Quotes are slippery things and, like any currency, they get passed around. We’ve made every attempt here to give credit where credit is due and to respect the rights of everyone quoted, but for some quoted remarks it hasn’t been possible to identify the original use, or even to confirm the author with certainty.
In an interview with Tasha Robinson, Steven Wright described the widespread mis-attribution of quotes, commenting, “Someone showed me a site, and half of it that said I wrote it, I didn’t write. Recently, I saw one, and I didn’t write any of it.”
Wright also expressed the distress this can cause for an author: “I wish it was just my material, and people could like it or not like it. Just as long as it was really mine.”
Our goal in presenting this information is to honor the contributions and rights of all the authors quoted, so if you have concerns about the accuracy of an attribution or the appropriateness of use, please contact the author, Roger Warburton.
Below, we list in alphabetical order by author, the quotations we used in the book, along with comments on our research into their authorship.
If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.
Mario Andretti (born 1940).
Italian American racecar driver, the only person ever to win the Indy 500, the Daytona 500, and the Formula One World Championship.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century.
The first 90% of the job took the first 90% of the money. The remaining 10% of the job took the other 90% of the money!
Software is like entropy. It is difficult to grasp, weighs nothing, and obeys the second law of thermodynamics; i.e. it always increases.
Norman Ralph Augustine (1935-).
A U.S. aerospace businessman who started as a Research Engineer at the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1958 and rose to become president of Lockheed Martin, retiring as chairman and CEO in 1997. He is popularly known for “Augustine’s Laws,” a series of tongue in cheek aphorisms, the most famous of which is, Law #16: “In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one tactical aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3.5 days each per week, except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day.”
If the rain spoils our picnic, but saves a farmer’s crop, who are we to say it shouldn’t rain?
Thomas Mark Barrett (1953-)
An American politician. He is the 40th, and current, Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, serving since 2004.
There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish.
Warren G. Bennis (born 1925).
American scholar, widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of Leadership. In 2005, James O’Toole claimed that Bennis developed the “then-nonexistent field that he would ultimately make his own—leadership.” He further observed that Bennis “challenged the prevailing wisdom by showing that humanistic, democratic-style leaders are better suited to dealing with the complexity and change that characterize the leadership environment.”
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.
Bernard M. Baruch (1870–1965),
According to Barry Popik’s blog (July 30, 2009 ), “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts” is credited to Baruch, the American financier who said it in 1946. James R. Schlesinger, United States Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975, is credited with saying: “Each of us is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), United States Senator from New York from 1976 to 2000, is also often credited with saying, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.
I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.
It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
Yogi Berra (born Lawrence Peter Berra, 1925).
American baseball player and manager. This comment has the distinction of being attributed to both Yogi Berra and Niels Bohr. A debate on the authorship of the last quotation in the Letters section of The Economist (July 15, 2007) offers some evidence in favor of Bohr, but it sure sounds like something Berra would say. Of course, as Yogi himself noted “I really didn’t say everything I said!”
Sometimes I can’t figure designers out. It’s as if they flunked human anatomy.
Erma Louise Bombeck (1927-1996).
American humorist and newspaper columnist. From 1965 to 1996, Bombeck wrote over 4,000 humorous newspaper columns chronicling the ordinary life of a mid-western suburban housewife. Bombeck also published 15 books, many of which became best-sellers.
I am definitely going to take a course on time management … just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.
Louis E. Boone
The author of several books on contemporary marketing. He was a Professor of Marketing and Transportation at the University of South Alabama from1983-1999.
To live means to finesse the processes to which one is subjugated.
Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956).
German poet, playwright, and theater director.
Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
Warren Buffett (born 1930).
From the 2008 Berkshire Hathaway Letter to Shareholders (p. 5), where Buffett attributed the origin of the idea to Benjamin Graham, author of the classic text, The Intelligent Investor.
You want to study project management? Read more, sleep less!
Mr. John Cable is the Director of the Project Management Program at the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. John is a superb speaker who brings astute and pithy observations to the teaching of project management.
The real problem is not the overhead. What is really stifling is the underfoot.
Little is known of Bill Carlson, other than that he is quoted in Augustine’s Laws, p. 44.
I cannot help it–in spite of myself, infinity torments me.
Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay (1810-1857)
A French dramatist, poet, and novelist.
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944).
French pilot and writer.
Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
Will Durant (1885-1981),
American writer, historian, and philosopher. Commenting on a quote from Aristotle (384 BCE-322 BCE), Greek philosopher, student of Plato, and teacher of Alexander the Great. From Durant, W. (1926) The Story of Philosophy: the Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers. New York: Simon & Schuster, revised edition 1933 (p. 98). In commenting on Aristotle’s philosophy, Durant added this interpretation of his own, which is now widely quoted as coming directly from the Greek philosopher. Durant actually wrote, “[W]e do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions’; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” The internal quote from Aristotle (“these virtues are formed…”) comes from Nicomachean Ethics, ii, 4.
