David Wilson, a journalist for Fairfax, approached me the other month to give him my thoughts of Silicon Valley. The resulting interview appeared on Fairfax’s online mastheads (which include The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Brisbane Times). The article had more focus on me than I expected, but Wilson still captures some important lessons I’ve learned since moving here.
One that is mentioned is the importance of not planning. I’m a big believer that you can’t plan your life (or your business). To put it simply, using yesterday’s information to make decisions about tomorrow is just not as effective as using the most recent information and reacting. Check out the very successful and intelligent Jason Fried of 37 Signals who says something similar:
So it’s not about the big plan, it’s about a day by day by day by day and seeing where things go and just kind of making decisions as we go.
And the main reason why I think this is important is because people often make decisions with the wrong information. So they make decisions far into the future, based on information they have today. You’re better off making decisions today based on information you have today because that’s when you make your best decisions. You make your best decisions when you have the best information. That’s always right now.
Another lesson I’m learning but which I didn’t mention, is that capitalism — effective capitalism — is brutal. It’s something I’ve observed with successful business people in Australia and America and I’m still trying to collect my thoughts about it. For example, employees and their termination — I’ve had several people explain to me the difficulty they’ve experienced doing it, which is for the better of the business.
To put this in context, loyalty and personality should not be confused as performance (which really, is the point of the employment). And if you’re not performing (or the broader function you are a part of), there’s the door. Brutal, I know — but what’s more brutal is a business collapsing and everyone losing their jobs. Effective capitalism isn’t about protecting an individuals ‘entitlement’ to a job; it’s about evolving the entitlement of an enterprise so that it can continue to sustain itself.