Misguided Misconception: “Ideas are Shit; Execution is Everything.” [Related Reality: MOST Ideas are Shit]

Spoiler Alert: MOST of ANYTHING would be shit if EVERYONE was doing it — and encouraged to continue doing it — regardless of talent or skill-level! (MOSTideasAreShit.com)

MOSTideasAreShit.com — A few Thoughts on IDEAS from ReThinkingStartups.com and ViralWhatever.com, creators of 50+ Viral Ventures that EACH reached 1+ MILLION people — collective reach: 496 MILLION!)
  • Most people have a pretty good level of self-awareness when it comes to their abilities to play the piano or pilot an airplane — or how good they are at golf or ice-skating. (And most ENTREPRENEURS are fairly accurate in their self-awareness of their graphic design abilities or their coding skills — or, albeit to a lesser degree, even their public speaking or sales abilities.) BUT, I believe most entrepreneurs have a terrible level of self-awareness when it comes to their ideas, strategy, vision… (full column soon)

[Notes to self: It’s difficult to become Self-AWARE with no basis to COMPARE! Ask us about this! With a large enough sample size, we believe that, yes, you can OBJECTIVELY evaluate previously SUBJECTIVE things — like creativity, vision, strategy, and… IDEAS! Ask us about this! As part of our “Creative Thinking and Ideation” classes, we offer MANY opportunities to come up with creative ideas for many different things. And you’d be amazed how clearly you can evaluate the creative-thinking and ideation abilities of individuals after 10 or so rounds of 10 or so people competing at the same creative-thinking/ideation challenges.

  • “There’s no such thing as a bad [xxxx]
    Wait… WHAT?!? Seriously?? If you wouldn’t say that about a “logo”, a “website”, an “app”, a “sales call”, or an “investor pitch”, then WHY do we say it about “IDEAS”?!? [Spoiler Alert: BAD IDEAS do, in fact, exist!]
  • …However, much more common (and, in my opinion, actually more detrimental than BAD ideas) are simply regular / ordinary / average ideas — which, personally, bother me MUCH more than BAD ideas because it is the overwhelmingly ubiquitous presence of these regular / ordinary / average ideas that is responsible for…


  • I completely understand WHY many people minimize the value of ideas (with Gary Vaynerchuk famously preaching: “Ideas are Shit; Execution is Everything”) — because, I’ll admit and agree, that is a very fair/accurate critique for MOST ideas, conceived by MOST people…
  • For the record, this is NOT an anti- Gary V. comment — I’m actually a big fan — I would just love it if Gary V. (and everyone else!) would maybe just modify that sentiment, ever so slightly to: “MOST Ideas Are Shit (And Execution is Extremely Important)
    — Not only because I might buy MOSTideasAreShit.com, but because I think entrepreneurs would have much better success/fail rates if we can start recognizing the huge difference between the vast majority of (regular) ideas (conceived by the vast majority of people) and the ideas that are conceived by the very small percentage of the population for whom IDEAS (and creativity and vision and strategic thinking) happens to be something that they are TRULY GREAT at!
  • How long would it take you to give me the correct answer if I ask you to multiply 2018 x 2017? Well, first you’d probably go to your calculator or get paper and… Never mind. Time’s up. You lose. Because before you could even think about calculator vs. paper, somebody like my friend Kevin would do some crazy-fast mental-ninja shit in his head (simultaneously processing: “2000 x 2000 is 4 million, 2000 x 18 is 36000, 2000 x 17 is 34000, and 18 x 17 is 306, therefore…) and he’d have blurted out “4,070,306” as quickly and confidently as you or I would have answered if the question had been “what’s 2018 + 3”.

Math has a definitive right and wrong answer, so it’s easier for you to believe and understand that some people are just that much better at math than others. But what if I told you that some people are that much better than average at some combination of Ideation, Intuition, Strategic Vision, Prediction of Human Behavior, Creative Thinking…? That’s much harder for us to comprehend (or believe) because it’s all generally thought of as more qualitative than quantitative and more subjective than objective, so it’s much more difficult for people to recognize/accept.

