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Financial Quotes

Failure Quotes

  • "If the argument is that failure helps you succeed, well, so does success and it’s quicker. This suggests at least one reason for trying to succeed."
    Norman Geras (1943–), British political philosopher
    Source: Normblog (July 23, 2012)
  • "Exactly 5,126 attempts to make the first bagless vacuum cleaner were failures—some catastrophic disappointments, some minor defects. It took 15 years. Prototype 5,127 was the success … Failure is painful, but it spurs on improvement like nothing else."
    Sir James Dyson (1947–), British designer and entrepreneur
    Source: Guardian (London) (July 22, 2012)
  • "I think failing is the best way to keep you grounded, curious, and humble. Success is dangerous because often you don’t understand why you succeeded. You almost always know why you’ve failed. You have a lot of time to think about it."
    Mark Pincus (1966–), US founder and CEO of Zynga
    Source: Interviewed in Bloomberg Businessweek (April 12, 2012)
  • "I wake up every single night wondering what I could have done differently. This is a pain that will stay with me the rest of my life."
    Richard S. Fuld, Jr (1946–), US CEO and chairman of the collapsed Lehman Brothers investment house
    Source: Speaking before a congressional panel (October 5, 2008)
  • "When the company did well, we did well. And when the company did not do well, we did not do well, sir."
    Richard S. Fuld, Jr (1946–), US CEO and chairman of the collapsed Lehman Brothers investment house
    Source: Speaking before a congressional panel (October 5, 2008)
  • "Books proliferate, and occasionally sell in very large numbers, which claim to have found the rule, or small set of rules, which will guarantee business success. But business is far too complicated, far too difficult an activity to distil into a few simple commands … It is failure rather than success which is the distinguishing feature of corporate life."
    Paul Ormerod, British economist and statistician
    Source: Why Most Things Fail (2007)
  • "Failure is important because the first time you win (or lose), it could be luck, it could be timing, or it could be talent. It’s only after you fail once or twice and learn to rely equally on thought, analysis, and anticipation—in addition to speed, talent, and execution—that you can really call yourself an entrepreneur … In the long run, it’s mind over muscle, strategy over strength, and a healthy perspective—not just a lot of perspiration—that make someone a real success in his or her business and in the equally important rest of his or her life."
    Howard Tullman (1946–), US multimedia entrepreneur
    Source: You Need to Be a Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business (Barry J. Moltz, 2003), Preface
  • "At some point, we all have to decide how we are going to fail: by not going far enough, or by going too far. The only alternative for the most successful (maybe even the most fulfilled) people is the latter."
    Harriet Rubin (1952–), US author
    Source: “How Will You Fail?” Fast Company (1999)
  • "I set a rule that people weren't allowed to send good news unless they sent around an equal amount of bad news. We had to get a balanced picture. In fact, I kind of favored just hearing about the accounts we were losing because … bad news is generally more actionable than good news."
    Bill Gates (1955–), US entrepreneur, cofounder and chairman of Microsoft
    Source: Speech, Microsoft's Second Annual CEO Summit, Seattle, Washington (May 28, 1998)
  • "I had a lot of successes, but what really made me fearless was my complete failure at Zidd-Davis. Once you've lived through that, you know you can survive, and you're not as scared … There's nothing to build confidence like real achievement, but also like real failure."
    Esther Dyson (1951–), US knowledge entrepreneur and government adviser
    Referring to her experience of being hired to start a newspaper, which flopped.
    Source: Interview, Reason Magazine (November 1996)
  • "Failing is good as long as it doesn't become a habit."
    Michael Eisner (1942–), US former CEO and chairman of Disney
    Source: Speech (April 19, 1996)
  • "We don't publicize our failures. When something doesn't work don't leave the corpse lying around."
    Kenneth Iverson (19252002), US industrialist, chairman and CEO of Nucor Corporation
    Source: Speech (February 5, 1996)
  • "If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure."
    Dan Quayle (1947–), US former vice president
    Source: Quoted in Esquire (August 1992)
  • "Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. The only time you don't fail is the last time you try something, and it works. One fails forward toward success."
    Charles Franklin Kettering (18761958), US businessman and engineer
    Source: Quoted in Reader's Digest (May 1989)
  • "It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic."
    Sir Lew, Lord Grade (19061998), Russian-born British entertainment entrepreneur
    On the failure of his movie Raise the Titanic.
    Source: Sun (London) (December 22, 1987)
  • "There are few things more dreadful than dealing with a man who knows he is going under, in his own eyes and in the eyes of others."
    James Baldwin (19241987), US writer
    Source: The Price of the Ticket (1985), Introduction
  • "One of the most important tasks of a manager is to eliminate his people's excuses for failure."
    Robert Townsend (19201998), US business executive and author
    Source: Further Up the Organization (1984)
  • "Bankruptcy is a sacred state, a condition beyond conditions … attempts to investigate it are necessarily obscene like spiritualism. One knows only he has passed into it and lives beyond us, in a condition not ours."
    John Updike (19322009), US novelist and critic
    Source: “The Bankrupt Man,” Hugging the Shore (1983)
  • "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
    Samuel Beckett (19061989), Irish playwright, novelist, and poet
    Source: Worstward Ho (1983)
  • "More strategies fail because they are overripe than because they are premature."
    Kenichi Ohmae (1943–), Japanese management consultant and theorist
    Source: The Mind of the Strategist (1982)
  • "In the long run, failure was the only thing that worked predictably."
    Joseph Heller (19231999), US novelist
    Source: Good As Gold (1979)
  • "It is not impossibilities which fill us with deepest despair, but possibilities which we have failed to realize."
    Robert Mallet (19152002), French poet and playwright
    Source: Apostilles: ou, L'Utile et le Futile (1972)
  • "Success requires no explanations. Failure permits no alibi."
    Napoleon Hill (18831970), US motivational author
    Source: Think and Grow Rich (1937)
  • "Three failures denote uncommon strength. A weakling has not enough grit to fail thrice."
    Minna Antrim (18561950), US writer
    Source: At the Sign of the Golden Calf (1905)
  • "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882), US essayist, lecturer, and poet
    Source: “Compensation,” Essays: First Series (1841)
  • "Companies do not go bankrupt the way they used to, and countries are not declared in default. We talk about restructuring instead. I think this is detrimental. We cannot abolish death."
    Pehr Gyllenhammar (1935–), Swedish businessman, former CEO and chairman of Volvo
    Source: Attributed
  • "Whenever you fall, pick up something."
    Oswald Theodore Avery (18771955), US bacteriologist
    Source: Attributed
  • "The difference between failure and success is doing a thing nearly right and doing it exactly right."
    Edward Emerson Simmons (18521931), US painter
    Source: Attributed
  • "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it."
    W. C. Fields (18801946), US actor and comedian
    Source: Attributed

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