Steve Jobs Quotes on Design, Product Focus, Etc.

As I recently read his biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I’m not a big Apple fan (as some of you know) but Jobs was a very successful businessman and the book came highly recommended the book, so I thought I would give it a try.

I found almost nothing praiseworthy in the first half of his life. He all but rejected the Christian religion he was raised on. He did drugs, and he slept around with many girl friends.  He was a jerk, selfish, difficult to work with, arrogant, subject to extreme mood swings, condescending, stubborn, rude, immature, a control freak, obsessive compulsive, and overly critical.

Yet Steve Jobs was one of the most successful business leaders the world has ever seen. He had remarkable aptitude (and plenty of luck) in the business world which paid great dividends when he did eventually mature somewhat. He built Apple into the world’s most successful company, and he ended up making a very positive impact on the field of design, technology, and many other industries.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from or about Steve Jobs and Apple:

design is how it works Design

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together.” -Steve Jobs in Fortune magazine, Apple’s One-Dollar-a-Year Man

”Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like,” says Steve Jobs, Apple’s C.E.O. ”People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” The Guts of a New Machine, Rob Walker, November 30, 2003


“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci and the headline of Apple’s first marketing brochure in 1977

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Apple II“The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.”  -Steve Jobs, How Steve Jobs’ Love of Simplicity Fueled A Design Revolution, Smithsonian Magazine

“You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential…We wanted to get rid of anything other than what was absolutely essential,” he said. “To do so required total collaboration between the designers, the product developers, the engineers and the manufacturing team. We kept going back to the beginning, again and again. Do we need that part? Can we get it to perform the function of the other four parts?” -Jony Ive describing one of Apple’s Power Macs, Smithsonian Magazine.

Focus on Great Products

“I remember very clearly Steve announcing that our goal is not just to make money but to make great products.” -Jony Ive, Smithsonian Magazine

“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything: the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.” – Steve Jobs in Walter Isaacson’s book

make great products -“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.” – Steve Jobs in Walter Isaacson’s book

Soon after returning to Apple in 1997, Jobs was at a big product strategy session. The previous CEO had been urging Apple to develop more and more products. “‘Stop!’ he [Jobs] shouted. ‘This is crazy.’ He grabbed a magic marker, padded to a whiteboard, and drew a horizontal and vertical line to make a four-squared chart. ‘Here’s what we need,’ he continued. Atop the two columns he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro”; he labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he said, was to make four great products, one for each quadrant. ‘The room was in dumb silence,’ Schiller recalled.” – Walter Isaacson

“The product review revealed how unfocused Apple had become. The company was churning out multiple versions of each product because of bureaucratic momentum and to satisfy the whims of retailers. “It was insanity,” Schiller recalled. “Tons of products, most of them crap, done by deluded teams.” Apple had a dozen versions of the Macintosh, each with a different confusing number, ranging from 1400 to 9600. “I had people explaining this to me for three weeks,” Jobs said. “I couldn’t figure it out.” He finally began asking simple questions, like, “Which ones do I tell my friends to buy?” When he couldn’t get simple answers, he began slashing away at models and products. Soon he had cut 70% of them.” – Walter Isaacson

Working Together

“[Jobs] never worshipped at the altar of consensus.” In 1997, when Jobs returned to Apple as CEO, he “was not tentative in his actions. He was in charge, and he did not rule by consensus.” – Walter Isaacson

“Despite his autocratic nature… Jobs worked hard to foster a culture of collaboration at Apple…He had the Pixar building designed to promote encounters and unplanned collaborations. “If a building doesn’t encourage that, you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity,” he said. “So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.” The front doors and main stairs and corridors all led to the atrium, the cafe and the mailboxes were there, the conference rooms had windows that looked out onto it, and the six-hundred-seat theater and two smaller screening rooms all spilled into it. “Steve’s theory worked from day one,” Lasseter recalled. “I kept running into people I hadn’t seen for months. I’ve never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.” – Walter Isaacson

“I realized that A players like to work with A players, they just didn’t like working with C players. At Pixar, it was a whole company of A players. When I got back to Apple, that’s what I decided to try to do. You need to have a collaborative hiring process. When we hire someone, even if they’re going to be in marketing, I will have them talk to the design folks and the engineers.” – Steve Jobs in Walter Isaacson’s book

