Seth Godin has a great blog post up called ‘The Future is Messy‘:
The Future is Messy and the past is neat.
It’s always like that.
That’s because the people who chronicle the past are busy connecting the dots, editing what we remember and presenting a neat, coherent arc. We can publish the history of Roman Empire in 500 pages, but we’d need ten times that to contain a narrative of the noise in your head over the last hour.
Even viral videos are easy to describe after they happen. But if these experts are so smart, how come they can never predict the next one?
Yesterday the Nasdaq 100 closed at prices not seen in 13 years. Here is a chart for you to add some context historically:
This looks so neat in hindsight. In the summer of 2000, the Nasdaq 100 ($QQQ) was at $75, but on it’s way to $20. Amazon was on it’s way to $3 and Google was in a garage. Facebook was just an idea that The Winkelvoss twins only hoped they could have sued for to call it’s own. There was no iPod, iPhone or iPad, Apple was on it’s way to barely hanging on, not $150 billion in cash. Tech was ‘DREK. Today, the Nasdaq 100 is back at $75 and Amazon ships me shoelaces and grapes overnight for free and we throw cash at them. The future looks neat and bright in context and all-time highs are a sure thing.
I doubt it.
Most people want neat. They want sure things. They want inside information. They want scale.
Paul Graham, a great angel investor and startup revolutionary had this great essay recently on ‘Doing things that Don’t Scale‘. It’s the truth.
I am totally with Seth and Paul. I don’t think things are neat. I like neat and I focus as much as I can on neat, but I know messy is around the corner.
I also don’t believe scale is easy to spot so I don’t go around all day looking for it or chasing it. I invest in people (always messy) and I invest in patterns and the expected behavior of other people (messy squared).
Embrace some messiness. Roll your sleeves up and do some things today and tomorrow that don’t scale. You will be amazed over time how neat and scalable and profitable your life can get over time.