Marc Andreessen– Founder of Andreessen Horowitz (venture capital firm); co-founder of Netscape and Opsware; investor in Digg, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Startup advice is only good if its from a credible source, well, who is David S.Rose, you may ask if you’re not familar with Singularity University or Quora, in his own words, he is “a serial entrepreneur and active angel investor, based in New York. As an inveterate startup guy, I’ve founded half a dozen companies since my first at age 10, and as ‘super angel’ technology investor, I have funded over 100 others. I am the founder and CEO of Gust, the entrepreneurial finance industry’s infrastructure platform; author of Angel Investing: The Gust Guide to Making Money & Having Fun Investing in Startups; founder and Chairman Emeritus of New York Angels, one of the leading angel groups on the East Coast; Managing Principal of Rose Tech Ventures, an early-stage ‘super angel’ fund specializing in Internet-based business; and Partner in True Global Ventures (an international super-angel venture capital fund).”
I know him as one of the most respected authorities on Quora on startup investing and for his role at Singularity University, therefore, I thought he would be ideal candidate for the following question on Start up Advice.as he clearly has made so many good decisions and has been proactive in demonstrating his mastery on Quora..
I asked David S.Rose on Quora “How do you make good decisions” he answered with:
“…all I can testify to under oath is that I try to do the best I can with my decision-making. That being said, my approach to decision-making is the same as it is to life in general (because life is simply a series of decisions in response to—or intended to trigger—outside stimuli). It comes down to three words: proactive, pragmatic and benevolent. These words govern my life, and, in turn, my decisions:
Start up Advice 1.
The most important thing, as I have noted elsewhere it to make a decision in the first place. NOT making one is tantamount to letting someone or something else make it for you. As such, I am constantly making affirmative decisions, and not just letting “nature take its course”.
Start Up Advice 2
I am as optimistic and starry-eyed as every other entrepreneur, but if there’s one thing I have painfully learned over the years, it is that you have to think, plan and act in light of reality: people, resources, market forces, and the like. I try to consider the complete context in which the decision is being made, think through the potential outcomes and ramifications, and assess how likely it realistically is for me to deliver on whatever the decision calls for me to do.
Start Up Advice 3
My general operating principle in life is to try to advance the world while not harming myself. Whether one thinks of this in the sense of the Jewish concept of ‘tikun olam’ (healing the world), or in the sense of Adam Smith’s ‘Invisible Hand‘ advancing society as the direct result of individuals attempting to self-optimize, I will always try to take the path of advancing the game for all players, myself included. I do not in any way, shape or form consider life to be a zero sum game, and I try to approach decisions with the outlook of someone familiar with the strategy developed for the Iterated Prisoner’s dilemma game.
I’m not sure if this very personal approach to decision-making would be particularly useful to anyone else…but you asked!”
I am fascinated by decision making that facilitates great leadership, I have searched high and low on how successful people make good decisions, and considering Wikipedia’s success is so monumentally counter intuitive in what one might think about the market forces and what drives it i.e. proift alone, I find him particularly interesting as a social entrepreneur and for his leadership: imagine your pitch is this “I have an idea, how about we create a site in which people donate their time, energy and expertise and there’s no reward for it, apart from being happy they did it” one would think in traditional circles this would never work, it sounds so naive, however, wikipedia is a success that is one of the pillars of the community that is the free internet..truly inspirational, and clearly a sign of a great innovator,..his answer regarding good decisions speaks for itself and speak of a leadership attributes..
“Indecision is a worse enemy than a bad decision..
I think I am quite good at making decisions, which is not completely the same thing as being good at making good decisions. But in terms of the overall impact in life, these two things are often very highly related.
I think most people have a bigger problem actually making decisions than in knowing how to make better or worse decisions. Fear may prevent you from just making up your mind about something, even when deep down you know the answer.
When I was younger, I wasn’t nearly as good at deciding things. When faced with a choice between A and B, I would sometimes agonize over the choice so much that I’d end up doing C. And ‘C’ would be wasting time and avoiding actually moving forward.
Get comfortable with making mistakes, so that when you think you are right you can make a move without so much fear about making a mistake.
Remember, you’ll never make a good decision unless you actually make decisions in the first place.
2. Look for options that fail faster and fail gracefully
Another way to reduce the fear of making decisions is to look for options that fail gracefully. Another way of saying this is to not burn bridges. When I first started on my entrepreneurial career, my first investor was my boss at my old job. Instead of quitting and launching out into the blue, I maintained that relationship and he was supportive of the venture. If it hadn’t worked out, I could have gone back to my old job.
In terms of ‘fail faster’ I am talking about what is generally known as the ‘lean startup’ methodology of building the minimum viable product for market testing purposes. I don’t necessarily fully endorse any particular author on this concept, but in general I think it’s the right approach – and to more than just startups!
If someone says “I am thinking of buying a boat” I say “Have you rented several boats before?” Renting a boat is like the “minimum viable product” for being a boater. If you rent it and have a terrible time, you’ve wasted a few hours and a much smaller amount of money. If you don’t look for that kind of solution, you are likely to be paralyzed for years thinking about buying a boat, fantasizing about it, but never actually doing it. This option is ‘C’ – worse than either ‘A’ (buying a boat) or ‘B’ (realizing you don’t want a boat and moving on to something else).”