The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker

I read The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker in 2012 at the recommendation of a good friend. It is a great book on leadership, not just for executives, but for anyone regardless of your title. The book was originally published in 1967, so I was reading it 45 years after the fact. Yet, by and large, the content was as relevant for today’s business leaders as it was when it was first written. Here are some of my favorite quotes (I apologize for not having page numbers for the quotes. I read it on the Kindle, so all I have is the Kindle “location.”):

Strategy and Productivity

  • Working on the right things - Peter Drucker“There are few things less pleasing to the Lord, and less productive, than an engineering department that rapidly turns out beautiful blueprints for the wrong product. Working on the right things is what makes knowledge work effective. This is not capable of being measured by any of the yardsticks for manual work.” – Location 108
  • “There is no lack of ideas in any organization I know. ‘Creativity’ is not our problem. But few organizations ever get going on their own good ideas.” – Location 1587
  • “A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between right and wrong. It is at best a choice between ‘almost right’ and ‘probably wrong.'” – Location 2094
  • “[The effective executive] always assumes that the event that clamors for his attention is in reality a symptom. He looks for the true problem. He is not content with doctoring the symptom alone.” – Location 1878
  • “Brilliant insight is not by itself achievement. They never have learned that insights become effectiveness only through hard systematic work.” – Location 76


  • “[Effective executives] concentrate—their own time and energy as well as that of their organization—on doing one thing at a time, and on doing first things first.” – Location 1528
  • Priorities - Deciding What Tasks to Tackle - Peter Drucker“The reason why so few executives concentrate [on priorities] is the difficulty of setting “posteriorities”—that is, deciding what tasks not to tackle—and of sticking to the decision.” – Location 1615
  • “It is much easier to draw up a nice list of top priorities and then to hedge by trying to do “just a little bit” of everything else as well. This makes everybody happy. The only drawback is, of course, that nothing whatever gets done.” – Location 1637
  • “Effective executives know where their time goes…They gear their efforts to results…They force themselves to set priorities.” – Location 385
  • “Concentration—that is, the courage to impose on time and events his own decision as to what really matters and comes first—is the executive’s only hope of becoming the master of time and events.” – Location 1656
  • “Act or do not act; but do not “hedge” or compromise. The surgeon who only takes out half the tonsils or half the appendix risks as much infection.” – Location 2298

 Goals and Results

  • “If the executive lets the flow of events determine what he does, what he works on, and what he takes seriously, he will fritter himself away ‘operating.'” – Location 225
  • “The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward toward goals. He asks: ‘What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?'” – Location 795
  • “The man who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank.” – Location 809
  • “The man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is in the most literal sense of the phrase, ‘top management.'” – Location 810
  • When there is confusion on results - Peter Drucker“When there is confusion as to what [results] should be, there are no results.” – Location 847
  • “The ones who are enthusiastic and who, in turn, have results to show for their work, are the ones whose abilities are being challenged and used.” – Location 1233
  • “People who get nothing done often work a great deal harder.” – Location 1521
  • “Effectiveness, in other words, is a habit; that is, a complex of practices. And practices can always be learned.” – Location 374

Testing and Proving Productivity

  • “[Programs] will not produce results as long as we maintain the traditional assumption that all programs last forever unless proven to have outlived their usefulness. The assumption should rather be that all programs outlive their usefulness fast and should be scrapped unless proven productive and necessary.” – Location 1561
  • Putting all programs on tria - Peter Druckerl“Putting all programs and activities regularly on trial for their lives and getting rid of those that cannot prove their productivity work wonders in stimulating creativity even in the most hidebound bureaucracy.” – Location 1588
  • “One starts with opinions. These are, of course, nothing but untested hypotheses and, as such, worthless unless tested against reality.” – Location 2097
  • “Everyone is far too prone to … look for the facts that fit the conclusion they have already reached.” – Location 2109
  • “We know what to do with hypotheses—one does not argue them; one tests them.” – Location 2114
  • “Feedback has to be built into the decision to provide a continuous testing, against actual events, of the expectations that underlie the decision.” – Location 2044
  • “[The effective executive] had better go out and look at the scene of action, [or] he will be increasingly divorced from reality.” – Location 2082
  • “He insists that people who voice an opinion also take responsibility for defining what factual findings can be expected and should be looked for.” – Location 2119

