Why I Don’t Predict Failure

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.






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