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1. The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous.

Shana Alexander (b.1925) U.S. writer and editor. “Neglected Kids-the Bright Ones,” The Feminine Eye (1967)


2. Striving for excellence motivates you: striving for perfection is demoralizing.

Harriet Beryl Braiker (b.1948) U.S. psychologist. Type “E” Woman: How to Overcome the Stress of Being Everything to Everybody (1987)


3. Excellence is not an act but a habit. The things you do the most are the things you will do best.

Marva Collins (b.1936) U.S. educator. “Marva Collins: Teaching Success in the City,” Message (1987)


4. No one has a greater asset for his business than a man’s pride in his work.

Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933) U.S. management thinker and author. Freedom and Co-ordination (1949), ch. 2


5. Performance stands out like a tom of diamonds. Nonperformance can always be explained away.

Harold S. Geneen (1910-97) U.S. telecommunications entrepreneur and C.E.O. of ITT. Managing (co-written with Alvin Moscow; 1984)


6. There seems to be a certain healthy paranoia in companies that are great at change. They seem to say, “O.K., we’re doing well today, but we might not be doing well tomorrow, so we’d better try to destroy our own established model before somebody else does it for us.”

Rosabeth Moss Kanter (b.1943) U.S. management theorist, academic, and writer. Interview, Strategy + Business (July-September 1999)


7. The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking.

Nancy Kline (b.1946) U.S. author, educator and consultant. Time to Think (1999)


8. The business world worships mediocrity. Officially we revere free enterprise, initiative, and individuality. Unofficially we fear it.

George Lois (b.1931) U.S. advertising executive. The Art of Advertising (1977)


9. You get the best out of others when you give the best of yourself.

Eugenio Montale (1896-1981) Italian poet. Men and Rubber (1926)


10. A specialist is someone who does everything else worse.

Ruggiero Ricci (b.1918) U.S. violinist. Quoted in Daily telegraph (London) (may 25, 1990)


11. All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.

Baruch Spinoza (1632-77) Dutch philosopher. Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata (1677), 5:8


12. If you don’t do it excellently, don’t do it at all. Because if it’s not excellent, it won’t be profitable or fun, and if you’re not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing there?

Robert Townsend (b.1920) U.S. business executive and author. Further Up the Organization (1984)


13. Good design is good business.

Thomas J. Watson, JR. (1914-93) U.S. C.E.O. of IBM. New York Times (May 13, 1990)