How I Think

⚠️ safe ideas are really risky

Published 26 days ago • 1 min read

Hey Team, it's your boy Chris Hladczuk back in your inbox.

(if you missed it, I raised $2.5M + am assembling the avengers. If you know a savage engineer with startup experience who loves mobile, reply here! I'll pay you $5,000 if I hire them.)

Okay so safe ideas are really risky.

Safe ideas = consensus stuff that the random dude at the company holiday party immediately agrees with


  • Work at Goldman Sachs for 2 years - it's "risky" to quit after 1 year
  • Go to business school - it's "risky" to join a startup
  • Work on projects where you have past experience since it's "safer" than something new

The problem with safe ideas is that they fall into The Trap of Incrementalism.

The trap goes like this...

You are afraid to fail. So you try to hedge your bets. You take a risk. But you choose something a little less ambitious. Why? Because it feels more doable. And more people you talk to can squint and see how it makes sense. You also give yourself plausible deniability if it fails. You still took a risk and tried something... right?

A simple example would be working in finance and then joining a fintech startup. You're just doing what you already have experience in right?

Why is this a terrible idea?

  • Why should you constrain your entire career to a decision you made as a Junior in college to major in finance and get your first job out of college in the field? So you should let your 20 year old self rule your next 50 years of career ambitions? Did Jeff Bezos have any experience in building internet companies? Or did Zuckerberg major in building a consumer social startup?

  • Safe ideas are risky because you face stiff competition from others pursuing incremental ideas. This is why SaaS tools have become ridiculously competitive over the last decade. The minute there is a playbook MBAs can copy is the moment you fall into the trap of incrementalism.

The safest ideas are actually the riskiest.

Talk soon,

Chris Hladczuk

p.s. don't forget to reply if you know a killer founding engineer ideally living in nyc...

How I Think

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