Startup general interest

Boring is a springboard to success

By January 23, 2014 No Comments

Dharmesh Shah, founder of Hubspot, just published a list of 12 things he will teach his toddler about work. As well as having an amazing company and being super-smart, Dharmesh is also an all-round nice guy. Number 7 on his list is a piece of great advice that many people forget:

7. See ‘boring’ as a springboard to success.

What appears to be the boring thing to do is almost always the responsible thing to do. What seems like drudgery actually builds the foundation for success. The people who achieve the most do a lot more of the boring stuff.

Routine, rigor, attention to detail, chugging away day after day… those are the path to eventual success. Elite athletes? They’ve put in thousands of hours working on fundamentals. Elite entertainers? They’ve put in thousands of hours of practice.

Successful businesspeople? They’ve put in thousands of hours of effort and hard, often tedious work.

Do the tedious, mundane, “ordinary” stuff better than anyone else – that’s what will make you great.

In the investment world that means things like being thorough with due diligence even when you think you know an investment is good, replying to entrepreneurs quickly, and being good with portfolio company admin. For entrepreneurs it means things like speaking with customers before you start building, putting good analytics in place, taking thorough references before hiring, and having disciplined sales management.

None of these things are exciting, and all of them take time away from pushing forward as fast as you can, but without them at some point progress will come to a halt. ‘Slow down to speed up’ is a phrase coined by Tim Brown of Ideo that I use a lot and which explains why boring is a springboard to success. Slowing down in the short term gives you faster average speed over the long term. Always remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.