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“Conspiracy” Quotes

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

I recently read “Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue” by Ryan Holiday. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy the book here.

“Privacy offers the space to be peculiar, to think for oneself and to live as one wishes.” (7)

“The economist Tyler Cowen once observed that at some point in the 1970s, Americans went from being the country that took literal moonshots to being the people who waited patiently in long lines for gasoline.” (32)

“”When personal gossip attains the dignity of print, and crowds the space available for matters of real interest to the community,” future Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis wrote in the Harvard Law Review in 1890, in a piece which formed the basis for what we now know as the “right to privacy,” it “destroys at once robustness of thought and delicacy of feeling. No enthusiasm can flourish, no generous impulse can survive under its blighting influence.”” (33)

“The people who claim the moral high ground, who claim to be about freedom of choice, but who bully everyone who doesn’t choose their way of freedom.” (35)

“There is something popular with ambitious people called the “briefcase technique.” You don’t show up toa meeting with a few vague ideas, you have a full-fledged plan that you take out of your briefcase and hand to the person you are pitching. Even if nothing comes of this plan, the person on the other side is knocked over by your effort, so impressed by the unexpected certainty that they cannot help but see your usefulness to them.” (54)

“The professional son understands what every father wants – a progeny worth his time, someone to invest in, someone who can further his legacy. The professional father wants to see his greatness given a second body – a younger one, with more energy, with the benefit of his hard-won experiences.” (56)

“While it’s dangerous to conspire with people who have a lot to lose, you can’t conspire without someone who is afraid to bet on themselves, who isn’t willing ot take a big stake on something that very well could fail.” (63)

“The great strategist B.H. Liddell Hart would say that all great victories come along “the line of least resistance and the line of least expectation.”” (73)

“THiel’s investment strategy: with the right conditions, a little boldness will make much more progress than timidity will ever protect.” (79)

“When someone categorizes something evil, as Sherman did, as Peter and Mr. A repeatedly did, he implicitly gives himself permission to do what needs to be done to destroy it.” (88)

“Williams James knew that every man is “ready to be savage in some cause.” The distinction, he said, between good people and bad people is “the choice of the cause.”” (89)

“The essential trait of the successful man is not only perseverance but almost a perverse expectation of how difficult it is going to be. It is having redundancies on top of redundancies, so you can absorb the losses you eventually incur. One must not just steel one’s heart but also one’s spirit so that there is no such thing as an obstacle – just information. The earlier you spot and anticipate setbacks, the less demoralizing they will be. We want things to be easy. We want them to be clean. They rarely are.” (126)

“And so it is that even setbacks can contain opportunities within them, if conspirators are patient and resourceful enough.” (129)

“Everyone is a person who settles unless they demonstrate to you over time that they are not a person who wants to settle.” (144)

“Lawrence Freedman had said in Strategy that combining with others was an important strategic move, and so it was for the conspirators early on. The other side of his sentence is that “for the same reason, preventing others from doing the same can be valuable.” (169)

“The line attributed to the management guru Peter Drucker is that culture eats strategy. It’s a truism that applies as much to conspiracies as it does to business. It doesn’t matter how great your plan is, it doesn’t matter who your people are, if what binds them all together is weak or toxic, so, too, will be the outcome.” (179)

“Napoleon describes warfare in that simple way: Two armies are hurled at each other and both are thrown into confusion and disarray by the force of the collision. Victory is simple. It goes to whoever reassembles and redoubles first.” (206)

“Hope is rarely enough. Especially against an opponent who has come to be consumed by their cause, who can see and taste victory now, and will do everything they can to seal it.” (220)

“What matters is who does what needs to be done to finish.” (222)

“The great sin for a leader, Frederick the Great once observed, was not in being defeated but in being surprised.” (238)

“Machiavelli would say that a coup or a conspiracy can succeed only if the will of the people is on its side.” (241)

“Thiel had seen the opportunity where no one else had. He had taken it. Legally. And he had won. He had proven that “nothing you can do about it” is just what people who don’t want to do anything about it like to say to make themselves feel better about their inaction.” (247)

“Loss inherently makes the loser sympathetic. We can easily be made to feel bad for the person on the other side of a true catastrophe, even if just minutes before we thought they had it coming to them.” (255)

“Cunning and resources might win the war, but it’s the stories and the myths afterward that will determine who deserved to win it.” (258)

““There are worse things than being disliked,” the novelist Walker Percy once wrote, “it keeps one alive and alert.”” (275)

“We live in a country where the media would give literally billions of dollars of free publicity to a candidate they despised and were then shocked when the man ended up being elected.” (276)

“When everyone tells you you’re wrong and you turn out to be right, you learn a dangerous lesson: Never listen to warnings.” (282)

“We used to throw bombs, now we throw tantrums – or worse, tweets.” (290)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book.

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