Apparently I offended many people in my Jon Winokur interview by publishing this Vichyous attack on the French:
Question: Is there any hope for the French?
Answer: The French will always be the French. That’s both the bad news and the good news. What the British entertainer Ivor Novello said over 50 years ago is still true: “There’s something Vichy about the French.”
To make amends, I asked Jon to compile his top ten quotes about France. He couldn’t.
France is the most civilized country in the world and doesn’t care who knows it. John Gunther
France is a nation devoted to the false hypothesis on which it then builds marvelously logical structures. Gore Vidal
France has neither winter nor summer nor morals—apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. Mark Twain
How can anyone govern a nation that has 240 different kinds of cheese? Charles de Gaulle
Dogs smoke in france. Ozzy Osbourne
We always have been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be, detested in France. Duke of Wellington
What I gained by being in France was learning to be better satisfied with my own country. Samuel Johnson
Everything is on such a clear financial basis in France. It is the simplest country to live in. No one makes things complicated by becoming your friend for any obscure reason. If you want people to like you, you have only to spend a little money. Ernest Hemingway
France is the only country where the money falls apart, and you can’t tear the toilet paper. Billy Wilder
They aren’t much at fighting wars anymore. Despite their reputation for fashion, their women have spindly legs. Their music is sappy. But they do know how to whip up a plate of grub. Mike Royko
The French probably invented the very notion of discretion. It’s not that they feel that what you don’t know won’t hurt you; they feel that what you don’t know won’t hurt them. To the French lying is simply talking. Fran Lebowitz
Every Frenchman wants to enjoy one or more privileges; that’s the way he shows his passion for equality. Charles de Gaulle
If the French were really intelligent, they’d speak English. Wilfrid Sheed
Germans with good food. Fran Lebowitz
14. [Edit] Germans with good food and bad cars ;)
Hi Guy, I am French and I am not offended by what you wrote but I can’t for the life of me figure out what is the point of posting this “top 14”? What are you trying to achieve here or prove (???).
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Well Jon… Guy is a true marketing person. He saw the hits for his post + all the comments and realized: “Thats a great topic to get more attention for my blog and finally more backlinks”. Thus I can increase my Technorati ranking and in the end reign over the (blog) world ;)
It’s just polarizing people and this post is a good example for doing it the less intelligent way.
Someone from Germany…
I wouldn’t worry too much Guy, after all the French never worry about offending everybody else with their disrespect for everything that isn’t French…. ;-)
Just one personal experience I would like to share: have you ever noticed as a visitor, business or tourist, in France the complete lack of clear meaningfull signs? And don’t try to ask the indigenous species because no matter how good you speak French, they refuse to understand you…. I thought it was me, but then I visited Spain and I don’t speak a word Spanish but everybody was friendly and willing to help, they even pretended they understood me…. :-)
Well, I’m not French, but I did not find that funny either.
Quand êtes-vous venu en France pour la dernière fois ? When did you come to France for the last time ?
I’d be so pleased to welcome you here !
For sale: French Army Rifle. Never fired. Only dropped once.
“I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.” — General George S. Patton
“French troops arrived in Afghanistan last week, and not a minute too soon. The French are acting as advisers to the Taliban, to teach them how to surrender properly.” — Jay Leno
“The French are always reticent to surrender to the wishes of their friends and always more than willing to surrender to the wishes of their enemies.” — unattributed
Raise your right hand if you like the French … raise both hands if you are French.
Q: How many Frenchman does it take to guard Paris?
A: Nobody knows, its never been tried
Q : How many gears in a French tank?
A: Six: five reverse and one forward, in case they are attacked from behind.
During one of the many wars that the French and the British fought (and the French usually lost), the French just happened to capture a British Major. An officer brought the Major to the French general for interrogation. The French general began ridiculing the Major for wearing “that stupid red tunic.” The French general said, “Why to you wear that red uniform, it makes it easy for us to shoot you.” The British major replied, “If I do get wounded, the blood will not show, and my soldiers will not be afraid.” The French general said, “That is a very good idea,” The Frenchy turned to his orderly and said, “From now on all French officers will wear brown pants.”
