Posted by Dan Hulsman

Dec 16, 2013 3:10:00 PM


I’ll start with a bit of honesty: I’m not a huge fan of quotes.  It is incredibly frustrating to watch myself and others read/listen to an epic quote and then do absolutely nothing.  When I worked at Apple, I saw so many people idolize Steve Jobs and talk about his famous commencement speech… only to turn back to their busy and unfulfilled lives (this isn’t an assumption – they told me so) and do precisely NOTHING to change their situation.  So many amazingly talented, smart, and creative people are frozen in place and 99% of the time these inspirational quotes do nothing to help them break free.  Having said that, I was reminded this past weekend that the right quote at the right time can give you the kick in the pants that you need to get started or keep moving.  For this reason, I’m hopping on the bandwagon and sharing 10 of the best quotes I’ve heard that not only inspire but challenge you to change the way you think.

“Instead of wondering when your vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”

Seth Godin,
Author, speaker, blogger, and founder of

Why I like this quote: It spits in the face of the status quo.  In my opinion, the work culture in the United States is broken and the standard 2-weeks vacation that most full-time employees ‘enjoy’ is a joke.  Every time I hear someone say something like “I just have to survive the week,” or “Is it Friday yet?” or “I’m dreading going to work tomorrow morning,” I think of what a shame it is to live life that way.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Jim Rohn,

Why I like this quote: I’ve had many great friends – best friends, even – move in and out of my life.  Some friends have stepped to the forefront while others have taken a more passive, backseat role in my life.  Regardless of the reason for this organic and never-ending life change, the result is the same.  The people you surround yourself with influence you and vice versa.  Are you dating someone who is bubbly and spontaneous?  I bet that’s rubbed off a bit.  Do you work with/for someone who is endlessly pessimistic and complains all the time?  That’s poisonous, and it could be making you weaker.  Off the top of my head, I know who my 5 people are and how they’ve shaped me as a person over the last few years.  I can even expand to 10 people and point to the effects that each of them have had on me over the past 2-3 years.  The point is this: Because you are the summation of the five people you spend the most time with, choose wisely.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

George Bernard Shaw,
Playwright, critic, political activist

Why I like this quote: Small ideas do not change the world, and reasonable people do little to change themselves, others, or the world around them.  If you think small and dream safely, your life story will reflect this.  Those who stubbornly insist on change are those who cause change.

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”

Henry David Thoreau,
Author, poet, philosopher, among many other things

Why I like this quote: Ever seen Downtown Abbey?  Or any Batman movie?  Something that these rick folks have in common is that they have somebody else doing things for them.  Bruce Wayne does not cook, clean, shop, or take the car in for an oil change.  Alfred does all of these things for him so Bruce can focus on doing what he wants: Being Batman. He does not have to worry about his company or his finances or his landscaping – these things are all taken care of by SOMEONE ELSE.  For me, automation and simplification are a means to achieve this richness and get things off of my plate so I can focus on the important.  The less activities that you have to use your physical and mental energies for, the better.

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and the need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

Herbert Simon,
Recipient of the Nobel Memorial prize in economics

Why I like this quote: This has spawned several similar, shorter quotes, that have influenced me greatly over the past 3 years.  So many things compete for our attention from so many different directions, and it is critical to protect our attention and only make allowances for the things that are worth it.  In summation, your attention is a finite and valuable commodity.  Treat it that way.

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, i know I need to change something.”

Steve Jobs,
Innovator, founder and former CEO of Apple, Inc.

Why I like this quote: His famous commencement speech is filled with little jewels of wisdom, but this is my favorite because it is both visionary and extremely practical.  As sweeping and romantic as the idea may be, it resonates so deeply with me because in order to do what Steve described you have to take full responsibility for your own happiness and well-being (something I see people avoiding far too often).

“Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman,
Author, philosopher, and civil rights leader

Why I like this quote: These two sentences hit me like a punch to the face.  What a fantastic call-to-action:  COME ALIVE.  There are so many people going through the motions, leading unfulfilled lives, or compromising their personal happiness/wellbeing in our culture.  Mindset is infectious, and every bad mood and random act of kindness you encounter has a cause and a rippling effect.  Maybe I’m an optimist, but imagine if every single person in the world agreed to live their life with purpose and ignited their passion.

“What we fear to do most is usually what we most need to do.”

Timothy Ferriss,
Author, entrepreneur, angel investor, and public speaker

Why I like this quote: Tim regularly preaches and practices exploring/exceeding personal limits, personal growth by expanding your sphere of comfort, and staring your fears down as you charge towards them with a sword raised and a battle-cry screaming out of your face.  While he has a lot of great quotes, I chose this one because I believe it encapsulates many of his values in a simple sentence.

“Action is great cure for fear.”

Jason Van Orden,
Entrepreneur, author, speaker

Why I like this quote: Because it’s the damned truth!  Even if it’s a baby step, taking a single step towards your goal or your desired outcome helps reframe the situation, boosts your confidence, and brings the next step within striking distance. How many times have you done something that you were afraid of, only to find it MUCH easier the second time?

“Sleep your way to the top.”

Arianna Huffington,
Journalist, entrepreneur

Why I like this quote: It’s funny, but it has a critical message behind it for the day and age we’re living in.  I heard her keynote speech at HubSpot’s Inbound 2013 conference in August – amazing.  Arianna is a huge advocate of wellness as a major indicator of success, and often speaks about the impact of taking good or poor care for your body and mind.  She preaches that corporations should measure the wellness and happiness of their people as importantly as they measure profitability, and encourages everyone to sleep and rest your mind to be truly effective and creative.  We’ve created a ‘culture of burnout,’ and it’s important to protect yourself from it.

There you have it – 10 great quotes from 10 very successful folks.  Have one to share?  Leave it in the comments below, or share on Facebook & Twitter.

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