Focusing on People’s Strengths

  • “[The effective executive] does not make staffing decisions to minimize weaknesses but to maximize strength.” – Location 1071
  • “Before he chose Grant, [Abraham Lincoln] had appointed in succession three or four Generals whose main qualifications were their lack of major weaknesses.” – Location 1077
  • “Strong people always have strong weaknesses too.” – Location 1087
  • “The less we know about his weaknesses, the better. What we do need to know are the strengths of a man and what he can do.” – Location 1256
  • “The task of an executive is not to change human beings. Rather …the task is to multiply performance capacity of the whole by putting to use whatever strength, whatever health, whatever aspiration there is in individuals.” – Location 1475
  • “[Executive effectiveness] raises the eyes of its people from preoccupation with problems to a vision of opportunity, from concern with weakness to exploitation of strengths.” – Location 2474
  • “No executive has ever suffered because his subordinates were strong and effective.” – Location 1091
  • “It is only too easy to be misled this way into looking for the “least misfit” —the one man who leaves least to be desired. And this is invariably the mediocrity.” – Location 1136
  • “‘What can this man do?’ was [General Marshall’s] constant question. And if a man could do something, his lacks became secondary.” – Location 1348


  • “The meetings were far too large. And because every participant felt that he had to show interest, everybody asked at least one question —most of them irrelevant.” – Location 603
  • “[If] people in an organization find themselves in meetings a quarter of their time or more—there is time-wasting malorganization. [Though] there are exceptions.” – Location 688
  • “Too many meetings signify that work that should be in one job or in one component is spread over several jobs or several components. They signify that responsibility is diffused and that information is not addressed to the people who need it.” – Location 695
  • “The effective man always states at the outset of a meeting the specific purpose and contribution it is to achieve.” – Location 1049
  • “If executives in an organization spend more than a fairly small part of their time in meeting, it is a sure sign of malorganization.” – Location 683

Personnel Decisions

  • “He has learned the hard way how many men who looked like geniuses when they worked elsewhere show up as miserable failures six months after they have started working ‘for us.'” – Location 1581
  • “An organization needs to bring in fresh people with fresh points of view fairly often. If it only promotes from within it soon becomes inbred and eventually sterile.” – Location 1583
  • “Executives everywhere complain that many young men with fire in their bellies turn so soon into burned-out sticks. They have only themselves to blame: They quenched the fire by making the young man’s job too small.” – Location 1237
  • “[Effective] executives take time out [to ask]… ‘What should we at the head of this organization know about your work?'” – Location 478
  • “[Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., former head of General Motors] was reported never to make a personnel decision the first time it came up. …Only when he came up with the same name two or three times in a row was he willing to go ahead.” – Location 501
  • “People-decisions are time-consuming, for the simple reason that the Lord did not create people as ‘resources’ for organization. They do not come in the proper size and shape for the tasks that have to be done in organization.” – Location 521
  • “One hires new people to expand on already established and smoothly running activity. But one starts something new with people of tested and proven strength, that is, with veterans.” – Location 1578


  • “As usually presented, delegation makes little sense if it implies, as the usual sermon does, that the laziest manager is the best manager, it is not only nonsense; it is immoral.” – Location 579
  • “‘Delegation’ as the term is customarily used, is a misunderstanding—is indeed misdirection. But getting rid of anything that can be done by somebody else so that one does not have to delegate but can really get to one’s own work—that is a major improvement in effectiveness.” – Location 593
  • “An enormous amount of the work being done by executives is work that can easily be done by others, and therefore should be done by others.” – Location 593

 Organizational Structure and Communication

  • “In a lean organization people have room to move without colliding with one another and can do their work without having to explain it all the time.” – Location 668
  • “The larger the organization, the more time will be needed just to keep the organization together and running, rather than to make it function and produce.” – Location 757
  • “We have been working at communications downward from management to the employees, from the superior to the subordinate. But communications are practically impossible if they are based on the downward relationship.” – Location 989
  • “The needs of large-scale organization have to be satisfied by common people achieving uncommon performance.” – Location 2466

Designing Jobs

  • “Jobs have to be objective; that is, determined by task rather than by personality.” – Location 1139
  • “Structuring jobs to fit personality is almost certain to lead to favoritism and conformity.” – Location 1158
  • “The effective executive therefore first makes sure that the job is well-designed. And if experience tells him otherwise, he does not hunt for genius to do the impossible. He redesigns the job.” – Location 1201


