Being bold, hard work, and playing the long game

May 6, 2024
Z Fellows

1: Jeff Bezos on Being Bold

“Outsized returns often come from betting against conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is usually right. Given a ten percent chance of a one hundred times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you’re still going to be wrong nine times out of ten.

We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution.

When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score one thousand runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it’s so important to be bold.

Big winners pay for so many experiments.

Source: Invent & Wander (2015 Shareholder Letters)

2: Steve Jobs on Hard Work

“I’ve read something that Bill Gates said about six months ago. He said, ‘I worked really, really hard in my 20s.’ And I know what he means, because I worked really, really hard in my 20s too. Literally, you know, 7 days a week, a lot of hours every day. And it actually is a wonderful thing to do, because you can get a lot done. But you can’t do it forever, and you don’t want to do it forever, and you have to come up with ways of figuring out what the most important things are and working with other people even more.”

Source: Steve Jobs 1995 NeXT Interview

3: Sam Altman on Playing The Long Game

“One of the few arbitrage opportunities left in the market is time. I don’t think you can beat the market in a lot of ways, but the one way I do is by making a long-term commitment to something. My new belief on how long I should hold stock in the best companies I invest in is forever. And I think in a world where people are increasingly focused on the tick and the quarterly earnings cycle, you should try to go in the other direction. This is a great way to generate value and wealth.”

“And so I think that when you’re thinking about a startup, it’s really worthwhile to think about something you’re willing to make a very long-term commitment to because that is where the current void in the market is. You get paid as a founder for the wealth you create for other people… The best companies just create massive amounts of value for the world, and then they capture some of that for themselves. But they capture far less than they create, and they do it over a very long period of time. So if you’re going to be one of those companies, I think you want to make a super long-term commitment to yourself and others that are going to work on it with you… It is worth waiting because you will make far more money over the long term by doing this company really well than a bunch of short-term things along the way.”

Source: How to Build The Future (h/t: Startup Archive)