Ever since I stepped foot in Ancient Greek Philosophy class at college (as a business student no less), I was drawn to Plato’s Principle of Specialization which in turned serves as foundation to the concept of comparative advantage. To varying degrees, throughout my career as executive and entrepreneur, it’s served as my guiding light.
From 2006-12, WatchMojo effectively experimented on the programming and distribution side, to find “platform/format” fit, or as VCs like to call it, product/market fit. From 2013-16 we executed based on our four key bets which led to our rocket ship years. From 2017-19, we reinvested to expand and diversify, and even before Covid hit in 2020, this year we embraced the mindset of Gratitude vs Expectations: focusing, streamlining and doubling-downed on areas where we felt we i) had a comparative advantage and 2) could win – two themes under Focus in Rishad Tobaccowala’s piece The Great Re-Wiring. Making the Most of Time:
Focus: The key to doing less is to focus. Here are two filters to help you decide what you should focus on.
a) Comparative Advantage: You should spend your time doing things that you can do better than most people. Some focus areas are are easy like being a spouse or a parent, since by definition you should be able to do this better than other folks. However for many of the errands you run and the assignments you take on at work, it is important to ask if you can outsource or delegate or find a colleague who is better than you.
b) Positive Outcome:Where you can choose you should only do things which give you a positive outcome. Either you 1) earn a financial reward, 2) learn something new , 3) help someone else or the team get better or 4) experience in itself feels good.If it is not one of those four outcomes and it is avoidable why are you doing it?
Focus is a tricky concept for entrepreneurs, who need Vision, Ambition, Execution, Persistence, Resiliency, Luck, Timing, and Focus to win (expanded from the original 6 ingredients). But focus on something only makes sense once you found your product/market fit.
As an entrepreneur who has seen every fad come and go, it sure is nice to be able to block out the noise and focus on what matters.