As a french I have a bad feeling with most of the quotes listed by Guy on French country.
What do you think of quotes below ?
In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language (Mark Twain)
The French complain of everything, and always (Bonaparte)
What’s the quickest way to make a profit? Buy a Frenchman for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth. (joke …)
When good Americans die, they go to Paris (Oscar Wilde)
And to close, the anti-french quote of the year ! “You know the trouble with the French, they don’t even have a word for “entrepreneur“ (G.W.Bush)
And I used to respect you, Guy… but this is just ridiculous. Would someone please explain to me, what the deal is with Americans disliking og mocking the French? Seriously, I don’t get it.
What I find interesting, is that France has a well-defined national identity and culture. The US of course has culture and identity, but a lot of it is tied up in branding of private enterprise: Think America, think McDonald’s, Marlboro men, MTV and Coca-Cola. Thinking of France doesn’t really conjure up images of French companies quite that readily.
Of course, that lack of branding might make Guy angry, I suppose.
But again, would someone American please explain what it is about the French, that annoys you so much?
I should add that I’m not French – I’m Danish.
Signal without noise huh ? Publishers have long since capitalised on quote books: they’re cheap to do, they sell well. Of course they also get read on the toilet. I will have to remember to take my laptop along next time I go. Looking forward to the next installment…
Oh, before you ask, I’m from Belgium. My favourite bar in the world is the Hemingway Bar. It has a British bar tender, is inspired by an American writer, and is in Paris. My idea of the world as it should be.
I don’t get it Guy – what does this have to do with business? This is beneath you. I’m all for a good joke, but this doesn’t fit with the spirit of this blog. Over time it seems like it’s become Noise Without Signal.
Good luck with your Technocrati A-list quest [*removes from feed*].
I loved it. About all I can say is that most of the jokes are too easy on the Frenchman’s manners. Unlike many Americans I’ve lived outside the US more than 14 years and I never was in a country where people treated me with the rudeness and disdain of the French. The most ideal country I know to be a remote, isolated island.
Vive la humor
You forgot one that my brother (who is almost fluent in French, and lived there a number of years) uses as a truism:
“France is the only country in the world who would pick as its national bird [Rooster] an animal that would stand knee-deep in s**t and crow about its glorious surroundings.”
Give credit to Todd Christiansen.
I am french and I cannot let you say these stupid things. Dogs don’t smoke in France.
Appart from that, i don’t feel offended as we too have lame jokes about nearly every single country in the world.
Aux armes !
I am French, and let me tell you:
When people say I am rude and arrogant, I reply that I must honor my ancestral traditions.
So, really no offense. Besides, the French have so many American jokes that are, hum, either off-color or downright offensive to people of English-like sensitivities that we feel it’s completely okay for Americans to have a little fun too.
As other posters have mentioned, I do question the appropriateness of the forum.
I too am put off by this. It feels way out of place. Being Korean-American, and having studied and lived in Japan (no I don’t speak Korean), I can certainly understand how people’s views (biases and prejudices) of others evolve. They are based on history, right and wrong, intolerance and superiority complexities (the normal human stuff) – not the future.
When on a trip to Norway, my wife and I had the option of spending a weekend in Sweden (she is Swedish by ethnicity) or Paris. Conditioned by this type of bull shittake, I did not want anything to do with going to France. My wife insisted, so we went. I must admit it was by far one of the most interesting, pleasing and adventurous trips I have had. The people were fantastic, the food was incredible, the way of life was relaxed and it was great not to be overwhelmed with billboards and bix box stuff. We had a blast!
PS – I hope Guy is just trying to get someone/somecompany in France to have him come speak (he might be pulling for a gig). If so, send him his own book and be a Mesnch by reminding him of “making (positive) meaning,” and the Karma thing :-) Oh, let’s not leave out out when smart people do dumb things!
