From Antiques to Die For

  • If you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. And if you can’t hang on, move on.
  • Steer into the spin.
  • Never gossip. Don’t spread it and don’t listen to it, either. Gossip will always come back at you sideways and bite you in the butt. Josie’s mother added, there’’s another reason to stay quiet, Josie—gossip hurts.
  • When in doubt, stay quiet.
  • Situational ethics is bull. A lot in life isn’t black or white. But for those things that are, don’t fall into the trap of rationalization.
  • When you’re at work, no matter how upset you are, put a smile on your face, and get down to business. Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.
  • You can’t control how you feel, but you can control how you act. Never make decisions based on fear, only hope.
  • The Lodges talk only to the Cabots, he’d mimicked, recounting the old adage, and the Cabots talk only to God.
  • Get good at it. Be generous with your knowledge, confirm your staff’s understanding, and continually remind yourself that not everything needs to be done perfectly.
  • Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.
  • We believe what we want to believe. And usually, we want to believe there’s hope.
  • Losing a parent when you’re between ten and twenty is the worst thing that can happen to a child, my father told me the day of my mother’s funeral. At that age, you’re old enough to understand the magnitude of your loss but too young to handle it well. Be gentle with yourself, kiddo.
  • You’re in for some tough times.
  • When you have clear evidence that you’re not able to accomplish something on your own, stop pretending that you’re more talented, experienced, or skilled than you are, and get help.
  • When in doubt, tell the truth. People don’t expect it, and it sets you apart as a winner.
  • When you can’t think of what to do—breathe. Stop, think, breathe.
  • To silver light in the dark of night.
  • People often say they’re doing their best when what they really mean is that they don’t want to change what they’re doing.

From Deadly Appraisal

  • When someone attacks your motive for doing something, he instructed, respond with facts. Don’t get defensive. Don’t attack back. Don’t let your emotional reaction show in any way. Stay calm and stick to the facts.
  • Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.
  • To silver light in the dark of night.
  • My father once told me that no matter what, it was always better to know the truth than not. He never said it wasn’t frightening, just that it was better than the alternative. Ignorance, he said, is never bliss.
  • As my father repeated over and over again when I engaged in wishful thinking as a child, work not wishing makes it so.
  • Never gossip at work, my father warned me when I started at Frisco’s. If it would bother you to read it in tomorrow’s paper, don’t say it.
  • An unknown enemy is more dangerous than one you know, he declared. Once you know who you’re up against, he said, you can out-maneuver the son-of-a-bitch.
  • Ignore a sarcastic tone and deal only with the content.
  • Irrational and random events happen, he told me, but not nearly as often as people would have you believe. If it’s not logical, it’s probably not true.
  • My father didn’t just say Ignorance is never bliss. He also told me that Knowledge is always power.
  • In business, try hard never to be wrong, my father told me years ago. You’re not allowed a lot of errors in the big leagues. And the easiest way to avoid big mistakes is to consider everything—gather the facts and weigh them appropriately. The biggest trap is selective perception.
    And you can’t avoid it, my father warned. Selective perception happens all the time. So avoid arrogance at all costs. Never be positive—never be wrong.
  • Remember, Josie, he said, cornered rats almost always survive.
  • When you don’t know what’s best to do, my father once advised, pick the least bad of the alternatives. If you still don’t know what to do, stop thinking about it. Instead, call a friend and have some fun for awhile.
  • Don’t talk until you can control yourself, my father once warned me. Otherwise, people will only hear your emotion, not your message.
  • People only see what they want to see, my father told me.

From Consigned to Death

  • The best defense is a good offense.
  • Feel all you want, Josie, but show nothing. In business, the more you show, the more you lose.
  • Stop, breathe, think. Stop, breathe, think.
  • Expect the best, Josie, but prepare for the worst.
  • In business, it’s all about the business. If someone won’t make money doing business with you, they won’t do business with you no matter how much they like you.
  • My father told me that if a man didn’t open the car door for me when he brought me home after a date, I should just tap on the horn and he, my father, would come right out of the house and escort me inside. I smiled at the memory. Oh, dad.
  • I repeated the rhyme my father had used to teach me about valves when I was a child. Righty-tighty; lefty, loosey.
  • He once told me that the trick to outwitting sarcastic people was to ignore their tone and deal only with their content.
  • My father had taught me to shoot handguns when I was in my early teens, encouraging me to fear the people who misuse weapons, not the weapons themselves.
  • I’d modified my father’s often repeated admonition to buy cheap and sell high—I bought cheap and sold just a little higher.
  • My father always said that the more difficult the negotiation, the more important it was never to let them see you sweat.
  • Barney maintained his friendly, open manner, and she was the bad guy, his bastard, my father would have said. “Every leader has a bastard,” he’d told me. “In any negotiation, figure out who’s in that role right away, greet them with a smile and a hearty handshake, and watch your back.”
  • My father once told me that the secret to pitching new business was to avoid adjectives and generalities which only sound like marketing hype, and to stick to the facts. And to keep it short.
  • To silver light in the dark of night, he’d say, and raise his glass.
  • My father once told me that money didn’t buy happiness, it bought freedom. The trick is to decide what sets you free.
  • My father always encouraged giving responsibility to young people. When I’d got the job at Frisco’s and expressed wonder that they’d entrust both valuable antiques and clients to me, an untested and unknown 21-year old, he’d remarked that we, as a nation, entrusted our security to 18-year-olds with guns, and that that strategy had worked out pretty well for us so far.
  • My father used to say the same thing to me, that I had to give myself a break.
  • Fake it ‘til you make it.
  • It reminded me of my father’s instruction about handling anger. He always said that when other people are loud and shrill, you should take a deep breath, smile politely, and speak quietly and courteously. “It disarms them, kiddo,” he told me. “Kill ‘em with kindness. They’ll follow your lead because you’ll sound like a leader.”