  • “At least half the bureaus and agencies of the federal government of the United States either regulate what no longer needs regulation… Or they are directed, as is most of the farm program, toward investment in politicians’ egos and toward efforts that should have had results but never achieved them.” – Location 1551
  • “There is serious need for a new principle of effective administration under which every act, every agency, and every program of government is conceived as temporary and as expiring automatically after a fixed number of years.” – Location 1555
  • “A country with many laws is a country of incompetent lawyers,” says an old legal proverb. It is a country which attempts to solve every problem as a unique phenomenon, rather than as a special case under general rules of law. Similarly, an executive who makes many decisions is both lazy and ineffectual.” – Location 1895


  • “Efficiency; that is, the ability to do things right rather than the ability to get the right things done.” – Location 84
  • “Unless [the executive] changes it by deliberate action, the flow of events will determine what he is concerned with and what he does.” – Location 217
  • “A common cause of time-waste is largely under the executive’s control and can be eliminated by him. That is the time of others he himself wastes.” – Location 597
  • “[Many an executive] resign himself to having at least half his time taken up by things of minor importance and dubious value.” – Location 749
  • “If a man wants to be an executive—that is, if he wants to be considered responsible for his contribution—he has to concern himself with the usability of his ‘product’—that is, his knowledge.” – Location 946
  • “The effective executive tries to be himself; he does not pretend to be someone else. He looks at his own performance and at his own results and tries to discern a pattern. “What are the things,” he asks, “that I seem to be able to do with relative ease, while they come rather hard to other people?”” – Location 1449
  • “The distance between the leaders and the average is a constant. If leadership performance is high, the average will go up.” – Location 1470
  • “There are two different kinds of compromise…’half a loaf is better than no bread.’…’half a baby is worse than no baby at all.'” – Location 1985
  • “I always stop when things seem out of focus.” – Location 2316
  • “He needs opportunity, he needs achievement, he needs fulfillment, he needs values. Only by making himself an effective executive can the knowledge worker obtain these satisfactions.” – Location 2525

A Successful Life

A Successful Life - Mitt Romney Quote

I love how Mitt Romney defines a successful life in the article quotes below. It’s not according to how much money, power, or fame you have. That’s how the world defines it, but not Mitt. For him, it’s about living in consistency with your core values. Worldly success is allusive to some and comes easily to others. But ultimately, worldly success will not bring satisfaction or happiness. True happiness and contentment in life, a successful life, is completely in each of our hands and it comes from choosing to live the values of love of family, service to our fellow beings, and devotion to God.

The following are some of my favorite quotes are from an address given by Mitt Romney at the April 1999 BYU Marriott School convocation:

