by loving themselves; they become lovely by loving others, by making vows to others, by taking on the load of others and fulfilling those vows and carrying that load. All the dignity and gravity of life is in this surrender.” (143)

“Your personality is the hidden history of the places where love entered your life or was withdrawn from your life. It is shaped by the ways your parents loved you, the ways they did not love you.” (151)

“If the love is to bloom, they have to get to, “This is how I’m crazy.”” (152)

“Society is a massive conspiracy to distract you from the important choices of life in order to help you fixate on the unimportant ones.” (166)

[Frankl says] “Human beings’ primary motivation is not for money or even happiness, but for meaning. We are driven above all to understand the purpose of our lives. Once that is understood even the most miserable conditions cannot upend inner peace.” (208)

“Thomas Merton once wrote that ‘trying to solve the problem of God is like trying to see your own eyeballs.’” (234)

“When people talk about dying to self, they are really talking about dying to old desires and coming alive to a new and better set of desires.” (255)

“Willfulness is the desire to be captain of your own ship. Willingness is the desire to answer a call with a strong response.” (255)

”Pretty soon you end up with what Rabbi Sacks calls ‘pathological dualism,’ a mentality that divides the world between those who are unimpeachably good and those who are irredeemably bad.” (256)

“T.S. Eliot observed, the chief illusion of modern political activity is the belief that you can build a system so perfect that the people in it do not have to be good.” (308)

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“Stillness Is The Key” Quotes

I recently read “Stillness Is The Key” by Ryan Holiday. Below are the quotes I found most interesting.

“All outdoors may be bedlam, provided that there is no disturbance within.” -Seneca (xiv)

“Buddhism. Stoicism. Epicureanism. Christianity. Hinduism. It’s all but impossible to find a philosophical school or religion that does not venerate this inner peace – this stillness – as the highest good and as the key to elite performance and a happy life. And when basically all the wisdom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool would decline to listen.” (xvi)

“The goal of Zen, his master taught him, was to “achieve a void… noiseless, colorless, heatless void” – to get to that state of emptiness, whether it was on the mound or in the batter’s box or at practice.” (42)

“Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not for the reward; but never cease to do thy work.” -The Bhagavad Gita (75)

“Each of us must break the link in the chain of what the Buddhists call samsara, the continuation of life’s suffering from generation to generation.” (110)

“Give more. Give what you didn’t get. Love more. Drop the old story.” -Gary Shandling (111)

“Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all.” -Joseph Epstein (114

“To have blessings and to prize them is to be in Heaven; to have them and not to prize them is to be in Hell… To prize them and not to have them is to be in Hell.” Thomas Traherne (122)

“If you believe there is ever some point where you will feel like you’ve “made it,” when you’ll finally be good, you are in for an unpleasant surprise… just as that feeling appears to be within reach, the goal is moved just a little bit farther up the mountain and out of reach.” (124)

“What do we want more of in life? That’s the question. It’s not accomplishments. It’s not popularity. It’s moments when we feel like we are enough.” (126)

“The Japanese have a concept, shinrin yoku – forest bathing – which is a form of therapy that uses nature as a treatment for mental and spiritual issues.” (132)

“There is no stillness to the mind that thinks of nothing but itself, nor will there ever be peace for the body and spirit that follow their every urge and value nothing but themselves.” (137)

“The nihilist is forced to wrestle with the immense complexity and difficulty and potential emptiness of life (and death) with nothing but their own mind. This is a comically unfair mismatch.” (140)

“It’s not that we need to believe that God is great, only that God is greater than us.” -Nassim Taleb (141)

“Anyone can be rich or famous. Only you can be Dad or Mom or Daughter or Son or Soul Mate to the people in your life.” (144)

“Your house might be quieter without kids and it might be easier to work longer hours without someone waiting for you at the dinner table, but it is a hollow quiet and an empty ease.” (148)

“Around noon Winston Churchill would stop in to say hello to his wife for the first time – believing all his life that the secret to a happy marriage was that spouses should not see each other before noon.” (173)

“The greats know that complete freedom is a nightmare. They know that order is a prerequisite of excellence and that in an unpredictable world, good habits are a safe haven of certainty.” (201)

“When the body is busy with the familiar, the mind can relax. The monotony becomes muscle memory.” (203)

“Everywhere I have sought peace and not found it, except in a corner with a book.” -Thomas a Kempis (217)

“Leisure is not the absence of activity, it is activity. What is absent is any eternal justification – you can’t do leisure for pay, you can’t do it to impress people. You have to do it for you.” (237)

“There is nourishment in pursuits that have no purpose – that is their purpose.” (241)

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“The Operator” Quotes

I recently read “The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells The New Hollywood” by Tom King. Below are the quotes I found most interesting.

