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Ignore the power of distilled wisdom at your peril

A collection of 16 profound, important and useful quotes that actually mean something

I should add though, that purely philosophically, not least from a phenomenological perspective, I'm not entirely sure quotes and introspection really are better than, e.g., watching a soccer game. That, however, is topic for a whole different article.

Reading time: 5 minutes (it is possible)

  • Bonus quote: "if you think investing is easy you are stupid"; risk is perverse
    • high quality assets can be risky and low quality assets can be safe. It all depends on the price.
      • The higher the price for a given asset, the lower the expected return and the more time spent in negative territory, i.e. the more risk of loss.

Warning: male nudity

programmet för alla som blickar framåt

Om du kan svenska får du gärna lyssna på min podcast "25 minuter"  som började sändas 2 nov. Du hittar den enklast på TradeVenue/25 minuter.


What's all the fuzz about quotes? Why should you care?

Quotes are distilled wisdom from entire lives of deep thought and hard-won experiences. 

Imagine taking just one single quote from your entire life. That's what we often do with historical philosophers, writers, leaders etc. Imagine the wisdom collected in that person's best quote.

The right quotes can be shortcuts that work

But sometimes quotes are just artificially crafted for public appeal, while lacking meaning or being outright paradoxical, or just shallow truisms.


Why should you read, memorize or collect quotes?

To benefit from other people's endeavors, errors and success. To avoid mistakes and as a pair of steady shoulders to stand on when peering toward the future.

To be inspired to change, to improve, to grow.

And, maybe just maybe, to make yourself look a little better, wiser and more interesting.


What quotes should you shun?

The ones that are mass manufactured, lack meaning, are contradictory or made only to fit today's media landscape of maximum 140 characters.

Almost all gym slogans, thinspiration pinterest posters and instagrams, as well as exercise tweets, belong to this category - even if many gym goers actually seem to draw energy from them.

How bad do you want it?

Avoid quotes that just sound good (in particular if it's in another language). Avoid quotes where you're really only interested in the person behind them, rather than the actual wisdom.

ceci n'est pas une pipe

(that's actually a quite profound and versatile meme, while still sounding cool, and being in French)


Which quotes should you collect?

Quotes that make you think, question, change and grow.

Quotes that inspire change. Quotes that make you want to be better. Quotes that speak to your innermost and help you become more yourself.

Quotes that make you reflect, make you understand something new and useful - and take action.


16 quotes that actually mean something

(without reference, since I don't care who said what; I only care about the meaning. Sometime a famous name or a foreign language can distort your perception of a quote)

  • Losses are in the past
    • period
    • Yup, that's it. In the past. Can't do anything at all about it. Learn your lesson, forget about the loss, and look forward. The loss is firmly in the past and there are no time machines.
    • Don't waste time dwelling on past events, unless you're actively trying to learn from them (Spitznagel's Dao Of Capital: "a loss is but a lesson for future gains")
    • By the way, brain science shows we adapt quickly to even life shattering events, if framing the event adequately and looking forward, focusing on what's left

losses are in the past 2


  • Try pouring a ton of steel without rigid principles
    • whenever accused or ridiculed for being overly precise or "too logical" and stiff - without principles we could all just put our faith in some made-up god.
    • hold your horses when too eager; take a step back and establish the principles before rushing in - it's fools who rush in

rigid principles of physics can save your life


  • When a man tells you that he knows the exact truth about anything, you are safe in inferring that he is an inexact man
    • trust no one, question all truths, be prepared to re-learn, accept the evidence of harsh reality, not the confidence of other men
    • never take action on a stock or investing tip - for one it's unknowable, and two, the tipster won't be around to tell you when it's time to get out

exact information


  • Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity
    • few people are truly evil. Try to understand how they think they are being good, and then change their way - or yours
    • It's not evil to broadcast your celebratory stock purchases at new all time highs; it's just ignorantly misleading for newcomers to the game



  • The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it
    • remember that those in power will do anything to keep it; that's how they got there in the first place, to powerfully administer their variety of good: "I'm from the government and I am here to help you"
    • read between the lines of every person in power, be it politicians, bosses or other authorities
    • this one works well for communities of stock fanatics as well
    • Oh, and if you deliver the wrong truth or message to a Spartan...

