More Quotes on “Do the Right Thing”

As you may recall, I consider “Do the Right Thing” to be the first of the three keys for a Winning Business. Do the Right Thing is defined as:

  1. Ethics, Integrity and Character
  2. Do the Right Thing to Ensure the Success of the Business
  3. Focus and Prioritize to Effectively Get the Right Thing Done

I have already published a blog: Quotes on “Do the Right Thing.” In this blog post, I have collected together additional quotes about Doing the Right Thing.

Ethics, Integrity and Character

  1. “What you do speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. JP Morgan was being testified in Congress by Samuel Untermeyer, a relentless corporate lawyer. Untermeyer asked Morgan if the main criterion for lending was the money or property of the borrower. “No, sir,” Morgan said. “The first thing is character.” “Before money or property?” Untermeyer asked. “Before money or property or anything else,” Morgan said. “A man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom.”
  3. “The lesson I learned from this is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time. If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates have done, you’ll regret where you end up. You’ve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.” Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor
  4. “The interesting thing with ethics is that it really starts getting complex when you get into the issues. You can say you have certain values and believe in certain things, but when you’re up against a very difficult situation, which you often are as a leader, it’s only then that those values and belief systems really start to play out.” Carl Bjorkman
  5. “Character in the long run is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.” Theodore Roosevelt
  6. “As a leader, the key to developing trust and showing your integrity is to make and keep promises.” David Shedd


Do the Right Thing to Ensure the Success of the Business

  1. “All organizations are perfectly aligned to get the results they get.” Arthur W. Jones
  2. “Private Equity firms add value by overcoming management strategic inertia and helping to make needed changes in leadership in order to improve operations and better serve the customer.” Arthur Laffer
  3. “The fall from greatness, though, was from lost discipline driven by a failure of leadership to listen, to continuously renew, to act sooner, and to keep the strategy fresh and great along the way. Like the popular buy and hold investment strategy, some of the companies seemed happy with average performance and overly reluctant to fix what wasn’t (clearly) broken.” Arthur Laffer
  4. “First and foremost what used to consistently keep me bothered nights and days alike is how to keep the work force motivated to stick to the objective of continuous improvement, to always remain constructively dissatisfied with the end result. In my view, this is what keeps a company competitive into the future. It is a culture characteristic that has to be instilled and sustained without the constant need to micromanage business results from the COO and/or the executive staff.” B Mitchell White
  5. “Return calls and E-Mails in a timely way. That would put you 99.9% ahead of your competitors. People are shocked, people are in awe. Than can’t believe it. And we can’t believe that people can’t believe it because we think everybody should do it.” Dan Gilbert, Founder, Quicken Loans
  6. “Always be alert to a better way of doing everything, never stop innovating.” Dan Gilbert
  7. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Winston Churchill
  8. “We’re taught in finance and economics that in evaluating alternative investments, we should ignore sunk and fixed costs, and instead base decisions on the marginal costs and marginal revenues that each alternative entails. We learn in our course that this doctrine biases companies to leverage what they have put in place to succeed in the past, instead of guiding them to create the capabilities they’ll need in the future. If we knew the future would be exactly the same as the past, then that approach would be fine. But if the future’s different—and it almost always is—then it’s the wrong thing to do.” Clayton Christensen
  9. “If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification.” Clayton Christensen
  10. “You have to do what is right for the organization and what is right for the individuals. You have to find a way to get the right people in the right roles at the right time. You have to do it early and decisively.” George Bradt
  11. “The reality is that replacing the non-performers with high performers is in the best interest of everyone – even the non-performers.” Gary Henson
  12. “The number one thing high performers want is for management to act on low performers so that the whole group can do better. Choosing to act on people who are in the wrong roles now or will soon be in the wrong roles is generally not the most enjoyable part of leadership. But it is in an essential part.” George Bradt
  13. “I would always tell my managers that when you fire someone for non-performance you should be able to sleep well the night before, secure in the knowledge that you had done everything possible to communicate and work out the performance issues. It should be clear that the non-performer had, in fact, really fired himself.” David Shedd
  14. “Before you fire someone who is not performing what did you do as a leader to help them get an A?” Ken Blanchard


Focus and Prioritize to Effectively Get the Right Thing Done

  1. “The prospect of being hanged focuses the mind wonderfully.” Samuel Johnson
  2. “The more focused you are, the easier everything becomes.” Marc LeBlanc
  3. “The most important thing in life is to decide what is most important.” Ken Blanchard
  4. “W.I.N. — What’s Important Now?” Lou Holtz
  5. “What is my Commander’s Intent? (Chip and Dan Heath)
    1. If we do nothing else during tomorrow’s mission, we must accomplish…
    2. The single, most important thing that we must do tomorrow is…”
  6. “People are naturally wired to focus on only one thing at a time (or at best very few) with excellence.” Stephen Covey
  7. “The key is not efficiency; it is effectiveness, which is doing the things that get you closer to your goals.” Tim Ferriss, Author of The 4-Hour Workweek
  8. “What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it. Doing something unimportant well does not make it important. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.” Tim Ferriss
  9. “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Bill Gates
  10. “80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs.” Pareto’s Law
  11. “There is a maxim; 80% strategy with 100% execution will win over 100% strategy with 80% execution.” Eugene Lee
  12. “‘Not-to-do’ lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance. The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.” Tim Ferriss
  13. “Developing and executing an effective business strategy is all about choosing what not to do among the myriad of opportunities available.” Michael Porter
  14. “The hardest thing in business is to decide what not to do. It is the nature of successful business people and entrepreneurs to want to do everything and believe that with just 5% more time and/or effort that they can get this additional task done as well. The reality is that we run into limitations of time, attention span, and energy. As a result, we may get the tyrannically urgent tasks done, but neglect the supremely important (if not urgent) tasks.” David Shedd
  15. “Learn to make nonfatal or reversible decision as quickly as possible. Fast decisions preserve usable attention for what matters.” Tim Ferriss
  16. “Oftentimes, in order to do the big things, you have to let the small bad things happen.” Tim Ferriss
  17. “Time is the only thing that, once lost, can never be recovered.”
  18. “It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.” William of Occam (1300 – 1350), originator of Occam’s Razor
  19. “Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. It is the magic of the imminent deadline. If I give you 24 hours to complete a project, the time pressure forces you to focus on execution, and you have no choice but to do only the bare essentials.” Tim Ferriss
  20. “Time is wasted because there is so much time available. Am I being productive or just active? Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important? Lack of time is actually just a lack of priorities.” Tim Ferriss
  21. “Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.” Robert J. Sawyer, Calculating God

About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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2 Responses to More Quotes on “Do the Right Thing”

  1. Paul Ripley says:

    David – great post. I can see you are not only a quotation collector of sorts but you’ve personally added some great thoughts of your own. I’ve been collecting quotes for years and now have 29 pages of various quotes. One of my favorites on principles is Groucho Marx:

    The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. There’s one way to find out if a man is honest – ask him. If he says, “Yes,” you know he is a crook.
    Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

    I hope you don’t mind but I copied these to my master list. Great job! Let me know if you would like my master quote list. Some great stuff from all over and in many categories.


  2. Pingback: 2010 in review | David Shedd's Blog

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