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May 25, 2021
The Survivors

A successful CEO did x, so if I do x I’ll likely get the same result.

  • Graduated from a prestigious university
  • Dropped out of college
  • Had investors
  • Had no investors
  • Were cutthroat
  • Were cooperative
  • Believed singularly in their idea
  • Believed in their team
  • Never gave up on their product
  • Adapted it with new technology

It doesn’t take into account all the people who dropped out of college and never founded a profitable company.

Or the people who contributed to the success of the business, but took a different path.

An organization might take on the persona of the founder, but it wouldn’t be what it is without the work of the team.


We can learn lessons from observing them in aggregate.

The difficulty with aggregations though, is it hardly is ever accurate of an individual.

The global average height is 159.5 cm for women, and 171 cm for men.

That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to design products solely for people of that height. Or that the majority of people are even that height. It’s just the average.


One of the most important questions to consider is what was the context of their success?

What systems were in place that allowed them to succeed?

What opportunities did they have that weren’t available to others?

Where did they grow up, who was around them, when did they start, what did they focus on, how did they accomplish it, why was it important, etc.

Those might be more insightful to our own success than the 6 things they do before breakfast each morning.

Mimicry does not equal mastery.