Looking Back to Move Forward: Inspiration from the First Half of 2016

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  • July 18, 2016


As part of my mid-year reflections, I reviewed my favorite quotes from the first half of 2016. Below are 16 quotes and a poem, as well as some reflection on their meaning to me. I hope these serve as a catalyst for you, as they have and continue to do for me.


“Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.” -Mike Rowe

I heard Mike Rowe, host of the television show Dirty Jobs, say this on a podcast with Tim Ferriss, as he discussed some lessons he learned from entrepreneurs who had really “dirty” jobs. This quote really resonated with me! It is a bit counter to all the advice traditionally given at graduation speeches, where we are told to “follow our passion.” I find it easier to just bring your passion to whatever you do and then everything is a bit more rewarding. Another way to think about this is to “fake it till you make it.”


“Start with yes.”

I am not sure where I read this, but I started to just hear this mantra in my head. It is so easy to say no and shut ideas down before they even see the light of day, which is how I operated for many years. But one day, I decided to start with yes and worry about saying no or stop doing something later. This has opened up a world of possibilities and is very uplifting.


“If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

I probably read this back in business school, but it hit home this year. I am generally very analytical, but I think I was just making too many assumptions around everything at Learning House, from the motivation of our culture to the speed at which we contact a lead for our clients. I just assumed all of these things were “good.” After digging in, I learned that I was not entirely right, but now that we are measuring these variables, we can maximize them. I recently watched a documentary about a Louisville cyclist who won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics as part of the women’s team pursuit (indoor cycling race). Her team members worked with data scientists to measure their sleep, nutrition, training plans, oxygen levels and vitamin deficiencies, just to name some of the variables. This data led them to make dramatic changes, and the team was able to close an almost impossible gap in the months leading up to the race to win the silver medal.


“Life is self-serve.” -Ryan Holmes

This year, Lewis Howes had Ryan Holmes, the founder and CEO of Hootsuite, on his podcast. Holmes made the statement several times that “life is self-serve.” I really appreciated this, not just because I enjoy some self-serve ice cream or a buffet on occasion, but because it really is empowering and challenges the entitlement mentality. Whatever it is you want, you have to go get it and should not expect or rely on others to give it to you.


“You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end.” -Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger is Warren Buffett’s long-term partner and is equally as wise in his outlook on life and investing as Buffett. I particularly love this quote because I find that too often in business, we don’t think enough about what is truly best for the consumer. Munger lays out a great litmus test and encourages a level of empathy not often practiced in business.


“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller

Teams that have the right people on the bus, in the right seats, dedicated to accomplishing a clear mission are incredibly powerful and way more productive than a bunch of individuals doing what they think is best. It can be difficult for the individuals on these kinds of teams, because sometimes they have to do what is right for the team, not themselves, but if everyone takes this same approach, everyone wins.


“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” -John Lydgate

This quote is very popular, but rings true for those like me who struggle sometimes trying to please everyone.  This came out for me when we were developing the Learning House Way. While we got buy-in and feedback from the entire team, ultimately, we included (or didn’t include) some content based on what I felt was most important for our culture, and trusted that the document would resonate.


“You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.” -Harry S. Truman

Let this one sink in for some time. I am as guilty as anyone wanting to get credit for my ideas and accomplishments. Just today, some person cut in line right in front of me in a long line to get off the exit. I allowed this to happen, and when the person did not give me the “thanks” I thought I deserved, my reaction was … well, let’s say, not positive. Not a perfect analogy, but when we get so caught up in credit, we lose a larger opportunity to pursue the best ideas.


“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more. -H. Jackson Brown Jr.

I just finished re-reading the book Give and Take by Adam Grant. There is a “secret” to business, team building and perhaps relationships in general: Give a lot more than you take. I talk more about this when I speak about abundance below.


“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” -Confucius

I refer often to my experience training and racing for the Ironman. I’ll never forget the marathon portion of my Ironman race. At around mile 2 of the 26-mile marathon, I felt like I had nothing left in the tank, legs that were totally shot and an IT Band that was locked up. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and brought the pace down to a somewhat tolerable level. I just kept repeating this quote to myself. Stopping was not an option. Four hours or so later, I crossed the finish line.


“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” -Paulo Coehlo

Many of us at Learning House have now read the timeless book, The Alchemist. This principle, outlined in the book, has been gaining a lot of traction in modern consciousness circles, especially thanks to the book The Secret and its reference to the timeless principle of the law of attraction. I still struggle with this one, but the belief that this is possible is incredibly uplifting.


“When you get tired of hearing yourself and you think that everyone is starting to get annoyed, you’re about half done.” -Michael Hyatt

As we have introduced instant messaging system Slack and focused on increased communication internally, it is evident that team members are not clear on aspects of the business that I thought everyone was clear on. I am working to try to “over” communicate both at work and at home.


“There is always more where that came from.” -Michael Hyatt

I’m not sure if Michael Hyatt was the first to say this, but I heard it on his podcast. I think it is easy to take a scarcity mindset. My grandparents grew up and lived through the Great Depression in the 1930s, which left an indelible mark on a generation. While I know this could happen again, when you take a step back and think about all the abundance there is in this world, it is incredible, overwhelming and surreal.

Defer Gratification

“I run on the road, long before I dance under the lights. I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life like a champion.'” -Muhammad Ali

I wrote about my favorite eight Ali quotes in a post after Ali died this spring. While all the quotes are great, this one really resonates because I think all champions understand the idea that if they want to achieve greatness, they are going to have put in tons of work, endless work, to get there.


“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before.” -Elizabeth Edwards

I have worked really hard to be resilient, but it does not come easily or naturally. I particularly love this quote, especially given who it came from and the incredible life she led. For me, I find that life is constantly throwing me a new curve ball. Just the other day, I went to my acupuncturist and I don’t know what he did, but I could barely stand up because my back was out of sorts. My initial reaction was to be angry, but I thought about this quote and really forced myself just to accept the new reality and move on.


“Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and rent is due every day.” -J.J. Watt

This is my favorite quote that I have read this year. It dovetails nicely with resiliency and humility. Every day is a new day. Sure, we can celebrate here and there, but once we think we are the best and we can do no wrong, it’s over. Frankly, it is refreshing and energizing to say this to yourself every day and just begin again, knowing you have a huge base to build from, but that there is so much to learn and so much to do.


I was not a big fan of poetry growing up; I didn’t have the patience for it. I thought I would end this Monday Motivator with a poem I recently read that goes well with the quote “Life is self-serve.”

“One ship drives East, and another drives West,
By the self-same gale that blows;
’Tis the set of the sail, and not the gale,
That determines the way she goes.” -Ella Wilcox

The wind blows regardless of your preference. However, you get to decide what you do with that wind.

About Todd Zipper

President & Chief Executive Officer

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