Relativity applies to physics, not ethics.
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955).
German theoretical physicist who derived the most famous equation, ever: E = mc2. From Miller, W. (1955, May 2), “Death of a genius: His fourth dimension, time, overtakes Einstein.” Life, 38(19), p.64.
The cost of living has gone up another dollar a quart.
W. C. Fields (1880-1946).
American comedian, film star, and vaudeville performer.
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
Henry Ford (1863-1947).
The founder of the Ford Motor Company and innovator in mass production. His Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry.
You can’t be agile when you’re knee-deep in mud.
This is attributed to many people, but we first found Fowler, an author, speaker, and enterprise software designer.
Beware of the little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790).
From Franklin’s 1758 essay, The Way to Wealth.
We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790).
Comment made in the Continental Congress just before signing the Declaration of Independence, 1776.
Lost time is never found again.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790).
From Franklin’s 1758 essay, “The Way to Wealth.”
If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790).
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A major scientist for his theories on electricity, he invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, and a carriage odometer. He formed the first public lending library in America and earned the title of “The First American” for his early campaigning for colonial unity. Always proud of his working-class roots, he became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, played a major role in establishing the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected the first president of the American Philosophical Society. Later in life, he freed his slaves and became a prominent abolitionist.
A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body—the wishbone.
Robert Frost (1874-1963).
Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, teacher and lecturer.
A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)
Known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. Employing non-violent civil disobedience, he inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.
As leader of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi campaigned to ease poverty, expand women’s rights, build religious and ethnic amity, and end untouchability. Gandhi protested the salt tax by marching 250 miles, the Dandi Salt March, in 1930 for which he was imprisoned. He was assassinated on 30 January 1948. January 30 is observed as Martyrs’ Day in India and his birthday,
October 2, is commemorated worldwide as the International Day of Non-Violence.
We’ve been running a little behind schedule. But only by about 15 years or so.
Matthew Abram Groening (1954-)
An American cartoonist, screenwriter, animator, comedian and voice actor. He is the co-creator of The Simpsons and Futurama. Groening has won 12 Primetime Emmy Awards, 10 for The Simpsons and 2 for Futurama, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
There’s no crying in baseball!
Tom Hanks. From Marshall, P. (Director); Wilson, K., Candaele, K., Ganz, L., &Mandel, B. (Writers). (1992). A League of Their Own. USA: Columbia Pictures.
The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof sh**t-detector.
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961).
American novelist and author. From an interview with Hemingway in The Paris Review (18), Spring 1958.
The universe never did make sense; I suspect it was built on government contract.
Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988).
American author and winner of the first Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America From Heinlein, R. (1980). The Number of the Beast. New York: Fawcett Publications (p. 6).
Data is what distinguishes the dilettante from the artist.
George V. Higgins (1939-1999)
An American author, lawyer, newspaper columnist, and college professor who is known for his bestselling crime novels. He wrote for the Associated Press, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald American, and the Wall Street Journal. Later in life, he practiced of law, represented several famous figures, such as Eldridge Cleaver and G. Gordon Liddy. He was a professor at Boston College and Boston University.
He who has begun has half done. Dare to be wise. Begin!
Horace (65 BCE-8 BCE).
Roman lyric poet, satirist, and critic. In Latin, “Dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude, incipe.” Horace. (20 BCE). Epistles 1.2.40 (Letter to Lollius).
Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.
William James (1842-1910).
American psychologist and philosopher.
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.
Michael Jordan (born 1963).
American NBA Basketball Player. From Jordan, M., Vancil, M. &Miller, S. (1994). I can’t accept not trying: Michael Jordan on the pursuit of excellence. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco (p. 24).
Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
Steve Jobs (1955-2011).
American businessman, designer and inventor. Co-founder of Apple.
The human mind is our fundamental resource.
Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.
John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy (1917-1963).
The 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. After military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boats PT-109 and PT-59 during World War II in the South Pacific, Kennedy represented Massachusetts’s 11th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953 as a Democrat. Thereafter, he served in the U.S. Senate from 1953 until 1960. Kennedy defeated then Vice President Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election. Kennedy is the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize.
The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).
American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement. From America’s Gandhi: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Man of the Year cover story, unsigned.) (1964, Jan 3). Time, 83(1). Boston University’s most famous alumnus.
Life isn’t a matter of milestones but of moments.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890-1995).
American philanthropist and matriarch of the Kennedy family.
Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855).
Danish philosopher and author.
Kirk: You’re not exactly catching us at our best.
Spock: That much is certain.
Captain Kirk and Mister Spock are the captain and science officer respectively of the starship Enterprise in the Star Trek series of television shows and movies (though Spock holds other titles as the series matures). From Nimoy, L. (Director). Meerson, S., Krikes, P., Bennett, H., & Meyer, N. (Screenplay writers). (1986). Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. USA: Paramount Pictures.
Risk! Risk is our business!
Captain Kirk. From Roddenberry, G. & Kingsley, J. (1968, Feb 3). Star Trek: Return to Tomorrow (Television program). Los Angeles: Paramount Television.
Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important, and nearly impossible.
Edwin Herbert Land (1909-1991).
American scientist who invented inexpensive filters for polarizing light and the Polaroid instant camera, which first went on sale in 1948.
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
John Lennon (1940-1980).
British musician, artist and writer. From Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), Double Fantasy (1980).
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
16th president of the United States. Though the original source of this quote has not been found, Lincoln’s expertise in building rail fences with raw timber was well known and frequently referenced in his political life. In 1860 he ran for president as “The Rail Candidate,” playing on his frontier background, and later in his presidency was frequently referred to as “The Rail Splitter,” so presumably he knew something about chopping down trees.
If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?
Vincent Thomas “Vince” Lombardi (1913-1970)
Is best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960’s. He led the team to three straight league championships and five in seven years. Under Lombardi the Packers won the first two Super Bowls and the Super Bowl trophy is named in his honor. He was enshrined in the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
I like prefaces. I read them. Sometimes I do not read any further.
Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957)
British poet and novelist. Original publication unknown, but the line is referenced by Lowry in a 1947 letter to Jonathan Cape. Lowry paraphrases this quote himself in a letter to his editor, pleading for more time to write a preface. He writes, “I like prefaces. I read them. Especially if they come at the end of the book.”
I wish to be cremated. One tenth of my ashes shall be given to my agent, as written in our contract.
Groucho Marx (Julius Henry Marx, 1890-1977).
American comedian and film and television star.
Thoroughly read all your contracts. I really mean thoroughly.
Bret Michaels (born Bret Michael Sychak, 1963).
American musician and television personality.
Never hire anyone you wouldn’t want to run into in the hallway at three in the morning.
Canadian-American television producer. Quoted by Tina Fey in Bossypants.
The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready. It goes on at 11:30.
Lorne Michaels (b. 1944)
Canadian-American television producer, writer, and comedian. Quoted by Tina Fey (born 1970), American comedian, writer, actress, and television producer. From the section headed “Things I Learned from Lorne Michaels” in Fey, T. (2012). Bossypants (paperback edition). New York: Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books (p. 23).
The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965).
American broadcast journalist and producer. On receiving “Family Of Man” Award (1964).
When one has finished building one’s house, one suddenly realizes that in the process one has learned something that one really needed to know in the worst way—before one began!
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).
It’s a funny kind of month, October. For the really keen cricket fan it’s when you discover that your wife left you in May.
Denis Norden (born 1922).
British comedy writer and television presenter. Like the baseball season, the cricket season also runs April through September.
The more education a woman has, the wider the gap between men’s and women’s earnings for the same work.
Sandra Day O’Connor (born 1930).
The first woman to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court. She served as an Associate Justice from 1981 until her retirement from the Court in 2006.
A small fraction of participants produce a large fraction of the accomplishments.
A small fraction of participants also produce a large fraction of the problems.
Business-management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first discussed the phenomenon in his 1897 Course of Political Economics. Supposedly, Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. However, the Encyclopedia of Human Thermodynamics claims that the 80-20 rule has since been applied baselessly to a number of non-wealth scenarios, e.g. 20% of one’s effort produces 80% of the results, among others.
A dollar per horse per mile.
A carpenter who works in Rhode Island. On his lunch break he once regaled the crew about how he used to haul horses for a living. Always on the lookout for unusual cost estimation metrics, RW asked him how he bid the cost of hauling a horse from Kentucky to Boston.
I’m not for integration and I’m not against it.
American comedian and actor. From a 1977 interview with New York Times writer Guy Flatley, accessed 6/1/2012 at http://www.moviecrazed.com/outpast /pryor.html. The full quote is “I’m not for integration and I’m not against it. What I am for is justice for everyone, just like it says in the Constitution.”
As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven.
Knute Rockne (1888-1931).
American football player and coach who played and coached exclusively for the University of Notre Dame.
The only way to enjoy anything in this life is to earn it first.
Ginger Rogers (1911-1995).
