If you spend time in San Francisco, you hear a lot of startup ideas. A few of them sound really cool, but a lot of them sound pretty dumb. I used to fall into the trap of criticizing them, without the founder present, because it was easy and fun. He thinks he's going to rent blowup mattresses in people's living room? Ha!
You feel smart when you shoot down someone's idea, and that makes you want to do it more. If you look at a lot of popular media creators, you'll notice that they like to shoot everything down. Besides being fun and snarky, they will often be right. Most new ideas do fail and we live in a society where the price of testing new ideas is cheap, so we do it often.
The problem is that the best ideas all sound stupid at first, and few of us are good at predicting which dumb ideas will actually work. If you aren't going to be good at that part, I don't think you've earned the right to call out the ones you think will fail.
Even new amazing products will have flaws. There are no Apple products which I think are good enough to use, but I still try to find things about them that I like. For example, a friend watched a movie on his MacBook the other day and I was blown away by how good the speakers sounded. I'd rather talk about those positives than the negatives.
Beyond that, I would like to be on the side of people who are trying crazy things. No one benefits from me telling someone, directly or indirectly, that their idea isn't going to work. Some support or discussing individual aspects of their plan is a lot more productive. How many crazy ideas that would have worked died before being launched because of the surrounding negativity?
If I listened to negativity, I would have never bought an island with friends, never moved to Las Vegas, never tried to start Sett (it failed, so maybe I should have), and certainly never improved my social and dating skills. Oddly no one every told me that CruiseSheet was a bad idea.
Everything worth doing will have tradeoffs and challenges. Rather than focus on those and feel smug for being right when they fail, let's help people identify and overcome those things and celebrate them when their crazy "dumb" idea works.
Photo is Lee Canyon ski resort in Las Vegas. The season just opened, so I've been twice so far. How cool is it to ski through a ponderosa pine forest and see the mojave desert in the background? Vegas is awesome.
Superhuman 4 is filling up but there are a few spots left. Check out my previous post for more information. If you've contacted me about it already but haven't heard back, don't worry— I'll be emailing you soon.
A friend asked my yesterday why I do so many crazy things. What's my raison d'etre? He mentioned a few specific examples, and I had reasons for each, but those reasons weren't similar to each other. I've been thinking about it since then, though. Is there some universal motivator that's behind everything I do? If so, knowing what it is might be useful.
The more I think about it, the more I think that I don't do very many crazy things. At least not when you consider the scope of crazy things I could do. When it comes down to it, I think that my search space for actions to take is just a whole lot broader than most people's.
For example, sometimes I think about where else I could park my RV. I rent a spot now, but I know that eventually market forces will cause that space to be used by something more profitable. So where will I park next? I think about parking on the street again, the easy choice. Then I think about driving across the US and parking it in New York. I think about leaving it a few hours away at my mother's house and not even living in it anymore. I think about just going on the road and not staying in one place.
Then I think about moving to Japan for a year, or buying a tiny house in Las Vegas. Living on the island for the six months it's warm per year would be an interesting experience. The thought even crosses my mind to pick some random city somewhere in the world and disappear to it without telling anyone. I think about living on a cruise ship perpetually.
You can't control definitively whether you'll succeed or fail, but you do get to set the parameters. The way I live my life, I will either be an big success or a huge failure. There are a variety of potential paths ahead of me, and zero of them lead to comfortable success or minor failure. None of them lead to numb mediocrity.
How do you adjust these parameters? You set goals and accept risks. If you set goals low and don't accept many risks, you have no chance of huge success or huge failure. You'll end up somewhere in the middle. Maybe you'll end up a bit better off than you expected, or a bit down on your luck, but you'll be somewhere in the range of "fine". On the other hand, you can set extremely high goals, leave yourself no reasonable plan B, and take massive risks to get those goals. It's the only way you'll even reach them, but you may fall short and crash.
In my case, I've put all of my eggs in the SETT basket. I hope it becomes a huge success that makes me a lot of money, gives me some power to improve conversation on the internet, and all that. At this point I've invested two years of my life into it, with no plans of changing that allocation going forward. I've passed up many smaller opportunities that could have made me money. I do have some money saved up, but it's hard to count it as a backup plan when I know with certainty that if SETT failed I'd use it to start another company and go all in.
I work as smart as I can, I live frugally, and I plan for contingencies-- I'm not reckless, but when a calculated risk presents itself, I'm all over it.