Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about what separates true innovators from everyone else. I’ve come across a common theme: hard work. I’ll write up a complete blog post later when I have more time, but for now I’ll just compile a list of some of the things that I have read recently that have shaped my view on hard work/making a commitment to your work.

Books and Blogs

Quotes

  • “By 3 methods we may learn wisdom: 1st by reflection, the noblest; 2nd by imitation, the easiest; 3rd by experience, the bitterest” - Confucius
  • “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self.” - Aldous Huxley
  • “Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic” - Will Smith
  • “Our vanity, our self love, promotes the cult of genius … For if we thing of genius as something magical, we are not obliged to compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking … To call someone ‘divine’ means: ‘here there is no need to compete.’” - Nietzsche
  • “Talent x Effort = Skill, Skill x Effort = Achievement” - Angela Duckworth
  • “Formula for startup success: Find large highly fragmented industry w low NPS; vertically integrate a solution to simplify value product.” - Keith Rabois (NPS = Net Promoter Score, a metric for assessing customer loyalty for a company’s brand, products or services.)
  • “So if you’re not good at anything yet, consider working on something so new that no one else is either. It won’t have any prestige yet, if no one is good at it, but you’ll have it all to yourself.” - Paul Graham
  • “If I had to condense the power of the marginal into one sentence it would be: just try hacking something together. That phrase draws in most threads I’ve mentioned here. Hacking something together means deciding what to do as you’re doing it, not a subordinate executing the vision of his boss. It implies the result won’t be pretty, because it will be made quickly out of inadequate materials. It may work, but it won’t be the sort of thing the eminent would want to put their name on. Something hacked together means something that barely solves the problem, or maybe doesn’t solve the problem at all, but another you discovered en route. But that’s ok, because the main value of that initial version is not the thing itself, but what it leads to. Insiders who daren’t walk through the mud in their nice clothes will never make it to the solid ground on the other side.” - Paul Graham
  • “What’s the best thing you could be working on, and why aren’t you?” - Richard Hamming