Compounding head starts | Seth’s Blog

When a six-year-old kid beats the other kids at tennis, that kid is more likely to be encouraged to play more, or to get a coach, and pretty soon, they’re much better at tennis than the others.

When a musical group has a single that gets some buzz on Spotify, they’re more likely to be able to find a producer or even a label.

When a candidate polls well early in a race, they’re more likely to get donations, attract consultants, run ads and not be encouraged to drop out…

There are clearly scarcity-based competitions in our culture that reward early success. Acknowledging this (however unfair or suboptimal it is as a sorting mechanism) leads us to two very different sets of tactics:

One alternative is to dramatically overinvest and overprepare for your debut. If early head starts are rewarded, be sure you have one. This can even involve entering school a year later, or running for dog catcher instead of the senate.

The other is to acknowledge that even though head starts are sort of random and often reward the wrong folks, you’re going to ignore them. Make sure you have the resources and resolve to develop your following and your skills regardless of how well you do in the first interactions. Day by day and drip by drip.

Most people try to do both, and doing both almost guarantees you’ll burn out.

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