Guy Kawasaki on the French
Sheesh, is Guy trying to be a hypocrite? All of his talk about making meaning, Karma, being a Mensch, and smart people doing dumb things? Oh, lets not forget his 4 most important start-ups – his kids. Hmm?
Here is the lead into h…
We might have a clue of why Guy decided to post that. In this article:
We can read the following:
Yesterday SEO Black Hat wrote 10 Steps to Guarantee You Make the Digg Front Page, which discusses 10 tips to help you get on the digg front page. Here are the tips he recommended.
1. Make a list or tutorial headline.
2. Write about digg.
3. Appeal to the Apple fanboys.
4. Doom and Gloom about how Global Warming will destroy us all.
5. Write about how great Firefox is.
6. Remember: Walmart, George Bush, and Fox News have NEVER done ANYTHING right.
7. Repeat after me: “Microsoft sucks, Microsoft Sucks, Microsoft Sucks.”
8. Make up outrageous statistics that you have not researched.
9. Insult as many groups as you can.
10. Include the world’s slowest loading plugin.
No 9 seems to be the target here.
The complete URL is…
While I don’t like the French, your blog has lost its appeal. Bye bye Guy.
October Linkfest – Signal Without Noise
Every day in October Im going to highlight a blog that I like and read daily.
Todays Blog is Signal Without Noise by Guy Kawasaki.
Here are the top five reasons I like Guys blog:
Good sound business advice from an entrepreneu…
The comments regarding this post being placed in an inappropriate forum are completely off-base. This is Guy Kawasaki’s blog. He can post whatever he damn well pleases.
Thanks for the laughs, Guy! I like your style.
Thanks. I appreciate the support.
My favorite comments are the ones where people say they aren’t going to read this blog anymore. Let me get this straight: This is a blog containing information about how to be a successful entrepreneur (among other things!).
So they are going to punish me by not reading ways to be successful. And thereby perhaps being less successful–or successful slower. That’s interesting logic. I know what Dirty Harry would say.
Oh yeah. This reminds of a great “Gomer Pile” (yah know – you are embarrassed because someone is embarrassing themselves) episode of a rather large American with a gigantic fanny pack wearing stone washed blue jeans and a Simpsons t-shirt at Eibisu station waiting for the Yamanote for Shibuya (Tokyo) during evening rush hour.
Above all the noise I hear “WHY CAN’T ANYONE SPEAK English!!!!!!!!!!!!” as a this person prances around, itimidating everyone (including me) and demands they tell her wear she is. LOL!!
Oh my Goddess, I see where people get their opinions of us. LOL…
If anything, thanks (I guess) for the funny memory.
There are many, many fine Frenchmen. They’re the ones who emigrate.
Now this is a good comment. I do not speak French, so I stuck it in http://babelfish.altavista.com/tr and got the text below. The translation is obviously crude, but you’ll get the gist.
The original is here:
You which read me sometimes, you know that I make sometimes refer to Guy Kawasaki consulting, VC, contractor… I even bought his book because I find that it has a concrete and pragmatic approach. But there, by reading this “synthetic” note on France and the French my blood made only one turn. It smoked the fitted carpet Guy to draw up such a poor Signal Ten concerning us, with quotations drawn from intellectuals as famous as Ozzy Osbourne… Then what, Vinvin finally didn’t succeed in raising the intellectual level of our American “friends” with his show Hello America? Such an amount of worse Guy, you will have sought it. Me also, I can establish a “Signal Ten: the United States, Americans “. #1 – violence is one of the American large-scale industries. Alain Bosquet #2 – As it is difficult for the Americans, even the Americans of goodwill, not to regard itself as the center of the universe! Simone de Beauvoir #3 – the Americans are childish and they are caught very with the serious one. Robert Altman #4 – the machines are the only women whom the Americans can make happy. Paul Morand #5 – the American ones hope to discover in their husbands of the perfections that the English ones await only their Masters of hotel. Somerset Maugham #6 – the American who, the first, discovered Colomb made annoying discovered. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg #7 – the Americans want to invade because they do not have history. Jean-Luc Godard #8 – A each generation, American must define what wants to say “to be American”. Bill Clinton #9 – It is said that the Americans eat all the day. They is false. But what they eat is so bad that they must there be begun again at several times. Jean Rigaux #10 – the French is lazy who works much. The English lazy who does not do anything. The German a worker who gives himself evil. The American, a worker who can arrange himself not to make large thing. Auguste Detoeuf Good, it is calmed Guy with that, or I give a ladle from there?