Written 27 Feb, 2014. Asked to answer by Mark M. Whelan.
Wales J. How does Jimmy Wales make his decisions? What methodologies
>>> does he use? 27 Feb 2014. Available at
>>> Accessed Jan 15 2015.
Did you know that the brain behaves like a room full of light bulbs flashing like fireworks; firing neurons with hundreds of conflicting impulses, lighting up the mind in a spectacle of intentions?
This shows that our desires are seemingly countless and competing for attention, and so are the thoughts that act as messengers for these desires. People rarely want to do one thing at a time in sequence. We want to do all the things at the same time. We simultaneously want to do ab crunches, learn French, check our Facebook messages, etc. All these independent neurons light up in the room of our mind, each one flashing to attract our attention to focus on them.
This happens all day, every day, we passively look at the prettiest light and go to the next one. This is how most people live their lives. The room of our mind is always busy. We never have enough time to focus on one thing exclusively. What happens to us is our attention is constantly moving from one distraction to another, overpowering our ability to focus consistently.
Now is the time to refresh and relearn the art of focus and innovation through rapid reasoning.
The curse of the ‘big idea’
Imagine if 20 years ago you were the innovator who had the idea of starting up Uber, Google, and Tesla. You just invented three of the most transformational business ideas of the 21st century. If you had started any one of them, you know you could now be worth billions. However, if you were determined to do all three simultaneously you’d still be at the very beginning and have accomplished NOTHING.
It’s not enough to have excellent ideas. Lets face it! Lots of people have excellent ideas and yet fail to follow through, its better to be conservative. The problem is that too many big ideas cancel each other out and prevent innovation from growing. This is why a committee of intelligent people can create circular debates: leading to an impasse. The more lights calling for your attention the more dazzled and distracted you are.
How you can achieve the impossible
It is not improbable to achieve what some call the “impossible”; however, neither is it easy. All you have to do is imagine an ambitious goal for yourself. For example, you want to change the world through innovation, so people have the same framework for making decisions…sounds like an intelligent thing to do! Or, build a virtual bridge that spans the oceans to create access to silicon valley’s all over the world. That’s a great idea! Everywhere in the world is trying to copy Silicon Valley, why not just make the information and education easier?
If you absolutely had to do that – if your life and the lives of everybody you cared about depended upon it – how would you? How could you? You’d simply drop everything else. You’d become one giant light, projecting out in to a single path and you’d act immediately:
￼One point is the concentrated focus on a single goal is perhaps the ultimate success stratagem you need to understand. It’s a pattern found in everyone from Elon Musk to Alan Turing to Sir Richard Branson. When you’re able to focus on a single goal, with ruthless prioritization, your achievements reach as far as they really can possibly gom this is when innovation happens.
Another thing is that most people aren’t failing because of their potential. They’re failing because their potential is spread in too thinly. However, a fact is that you can channel the flashing lights into a constant and achieve what you want regardless of what you dreamed to be.
￼How to channel the flashing lights
You will always want to accomplish more than you can achieve.
Nevertheless, focusing on too many ideas is the single quickest way to ensure failure. Furthermore, putting your all into a single direction is the quickest way to ensure success.
Therefore, use rapid reasoning, and try these:
1. Aim for a higher purpose: A higher purpose is paradoxically more likely to become part of your routine because they’re compelling enough to eclipse the smaller motivations. If your ambitions are fragile they’re easily overpowered.
2. Select three: Three is the magic number. Keep up to three lists
for different aspects of your life – for example ‘work’, ‘workout’ and personal growth. Each list only has a singular clear and concise objective. If you absolutely must have more, just know that each addition reduces the odds of at least 25%.
3. Reserve your time: Anything which isn’t an urgent priority now can be attended to later. Elon Musk realized with co-founders to start PayPal first before attempting to build something else. In his case a commercially viable electric car, Tesla. Your goals are the same, you’re just usually too attached to them in the moment to notice.
4. Beware of distractions: Be mindful and look out for other things that you also want e.g. become a great basketball player. They will feel familiar, easy, and automatic. However, they are silent and deadly. One new direction will reduce what you can accomplish by over 25%
5. Line up your lights:You may not be able to build the next Virgin Galactic, an electric sports car or design a new way of thinking at the same time. However, you may be able to concurrently become, an innovative and fit CEO. Success and fitness can be compatible goals: a healthier person can be a better leader. They’re like two lights, layered on top of each other, making the emanation stronger for it.
The few people who have achieved the most innovative, accomplished things with their lives didn’t do so by dividing their intentions. They aimed for a higher purpose, channeled their lights in line, and said no to all the other opportunities that life presented them. If you want the power to follow your dreams, you have to refuse all the alternatives. It’s not easy, but if that’s for you, at least you know the price. You must never forget forgoing one opportunity at the expense of others. It is not just the way of great innovators, it is a reliable way to be successful in whatever dream you have set out for your life.
Now we have demonstrated the power of rapid reasoning, there’s no upside in waiting any further, so it’s your time to act…now!