“If you do not think about the future, you cannot have one.” John Galsworthy

Quotes of Interest

The following is a list of interesting quotes we’ve collected over the years. Feel free to share your favorites with us.


“If we don’t communicate with the outside world–to gain information for knowledge and understanding–we die out to become a non-discerning and uninteresting part of that world.” –John Boyd


“Interesting things happen along borders – transitions – not in the middle where everything is the same.” – Neal Stephenson


“History does not so much repeat as echo.”  – Lois McMaster Bujold


“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” —Shunryu Suzuki


If your sensemaking leads you to a counter-narrative, you’ve discovered the essence of opportunity.”  – Matt Devost


“To warn of everything is to warn of nothing.” CIA saying


“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” — Niels Bohr


“The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order.” – Alvin Toffler


“Some people say preparation is everything, and for those who never execute, maybe it is.” Eric Haney


“Never assume that the other guy will never do something that you would never do.” -Donald Rumsfeld


“It is pardonable to be defeated, but never to be surprised.” – Frederick the Great


“The key is not to think outside the box, but to think without the box.” – Matthew Devost


“Many times experts fail because they’re experts in the past version of the world.” – Vinod Khosla


“If you do not think about the future, you cannot have one.” John Galsworthy


“Thoughts are ephemeral, they evaporate in the moment they occur, unless they are given action and material form.” – Ann Leckie


“Technology. It is the physical manifestation of the human will.” – Daniel Suarez


“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” – Brad Thor


“Look into a microscope with one eye and a telescope with the other.”  – Blake Deutsch


“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time” – Abraham Lincoln


“Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center. Big, undreamed-of things—the people on the edge see them first.” — Kurt Vonnegut


“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” —Pierre-Marc-Gaston


“When I hear someone say they have 20 years of experience, I wonder if that’s really true or if they merely had 1 year of experience 20 times.” – Don Denoncourt


“A tribute to the human spirit, or perhaps simply hubris, is the belief that crises are subject to management.” – Brian Jenkins


“Defense without offense is the art of losing slowly” – Mark Henshaw


“A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.” – John Le Carre


“There are no facts about the future.” – Thomas Wilson


“He who speaks about the future lies even when he tells the truth.” -Arab proverb


“No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all your knowledge is about the past and all your decisions are about the future.” – Ian E. Wilson


“We’ve left our future, in other words, largely in the hands of people whose single greatest characteristic is that they are bewildered by the present” – Joshua Cooper Ramo


“The important thing is the obvious thing nobody is saying.” – William S. Burroughs


“The signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth.” – Nate Silver


“Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” – James Thurber


“Never interrupt your opponent while he is making a mistake.” – Napoleon Bonaparte


“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller


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


“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein


“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi


“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” -Sun Tzu


“The prize goes to the person who sees the future the quickest.” – William Stiritz


“I am not a speed reader, I am a speed understander.” – Isaac Asimov


“The key to risk management isn’t no threats, it is know threats.” – Matt Devost


“The most reliable way to anticipate the future is to understand the present.”  – John Naisbitt


“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Pablo Picasso


“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by chance ever observes.” Sherlock Holmes


“Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people.” – Bruce Schneier


“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems.” – John Gardner


“You don’t come to a conclusion beforehand and then work your way to that conclusion. You see how the thing plays out.” – General Paul Van Riper


“Knowledge isn’t power. The ability to act on knowledge is power.” – Michael Schrage


“The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” – William Gibson


“One learns more about a terrorist group by looking at its victims than at its manifestos.” – Walter Laqueur


“I always hear that we have a needle in the haystack problem. I think the challenge is more fundamental in that we don’t know what the needle looks like and often we don’t even know what hay is.” – Matthew Devost


“To not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.” – Sun Tzu


“For active defense operations to be effective, you will have to compress your OODA Loop down to Observe -> Act.” – Matthew Devost


“The map is not the territory.” -Alfred Korzybski


“When you can’t imagine how things are going to change, that doesn’t mean that nothing will change. It means that things will change in ways that are unimaginable.” – Bruce Sterling


“There is no such thing as information overload, there’s only filter failure.” – Clay Shirkey


“We can prevent a shooting war if we take the initiative to win the subversive war.” -William Donovan


“Estimating is what you do when you do not know.” – Sherman Kent


“A little fact will sustain a lot of illusion.” – Eric Ambler


“The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction makes sense.” – Tom Clancy


“It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.” – John Locke


“There is no such thing as darkness; only a failure to see.” – Malcolm Muggeridge


“When you deny the human capacity for evil; evil by brilliant people, evil by well-read and well educated people, evil by people you think are your friends. When you deny that potential for evil then you are sinning against the human spirit. To deny the human capacity to do evil is to deny the human capacity to do anything. To ignore evil is foolish and denies us our own humanity.” -Bruce Sterling


“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” – William Bruce Cameron


“When you are wrestling for possession of a sword, the man with the handle always wins.” – Neal Stephenson


“When you find yourself on the side of the majority, you should pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain


“If you have the same problem for a long time, maybe it’s not a problem—it’s a fact.” – Yitzhak Rabin


“I don’t care what anything was designed to do. I care about what it can do.” Gene Kranz (Apollo 13 film)


“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” – Robert Heinlein


”Experience is a cruel teacher – it gives the exam first, then the lesson.” – Leslie Odom Jr.


“The invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck.” – Paul Virilio


“There is only one, key word for KGB mentality and the word is control. What you control is safe. What you don’t control is a threat. So that means you try to control as many things as possible.” – Igor Malashenko


“A commander thinking he can manage the battlefield is like a canoer who thinks he can manage the stream.” General Paul Van Riper


“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” – Vladimir Lenin


“More things can happen than will.” – Peter Bernstein


“Better to be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie.” – Russian Proverb


“Robots don’t kill people. Algorithms kill people.” – Jeff Jarvis


“Decisions without actions are pointless. Actions without decisions are reckless.” – John Boyd


“To play it safe is not to play.” – Robert Altman


“I was worried when the dogs of war showed up, but then they saw a squirrel.” – Sam Liles


“Machines don’t fight wars, terrain doesn’t fight wars. You must get into the minds of humans. That’s where the battles are won.” -John Boyd


“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.” – Baltasar Gracian


“In the middle of chaos lies opportunity.” – Bruce Lee


“You cannot step into the same river twice.” – Heraclitus


“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter


“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” – Oscar Wilde


“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain


“The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower


“The best lie is one so exquisite and so tempting that both the deceiver and the listener yearn for it to be true.” – Brian Andrews


“A conflict in which hardware battles hardware will inevitably catch human software in between—cybernetic war.” – Omni magazine


“The electron is the ultimate precision-guided weapon.” – John Deutch


“The history of civilization is largely the history of weapons.” – George Orwell


“As a general rule, no credible grand strategy starts with the word don’t.” – Joshua Cooper Ramo


“The war you prepare for is rarely the war you get.” – Victor Krulak


“You don’t have to possess an object in order to control it.” – Joshua Cooper Ramo


“AI is both freedom from programming and freedom from understanding.” – Joshua Cooper Ramo


“Unpredictability was a potent weapon when launched against an opponent that craved order.” – Drew Chapman


“To hesitate is often to be lost” – Patrick Van Horne, Jason Riley


“When everyone is on the same page, no one is available to turn it.”  – Carmen Medina