Thursday, 25 October 2012

What's the best source for Famous Quotes?

"I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself." Marlene Dietrich

I love quotes and the reason I do is perfectly summed up by Marlene Dietrich above. 

Searching for Quotes

I spend a lot of time hunting around for quotes to help express something I’m trying to write about so I’m relatively familiar with what the web has to offer in this regard and I like to think I know some of the best resources out there; so I thought I'd write this post for anyone else who likes to use quotes for their blogpost or article.

My favourite website for quotations is probably not one you’d immediately think of - and it didn’t occur to me when I first stumbled upon it. You see a year or so ago I joined the Goodreads website (if you decide to join please do hook-up with me), which is best known as a great resource for book reviews and networking with other book readers. What you may not know is Goodreads is one of the best portals on the web for finding quotes by famous people and it’s compiled by the users of the Goodreads site – anyone can add a quote and there are thousands of them.


Finding the Perfect Quote

What makes it so easy to use is the way all the quotes are tagged by author and subject matter and accessible via a search engine; it’s a handy tool for anyone who writes content that they share with others: bloggers, journalists and authors who need quick access to a repository of suitable quotes for their work. To show you how easy it is to navigate here are a few images:

The Quotations landing page at Goodreads.

Some of the many tags for quotes

You don’t have to be a member to access any of the content of the website but if you subscribe (which is free) you get access to a bunch of nice features such as their Quote of the Day which gets emailed to your inbox.


Some of my Favourite Quotes

I couldn’t write a blog-post about quotations without including some of my own favourite ones now could I?! So here goes:

"Don't wish it was easier, wish you were better." ~ Jim Rohn

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." ~ Oscar Wilde

"I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right." ~ Albert Einstein

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." ~ Margaret Thatcher

"I see men, sixty, seventy years old breaking their balls to stay fit! What for? When I die, I want to be sick, not healthy." ~ Daryl van Horne (Jack Nicholson) in The Witches of Eastwick

"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." ~ Albert Einstein

"When you know what you want, and you want it bad enough, you'll find a way to get it." ~ Jim Rohn

"It never hurts for potential opponents to think you’re more than a little stupid and can hardly count all the money in your hip pocket, much less hold on to it." ~ Amarillo Slim

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right." ~ Henry Ford

"Belief is the death of intelligence." ~ Robert Anton Wilson

"Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose." ~ Ayrton Senna

"Change your thoughts and you change your world." ~ Norman Vincent Peale

"I spent all my money on women, drink and fast cars and wasted the rest." ~ George Best

"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea life is serious." ~ Brendan Gill

"Success without honour is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good." ~ Joe Paterno

I hope you liked some of those. What are your favourite quotations? Do you have any favourite websites for finding new quotes? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

My 60 Second Interview

I was recently impressed with a new development on one of my favourite professional networking sites. They'd added a section entitled 60 Second Interview, with set questions which you've to answer as instictively and quickly as possible; (I'm a slow typer so it took me a bit longer than 60 seconds but my answers were the ones that came to mind straight away).

Before I get into why I think this is an interesting thing, here are my answers:

What was your first job? 

I worked as a Sales Assistant in a chemist called Belsize Pharmacy in Belsize Park, North West London, it's gone now and the last time I looked it was a branch of Boots.

Who's influenced your career most (and why)? 

I won't name names but anyone who knows me relatively well won't have a hard time figuring out who the individual is. The answer is one particular CEO who's grown a small firm into a medium sized global business through his single-mindedness, raw energy and focus. He might not be the easiest person to work for at times but he gets great performances out of people purely because he demands them and they in turn rise to the challenge. He's solely responsible for creating a culture of hard-work and uncompromising results which everyone subscribes to in his company.

What's the best piece of advice you could give someone? 

Be accountable. Try and foster the attitude that 'the buck stops here' regardless of whether you like 'the buck' or not. There's no point blaming other people or thinking you can't do something; really embrace that in your life, even when it seems like a tough thing to do and you'll give yourself the best chance at getting what you want out of life.

And surround yourself with positive people, work hard, have fun, finish what you start, take care of your health.

What's the skill you'd most like to have? 

I'd love to be a great, natural orator like Bill Clinton who can ad-lib his way through his speeches with apparent ease!

What's on your desk? 

My laptop, a phone... and I think that's it, not very interesting I'm afraid.