American stage and film actor and dancer, noted primarily as the partner of Fred Astaire in motion-picture musicals. In a 1982 comic strip, award winning cartoonist Bob Thaves wrote about Fred Astaire: “Sure he was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards … and in high heels.”
Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
Will Rogers (1879-1935).
American humorist of the vaudeville stage and of silent and sound films.
By looking at the questions the kids are asking, we learn the scope of what needs to be done.
Buffy Sainte-Marie (born 1941).
Canadian musician and activist. From Silber, S. (1998, June 1). Sharing the fire online. Wired, accessed 6/1/2012 at http://www.wired.com/culture/ lifestyle/ news/1998/ 06/ 12630.
What’s here? The portrait of a blinking idiot. Presenting me a schedule!
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), The Merchant Of Venice.
Prince Arragon gets what he deserves.
Oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises; and oft it hits, where hope is coldest; and despair most sits.
Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well. William Shakespeare (1564-1616). English poet and playwright. The “Bard of Avon” is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).
British literary critic, playwright and essayist.
If you guys were women, you’d all be pregnant. You just can’t say no.
Patricia Nell Scott Schroeder (1940-)
The first woman elected from Colorado to the United States House of Representatives, and served from 1973-1997. Born in Portland, Oregon, she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in history and in 1964 earned a law degree from Harvard Law School. At age 31, Schroeder was the second-youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She became the first woman to serve on the House Armed Services Committee and her frustration with escalating Pentagon arms spending led to the above comment. For a fascinating.
Large increases in cost with questionable increase in performance can be tolerated only for racehorses and fancy women.
William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907).
British mathematical physicist. Unsourced, though widely quoted. Still, this seems a strange remark for a life-long bachelor and scholar who was devoted to his research and teaching at the University of Glasgow. Far from being born into aristocratic circles, Kelvin was raised to the peerage only when he was 68 years old.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
Mark Twain (born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910).
American author and humorist. From Twain, M. (1894). Pudd’nhead Wilson. Hartford, CT: American Publishing Company (p. 246).
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
Mark Twain (born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910).
American author and humorist. This quotation is widely attributed to both Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln, among others. Whoever said it was probably paraphrasing Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.
The origin of this comment has not been found. Several online sites attribute the first sentence to Agatha Christie but more cite Mark Twain; the quote as a whole is always attributed to Twain. In rebuttal, a number of sites devoted to Twain specifically identify this as a mis-attribution. Since the second sentence sounds surprisingly un-skeptical for Twain, we are going with “Unknown.”
We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.
The comment is attributed a number of people. However, all online sites that have investigated this in detail conclude that the source is unknown.
You’re not using that project management stuff on me are you?
Eileen Warburton, writer of the biography of John Fowles, and independent scholar.
Once our customers start using earned value, we will no longer be able to fudge the cost.
Roger Warburton (1948-)
In a lecture to the Project Management Institute’s Massachusetts Bay Chapter Entitled Miss the Memo? How TCPI makes customers tougher and smarter, February 18, 2010.
Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.
Wendy Wasserstein (1950-2006).
Brooklyn born, American playwright was the Andrew Dickson White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. She received the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1989 for her play The Heidi Chronicles. Also authored the books: Shiksa goddess, Sloth, and Bachelor Girls.
Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. Space is what prevents everything from happening to me.
John Wheeler (1911-2008).
American theoretical physicist who coined the term “black hole.” The first sentence is often attributed to Einstein, Pauli, and others. The second sentence, however, is pure Wheeler, so Wheeler gets the credit.
Simple solutions seldom are. It takes a very unusual mind to undertake analysis of the obvious.
Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS (1861-1947)
An English mathematician and philosopher who is best known as the defining figure of the philosophical school known as process philosophy. His most famous work is the three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910-13), which he co-wrote with former student Bertrand Russell. Principia Mathematica is considered one of the twentieth century’s most important works in mathematical logic.
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s.
Managing is essentially a loser’s job, and managers are about the most expendable pieces of furniture on the earth.
Ted Williams (1918-2002).
The Splendid Splinter, American baseball player and manager. From Williams, T. & Underwood, J. (1969, revised edition 1988). My turn at bat: The story of my life. New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 241-242. Williams actually made this statement in a description of his years as the manager of the Washington Senators. But it seems likely he was still thinking of newly appointed Red Sox manager Lou Boudreau’s 1950 remark that all players, including Williams, were expendable (ibid, p.172).
Change is inevitable …. except from vending machines.
I think it’s wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly.
The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.
Stephen Wright (born 1955).
American comedian, actor, writer, and famous Red Sox fan.
The Agile Manifesto: A license for avoiding documentation, and not having a plan.
A software commentator with a sense of humor. A rarity.