I drafted this post on Friday night at 7pm. I’m sitting in a cafe in San Francisco right now at around 6:30am on Saturday editing it.
I was going to go to the Giants’ game Friday, but after walking around for a few hours with some friends, I sort of got that itch to work.
Whenever I take time off, I always get that itch. The farther I get into entrepreneurship, the more transparent and bigger opportunity costs become.
I see more opportunity today than I ever have in the past and that only seems to be accelerating. Both because it’s more transparent to me personally and because there’s just more opportunity out there.
Social, economic, and technological barriers to entry are lower than ever and falling in almost every market.
While this is exciting, I don’t really know where it’s going. Both in general and for me personally.
I’ve talked a handful of people since reading/watching Start with Why by Simon Sinek.
Everyone loves Sinek’s general concept – define a central, motivating WHY for yourself, your organization or your project and let that be an effective guiding heuristic that moves the organization or yourself towards it’s ultimate goal.
But what if you don’t know exactly where you’re going? I’ve talked to a lot of people that agree with the concept but don’t necessarily know their WHY.
They like the work and they’re looking for a higher purpose for it, but aren’t clear what that purpose is.
I feel the same.
I love the work, but I don’t know exactly where it’s going. I don’t have a clearly defined end game – it’s always evolving.
It’s becoming more clear, but only as a result of experience and actually having something to look back on.
I was talking to Ian a week or so ago about this. We both like the work, but it’s not entirely clear where it’s going.
What I do know is that things are changing faster than ever. There’s not a shortage of opportunity.
Building a Platform to Optimize for Optionality
The best solution I’ve come up with for this is to optimize for optionality.
And the best way to optimize for optionality is to build a platform.
A Platform is something that gives you more, better options – it creates optionality.
I like to think of it as a bank account of different currencies – both legible and illegible ones.
Platforms are valuable because platforms create optionality. And optionality lets you get what you want once you figure out what it is that you do want.
Things that Grow a Platform
A Track Record of Creating Results People Pay For – See Hustle - Ability to manage distributed teams, Sales, Copywriting, doctors that actually help people. Any skill set people will pay you for gives you options.
Networks – Being able to connect people synergistically and creating win-wins. Both loose ties and strong ties.
Trust and Attention/Distribution Channels – Blogs, Podcasts, Speaking Gigs – anything that shows you have the trust and attention of another person. Probably getting more valuable.
Cash – See everything Mark Cuban has ever written.
Assets that are Growing/Appreciating – Businesses, Rental Properties, and most significantly – Yourself .
Things that Destroy Platform
Personal Debt – Debt destroys freedom and dramatically reduces your options
Poisonous Relationships – Hanging around with people that suck is draining and
Lack of Integrity – See Trust and Attention.
Things Commonly Mistaken as Platform
Illiquid Assets – There’s nothing about a 30 year mortgage or 3% equity in a failing company that creates more options.
Good ideas that you don’t have the resources to convert into tangible outcomes - This is one I’ve learned the hard way. The world isn’t short on good ideas or opportunity – it’s short on hustle.
So I’m trying to do things that grow platforms – meet people, create results, save money, invest in assets
1. Platform is agnostic. Building a platform doesn’t ensure it will ever get used for anything beneficial. There isn’t anything about platform that necessarily guarantees happiness, it just guarantees options.
I knew a handful of very rich peole growing up that had very large platforms – lots of cash, lots of influence, lots of relationships, lots of options.
And for the most part, they were fairly miserable people in my opinion. So while platforms create optionality – They certainly don’t ensure you’ll use it well.
2. When you do know what you want – decrease optionality. You don’t necessarily always want options. I believe the distinction is whether or not you have clearly defined outcomes.
If you know the outcome you want, it makes sense to eliminate or at least drastically decrease optionality. If you want to lose weight, it’s a lot easier to just eat the same food everyday. If you want to write a book, don’t do a lot of lunch meetings.
P.S. I struggled to come up with more Things that Grow/Destroy Platforms and not even sure the ones I outlined are correct or properly categorized. Feedback appreciated.