Nivi: We’re talking about working for the long-term. The next tweet on that topic: “Apply specific knowledge, with leverage, and eventually you will get what you deserve.”
I would add: Apply judgment, apply accountability, and apply the skill of reading.
Naval: This one is a glib way of saying, “It takes time.” Once you have all of the pieces in place, there’s still an indeterminate amount of time you have to put in. And if you’re counting, you’ll run out of patience before it arrives.
You have to make sure you give these things time. Life is long.
Charlie Munger had a line on this. Somebody asked him about making money. He said what the questioner actually was asking was, “How can I become like you, except faster?”
Everybody wants it immediately. But the world is an efficient place. Immediate doesn’t work. You have to put in the time. You have to put in the hours. You have to put yourself in that position with specific knowledge, accountability, leverage and an authentic skill-set in order to be the best in the world at what you do.
And then you have to enjoy it and keep doing it and doing it and doing it. Don’t keep track. Don’t keep count. Because if you do, you will run out of time.
Looking back on my career, the people who I identified as brilliant and hardworking two decades ago are all successful now, almost without exception. On a long enough timescale, you will get paid.
But it can easily be 10 or 20 years. Sometimes it’s five. If it’s five, or three, and it’s a friend of yours who got there, it can drive you insane. But those are exceptions. And for every winner, there are multiple failures.
One thing that’s important in entrepreneurship: You just have to be right once. You get many, many shots on goal. You can take a shot on goal every three to five years, maybe every 10 at the slowest. Or once every year at the fastest, depending on how you’re iterating with startups. But you only have to be right once.
What are you really good at, that the market values?
Nivi: Your eventual outcome will be equal to something like the distinctiveness of your specific knowledge; times how much leverage you can apply to that knowledge; times how often your judgment is correct; times how singularly accountable you are for the outcome; times how much society values what you’re doing. Then you compound that with how long you can keep doing it and how long you can keep improving it through reading and learning.
Naval: That’s a really good way to summarize it. It’s worth trying to sketch that equation out.
That said, people try to apply mathematics to what is really philosophy. I’ve seen this happen, where I say one thing and then I say another thing that seems contradictory if you treat it as math. But it’s obviously in a different context.
People will say, “You say, ‘Desire is suffering.’” You know, the Buddhist saying. “And then you ‘All greatness comes from suffering.’ So does that mean all greatness comes from desire?” This isn’t math. You can’t just carry variables around and form absolute logical outputs. You have to know when to apply things.
One can’t get too analytical about it.
It’s what a physicist would call “false precision.” When you take two made-up estimates and multiply them together, you get four degrees of precision. Those decimal points don’t actually count. You don’t have that data. You don’t have that knowledge. The more estimated variables you have, the greater the error in the model.
Adding more complexity to your decision-making process gets you a worse answer. You’re better off picking the single biggest thing or two. Ask yourself: What am I really good at, according to observation and people I trust, that the market values?
Those two variables alone are probably good enough. If you’re good at it, you’ll keep it up. You’ll develop the judgment. If you’re good at it and you like to do it, eventually people will give you the resources and you won’t be afraid to take on accountability. So the other pieces will fall into place.
Product-market fit is inevitable if you’re doing something you love and the market wants it.