Morgenstern’s Maxims

My life has revolved around people, negotiations, deals, and family. These maxims I created reflect scars in my stomach gained along the way and lessons (hopefully) learned.

On Start-Ups

  • Start-ups are time and emotion vampires.
  • Cash is a proxy for time; time is a proxy for opportunity.
  • Being a Founder is a fact; not a job description.
  • Miracles still happen; but not often enough to include them in your business plan.

On Negotiations

  • God gave us one mouth and two ears; the ratio wasn’t an accident.
  • Propinquity counts.
  • Deals, like the universe, tend toward entropy.
  • Time is the invisible but palpable enemy.
  • Emails don’t create dialogue; they create sequential monologue.
  • Ideally, negotiation is a cultivated, mutual education and exploration process.
  • Every Seller’s mantra is “certainty” and “confidentiality.”
  • Always leave them laughing.
  • I’d rather be a salmon spawning downstream than upstream.
  • It’s better to have some percentage of something than 100% of nothing.
  • Pandering and groveling are underrated virtues.
  • All buyers and sellers are not created equal.
  • Maximize your optionalities.
  • Structure unexamined becomes stricture.
  • It’s easier to resolve issues by monetizing them instead of conceptualizing them.

On Business, Law, and Communication

  • An expectation unarticulated is a disappointment guaranteed.
  • Great management knows that power is obligation; not privilege.
  • If you put your head in the lion’s mouth often enough, eventually the lion wins.
  • Work flows to the competent.
  • Clients want lawyers; not layers.
  • Tomorrow’s legal world will be more driven by Moore’s Law and less by Napoleon’s.
  • Humor doesn’t forward well.
  • People learn better going from concrete to abstract rather than abstract to concrete.

On Investment

  • When people are paying tulip bulb prices, and you own tulip bulbs, you should sell them.
  • You can only spend the same dollar one time. And you can only spend the same hour one time.

On Capital

  • What matters isn’t price; what matters is availability.
  • A boy’s best friend is his banker.

On Life

  • Never break a promise to your kid.
  • In the end time and gravity win.
  • There are so many ways to be human.

© Copyright 2008-2015.