I’ve wrestled with a topic behind the scenes in writing my blog over the past two years…should I speak about startups topics cleanly (but less exact) or be as exact as possible (and risk watering-down the message)?
In writing about startups it has struck me that most “educators” or "advisors" on topics speak in broad (and partially incorrect) generalizations because it’s easier for readers to understand. The world - especially one that deals with creating new ventures - requires us to live in the gray between black and white, so you begin with well-tested guidelines and then do your best.
I was reminded of this from the successful founder in this podcast. He was creating a startup in the audio content space and had the opportunity to sit down with Ira Glass…a legend in this area.
The founder’s questions were all around one topic…how to setup a conveyer belt to create a factory to consistently put out great content. Eventually Ira said, “there is no conveyer belt…it’s always messy.”
While I’m writing this post in the context of startup education, I suspect it’s the same with most fields…the process to create something great is almost always messy until it’s complete.
I could probably dedicate a year of my life to gaining a better understanding of this topic, but my initial guess as to why this happens is that there is no blueprint for new endeavors that are truly great. Topics like “how to get into a good college” or “how to learn how to fly a plane” are well-worn concepts with very step-by-step instructions. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get the outcome, but you always know the next step to take and - after the process is over - you can audit how you did at every point.
Creative pursuits, on the other hand, are very different. If you want to write a great poem. Or write a medium blog post to move an audience on a social issue. Or create a consumer technology that makes consumers feel more in control of their personal lives. There are no step-by-step plans for these. To increase your odds of success you can learn from others, but the final 25% you have to find for yourself.
As the founder says in this podcast, “if you are not getting yourself in a mess then you are not really in a state where true innovation and great ideas can happen."
Sidenote: Here's another great podcast on why disorder may be good for us.
Get Right to the Lesson
I’d recommend listening to the entire thing, but to get right to the point go to minute 4:56 of this podcast/video.
Thanks to these folks for helping us all learn faster
Andrew Mason (@andrewmason), co-founder of Detour (@Detour)
This Week In Startups (@TWistartups )
Jason Calacanis (@jason)
Jacqui Deegan (@jacqKD)
Jacob Beemer (@jacobbeemer)
Please let me and others know what you think about this topic
Email me privately at email@example.com or let's discuss publicly at @davempayne.