Starting up, Thoughts

Diminishing Returns Of ‘Advices’

There are probably two school of thoughts with regards to getting feedback – practice secrecy/non-disclosure or talk freely to as many people as you can. I personally, under the influence of Adeo Ressi’s “Nobody is going to steal your stupid idea” mantra, am comfortable with sharing my idea with people I meet and try to get to as many people as I get can.

Recently, I’ve been noticing that after talking to more and more and people, I hear less and less new stuffs. Its like listening to the collective consciousness speak of sorts. So it kind of gets me into the drive where I don’t want to listen and I just want to shut-up-and-work. But because I still hold the belief that the next person I’m going to meet could be my most important lead or can bring me extremely fresh insights, I always face a dilemma on whether I should be going to a networking event or stay home and finish my prototype mock up.

The impact of advices I hear seem to have a diminishing returns as the number of people I speak to increases. The graph looks something like this.

Vertical axis denotes the value/impact brought by listening.
Horizontal axis denotes the number of people spoken to.

And yes, the stages are named by the reactions I give when I’m adsorbing all the advices.

WTF is a stage of amazement. In fact, to be more specific, it was a stage where I get stunned at the stuffs I heard. I still remember going into a meeting with Sang at NUS with my crappy pitch just to get stunned by HongTing that teachstreet is doing the exact same thing as I am. Basically, it was a meeting where I get rained by all these heavy-hearted words that I almost drown.

Then it was the OMG stage where the idea gets solidify, kind of like building muscles onto the skeleton, where I was deciding on revenue model, how to ensure users wouldn’t cheat my system and so on. I enter each conversation confident and leave them totally demoralized. This is the stage where I iterate my concept like mad, flipping business models so much that a top roti prata chef will be proud of me.

When you enter a conversation with your preconceived ideas, beliefs and knowledge, you could start categorizing some of the stuffs you hear as bullshit non-applicable. It’s also the stage where you start calculating if the time and money spent on transportation is worth the stuffs you’re gonna hear. This is where I start cross-referencing the people I’m going to meet and study them to decide on the opportunity cost of meeting them. But seriously, I have no idea if my calculations actually makes sense.

Yea, you could say that this is where the mind start closing up, but on another hand, do you need an open mind for something familiar?

Let’s be open minded and see how else I can place my pillows on my bed! ……

No, probably not. But that’s a topic for another time.

Blah, Blah, Blah
This is a stage I’ve never been in, but I predict it’s probably the stage people will get into after hearing the collective consciousness spoken by 10000000000 people you meet. I supposed entrepreneurs at this stage are procrastinating doing some work, therefore engage in activities that most likely tell you the same thing over and over but still hold unrealistic expectations that an unicorn will somehow jump out of the coffee cup.

As if life is easy…
It’s very hard to guess if the next dude I’m going to meet is gonna strike me with some unique words that could shape my bearings. But I hypothesize that if order for me to experience the WTF and OMG stages again, I need to go from the talking to the doing and to the doing more, so that there’s material for me to be stunned again.

The ideal graph should be this..

Never ending cycle of WTF and OMG perpetuated by different stage of development from conceptualizing, prototyping, beta to launch, punctuated by tons of iteration. The joy of entrepreneurship lies in how it resembles a roller coaster hybrid of fear, faith and excitement, and it kicks ass.






Fine. That was a lousy joke.


Elisha Tan is the Founder of TechLadies. TechLadies is a community for women in Asia to connect, learn, and advance as programmers in the tech industry. Elisha is also the Developer Programs Regional Lead for Asia Pacific at Facebook.


2 thoughts on “Diminishing Returns Of ‘Advices’

  1. Guus says:

    Ha yes, always be a beginner! Meaning, always go through the stages and come with something new when you start getting to blah blah

  2. Yea! But the hard part boils down to time management for me. Sometimes I debate with myself if I should spend the time talking to people (trying to get feedback and the know-whos) or will my time be better spent on working on something that can bring me back to the initial stages.

    What do you think is a good balance?

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