Sam Altman once said that the greatest completive advantage any startup has is a long term view. He defined 10 years as a long term view.
But with the exponential growth of billion dollar unicorns that has taken place over the last 10 years, a long term view has become somewhat of an afterthought. College kids want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg and first-time founders are eager to become rich and successful as quickly as possible.
This doesn’t just apply to startup founders. People at their first job want to climb the ladder as fast as possible. Podcasters expect to reach millions of downloads after recording a few episodes. Bloggers aspire to become published authors as soon as they possibly can. As a result media creators create clickbait instead of choosing to make something timeless, what Ryan Holiday refers to as Perennial.
They seek attention as opposed to mastering their craft, shallowness instead of path., Hacks, how to’s and formulas dominate the headlines fueling this insatiable desire to grow as fast as you possibly can, no matter the cost.
This is how we end up with situations like Uber and Theranos. The value of building what DHH refers to as a linear growth company is ignored or written off altogether in favor of exponential growth.
Throughout history fast rises have been followed by fast falls. When I was a student at Berkeley in the late 90’s, it seemed as if all you had to do was put the words .com on the end of something, and you were will on your way to becoming rich. But the this 2–3 year explosion was followed by an implosion which took place in 2–3 weeks. As much of a cliche as it is, when we don’t learn from history, it’s bound to repeat itself.
Building something of value, significance takes time. It’s not the result of growth hacks and tactics. It’s the result of making something that people actually would miss if it was gone
The greatest competitive advantage that every startup, small business owner or artist has is a long term view. When you have a long term view, the work is done quietly and consistently in the background as opposed to loudly in the spotlight.
I’m the founder and host of the Unmistakable Creative Podcast.