kill the messenger thruth sayer


  • When you come to a fork in the road, take it
    • be open minded, take a chance, don't fret unnecessarily
    • equally weighted decisions are actually easy, not hard - flip a coin if you like if the decision is such a close call. I bought my first car (red BMW) on a coin flip.
    • research shows taking the active choice increases happiness
    • PS: may you live in interesting times
    • Take these forks in the road; try balancing two forks and a coin like this:

fork in the road


  • If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading
    • be strategic, think long-term; a 100 million small steps add up over the years; you will end up where you are heading - unless you change direction in time
    • be careful what you aim wish for
    • it's never too late to alter your course, you are not too old. You'll never be younger than right now.
    • If you stay in a boring line of work, a dead end life, you end up in a boring, dead end life

rat race


  • Forecasting is difficult, especially about the future
    • forecasts are guesses.
    • some forecasts are more informed than others, but something else might still happen
    • here be black swans
    • NB that we can't even know the precise causality of things that have already happened - like a stock price change; meaning forecasts are hard even regarding the past



  • If the world was perfect it wouldn't be
    • life isn't exact, life isn't comfortable and predictable, life is change, surprises, volatility, highs and lows
    • don't shy away from life; embrace it, warts and all
    • Strive for a certain life topology, ups and downs, rather than hide. Some comfort at the end of the day is good, but keep exploring life's uncomfortable end points too; Break Out Of Homeostasis

cindy imperfection


  • Be yourself, everyone else is already taken
    • live in a way that you always without hesitation can answer "me" when asked who you would be if you could choose
    • why on earth would you want to emulate somebody else, suppress your personality, keep up with the Joneses and all that?
    • In a socio-sexual hierarchical context you shouldn't be alpha, beta, delta, gamma, omega or lambda. You shouldn't care at all (not that you actually can choose), but still somehow end up being a sigma, the independent outsider who doesn't even care about the game
cock in a sock
Sweden 2014: sorry, this 7-σ persona is already taken

Note: Sigmas usually acquired their outsider status the hard way; one seldom becomes immune to the social hierarchy by virtue of mass popularity in one's childhood (source: alphagameplan)

  • Don't postpone until tomorrow that which can wait until the day after tomorrow
    • don't rush, don't force, live now, if something can be put off without consequence, do it!
    • make a "not to do" list of things you might do some day, albeit not right now; then put it away and focus on whatever it is you prioritize today 
    • what is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important
    • Read slowly
    • Savor

Sprezzatura savoring


  • Arguing with morons is like playing chess with pigeons. No matter who wins, they will shit all over the board and strut around like winners
    • some fights aren't worth taking, no matter how right you are. Why do you even care what the other guy does, says or thinks?
      • this happens in social media all the time; some people turn to trolls in the anonymity behind their screens. Just walk away.
    • On the internet nobody can hear you scream "SOMEBODY IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET"

walk away


  • Every man is an island
    • take responsibility for yourself
    • every person lives for himself. By accepting this truth instead of altruistic paradoxes and lies, the world becomes a better, fairer place to live
    • You should instinctively cover your ass and wallet when exposed to communist propaganda like "No man is an island"

Who is John Galt?


  • Character shines through with power, not adversity
    • Don't take a poor man's noble character for granted; wait until he becomes rich and powerful. Absolute power corrupts absolutely (Old Testament God: the meanest and most erratic torturer ruler ever conceived - check!)
    • With great power comes absolutely no responsibility, and that usually shows

omnipotent Thanos


  • Know yourself
    • does this count as a quote? And by whom? Thales? No matter, it's still the best there is. It guides every aspect of my life and is the root of all (good). Knowing yourself is necessary for achieving personal growth and happiness
    • Break down and dissect your feelings, aspirations, talents and shortcomings, and behave accordingly
    • Knowing your surroundings, your obstacles etc. is also part of this story
      • The quote could be changed into "break it down" - break down everything into its components, its axioms, its fundamentals. Then build upward from there
reflection 2
Break it down
  • No, you don't want money or to become rich
    • If you already were wealthy, what would you do? That is who you are, that is what you like.
    • Don't put the horse before the cart and waste your life becoming rich, in order to lead a life of leisure when you are old
      • What I want is to learn and to share - no need to be rich for that. I also want to stay healthy and fit (good food doesn't come cheap, but I don't need millions)
  • Actionable? Watch yourself in the mirror every day. What does that guy want? Need?
Know Thyself


  • You can't tell the quality of a decision from its outcome
    • Many well thought through, intelligent and logical decisions can lead to losses, due to the unknowable future, while ill-informed, overly risky and generally low quality decisions can have benign endings thanks to dumb luck.
    • Out of many potential futures only one materializes - and it's far from always the most likely one
      • What's the most likely sum of two thrown dice? It's 7. How often does another sum turn up? 83% of the time.
        • So, were you wrong in betting on 7? Were you wrong in going short that story stock? [FING, AMZN]
    • If you think you can, think again

2 Red Dice on a green table in a spot


Which quote resonated the most with you?

Please share your view, or another favorite quote of yours, and its meaning, in the comments.


Take action

Choose one quote and think hard about it - and put it to use. Change course or reinforce your current one. Do something differently - or more intensely

Spread the quote, or share the entire article with your social networks.

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