Can’t wait until you do one about blacks, or how about Jews. If you are really desperate I’m sure you can find a number of joke books about the Polish that you can draw inspiration from.
France is a country based on blood and soil, while America is an idea, founded on a shared belief in ordered liberty.- Rod D Martin
Rule Number X of The Art of The Start: don’t hesitate to polarize your audience!
to make amends, you ask jon to make a list? he can’t so you compile a list yourself. is THIS list supposed to make amends? have you been hanging out with bill o’reilly? guy, you make me sad and you make me laugh.
Is this the ‘Art of the Staat’?
(‘State’ is German for ‘State’)
That was delightful !!! I’m French and no offence at all. I burst out laughing, especially with the dog smoke stuff.
And for the after thought (serious thought), I do think that The French must learn to be less ignorant, and I do think that Americans must stop thinking that “to bring peace, you must vaporize a country” (this is a quote from an American that I heard the last time I’ve been in your beautiful country.)
See you soon Guy. To my opinion you are still welcome in France.
Why thanks! If I find myself wanting to get lung cancer, I will surely visit France! :-)
Thank you for your comment on my website.
Hope you understand this is just a game for me. Your translation is pretty good. I’ll be glad to welcome you if you have the opportunity to come in France. You’ll see, as a French proverb says “everything ends with songs” (maybe because we eat and drink before…).
I understand. It’s a game for all of us. No trips planned to France right now. Let me know if you get to Silicon Valley.
France is a good product to market, and with the help of Guy, we get one more proof here: it polarizes people, as some readers have noticed.
As a French (and a regular reader of this blog), I must say I’m an exception. These postings are just humor, and we French love to laugh.
To understand French, I’d like to recommend “Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French”, by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow. It contains a few factual errors, in particular the legislative framing of the relations between the executive and legislative branches. However, it’s entertaining and well observed. I must say that having this outside view taught me things about my own country.
Hey, maybe American people can go the cheese school to better understand the french joie de vivre: http://www.cheeseschoolsf.com/
Only in the US…
Where is the great evangelist? If you really want to make amends, assuming that it’s necessary, try to give your own opinion about Jon’s answer. Guy, I’m sure you have an opinion, isn’t it?
My own personal favorite quote about the French is the classic English ditty:
The French are a funny race
They fight with their feet
And F*ck with their face
Like Ch Tronche, I definitely recommend the book : “Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French”, by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow.
I lived in Paris for 6 months.
What I found most interesting: we seem to have a bigger problem with the French than they do with us. Why it that?!
Over here (LA to be exact), the media would have you believe that the french are over there plotting their next ploy to prove just how anti-american they really are. When honestly, they (the french) could care less.
They like their way of life. They enjoying living. And they have no desire to adopt our way of life (aside from some economic issues that some believe are a direct result of socialist tendencies). And that pisses us off.
ADMIT IT!!! :)
For those who seek other source of inspiration on startups, funding and the art of start, I recommend the following site … as a complement to reading Guy’s blog of course.
Guy, I really liked your video on “Is advertising dead ?”. You showed us your best profile. Continue the good job and lighten up ! ;-)
Thanks for the feedback. If I get any lighter, I’ll float off the ground. :-)
“It smoked the fitted carpet…”
You just have to love those automatic translators. Sheer poetry.
