Sebastian Marshall posed the question: how do we choose better projects?
I couldn’t think of anything practical aside from mundane answers like, “well it depends on the particular person and what they value in a project”.
So I thought more abstract, and came up with not an answer, but an economic perspective.
A person posing this question probably has a lot of opportunities in front of them and difficulty deciding amongst the complexities of the factors that go into choosing a worthwhile project. However, there are a lot of opportunities in our lives that when we see it, we see that it’s a no brainer decision to choose that project. These no-brainer projects exist and are abundant, because there are an unlimited ways to create value in the world. So theoretically, as a person’s project abundance/opportunity approaches infinity, there is also an infinite amount of no-brainer, huge win projects.
Take for example the difference between me, a celebrity like lil-wayne, and then… for example... Elon Musk. The difference in project opportunity between me and Lil-wayne is huge. So if I increased my project opportunity to equal Lil Wayne's, I would maybe have 20 more huge win, no brainer projects than I do right now. At the same time, Lil Wayne’s project abundance is very little compared to Elon Musk. If Lil Wayne increased his project opportunity to Elon Musk’s level, he would more than 10x the amount of huge win, no-brainer projects that are available to him on the table.
You might be thinking, but that that is relative to the person. Yes as long you continually do equal or higher value projects, this theory would still stand.
So by this theory, one wouldn’t need to strategize at all which project is best, one would only need to find ways of increasing project opportunity.
A few weeks ago I’ve been dealing with the struggles of almost every newly graduate or close to graduating: finding a job. To get a job means I have to provide value to the person who hires me and I’m insecure about that. I’m an accounting major, and I barely know anything technical about accounting that could apply in a firm. I’ve learned a little about business but I’m not nearly skilled enough compared to anyone in the industry. I have no technical skills compared to the engineers and computer science majors. What value can I provide?
I brought this issue to my friend Ken and he gave me one of the biggest insights of the year.
I was struggling with the same thing when I was searching for jobs, but I realized that employers know that we’re new graduates and that we don’t know anything. Adding value is for someone who’s already five years into the industry…we’re new graduates, college only proves that we’re capable of learning. And that’s what employers are looking for when they hire you: someone who they can teach to add value to their company. Coming from Haas (School of business at Berkeley), I saw this way too often that kids would bullshit to employers as if they’re already five years into the industry. “I can make decks and models of this or I can streamline that”, they end up sounding like tools. They don’t know anything just like the rest of us.
“Then why should employers pay us 40k—50k a year when we know nothing and can’t do anything?” I asked.
One of my favorite video series is the Foundation interviews by Kevin Rose (Formerly of Digg.com). I love the video quality and the quality of the interviews. Kevin interviews mainly silicon valley entrepreneurs. He has interviewed people like Elon Musk (Tesla), David Copperfield (Magician), and Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com).
I recommend you visit the foundation.kr site and watch any videos that jump out to you. If you are not sure where to start I recommend these interviews.
I still haven't watched all of the interviews. If one of the interviews really jumps out to me I will add it to the list above.