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I think everyone overestimates their ability to influence the outcome. 85% of venture backed startups are no longer operating in 3 years. Startups are fragile critters, and those 85% presumably were larger high-aptitude and hardworking folk who all THOUGHT they'd at least make it the the "walking dead" group (which presumably makes up most of the remaining 15%).

A lottery is probably a bad analogy. It's probably more like a couple of hands of blackjack.

I think your first point is the winner. See Bezos' Regret Minimization Framework: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwG_qR6XmDQ

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