On Advice and Experiments

Note to my future self..

This week I’ve been consuming a lot of podcast/interviews with Ben Silbermann (Co-Founder of Pinterest). I knew little about the founding of Pinterest beforehand and thought that it was a story/company worth exploring more. Out of all the interviews that I heard something that Ben said really stuck with me. In one podcast interview he said something along the lines of:

Most advice is quite generic. Even if you did what a successful person did you might fail. So it’s better to just conduct your own experiments.

I smiled when I heard this. I think it’s so true and I feel that it’s something that I need to remind myself more often. At the end of the day it’s great to hear the founding stories of these entrepreneurs but only to know that anything is possible and maybe to get a good idea for how to think about a specific problem.

Narratives (specially those of successful people) tend to be heavily revised, redacted and oversimplified over time. Overfitting anyone’s journey based on a couple of data points not only trivializes their story but it can be dangerous because it might make you focus on the elements that make up a good story, which is not necessarily what will help you in your own journey.

In any case, the takeaway is clear. Learn from others. Think for yourself. Run your experiments. Adjust your methods. Repeat.

Now back to work..