Wisdom comes from looking in the wrong places first.
Today I chanced upon an amazingly honest commentary by a fellow tech founder, Marc Köhlbrugge on Twitter. He shared some wisdom on how to study others’ successes and keep survivorship bias at bay.
It’s a very refreshing view since we typically jump to associate the rare successes of a maker/founder to ONE specific strategy or a secret while ignoring all their other attempts. We seek to hurriedly ask them: “What was your secret? How did you turn X product into a massive hit?”
Well, at least for me this was how I searched for wisdom in the wrong place during my early years of being a founder. I spent countless hours trying to repeat the specific strategies on just one product and not move past the brick wall. Retrospectively speaking, I don’t think I would be where I am now without all those hours/days of fruitless quest of a secret. It made me look like a fool in the moment but eventually taught me to not see success as a sensational blip but a gradual process.
The actual wisdom (which I finally learnt on my own!) is in the mindset. It’s in repetition. It’s in pushing through several evolutions of ideas and continuously shipping and testing.
I learned this through my own practice. It took me years to even gather the humility to build a simple unsexy MVP.
Once I put aside my ego and shipped my first product (and that failed), it was easy to do the second which I shipped in only a few weeks and it seems to have been received 10x more than the first. Weird, I know.
Here’s the thing about outcomes. You can never predict them. I loved Marc’s tweet on that as well:
“What separates a failed product from a successful product?
Honestly, I don’t know. I wish I did. It’s like Steve Jobs said “I’ll know it when I see it.” Same is true when we make products. We don’t know upfront what will work. But once we see an inkling of a product that does have potential, it’s not that hard to spot.”
All you can do is continue experimenting and shipping.
His final message resonated with me the most in the thread: “Persistence is not about sticking with what doesn’t work. Persistence is continuously experimenting until you’ve found something that goes work.”