Our lives are busy, busy, busy. That's why, when we stop to read something amusing, we may sometimes feel guilty and remember that there are more serious things that need reading, not to mention (for some of us) articles that need to be written, and laundry that needs to be done. Go ahead and permit yourself the chuckle, though -- because sometimes you can get some investment benefit out of unexpected places.

For example, consider Wired's 2006 Foot-in-Mouth Awards. As I read through them, I realized that the quoted famous people who said regrettable things were offering me some investing insights.

For example, Seagate (NYSE:STX) CEO Bill Watkins was quoted in Fortune magazine as having said, "Let's face it. We're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap -- and watch porn." Wired noted, "It's certainly cynical, but to some folks it probably just sounds honest." I agree. If I were thinking about investing in Seagate, this tidbit would give me a little clue about its CEO -- it would tell me that he's not one to always be circumspect about what he says. This kind of frankness should appeal to some investors, while it will likely turn others off.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) investors should be interested in several of the entries. Bill Gates was cited for saying in the early '90s that the "Internet will never amount to anything." As well, he said in 2004, "I don't think the success of the iPod can continue in the long term, however good Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may be," and also "Two years from now, spam will be solved."

Anyone counting on Microsoft to keep dominating on the back of Gates' prophetic visions might want to reconsider. If you're placing your faith in CEO Steve Ballmer instead, note that he explained that he's laid down the following law to his children: "You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod." To me, that's not encouraging. I'd rather have my CEO use and explore competitive technologies than ignore them.

As a more inspiring example of CEO-speak, consider this Steve Jobs nugget from 1998: "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."

Then there's Ken Kutagari of Sony's (NYSE:SNE) video-game division, who declared, "The next generation begins when we say it does." Hmm ... looking at this chart of Sony's five-year performance makes one wonder when it will begin.

Another depressing quotation is from IBM's (NYSE:IBM) executive vice president of innovation and technology, Nicholas Donofrio, who said, "The fact is that innovation was a little different in the 20th century. It's not easy [now] to come up with greater and different things." That's not the kind of can-do innovative optimism I'd like to see in the companies I own.

So next time you're reading the words of a corporate bigwig, think about what you're really hearing.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Microsoft, which is an Inside Value recommendation. The Motley Fool has a full disclosure policy.