  • “The worldly success stories I have seen result from a blend of factors: yes, the choices you make and control but also the mental equipment you were born with, more than a fair measure of serendipity, and, where He does choose to intervene, the will of our loving Father. I am not convinced that it’s all up to you. Nor do I believe that if you live righteously, your stocks will rise in value, you’ll get a promotion, you’ll win an election, or you’ll get your research published.”
  • “There’s an element of unpredictability, of uncertainty, of lottery, if you will, in the world that has been created for us. If you judge your life’s success by the world’s standards, you may be elated or you may be gravely disappointed.”
  • “That, of course, is the secret to predictably successful living: the choice of standards by which you will judge your life’s success. If you judge by the world’s standards, you may well be disappointed, for too many factors for such success are random or out of your control. But there are other standards of success, where chance is not at play.”
  • “Some years ago, the firm I founded seemed to be coming apart at the seams. Our five partners were at each other’s throats. It seemed we all wanted different things from our lives and from our business. One was consumed with making money; he was obsessed with becoming a member of the Forbes 400. Another wanted power and control. I was of two minds, trying to balance the goals of my faith with the money I was earning. We met with a team-building consultant-psychologist. At the last of our weeklong sessions, he led us to something transforming. He said that if we lived our lives in conflict with our core values, we would experience stress, ill health, and deep regret. How, we asked, could we know what our core values were? He proceeded to ask us to think of the five or six people we most admired and respected, people currently living or who had ever lived. I chose the Master, Joseph Smith, Abraham Lincoln, and my mother, father, and wife. Then he asked us to write down next to each of those names the five or six attributes we thought of when we thought of that person. The attributes that we had then listed most frequently, he explained, represented our core values. Simply, if we lived in concert with those values, we lived with integrity. We would be happy and fulfilled. And, in contrast, if we lived in a way that was not consistent with those core values, we would ultimately be unfulfilled and unhappy. To my surprise, all five of my partners revealed the same or similar values: love, family, service, devotion. While we each may have pushed them aside to a different degree in our daily pursuits, they were at each of our centers.”
  • “I have discovered something else about these core values, about living with integrity, about these fundamental measures of successful living: with these at our center, chance does not come into play in determining our success or failure. The ability to live with integrity with the core of our values of love, family, service, and devotion is entirely up to us. Fundamentally, this is the business of successful living.”
  • “On my father’s 80th birthday, I asked him what had brought him the most satisfaction in his life, what his greatest accomplishment was. He had been a three-term governor, United States Cabinet member, presidential candidate, CEO, multimillionaire, and prominent Church leader. His answer was immediate: ‘My relationship with your mother and with my children and grandchildren is my greatest accomplishment and satisfaction.'”
  • “It is empowering, invigorating, and emancipating to live for the success you can control yourself, to live for your most deeply seated values and convictions.”
  • “When living in integrity with your core values, your success and fulfillment are not subject to votes, to others’ opinions, or to chance.”
  • “When John Bennion went to Harvard Business School, he already had a couple of children, one of whom was severely disabled. Then he was called to serve in a Church bishopric. Because his wife, family, and devotion to God were his core values and measures of success, he accepted the call. He didn’t put it off to a time when it would be more convenient or explain how much work he would have at business school. Surely his grades ended up suffering a little, but his life did not. Now, some 25 years on, his family Christmas letter celebrates these same core values, the same life of integrity—a successful life.”
  • “I have also watched such people lose their money and their worldly esteem without it eroding their lives, happiness, or their measures of success, for their lives were built on the unshakable foundation of personal integrity, of pursuit of values the world cannot corrupt or disappoint.”
  • “You will choose the bases to be won. Bold, beautiful billboards will beckon you to worldly success. But those bases may unpredictably elude you. Ultimately, even if you attain them, they will not satisfy. There are other bases to attempt, rescue, and win. These are ones that are in harmony with your most profound values. Achieving them is not a matter of serendipity or chance. With these, your life’s success is entirely in your own hands. A decision to live with integrity will make all the difference.”

Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader

Book Cover: Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary LeaderRonald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader is a great book by Dinesh D’Souza, a former policy analyst for the Reagan administration. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and particularly, the leadership principles that can be gleaned from Reagan’s words and actions.

After being shot in a failed assassination attempt, Reagan was visited by Mother Teresa who said, “Because of your suffering and pain you will now understand the suffering and pain of the world. This has happened to you at this time because your country and the world need you.” (p. 207) Reagan was a rare and effective leader, the type of which the world needed at that time. While there may never be another Reagan, the world could certainly use more leaders like him, now and in the future. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

Reagan’s Personality

  • “Here was a man who had the most important job in the world, yet he seemed relaxed, even casual, about the way he went about it. He seemed determined to transform the size and role of the federal government, but he seemed curiously detached for its everyday operations…He was comfortable consorting with aristocrats and playing golf with millionaires, who considered him one of them, yet he was equally at home with miner and construction workers, who were convinced that he shared their values and had their interests at heart.” (p. 8 )
  • Reagan was undeterred by other’s opinions: “In 1994, Peggy Noonan wrote Reagan a letter, asking how he felt about the attacks on his reputation. Reagan replied that he wasn’t going to lose sleep over them.” (p 22)
  • “Instead of having superpower relations conducted exclusively through official communiques, Reagan preferred private exchanges in which he could meet Soviet leaders face to face.” (p. 187)
  • “Frequently Reagan would be moved by someone’s tale of distress and, without checking to verify the circumstances, would send a care package or write a personal check.” (p. 216)
  • “He did not sound like a politician,” author Richard Reeves observed, “which made him a great politician.” (p. 249)
  • “Reagan succeeded where countless self-styled wise men have failed because he had a vision for America, he was not afraid to act, and he believed in the good sense and decency of the American people.” (p. 264)

