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Quotes from One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich

Quotes from One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Let your work warm you up, that was your only salvation.

…all were chilled to the bone, not so much from the actual cold as from the prospect of having to spend the whole day in it.

Work was like a stick. It had two ends. When you worked for the knowing you gave them quality; when you worked for the fool you simply gave him eyewash. Otherwise, everybody would have croaked long ago. They all knew that.

From the outside, everyone in the squad looked the same–their numbered black coats were identical–but within the squad there were great distinctions. Everyone had his grade.

…you should never be conspicuous. The main thing was never to be seen by a campguard on your own, only in a group.

He sat in that uncomfortable way, involuntarily emphasizing that he was unfamiliar with the place and that he’d come there on some minor matter.

How can you expect a man who’s warm to understand a man who’s cold?

…food gulped down is no food at all; it’s wasted; it gives you no feeling of fullness.

There is nothing as bitter as this moment when you go out to the morning roll call–in the dark, in the cold, with a hungry belly, to face a whole day of work. You lose your tongue. You lose all desire to speak to anyone.

…all his longing was concentrated in that cigarette butt–which meant more to him now, it seemed, than freedom itself–but he would never lower himself like that Fetikov, he would never look at a man’s mouth.

When the weather was cold the guards were fairly lenient in the morning, though not in the evening.

No [guard] dared make a mistake. If you signed for one head too many, you filled the gap with your own.

“You always get the sharpest frost at sunrise,” said Buinovksky. “You see, it’s the coldest point of the night.”

The thoughts of a prisoner–they’re not free either. They keep returning to the same things. A single idea keeps stirring.

During his years of prisons and camps he’d lost the habit of planning for the next day, for a year ahead, for supporting his family. The authorities did his thinking for him about everything–it was somehow easier that way.

Easy money weighs light in the hand and doesn’t give you the feeling you’ve earned it. There was truth in the old saying: pay short money and get short value.

In camp the squad leader is everything: a good one will give you a second life; a bad one will put you in your coffin.

They tormented the life out of you with their vigilance.

You had to eat with all your mind on the food–like now, nibbling the bread bit by bit, working the crumbs up into a pace with your tongue and sucking it into your cheeks. And how good it tasted–that soggy black bread! What had he eaten for eight, no, more than eight years? Next to nothing. But how much work had he done? Ah!

Well it’s said that nationality doesn’t mean anything and that every nation has it’s bad eggs. But among all  the Estonians Shukov had known he’d never met a bad one.

If you show your pride too much, he said, you’re lost. There was truth in that. Better to growl and submit. If you were stubborn they broke you.

…no spoon is as good for scraping a bowl of cereal as a bread crust.

Difficult as it was to start working in such cold, the important things was to get going.

He’d been in the camp only two years but already he understood everything: if you don’t use your teeth you get nothing.

He never spoke without making a joke, that Kilas, and was popular with the whole squad for it.

Why, you might wonder, should prisoners wear themselves out, working hard, ten years on end, in the camps? You might think they’d say: No thank you, and that’s all. We’ll drag ourselves through the day till evening, and then the night is ours.

But that didn’t work. To outsmart you they thought up work squads—but not squads like the ones outside the camps, where every man is paid his separate wage. Everything was arranged in the camp that the prisoners egged one another on. It was like this: either you all got a bit extra or you all croaked.

Regardless, you put your back into the work. For unless you could managed to provide yourself with the means of warming up, you and everyone else would give out on the spot.

You don’t have to be very bright to carry a handbarrow. So the squad leader gave such work to people who’d been in positions of authority.

You’ve only to show up to whip a beaten dog.

More depends on the work report than the work itself. A clever squad leader was one who concentrated on the work report. That was what kept the men fed.

Though there was little wind that day, there might be plenty tomorrow, and this bend would prevent the pipe from smoking. They mustn’t’ forget that it was from themselves they they were fixing the stove.

Wonder of wonders! How time flew when you were working! That was something he’d often noticed.The days rolled by in the camp–the were over before you could say “knife”. But the years, they never rolled by: they never moved by a second.

Waste not, want not.

…five days’ work for for four days’ food.

Tiurin never wasted his words, and if he permitted himself to talk, then he was in good humor.

Thank God for the man who does his job and keeps his mouth shut.

A man should build a house with his own hand before he cars before he calls himself and engineer.  

A man with two trades can easily learn another ten.

If a man asks for help why not help him? Those Baptists had something there.

It’s no joke to rob five hundred men of over half an hour.

A man who’s in a hurry won’t live to see the end of his stretch–he’ll tire and soon be done for.

Who’s the zek’s main enemy? Another zek. If only they weren’t at odds with one another–ah, what a difference that’d make.

That bowl of soup–it was dearer than freedom, dearer than life itself, past, present, and future.

Most writing in camp was done on plywood, not on paper. It was surer, somehow, more reliable. The guards and turnkeys used wood, too, for keeping tally of the zeks. You can scrape it clean for the next day, and use it again. Economical.

Life in camp wore him out from reveille to bedtime, with not a second for idle reflections.