  • Do you know what a S.W.O.T. Analysis is? (It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats and it’s a way that Business Schools teach to evaluate new ideas.) What if I told you that some people can intuitively do a better, more thorough, more accurate S.W.O.T. analysis IN SECONDS(!) — IN THEIR HEAD(!), than the entire all-staff / conference-room meeting would come up with after hours (or days!) spent brainstorming and white-boarding? What if I told you that some people have such an intuitive understanding of human nature and consumer behavior that they can intuitively do as good a job (if not significantly better) a job of accurately providing all the market insights that a lengthy/costly Customer Discovery process or Market Research survey would provide.


  • “Everyone think of an idea…”
    That’s great… in certain situations — particularly for children! — just like every kid takes science classes (even though very few will become scientists) or how every kid is encouraged to play sports (even though a smaller number of kids are good enough to play High School sports, even fewer are great enough to play Collegiate sports, and how many people do you know who are talented enough to be a professional athlete and make it their career?!) [To Be Continued]
  • Why (the F!) does every Entrepreneurship class or Startup Weekend or Hackathon or “How To Build A Startup” class or blog starts with something like:
    “STEP 1: Come up with an Idea.”
    [NOTE: If it’s solely for the experience / learning opportunity, then I guess I’m ok with it. But when it’s “FOR REAL”, a startup that you actually want to succeed, that you want others to invest in, that you want to dedicate your own time/money/life to?? Well, the “everybody think of an idea” mindset is, in my opinion, a big part of why ~99% of startups fail!] (To Be Continued)
  • Not all “ideas” are created equal(ly?)… Here’s an attempt we made a few years ago to try to better explain and differentiate “a regular idea” (conceived by the vast majority of people) vs. (what we’ll try to differentiate and explain via the ViralWhatever.com label of) an “IDEA+++” (conceived by a very small percentage of the population for whom that happens to be an area of expertise)
* NOTES: “Viral potential” is only a factor for some types of ideas (such as B2C products/content that will depend on virality for success). For other types of ideas (such as B2B startups), we would substitute “Product-market-fit potential” (at least a 10x better-than-average potential of achieving product-market-fit)

P.P.S. One of the key principles of ReThinkingStartups.com is to try to create the programs and methodologies where, as often as possible, you have people doing what they are truly GREAT at… If you want to do other things for fun or personal growth (like Michael Jordan did when we switched from basketball to baseball), that’s great. But if you’re trying to give a startup the best chance of success, wouldn’t you rather bet on a team where you have GREAT people doing what they are truly GREAT at??


(You’ve been warned)

Some of the very BEST IDEAS will (sadly) never reach their potential (or even see the light of day) if GREAT Idea-CREATORS continue to insist they are also the best one to EXECUTE — and/or if Startup Communities and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems continue ENCOURAGING ENTREPRENEURS TO LIE!

Note: The screenshot images above and below are taken from a much longer essay that PhilosoFounder.com wrote about this. We can discuss in more depth another time, but It basically goes on to talk about “the best” being a ridiculous requirement, so let’s just say GREAT (1 out of 100?) and then lowers the bar further to 1 out of 25 or 4%. It then discusses the difference between OR (1 of those) vs. AND (all of those) and wraps up with this:


It is often said, something similar to: “A mediocre (bad?) idea with great execution is better than a great idea with mediocre (bad?) execution.”
While I actually have some personal experiences that could raise an interesting challenge to this, I won’t argue that right now. What I will say is this:
Regardless of how you feel about that statement, can we all agree that the BEST combination would be a GREAT IDEA *WITH* GREAT EXECUTION — and how troublesome it is that more effort isn’t made to pursue this (i.e. identifying GREAT idea people AND matching them with GREAT execution people?) One of many (ambitious?) goals for CoFounderator.com!



CoFounderator - ReThinking Entrepreneur Education

JOIN US in ReThinking “Startups” & Early Entrepreneur Education (via New Products, Content, Marketing, Side Hustles, STARTER STARTUPS?!?) info@cofounderator.com