I wanted to post this as a pin-up or reminder for myself of some really high value insights of one of Silicon Valley’s most successful entrepreneurs. This was a summary of a Ryan Mac’s summary from the lecture series he did at Stanford.
1. Globalization is not (all there is to) progress.
There is no innovation going from from 1 to n and copying something somebody else has done. To be great, you have to do something new and important. All great companies went from 0 to 1. They solved a problem in a unique way.
2. It is better to be right than to be contrarian.
Value tends to be hidden. The key question is: What important truth do very few people agree with you on? The business version of this is: What valuable company is nobody building? A certain degree of contrarianism is embedded in these questions. Wrestling with them can lead to important truths.
3. Secrets exist.
They are discoverable.
4. Capitalism and competition are antonyms, not synonyms.
Competition in practice it is destructive and should be avoided. Better to think about how to run away from the fighting and build a monopoly business instead.
5. People lie.
We overlook the importance of sales and distribution. Betting distribution right is crucial; most companies fail because of distribution problems, not technology problems. One must understand the theatre of sales.
6. Much of life is a power law.
Things are (not) normally distributed but follow a power-law distribution, which can be counter-intuitive and uncomfortable. Some companies succeed wildly. Most fail and go to zero. Finding the company that falls on the right tail of the distribution is absolutely crucial.
7. A bad plan is better than no plan. A good plan is even better.
Take a meaningful swing at something big. Playing it safe has serious costs and may not be as safe as it is perceived to be. You must have a plan. Without it you are resigning your fate to chance.
8. Foundations matter.
Thiel’s Law: A startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed. Founding mistakes will amplify and destroy companies from within. Think carefully about keeping people’s motivations and incentives aligned.
9. Founders are different.
Founders are at the extremes on both ends: they are extreme insiders and extreme outsiders, disagreeable and charismatic, infamous and famous.
10. Find a frontier and go for it.
Quoting from Ryan Mac
” There is something importantly singular about each new thing. There is a mini singularity whenever you start a company or make a key life decision. In a very real sense, the life of every person is a singularity.
The obvious question is what you should do with your singularity. The obvious answer, unfortunately, has been to follow the well-trodden path. You are constantly encouraged to play it safe and be conventional. The future, we are told, is just probabilities and statistics. You are a statistic.
But the obvious answer is wrong. That is selling yourself short. There are still many large white spaces on the map of human knowledge. You can go discover them. So do it. Get out there and fill in the blank spaces. Every single moment is a possibility to go to these new places and explore them.
There is perhaps no specific time that is necessarily right to start your company or start your life. But some times and some moments seem more auspicious than others. Now is such a moment. If we don’t take charge and usher in the future—if you don’t take charge of your life—there is the sense that no one else will.”