One from Seth Godin:
So I guess my advice would be to either build your product and network along the way to align with exactly what the middlemen want... or reject them and live/thrive without them. It's the middle ground that's really frustrating.
His argument, perpetually, is "build a good product and people will come." His idea is simple and his delivery is honest. You don't have to be a product guru or market trend god to determine whether a product is good or not. You can decide for yourself. Once you truly DECIDE (i.e., you KNOW your product is great, end of discussion), now you're in a position to move and set your own rules.
The same goes for YOURSELF. Once you truly decide that you, as a product, are great, it becomes much easier to distribute yourself. Because we are all, in the end, marketable products ;)
How about something a little more... vintage. Benjamin Rush was a leading physician cum major political factor in the late 1700's. He wrote an essay in 1773 refuting the idea of slavery, an essay that foreshadows how enlightened people today think about racial differences (i.e. different is not synonymous with inferior). The essay, "The Pennsylvanian," is a great read but one quote jumps out at me as important to remember today:
No manufactory can ever be of consequence enough to society to admit the least violation of the Laws of justice or humanity.
What B. Rush just said is that industry and business are not to be considered more important than human rights. Because a pharmaceutical company makes compounds that help people does not let it off the hook for questionable marketing pratices. Because a car manufacturer promotes itself as safe and efficient does not absolve it from resisting fleet-wide MPG increases. Because a clothing manufacturer makes inexpensive clothes does not release it from the responsibility to take care of its employees, regardless of where they live.
Remember that your money isn't just a ticket to more stuff, it's a vote. Choose wisely.