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Words of Wisdom, Sometimes

Have you ever been in a meeting in which someone said something and, for a moment, you weren't sure whether it was brilliant, inane or beyond comprehension at that moment?

Over the years I have often wish I had kept a diary of those statements, some of which were priceless in many ways. Unfortunately I did not record them consistently but there are some too memorable to forget.

Here are a few that you can enjoy, contemplate, wish you had said or will learn from, as I have:

"I have absolutely no interest in the perfect execution of a bad idea"

"I am not inclined to invest $12million dollars to enter a market that you describe as 'really big'"

"When I ask you a technical question please don't go into your doctoral dissertation"

"Please understand that your last 10 slides on the molecular structure of the drug you are working on are lost on me as a financial person but I would love to know if you think it will ever make money?"

"Please don't keep telling me, 'that is a good question', focus on giving me a good answer"

A few months into a marginal acquisition our CEO turned to us and said, "If I EVER propose a similar acquisition I am giving all of you advance permission to smack me on the side of the head and tell me to get a grip."

In the midst of a heated union negotiation on matters or safety, health and environmental, a union spokesperson said, "The problem with your company is you treat people like tea bags; you dip, dip, dip them and then throw them away."

"Stress is imaginary, you either want to do the job or you don't"

"No employee is ever useless, they can always be used as a bad example."

When coaching a rather self-impressed entrepreneur whose start-up we had acquired I was asked, "If you are so damn smart why hasn't the company given you a business to run?" My response? "That is a valid question so let me answer it. The company has offered me the opportunity twice but I have come to realize that what I enjoy and am really good at is coaching people like you so you don't screw up an otherwise good business. Any other questions?"

"Always remember that the decisions I have to make as your boss are only as good as the in-puts I get. So my job is to encourage and accept differing views from you; your job is to offer them."

So often we think that learning and growth are complicated, time consuming processes. But as frequently key insights can come from a simple statement during a conversation. A colleague of mine always urges people to watch for "learning moments."

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