I was asked a question yesterday from a newer coworker about what I personally had done to survive in our business. I think I gave an adequate answer, but I’m still thinking about this point: figuring out our own strengths and weaknesses and what environments emphasize each is the most important thing.
As a generalized example, extroverts ideally should get out there and talk to strangers. Introverts should focus on ways to have more one-on-ones topically set up to be within their area of knowledge. Both can leverage each other effectively to spend more time in the most suitable environment. It’s a mistake to overlook this insight. We want to maximize the odds of success, not just throw it all at the wall to see what sticks.
Andy Rachleff, founding partner of the legendary Benchmark Capital (who invested in Dropbox, Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, Instagram… so, you know, he did OK), and CEO of Wealthfront has a law about teams and markets:
When a great team meets a lousy market, the market wins.
When a lousy team meets a great market, the market wins.
When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this thanks to Elad Gill’s Kara Swisher interview and Marc Andreesen’s 2007 Stanford University essay, “Product/Market Fit” which I just read, I think, for the first time (how?!)
Far too often we professionally take an old idea and foist it (extra Larry David) onto a current market. We pay so much respect to our team and product, that we disrespect the conditions we’re so obviously facing.
So what happens when we dare to change our market or go off in search of the right environment to make the right product for / deliver the right service to?
As Rachleff says, something special happens.
Stop fighting, crow-barring and struggling to maintain the status quo or compete in a market you don’t need to compete in.
We can only win the games we can actually win. That’s the trick of survival.
Get your market right first. Special things will happen.