“Plunking down $450 for a suit and shopping at the boutique where only the most senior executives at the agency shopped was Geffen’s way of signaling to his bosses that he was determined to enter their league.” (66)

“Geffen’s friendship with Marian foreshadowed a long string of powerful friendships with the wives of his colleagues. He would, in some cases, forge a tighter bond with the wives than with their husbands.” (83)

“We’re in a shark pool here,” Crosby said. “We need a shark to look after us.” (103)

“But he was surprised to realize that the millions of dollars he had just banked and the trappings he had been able to acquire with it did not make him happy.” (184)

“Geffen clinched the deal when he told the star his fee: He did not want a cent. Geffen did not let on that he was playing a much bigger chess game in which he eventually sought to sign Dylan to Asylum Records. The tour was just his opening move.” (195)

“Geffen did not like his mother because she was strange and poor and not refined and rich. He tried to clean her up by hiring a chauffeur to take her shopping for new clothes; he fumed, however, when he discovered that she had directed the driver to the thrift-shop district on Western Avenue. How much easier life would be, he thought, if he had been born into a family of privilege. No matter how much success he achieved, it seemed he could not get beyond the handicapped self-image of a tortured and tiny poor Jewish boy with the eccentric mother and hopeless father.” (224)

“When Ono next asked Geffen what he planned to pay them, he reverted to one of his tried-and-true dealmaking tricks, refusing to be the first to state a figure. He had learned his lesson since 1972. When Ono insisted that Geffen throw out a number, Geffen calmly declined. “You have to tell me what you want,” he said, “and if I can give it to you, I will, and if I can’t, I won’t.” (314)

“Geffen’s strategy all along had been to grant young smart talents free rein up until when the product was almost finished; he then stepped in to shape the all-important marketing. Geffen knew his strength: He could gauge the market as no one else could.” (347)

“When he was under pressure and business was poor, his plans became increasingly audacious. Sitting with a pair of deuces, Geffen often behaved as though he had a full house.” (366)

“”That’s David’s mother,” one of Geffen’s friends told a reporter at the party afterward… “We call her ‘The Explanation.’” (368)

“Geffen the millionaire had been a pure capitalist for most of his life, and for him capitalism was about winning. With the new ending, Risky Business became a mirror of Geffen’s own story: If you maneuver enough, you can get away with anything, and winning is easy. It does not matter if you tell the truth, cheat on a test, or step on people on your way up to the top. It only matters if you win.” (375)

“The people around him, meanwhile, were so shaken and distracted by his screaming tirades that no one could see the frightened boy he still was. “The liabilities are the assets,” Diller said. “He’s gone through a lot, and goes through a lot, for what he gets.” (562)

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“Keep Going” Quotes

I recently read “Keep Going: 10 Ways To Stay Creative In Good Times And Bad” by Austin Kleon. Below are the quotes I found most interesting.

The reason is this: the creative life is not linear. It’s not a straight line from point A to point B. It’s more like a loop, or a spiral, in which you keep coming back to a new starting point after every project. No matter how successful you get, no matter what level of achievement you reach, you will never really “arrive.” Other than death, there is no finish line or retirement for a creative person. “Even after you have achieved greatness,” writes musician Ian Svenonius, “the infinitesimal cadre who even noticed will ask, ‘What next?’” (10)

We have so little control over our lives. The only thing we can really control is what we spend our days on. What we work on and how hard we work on it.” (11)

Lynda Barry says, “The phone gives us a lot but it takes away three key elements of discovery: loneliness, uncertainty, and boredom. Those have always been where creative ideas come from.” (50)

“The only antidote is JOMO: the joy of missing out.” (61)

“Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without the work.” (65)

Play is the work of the child and there is also the work of the artist.” (70)

“Art and the artist both suffer most when the artist gets too heavy, too focused on results.” (70)

“Write a poem and don’t show it to anybody. Tear it up into little pieces and throw them into the trashcan.” (70)

Another trick: when nothing is fun anymore, try to make the worst thing you can. The ugliest drawing. The crummiest poem. The most obnoxious song. Making intentionally bad art is a ton of fun.” (74)

Quincy Jones says, “God walks out of the room when you’re thinking about money.“ (78)

How to stay alive: 1) find something that keeps you spiritually alive 2) turn it into a job that literally keeps you alive 3) oops! Go back to step one” (81)

“Do what you love” + low overhead = a good life.
“Do what you love” + “I deserve nice things” = a time bomb.” (84)

I noticed a long time ago that there’s actually very little correlation between what I love to make and the number of shares, favorites, and retweets it gets. I’ll often post something I loved making that took me forever and crickets chirp. I’ll post something else I think is sort of lame that took me no effort and it will go viral. If I let those metrics run my personal practice, I don’t think my heart could take it very long.” (89)

“Where there is no gift, there is no art.” (93)

There’s nothing as pure as making something specifically for someone special.” (94)

If you’re bummed out and hating your work, pick somebody special in your life and make something for them.” (95)

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