What's your favourite holiday destination? 

I love England for our history, but for beaches and turquoise sea, the Bahamas any day!

What car do you drive? 

Right now I have a Mini Cooper SD, in Alpine White (which is more ivory than white), with black roof, door mirrors and the classic stripes on the bonnet. She's (I call all my cars 'she') got great acceleration and the fuel consumption isn't too bad (but I still pine for a Lotus Esprit Sport 350 in white).

What are you passionate about? 

This could be a long list but it's probably summed up best as: live the best life that you can, make the most of yourself and your opportunities, work hard, have fun, value other people, spend your money, buy nice things, earn more money, be in control of your life.

Who's your business or personal hero/heroine? 

In terms of business, probably Jim Rohn though there are others; I believe Covey had a lot of good things to say, Will Smith for his positive outlook and work ethic.

What would be your perfect day away form work? 

Well I'd have my Lotus Esprit Sport 350 parked outside, it'd be a sunny day, perfect driving weather! Off to the countryside with a close friend, the speed cameras have taken the day off, long walk, pub lunch, scintillating conversation, a few drinks and in the evening a meal in a nice restaurant with friends to round it all off.

What's your greatest business achievement? 

Together with three others I founded a City sales team in one of my old companies where we were entering a difficult market with no track-record, no clients and strong competition. Within a year, through lots of hard work, judicious networking and leveraging everything humanly possible we'd built a £20m business, displaced numerous incumbents and won some of the most prestigious clients in the City.

What's your greatest personal achievement? 

Fun wise I reckon it has to be winning fastest lap time at a track day at Brands Hatch up against an all male contingent, haha :-) A more serious answer would be I think I've done pretty well despite having not had much of an education - but for all that, it's only really about what comes next, I'm more interested in what I'm going to do tomorrow and the day after that.

What's your favourite gadget? 

I'm not a gadget person and have never owned an 'I' anything... I may break this trend with the new IPhone V however. :-)

What's your favourite quote or motto? 

"Don't wish it was easier. Wish you were better." Jim Rohn

What's the best/worst quality in a leader? 

Well for me personally I need to work for someone who's competent, has a work ethic that I admire and good man-managment skills that inspire me to do my best work.

What would you choose as your last meal? 

I know this is a favourite question but food wouldn't really be on my mind at that moment!

What was the worst piece of advice you've been given? 

"Be sensible, you can do that another time."

The circumstances were that it was a risky but potentially very profitable thing I was contemplating doing. I didn't take the advice and it did pay off but even if it hadn't I wouldn't regret the decision I made.

What was your best meeting ever (and why)? 

Prior to an important meeting regarding a key piece of business with a key influencer, I'd predicted that despite my company being able to deliver real business value to the end-client, this person would actively try to make my company lose as relations were strained between our organisations at that time. Plus he had the authority and power to do just that. However my hunch was that he wouldn't want to be seen as overt about this so this meeting was all about neutralising that threat, which my CEO and I did. The 'how' part doesn't matter but a while later, after relations had been restored and the end customer was happy, the person in question volunteered to me that he had considered blocking our bid.

What's your favourite pastime/relaxation activity? 

Being with close friends, the activity is secondary.

What's your favourite music/musician?

Michael Jackson :-)

What's your all time favourite book (and why)? 

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, one of the few books I'm happy to read again and again. It's beautifully written, well drawn characters, evocative images, trials and tribulations, history - it's got it all.

What's the thing you hate the most? 

That's easy; losing.

What did you want to be as a child? 

A make-up artist or a vet!

What can't you live without? 

My lap-top!

Name one person you'd like to have dinner with (and why)? 

Bill Clinton - to see what's behind all that natural charisma and eloquence!

Tell us about a turning point in your career 

I suppose the moment I realised I wanted to be a sales-person for a living; for me that happened when I was young and in my first job - not exactly a turning point in my career as you can hardly call working in a chemist a career, but it was a pivotal moment nonetheless.

What was your worst job? 

I stacked shelves in a supermarket as a part time job when I was at school; and the worst part of that job was putting the milk on the shelves as some of the cartons always leaked a bit. It was always a very smelly, messy job that everyone disliked doing.

What's in your briefcase/handbag? 

