The First Time Founder SuperPower: Ignorance On Fire

October 22, 2023 4 mins read
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The superpower of an entrepreneur is they don’t know how hard it is and they only ask themselves how hard can it be.

Jensen Huang

Dear Reader,

First-time founders wield audacity and ignorance like a double-edged sword. It’s not a bug; it’s a feature. It’s your unfair advantage, your competitive edge. #IgnoranceOnFire 🚀 (𝕏 Tweet This)

What you don’t know can’t stop you. You’re not asking, “How hard is it?” You’re asking, “How hard can it really be?” That’s your superpower. It’s a recipe for breakthrough innovation at breakneck speed. But… it’s also your curse. What you don’t know can equally hurt you, where vision meets delusion.

This is where critical thinking, intelligent and diverse teams, and value-add mentors are the difference in your landscape that has no guardrails.


The power of a founder’s first win.

Community insight: “What you call a win, the market may not. Know the difference between a personal win, an internal win, and a market win.”


Beginner’s Mind, is a Zen Buddhist principle emphasizing open-minded eagerness, it’s not philosophical fluff, it’s true intellectual freedom, empirically validated by Carol Dweck’s research on growth mindset. It’s a real thing and the quicker you recognize it, the better you can leverage it.

In the age of AI, your “ignorance on fire” has a new meaning. AI can turn your ignorance into knowledge faster than ever, your fire is now more about execution and speed-to-market than knowledge. The new fire is distribution seeing opportunities for unfair advantage where others see obstacles.

Jensen Huang, co-founder of Nvidia, shares a brutal perspective on the startup journey, coming from someone who’s been through the fire and emerged a victor. If he knew how hard it was going to be, he wouldn’t do it again. Jensen’s words must be watched.

So why do we do it? Why willingly walk into the fire, knowing it’s going to be a million times harder than we think? It’s the intoxicating blend of naive ambition and ignorance set ablaze (combined with incredible arrogance that you are the one to do it!). It’s the superpower that lets you challenge the status quo and wander happily into uncharted territories without the preconceived limitations baggage. You are propelled not by what we “should” do but rather what we “could” do.

It’s also the downfall. The higher you climb, the more exposed you are and the harder you fall when you encounter the harsh truths of execution and the reality of market fit. So you better be right, or you better be able to knit a parachute mid-fall and pivot gracefully!

Ignorance on fire is great, but it needs to be tempered by a deep willingness to listen, learn and iterate your thinking.

Your Two Super Powers:

HOW HARD CAN IT BE: You’re not burdened by the failures or cynicism that come with experience. You’re free to imagine, to risk, to leap. Ever wonder why some of the most groundbreaking ideas come from those with no experience in the field? This is why.

IGNORANCE ON FIRE: Your lack of experience isn’t a hindrance; it’s the freedom. You’re not confined by “the rules” because you don’t know them. Uber wasn’t started by a taxi driver, Airbnb wasn’t started by a hotelier.

As your StartUp matures and you really start to understand “it”, and as Jensen puts it, “the challenges, embarrassments, and moments of vulnerability” it changes, to knowing the reality, but still waking up every day and making the conscious choice, to face the hard and still ask, how hard can it be.

To acknowledge the insanity and still choose to forge ahead….

Full circle to Brian Chesky of Airbnb. No hospitality experience but audacious enough to think people would want to let strangers stay in their homes, that he could turn this into a global empire. Audacity and ignorance disrupted an entire industry. Netflix. Uber. Amazon. Warby Parker. All did the same.

How hard can it be? Surely, not that hard!!

Keep pushing, keep questioning, keep doing.

— James

(LinkedIn | Twitter | Tiktok)

Your First Win: The Founder’s New Chapter Next: The Unstoppable Force: A Fraction More Obsession Than Talent
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