Reagan’s Leadership

  • “This study seeks to solve the mystery. In the process, I have turned my early impression of Reagan on its head, Previously I admired the man but had doubts about his leadership. Now I see that he had his faults as an individual but was an outstanding statesman and leaders.” (p 23)
  • “On Reagan’s watch, dictatorships collapsed in Chile, Haiti, and Panama, and nine more countries moved toward democracy.” (p 27)
  • “He understood the importance of the big picture and would not be distracted by petty detail…He had a Churchillian tenacity about his moral and political beliefs; no matter what anybody said, he would never give in.” (p 29)
  • “We meant to change a nation, and instead we changed the world.” (p. 32)
  • Visiting the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp, he honored the victims of the Holocaust saying, “Here, death ruled. But we have learned something as well. Because of what happened, we found that death cannot rule forever … We are here because humanity refuses to accept that freedom, or the spirit of man, can be extinguished … Out of ashes–hope; and from all the pain–promise.” (p. 234)
  • “One of Reagan’s most remarkable leadership qualities [was] his ability to maintain his course and not to be deterred even in the face of intense opposition.” (p. 235)
  • “Reagan didn’t seem to mind having people on his team who did not share his views … A weak minded man or an inflexible ideologue would have surrounded himself exclusively with like-minded people. Reagan, by contrast, valued multiple channels of information.” (p. 240)

Reagan’s Government and Political Philosophy

  • Reagan is famous for, at least partially and convincingly, setting the expectation that “a president is responsible for the things that happen during his tenure.” When running for president in 1980 against the incumbent, Jimmy Carter, Reagan posed the question: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” (p 9)
  • To Reagan, the government’s approach to the economy could be summed up in the following way: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” (p. 53)
  • In his view, the most dangerous words in the English language were: “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” (p. 53)
  • Reagan would point out that even FDR attacked the government handout as a “narcotic” and a “subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” Roosevelt himself promised that government “must and shall quit this business of relief.” (p. 61)
  • When Reagan was informed that a growing economy was bringing in surplus revenues for the government, his immediate reaction was: “Give it back to the taxpayers.” (p. 67)
  • Reagan said he had no intention of hiring people who wanted a job in government; he wanted people of accomplishment from private enterprise who had to be persuaded to join the public sector. (p. 88)
  • “It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment…It is not my intention to do away with government. it is rather to make it work–work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.” (p. 98)
  • Reagan described Washington D.C. as “an island, surrounded on all sides by reality.” (p. 219)

Reagan’s Results

  • “For eight consecutive years, the Gallup Poll pronounced him the most admired man in the country. When he left office, his approval rating was around 70 percent, the highest of any president in the modern era.” (p 10)
  • “Economist Robert Barro issued an economic report card for presidents, based on who did the most to boost economic growth and reduce inflation, unemployment, and interest rates…Reagan’s record on this score is the best of all postwar presidents.” (p 26)
  • “In 1983, the final year that the Reagan tax cuts went into effect, the U.S. economy commenced a seven-year period of uninterrupted growth…the biggest peacetime economic boom in U.S. history.” (p. 109)
  • “As for the middle class, Reagan’s critics are quite right that this group became measurably smaller during the 1980s…They moved up rather than down…During the 1980s, millions of middle-class Americans disappeared into the ranks of the affluent.” (p. 113)
  • “The top 5 percent of income earners, who paid 35% of the Treasury’s tax revenue in 1981, bore 46% of the tax burden in 1988…The Reagan tax cuts, which were attacked as a bonanza for the rich, actually extracted a bigger share of tax revenue from upper-income taxpayers.” (p. 116)
  • Senator Ted Kennedy, who opposed nearly every Reagan initiative, said, “Whether you agree with him or not, Ronald Reagan was an effective president. He stood for a set of ideas … and he wrote most of them not only into public law but into the national consciousness.” (p. 228)

Reagan’s Sense of Humor

  • During one of his political campaigns, he happily signed for a reporter a picture of himself in bed with a chimpanzee from Bedtime for Bonzo, writing across the bottom, “I’m the one with the watch.”
  • Referring to some 1960s counterculture protesters, Reagan said, “Their signs say make love, not war. But they don’t look like they could do much of either.” (p. 71)
  • “A recession,” he said, “is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.” (p. 82)
  • Reagan was once informed that government subsidies had created 478 millions pounds of surplus butter. Reagan gasped. “Does anyone know where we can find four hundred and seventy eight million pounds of popcorn?” (p. 103)
  • A reporter yelled to Reagan, “You have blamed the mistakes of the past and you’ve blamed the Congress. Does any of the blame belong to you?” Without missing a beat, Reagan replied, “Yes. Because for many years I was a Democrat.” (p. 106)
  • After being shot in a failed assassination attempt and on his arrival at the hospital, he quipped to the doctors, “Please tell me you’re Republicans.” (p.206)