I'm a girl and I like to be prepared, so suffice to say that my handbag is a mysterious place that no man and only another female would understand. :-)

What's the best thing about your job? 

Being able to believe in what I sell. I like working for a company that delivers on its' promises and has something a little bit different than everyone else out there. I work in a competitive market, over saturated with not much to tell between all the different firms so it's good to know you can differentiate yourselves from your competitors.

If you weren't in your current role, what would you be doing? 

It wouldn't be much different to what I'm doing; I'm a career B2B sales professional now and that's all I want to do; who I do it for is the only thing that would change.

What was your worst mistake (and what did you learn)? 

Not studying hard enough at school. I have plenty of reasons why I didn't, attending seven secondary schools was one but I would've loved to go to University.

What's the question you'd most like to have been asked (and why)? 

What are you most afraid of? The 'why' part is that I think it's potentially quite revealing and I'd like to know other people's answers.

My answer would be 'fear itself', only because I've learned time and time again that your mind has an unlimited capacity for negative imaginings which when put to the test are seldom borne out in reality.

My Thoughts

That was the interview and it was courtesy of the website which pitches itself as the "portal to bring your entire professional internet presence together in one place" (you can check mine out here). What I think professional networking sites and the like sometimes lack is a personal touch, and this interview invites a response which seeks opinion, fears, potential prejudices, pride - you name it; in short the emotional content, character and personality so often lacking in other professional portals. I think they've done a great job and hope you check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Fish Rots from the Head Down

This is another excellent post courtesy of S. Anthony Iannarino which you can read on Anthony's blog - which is well worth a visit.

A Fish Rots from the Head Down

I was fortunate enough to attend Harvard Business School for my executive education. The class that I was part of was made up of entrepreneurs from around the world. An Indian gentleman repeatedly made this statement “A fish rots from the head down.” I had never heard the saying, and I honestly had no idea what he meant. He said it so often that I cringed when I heard the words come out of his mouth. It was his answer for literally everything.

Now I know exactly what he meant and why he used the statement as frequently as he did. The statement “a fish rots from the head down” means that leadership is the root cause of an organizations failure and demise. This is true whether that organization is a country, a company, or a sales force. How could it be otherwise?

You Are Responsible for What’s Broken

If the culture is broken, only leadership can fix it. If leadership doesn’t establish and protect a healthy culture, some unhealthy culture will fill that vacuum. If the leadership culture itself is unhealthy, there begins the rot, and soon the fish is lost. If a pocket of negativity and cynicism exists, it’s because leadership hasn’t cut it out of the organization—especially when the pocket of negativity comes from the leadership ranks.

If the strategy or direction is broken, only leadership has the power to decide and to change it. The decision as to who the company is and how it will compete and win belongs to leadership. If the vision is wrong, it is leadership’s vision. Leadership chooses where and how to compete. If that’s wrong, leadership has to do something to change it.

If the organization doesn’t execute, leadership that is responsible for that failure. Only leadership can demand and ensure that the organization does the work, that it keeps its promises. Leadership sets and keeps the standards.

If a company is failing because they have the wrong people in place, it’s leadership that allows the wrong people stay. It’s leadership that can demand that the right people be hired and retained, and that those who damage the company’s results quickly find their way out of the organization.

This list is endless. It is why leadership is critical at all levels of an organization.

To keep the fish from rotting, the head has to be smart enough to look at what is doing—or not doing—and make the necessary changes there first. Regardless of what the changes may be, and regardless of the pain that accompanies those changes. Only leadership has the power to make those changes, even if they need the support of their entire team to execute them.

It’s the only way to keep the fish from rotting.


I hope you enjoyed this article and I'd be delighted if you'd leave a comment. If you're a business networker and would like to connect on one business networking sites outside of LinkedIn, I'm interested in invitations to connect on


Monday, 16 January 2012

Martin Luther King via Seth's Blog: Straight up

It's Martin Luther King day today and this morning I read some inspiring quotes on Seth Godin's Blog: Straight up.

"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

And a few more thoughts, from one of the greatest men of my lifetime:

“On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”

. . .

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

. . .

“The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.”

Courtesy of Seth Godin.

Here are some other Martin Luther King Quotes:

1. “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

2. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

3. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

4. “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

5. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

6. “The time is always right to do the right thing.”

7. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

8. “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

9. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

10. “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

11. “No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”

12. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”


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