Generally, the evening stew was much thinner than at breakfast: if they’re to work, prisoners must be fed in the morning; in the evening they’ll go to sleep anyway.  

The belly is a demon. It doesn’t remember how well you treated it yesterday; it’ll cry out for more tomorrow.

…the quickest louse is always the first to be caught in the comb.

For all that he may be unable to read or write, a herdsman knows if there’s a calf missing when he’s driving the herd.

Now he didn’t know either whether he wanted freedom or not.

The post Quotes from One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich first appeared on williamwickey.com.

The Zen of John McPhee: Rising From The Plains

“Hollywood cannot resist the Tetons. If you have seen Western movies, you have seen the Tetons. They have appeared in the background of countless pictures, and must surely be the most tectonically active mountains on film, drifting about, as they will, from Canada to Mexico, and from Kansas nearly to the coast.” - John McPhee, Rising From The Plains

Rising from the Plains not only changed the way I look at the Wyoming landscape, but left with me a certainty that geological awareness is good for you.

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Growth Hacking A Best Seller

The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself. – Aaron Ginn, Head of Growth, Stumbleupon

There’s been a lot of talk about “growth hacking” lately.

The term is en vogue but no matter what you call it – growth hacking, lean marketing, marketing 2.0, marketing 3.0 – it’s shorthand for the methods used by a new generation of multi-billion companies such as Facebook, Dropbox, and Airbnb to build their brands without spending a dime on “traditional marketing.”

Growth Hacking at its core means putting aside the notion that marketing is a self-contained act that begins toward the end of a company’s or a product’s development life cycle. It is, instead, a way of thinking and looking at your business. A “growth hacker” is someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable.


I recommend that people don’t get caught up on the term “growth hacker” or even a specific definition for it. Focus instead on the concepts behind it. – Sean Ellis, CEO, Qualaroo


Let’s keep it simple:

Growth hacking is marketing in today’s media landscape. It’s about maximizing ROI – about expending resources and energy where they will be most effective. At it’s core, marketing is lead generation. Anything that gets customers is marketing. It’s a shift from focusing on customer acquisition and creative profitability over ‘awareness’ and ‘publicity.’ Now more than ever, doing more with less is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Enter Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday.

Ryan Holiday is a media strategist and prominent writer on strategy and business. He dropped out of college at nineteen to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power. He then went on to advise many bestselling authors and multiplatinum musicians. He served as director of marketing at American Apparel for many years, where his campaigns have been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube, and Google and written about in AdAge, the New York Times, and Fast Company.

Ryan has been on my radar for many years. Back in 2007 I was googling “Marcus Aurelius” and an interview Ryan did with UVA literature professor Gregory Hays was a first page result. There was very little in the way of commentary about Meditations out there at the time and here was this guy, my age, in marketing, blogging about stoicism. I thought that was really cool.

Since then, Ryan has had an impressive career. His first book Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator was a best seller. Ryan’s book The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph from earlier this year is an excellent introduction to practical Stoicism. The applicability of both these reads is not by any means limited to those interested in marketing or philosophy. I recommend you pick them up.

A couple of months back, Ryan put out a blog post announcing that he was looking for someone to help with the release of his upcoming paperbackGrowth Hacker Marketing. I pitched him an idea about how we might go about building a powerful pre-launch team of early adopters by offering a free advance copy of the book to college students actively enrolled in Fall 2014 courses covering advertising, PR, new media, entrepreneurship, and computer science.

With Ryan’s help, we massaged that idea into a successful lauch campaign.  The campaign was executed in 5 week-long stages: building and testing the site, organic promotion, targeted free promotion, and paid promotion.


Virality isn’t luck. It’s not magic. And it’s not random. These a science behind why people talk and share. A recipe. A formula, even. – Johan Berger, Contagious


Our objective: generate a wave of Amazon reviews, pre-orders and word-of-mouth PR from our pre-launch audience. Our goal: get 500 qualified sign ups with a potential cap of 1000.

Our strategy was a success and Growth Hacker Marketing launched with a wave of pre-orders and positive Amazon reviews.

So here’s how we executed from start to finish:

The techniques Ryan used to create and promote Growth Hacker Marketing – including our launch strategy – are detailed in-depth by The New York Observer: “Disrupting How Bestsellers Are Made: Apply Startup-style Growth Hacking To Publishing”. Be prepared to settle in. This article tips the scales at over 4750 words. If you’re looking for details and actionable advice, here you go. You can also read more about the project on Ryan’s website.

For a shorter recap of the project, here’s a SlideShare on how Ryan took Growth Hacker Marketing from a minimum viable product to a bestseller.

It was a pleasure working with Ryan.  It’s easy to see how his work ethic and ingenuity have made him so successful.

I also highly recommend you check out Ryan’s reading list newsletter. I typically pick up at least one book he recommends a month.


Growth hackers have a common attitude, internal investigation process, and mentality unique among technologists and marketers. The mindset of data, creativity, and curiosity allows a growth hacker to accomplish the feat of growing a user base into the millions. – Andrew Chen


“Disrupting How Bestsellers Are Made: Apply Startup-style Growth Hacking To Publishing by Ryan Holiday via The New York Observer

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