On Being Ruthlessly Open-Minded

I shared this link via a newsletter that I publish twice a week but I wanted to make sure that I could capture and share it here too, more for my own benefit to be honest.

In a 54 minute sit-down, Marc Andreessen shares a few thoughts on a number of different topics, from startups to venture capital to the larger macro economies and more. There’s so good stuff in there and then there’s so “meh” stuff too (like most of these things).

But there were two things that I couldn’t stop thinking about that really grabbed my attention in a fresh way. It all centered around his thoughts about assumptions:

So you have to be ruthlessly open-minded and constantly willing to reexamine your assumptions. You have to take the ego out of ideas, which is a very hard thing to do.

He sandwiches this idea between two things in particular, the first was this mention:

You’re going to make those bets of the places you choose to go and the people you choose to work with. You’re going to screw some of those up.

And then at the end he talks about the future and how most folks spend too many cycles on trying to overanalyze why something will work and instead start asking what the future would look like if it does happen. Nuance-y but important distinction I believe (and powerful).

Tackling the first point about career… this resonated with me deeply because my career has been highlighted and can be understood based on where I’ve been and who I’ve chosen to work with.

Since we’ve moved a lot, especially in the last 10 years or so, it’s given me the opportunity to work with a ton of different folks, some that fundamentally changed my life and others that… well, changed my life and left a much more insipid taste in my mouth.

These were bets, essentially, on my own career and the folks that I wanted to partner with were part of those bets. I, like you, have done my best to shore up my decision making as best as I can and make safer bets when I could and just hope to God that I’ve made good ones.

But there’s always risk in any relationship (goes both ways, of course), and there’s no solution and there’s never enough data to go around. You do what you can and then you move forward.

And, if you can, you throw away old, poorly constructed assumptions and choose adventure over safety. Remember… life expands when you do and these actions will become your brand.

Right now I am counting my blessings with the folks that I get to work with over at Pinpoint and although it’s as scary as many of the other people-centric decisions that I’ve made historically I also feel safe and secure in this decision… entirely based on the character and integrity of the folks themselves.

That’s always a good thing.

Never Settle via BOSSFIGHT

The second thing related to Marc Andreessen’s point of view was much more of a mental exercise for me as I wanted to move my thinking from “What if this worked?” to “What is life like when this works?” This is, again, specifically related to Pinpoint.

It’s very exciting to think that organizations, of every size, will become a much more data-driven as it pertains to software and engineering. The result? They’ll be freed up to spend more time in other areas of the business and I believe they’ll be able to specifically spend more time caring for humans.

This is more of my own personal mission, by the way, even though it perfectly aligns with the product and business that I’m building. Technology (and the automation of jobs) is only as useful as its ability to give us back time to invest in others. Otherwise we’re just doing technology completely wrong.

All these things require that I reexamine my assumptions often, become ruthless with my own introspective behavior about the very things that I believe to be true, and to remove as much ego from the equation as I possibly can.

Easier said than done… but its a battle and pursuit worth pursuing.