Family and Religious Values of Reagan

  • “I’ve always believed that we were, each of us, put here for a reason, that there is a plan, a divine plan, for all of us.” (p. 39)
  • Other stars lived in a complicated and fast-paced social world, but nto Reagan. “When the day’s shooting was over,” Nancy Reagan wrote in her autobiography, “he never stayed behind to have a drink with the fellows in the dressing room. He preferred to come home.” (p. 50)
  • As governor of California, on the way out of the office at 5pm, Reagan will call to his staff, “Hey, guys, get out. Go home to your wives.” When aides asked him who would get all the work done Reagan often replied, “It’s not that important. Go home.” (p. 65)
  • Reagan asked the evangelicals in an audience to “pray for the salvation of all those who live in totalitarian darkness” so that “they will discover the joy of knowing God.” (p. 135)
  • The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, Reagan once said, are “covenants we have made not only with ourselves, but with all mankind.” (p. 161)
  • “Reagan frequently complained about the vulgarity and sexual explicitness of contemporary films.” (p. 204)
  • After being shot in a failed assassination attempt, Reagan said, “I have decided that whatever time I have left is for Him.” (p. 207)
  • Reagan’s greatest regret was that he was unable to do more as president to protect the lives of the unborn and that America would never be “completely civilized” as long as abortion on demand was legal. (P. 212)
  • Aides who worked with Reagan reported “on several occasions he got down on his knees in the Oval Office and prayed with people who came to see him.” (p. 213)

Reagan on Freedom and Socialism

  • “You can’t control the economy without controlling people,” Reagan said in a campaign address for Barry Goldwater. “I suggest to you that there is no left or right, only an up or down: Up to the maximum of individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their humanitarian purpose, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have, whether the know it or not, chosen this downward path.” (p. 58)
  • Reagan questioned the very idea of government as a catalyst of social good. “Either we accept the responsibility for our own destiny, or we abandon the American revolution and confess that an intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” (p. 59)
  • “The best social program,” Reagan liked to say, “is a job.” (p. 68)
  • “Everyone feels sorry for the individual who has fallen by the wayside or who can’t keep up in our competitive society, buy my own compassion goes beyond  that to those millions of unsung men and women who get up every morning, send their kids to school, go to work, try to keep up the payments on their house, pay exorbitant taxes to make possible compassion for the less fortunate, and as a result have to sacrifice many of their own desires and dreams.” (p. 69)
  • “Freedom is … the universal right of all God’s children. Our mission is to defend freedom and democracy.” (p. 152)

Standing up to Communism

  • Reagan liked to quote Chambers and Solzhenitsyn: “Communism is a false religion that seeks to destroy the family, private property, and genuine religious faith in order to achieve a kind of earthly paradise.” (p. 75)
  • “The Soviet empire is faltering because rigid centralized control has destroyed incentives for innovation, efficiency and individual achievement.” (p. 140)
  • “There was one vital factor in the ending of the Cold War,” Margaret Thatcher said. “It was Ronald Reagan’s decision to go ahead with the Strategic Defense Initiative.” (p. 173)
  • Reagan advanced a case for missile defense that was not tactical but moral. Said he, “there was no way I could tell our people their government would not protect them against nuclear destruction.” (p. 190)
  • “Cardinal Casaroli, the Vatican secretary of state, remarked publicly that the Reagan military buildup, which he opposed at the time, placed unsustainable demands on the Soviet economy and thus precipitated the events that led to the disintegration of communism.” (p. 196)

Hatred of Reagan from Media and Intelligentsia

  • “Writing in Harper’s, Ncholas von Hoffman confesses that it was ‘humiliating to think of this unlettered, self-assured bumpkin being our president.” (p 14)
  • “Robert Wright of the New Republic pronounced him ‘virtually brain dead.'” (p 14)
  • “Right when [the elites] were busy sorting out the world’s problems, along came this corny Californian with no credentials or experience, armed with nothing but his own wacky ideas. He was able to oppose them successfully because he enjoyed a rapport with the American public that the elites never really understood.” (p 18)
  • From the New York Times: “The stench of failure hangs over Ronald Reagan’s White House.” (p. 106)