When you’re in growth mode, you will always be experimenting.
Really, you want to always be learning. Unless your work requires you to be really strong on paper and nothing else, you’ll have to take action in the real world. In my opinion, real learning doesn’t happen until you have skin in the game.
You want to learn as quickly as possible, but learning means making mistakes. Ergo, you’re going to make many mistakes very quickly. So how do you do this while minimizing damage and maximizing growth?
Experimenting in Your Career
In the early stages of your career, experimenting might mean trying out different jobs, or changing fields, or volunteering and interning with companies to get a peak into their day-to-day work.
The shortest amount of time I ever spent in a job was one week and 36 minutes. It was technically shorter than that. I started on a Wednesday, did a few days of onboarding, and then did a sample day on the phone where I was supposed to be calling companies that put out work contracts to gather info on them. After a day of that, I knew I would absolutely lose my soul if I stayed. The next Monday I sat at my cubicle, made a few calls, and waited for my head to catch up with my heart. At 8:36am, I knew I had enough. I signed out, got up from my desk, went to HR and let them know I was done.
This one can look bad when you tell people about it. Who cares? It’s your life. Find more rewarding work—both monetarily and emotionally. However, if you switch around too much or too publicly, it might create a reputation for you as someone who doesn’t commit.
The best way to avoid this is to either:
- Commit to only time-bound work like internships or contract work
- Work for decent minimum amount of time (this depends on the industry you’re in, but for me this around one year and a half)
- Quit so quickly that it doesn’t look that bad and you may be able to feasibly leave a gap on your resume (essentially three months or less)
No matter the job, here’s a good rule of thumb: if you’re not learning or earning (AKA upping your skill or at least getting paid very well) then it’s time to move on.
Experimenting in Your Investing
In general, I’m not much for traditional diversification. However, I’m big on running investment experiments.
The great thing about running money-related experiments is how well you can measure your success. Sometimes you may succeed for the wrong reasons, or you fail despite having the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, consistent success is a great indicator you’re on the right track.
This isn’t investing advice, but my personal strategy is “experimenting” with a small portion of my wealth, usually starting between 1–5%. Once I’ve learned enough, and am confident in an investment, I’ll go higher. But especially in the beginning, I stay quite conservative.
My mindset is that if I can make enough experiments with outsize growth potential, then it’s okay to get half (or even more than half) wrong, because the ones that take off pay for all the previous errors.
Startup Founder: The Ultimate Experiment
As an entrepreneur, your task is to solve a problem for someone else. If you’re growing a startup, your task is to solve it in a revolutionary way. Assuming you’re avoiding the trap of falling in love with a solution and trying to jerry-rig a problem onto it, then the early stage of your business will be about experimenting.
Some folks call this “market research.” Sure. Or it’s just messing up and trying again until people start to like what you’ve made. It’s really not more complicated than that.
To find your niche/product-market fit/thing that people actually like, you’ll make a lot. With each experiment, you get a better idea of what people want (which isn’t always what they say they want).
This type of experimentation has to be cheap. It has to be fast. Because if it takes you 6 months every time you want to test out something new, you’ll run out of money and energy long before you find a winner.
A good rule of thumb I try to use: when you have an idea, find out within 24 hours if it has a market. The easiest way to figure this out is if you would use the service you want to make. The next easiest way is to explain your idea as simply as possible to someone, ask their interest, and honestly assess if they really are interested or if they’re just being polite.
There’s Always Room for Better
I run little experiments with diet and exercise, hobbies, attitudes and small talk—anything. It’s all to keep life interesting and to find a better way you hadn’t considered before.
Learn lessons with every pivot and don’t let a tough lesson keep you from trying again. Often, the only difference between success and failure is the willpower to learn your lesson and try a few more times.