A word from a CEO #108

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Taking shortcuts

Hi all –

I’ve shared this before, but it bears repeating. If you want to build an enduring company, you can’t take shortcuts. You have to learn to play the long game.

“We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.” – Richard Feynman

The long game is something that makes sense when you think about it but it is hard to live. A while back, I read an article that contrasted the long game vs the short game. It’s stayed with me ever since:

The short game is putting off anything that seems hard for doing something that seems easy or fun. The short game offers visible and immediate benefits. The short game is seductive.

vs.

The long game is the opposite of the short game, it means paying a small price today to make tomorrow’s tomorrow easier. If we can do this long enough to see the results, it feeds on itself.

The first step to the long game is the hardest. The first step is visibly negative. You have to be willing to suffer today in order to not suffer tomorrow. This is why the long game is hard to play. People rarely see the small steps when they’re looking for enormous outcomes, but deserving enormous outcomes is mostly the result of a series of small steps that culminate into something visible.

We are all good at playing the short game, it’s easy, painless, and fast. To get good at playing the long game we need to push each other to not take the shortcut, to not just default to the easiest option (click to tweet this). We all need this help.

When in doubt, bet on the things that will never change:

  • Customers value speed & reliability
  • Customers value great experiences
  • Customers value control

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