How to get startup ideas, build wealth, and embrace imperfection

Jul 1, 2024
Z Fellows

1: How to Get Startup Ideas

“If you make a conscious effort to think of startup ideas, the ideas you come up with will not merely be bad, but bad and plausible-sounding, meaning you’ll waste a lot of time on them before realizing they’re bad.

The way to come up with good startup ideas is to take a step back. Instead of making a conscious effort to think of startup ideas, turn your mind into the type that startup ideas form in without any conscious effort. In fact, so unconsciously that you don’t even realize at first that they’re startup ideas.

This is not impossible, it’s how Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook all got started. None of these companies were even meant to be companies at first. They were all just side projects. The best startups almost have to start as side projects, because great ideas tend to be such outliers that your conscious mind would reject them as ideas for companies.

Ok, so how do you turn your mind into the type that startup ideas form in unconsciously? (1) Learn a lot about things that matter, then (2) work on problems that interest you (3) with people you like and respect. The third part, incidentally, is how you get cofounders at the same time as the idea.

At its best, starting a startup is merely an ulterior move for curiosity. And you’ll do it best if you introduce the ulterior motive toward the end of the process.” — Paul Graham

Source: How to Get Startup Ideas

2: Naval on Building Wealth

If you really want to get paid in this world, you want to be number one at whatever you do. And you want to keep changing what you do until you’re number one. You can’t just pick something arbitrary. You can’t say, “I’m going to be the fastest runner in the world,” and now you have to beat Usain Bolt. That’s too hard of a problem.

Scott Adams’ observation is a good one, predicated on statistics. Let’s say there’s 10,000 areas that are valuable to the human race today in terms of knowledge to have, and the number one in those 10,000 slots is taken. Someone else is likely to be the number one in each of those 10,000, unless you happen to be one of the 10,000 most obsessed people in the world at that given thing.

But when you start combining number 3,728 with top-notch sales skills, really good writing skills, and someone who understands accounting and finance really well, when the need for that intersection arrives, you’ve expanded enough from 10,000 through combinatorics to millions or tens of millions.

So, it just becomes less competitive. Also, there are diminishing returns. So, it’s much easier to be top 5 percentile at three or four things than it is to be literally number one at something.

Keep changing your objective until it arrives at your specific knowledge, skill sets, position, capabilities, location, and interests.” — Naval Ravikant

Source: Keep Redefining What You Do

3: Roger Federer on Embracing Imperfection

Perfection is impossible. In the 1,526 singles matches I played in my career, I won almost 80% of those matches. Now I have a question for you: What percentage of points do you think I won in those matches? Only 54%.

In other words, even top-ranked tennis players win barely more than half of the points they play. When you lose every second point on average, you learn not to dwell on every shot.

You teach yourself to think: Okay, I double-faulted… it’s only a point. Okay, I came to the net and I got passed again; it’s only a point. Even a great shot, an overhead backhand smash that ends up on ESPN’s top 10 playlist, that too is just a point.

And here’s why I’m telling you this: When you’re playing a point, it has to be the most important thing in the world and it is. But when it’s behind you, it’s behind you. This mindset is crucial because it frees you to fully commit to the next point and the next point after that with intensity, clarity, and focus.

You want to become a master at overcoming hard moments. That is to me the sign of a champion. The best in the world are not the best because they win every point. It’s because they lose again and again and have learned how to deal with it. You accept it, cry it out if you need to, and force a smile.” — Roger Federer

Source: Dartmouth 2024 Commencement Speech