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Relevant Quotations

Page history last edited by Ken Davidian 10 years, 3 months ago

Future Quotes


"L'avenir, tu n'as point à le prévoir mais à le permettre."

(“As for the future, your task is not to see it, but to enable it.)

- Antoine de-Saint Exupery (1900–1944)


“The future ain't what it used to be.”

- Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (1925 - ).


"There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States."

- T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961 (the first commercial communications satellite went into service in 1965).


The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (Jon Gertner) on Page 289 | Loc. 4733-36  | Added on Saturday, February 09, 2013, 04:36 AM

"The thing about Bell Labs, Frenkiel remarks, was that it could spend millions of dollars—or even $100 million, which was what AT&T would spend on cellular before it went to market7—on a technology that offered little guarantee it would succeed technologically or economically. Indeed, a marketing study commissioned by AT&T in the fall of 1971 informed its team that “there was no market for mobile phones at any price.” Neither man agreed with that assessment."


Innovation Quotes


"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish dramatist, novelist, poet


“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.”

- Mark Twain (1835–1910), Letter to Mrs. Foote, Dec. 2, 1887


“Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it.”

- Robert Heinlein (1907–1988) 


"Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status."

 - Laurence J. Peter (1919 - 1988)


"We are more ready to try the untried when what we do is inconsequential. Hence the fact that many inventions had their birth as toys."

 - Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)


"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 (1856 - 1950), Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"


"The chief obstacle to the progress of the human race is the human race."

 - Don Marquis (1878 - 1937)


"It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.."

- Niccolò Machiavelli, (1469-05-03 – 1527-06-21) (from Il Principe, Chapter 6, written c. 1505).


"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit."

 - Helen Keller (1880 - 1968)


Entrepreneurial Quotes


“In every job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and snap! The job's a game.”

- Mary Poppins, from the 1964 Disney film of the same name, music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.


"Good design can't fix broken business models."

 - Jeffrey Veen, Designing the Friendly Skies, 06-21-06


“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 - 1969).


"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing."

 - Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)


"And a more relevant NASA should be charged to ignite the entrepreneurial human suborbital and orbital spaceflight industry. This nascent commercial enterprise promises to fundamentally revolutionize how the public perceives spaceflight."

 - Alan Stern, former Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, in the Viewpoint column of Aviation Week & Space Technology, June 23, 2008.


Prize Quotes


"A true competition, like the British Royalty Prize, the Orteig and Kramer prizes are something that absolutely will work. These approaches just define the goal. They do not try to define how to reach the goal, but merely put up the money and stand aside. Then, and only then can true competition come to life and produce results. This approach has often attracted prize-pursuing investment by competing teams that collectively amounts to as much as 40 TIMES the cost of the prize, itself. Why won't NASA put up a billion dollars as a competitive prize for attaining a difficult goal, sort of like the X PRIZE is doing with far less money? Then the taxpayer could get as much as a 40:1 leverage on his or her tax dollars. Additionally, at least most of it would be spent efficiently, not thrown away like it is now in the traditional government contracts setting."

- Burt Rutan, X PRIZE Contender and Scaled Composites’ CEO


"A major advantage to the competitive prizes procurement approach is that you know in advance how much taxpayers will have to pay if the goal is achieved. If it's not achieved then taxpayers don't have to foot the bill."

- Founder of the Mars Society and CEO of Pioneer Astronautics, Dr. Robert Zubrin

"[Instead of NASA's forcing the "Orbital Stupid Plane" upon us, there should be] "national prizes ... for the first teams to fly four people (or relative mass) safely to and from lower Earth Orbit at the lowest demonstrated cost, with the shortest turn around period."

- Rick Tumlinson, Space Frontier Foundation Co-founder


"For much of this country's history, prizes motivated sharp minds to innovate quickly while avoiding the dual demons of massive paper­work and entangling bureaucracies. Offering prizes expands the number of minds that will be working on a specific problem at the same time, thereby likely shortening the time before breakthroughs occur. If the government funded more prizes, Americans could stop cheering for television contestants and start rooting for amateur and professional scientists and researchers as they race toward meeting the challenge of a national scientific or technological need, such as profitable space travel, or finding a cure for AIDS, or cancer, or com­ing up with a breakthrough in the national defense realm. Why not offer a prize of $1 billion to the innovator of a working system that would get people and equipment into orbit for 10% of the current, bureaucracy-plagued, cost? If no one produces the breakthrough, no one gets the money. That could dramatically lower the cost of all future space flight."