For what it’s worth, I’m american and do like the French people. So before everyone gets all pissy just realize we’re all still human and at the end of the day we are more alike than different in the basic needs/wants of our lives.
It’s actually quite funny to see how easily people are polarized over statements, and I find this social dynamic quite interesting as I’m sure Guy does as well.
Great! The humor is lost on me and I feel insulted. I guess I need to “lighten up”, but you are much better with self-deprecating humor (a great quality lacking in France unfortunately).
One thing the French are ahead of you on, Guy, is that they’ve moved on from deconstructionism to poststructuralism.
Making fun won’t win you many friends, now will it? This is more than absurd, this is inane.
Thanks Guy for giving me a chance to post a comment on your blog! I’ve been waiting for this moment for so much time ;)
First, I think that this post is just another proof that your famous definition of the term “blogger” is right : “Someone with nothing to say writing for someone with nothing to do”.
As we all can see, there are a lot of Frenchmen commenting this post, including me.
Why? It’s only because we have so much free time. You forgot an 11th quote about how lazzy we are. You now, we have a law here that limits our working hours to 35 per week.
I think you’re all just jealous. Nothing more ;)
If you want to know more about Frenchmen and understand us, I think you should visit Vinvin’s website called “Bonjour America!” where he tries to explain our differences to you, our northern American fellows. Here you go:
Nota: Please activate your “humor” mode when reading this comment.
Aniti-publicity is still the publicity!
Political correctness and over-sensitivity run amok amongst the commenters. Funny stuff, and that’s appropriate anytime, despite their persnickety responses from these few.
Je suis Francais et je trouve cela plutot amusant, si au moins les japonais savaient ce que l’on dit d’eux… ;)
Vous êtes le rare qui peut voir l’humeur quand il est là : -)
What a wonderful quote you’ve found:
“The French probably invented the very notion of discretion. It’s not that they feel that what you don’t know won’t hurt you; they feel that what you don’t know won’t hurt them. To the French lying is simply talking.” Fran Lebowitz
I’ve ancestors who are French, an a number of friends who are French (six to be exact, both Canadian and European) and the quote gives an excellent insight into their perspective and everyday discourse! In fact, my Dear Old Mother quite often exhibits this particular aspect of French character.
I think if others understood this aspect of French character, we would see them in a very different light … and we could understand their way of communicating does not really use “lies” per se. They simply believe there are circumstances where it does no one any good to focus on pathologies; they are in fact a very positive, optimimstic people.
Classic. France also has one of the lowest rates of entrepreneurial activity in the world given it’s absurd labor laws and socialist culture so I’m not surprised you despise France. True entrepreneurs can’t endorse the country.
Eric Corl $
There is no hell, there is only France. — Frank Zappa
France and the French. Top Ten Quotes.
Guy Kawasaki recently published on his blog a very funny collection of quotations about French (mostly by French as well). Caroline, Gilles, and Michel, I’m re-publishing the quotations here for you to avoid unnecessary redirections and let your commen…
you are all just dumb Americans that have nothing better to do than make fun of the French because you are jealous of how much better they are. Face it, the French are just better in every way.
“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion.”
General Norman Schwartzkopf
Just surfing on google looking for French quotations and look what I found! I Lived in France ( Paris) many years ago when I was a student and have fond memories. Yes I met many arrogant people but when they saw I had a genuine interest in their culture friendships and respect developed. If a French student went to school in New York, what would be their impression? Both countries are arrogant and self absorbed.Remember we would never have won the revolution without their support.
Sad to see that being anti-french has beome such a disease in America. I’m waiting to see some asian jokes on your blog next.
“I wouldn’t worry too much Guy, after all the French never worry about offending everybody else with their disrespect for everything that isn’t French….”
That’s pretty funny coming from an american with your oh so famous open mindness, language skills and re-elected president… Indeed some have met arrogant frenchmen and I’ve met ignorant americans but as we say in France:
“Y’a des cons partout” => There are idiots everywhere