- Newt Gingrich, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Former Speaker of the House,


"When money is delivered in expectation of results, rather than for the results themselves, the decision makers have an obligation to put the money where they think it will likely accomplish something. This almost guarantees that nothing too far outside the norm will be funded, because it could make the decision-makers look very foolish. There would certainly be backlash if the government gave $50 million to a crackpot anti-gravity research company. However, if they offered a $50 million prize, and it was somehow actually won by a crackpot anti-gravity research company..."

- John Carmack, CEO, Armadillo Aerospace,


"The advantage of a free market is that it allows millions of decision-makers to respond individually to freely determined prices, allocating resources -- labor, capital and human ingenuity-- in a manner that can't be mimicked by a central plan, however brilliant the central planner."

- Friedrich A. Hayek, (May 8, 1899 – March 23, 1992) an Austrian-British economist and political philosopher


"If NASA finally offered Mars-related competitive prizes instead of contracts then at least we'd stand a far better chance of getting to compete on a team that can outperform the likes of Lockheed Martin, which has puzzlingly had a stronghold for years regarding obtaining NASA's Mars-related dollars despite its less than reliable track record."

- Max Solis, CEO of BST Systems


"What you've seen here is a research and development program to look at new ideas on how manned spacecraft can really be significantly safer … and there will be new ideas out there. We will be developing new ideas also on SpaceShipTwo."

- Burt Rutan, 4 October 2004, after winning the ANSARI X PRIZE


"Question: Considering your motivation to innovate and design futuristic air/spacecraft, are you attracted to the Centennial Prizes offered by NASA to develop new craft designs?

"Answer: Oh no, I don’t believe NASA can properly put out a (developmental) prize like the Orteg Prize or the Kramer Prize, or either the X Prize. NASA has a real habit of trying to help sub-contractors and contractors by monitoring risks that NASA wouldn’t take themselves. What NASA needs to do is to put out a very difficult goal to achieve and then not monitor it at all and let those that go after it take their own risks. I don’t see NASA doing that. Possibly they will. Maybe they will put someone in charge that knows the benefits of running a prize properly. I haven’t seen that yet."

- Burt Rutan, in response to a question posed by reporter George Nemiroff of the Palm Springs, CA newspaper, on December 20th, 2004.


“I've heard commentators refer to last year's [2004] Grand Challenge as a "fiasco" because no competitors got anywhere close to the finish line. But that misses the whole point of such competitions. It's unlikely any teams would have won this year's [2005] event if there had not been one last year. That event motivated the formation of the teams and gave them a measure of what their technologies could accomplish. They took what they learned and made the improvements that allowed them to finish the course this year. If there had been winners the first year, then the contest goal was far too easy.”

- Clark Lindsey, Author of HobbySpace RLV News


"One other idea: let's use competitive prizes to encourage innovation. We've got all these reality shows about singing and modeling and hair styling, and you name it. Well, let's do some reality shows about innovation, and let's have some cash prizes out there to get young people to start thinking that way. I've long said that if we could have some really good programming about math students and engineers that would get people excited. We have so many kids who now want to go into forensics because they've seen it on TV. If we propose prizes to be part of our budget at our research agencies, we could seek out new ideas from unexpected places."

- Hillary Clinton, Speech on Innovation, May 31, 2007




Comments (4)

Ken Davidian said

at 10:55 pm on Jun 17, 2008


Thanks for starting this page... look for my additions shortly!


Ken Davidian said

at 11:04 pm on Jun 17, 2008

OK, OK... maybe the Mary Poppins quote isn't exactly "relevant," but I just came from seeing the show at the theater! Plus, I've often used that quote when describing why Centennial Challenges is so popular!

Ken Davidian said

at 7:59 am on Jun 24, 2008

I decided to *try* to categorize the quotes and add a bunch of Prize-related quotes that I'd collected over the past couple of years to the mix... if anybody wants to reclassify any of the quotes, please don't hesitate!

Ken Davidian said

at 8:28 am on Jan 7, 2009

I just got a new leadership quote, but there's no real category in this page to put it... maybe in the entrepreneurial section. The quote is "You can buy engineering smarts by the yard. Yet true leadership is much harder to find, and trumps engineering smarts 7 days a week." - Keith Cowing. What do you think?

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