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> 'The millions of reasons people give for why they won't work' [...] should be welcomed.

Not really. It's easy to think of reasons why something won't work. It requires an insanely small amount of effort compared to finding a way to make something work. "Reasons why not" are a dime a dozen.

> And I think there are no causation and correlation between thinking reasons that make it impossible and starting a company.

I certainly think there is. I haven't collected any evidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if those who find success are always looking for reasons why something will work, and those who run into failure are always looking for reasons why something won't work.

Now, to be fair, thinking of reasons "why not" does have its specialized use cases. Safety, for instance. But even then, that requires thinking outside of the box for unusual failure situations.




Identifying risk is one of the most valuable things startups can be doing. Ignoring that risk can be one of the most detrimental things. Good entrepreneurs treat that risk as opportunity. Bad entrepreneurs are paralyzed by it.

"Reasons why not" are indeed a dime a dozen, but that doesn't mean they are useless. It may be a bit annoying to have to filter through the feedback that identifies the wrong risks, but we shouldn't use that as an excuse to ignore critical feedback. Some of the best feedback I've ever received that got my mind churning was from people who truly understood the problems and were able to identify "reasons why not" that I hadn't thought of.


Yeah, identifying risk is important. But thinking one can "identify risk" as some random dude posting on Hacker News, criticizing a guy with a lot of experience running cutting-edge tech companies that make stuff like cars and spaceships (ACTUAL tech, not these lame web sites that people call "tech" these days), is ... well, delusional would be a polite word for it.


Not sure I agree with you. I'd expect most of the users of this site would actually do a pretty good job identifying risks. The delusional part is probably assuming Elon Musk hasn't already thought through these risks, along with plenty more we aren't thinking of.


And here we have one of the most reasonable answers in this thread. It's not about the utility of identifying risks, it's the plausibility of someone as knowledgeable as Musk putting his money and name on the line without having already considered a lot of the things some random group of strangers on an online forum would've thought up in a couple hours.

On the contrary, it seems more likely that Musk would've not only thought about risks already for more than a couple hours, but that he would've consulted a lot of domain experts about such things before even deciding to take on such a project. Even the most optimistic business person isn't naive enough to take on something they see as a sure bet to fail. Not to suggest that there haven't been entrepreneurs attempting silly businesses before, but rather that one should pause and think about the possibilities of how something might work, before jumping to the conclusion that they already understand everything there is to know about a project, and that it definitely won't work.

As another comment mentioned elsewhere in this thread, a good entrepreneur's main skill is being able to figure out some unique/unorthodox way to make something work, and capitalizing on that. Now, that doesn't mean that everyone opposing these ideas are wrong or don't know what they're talking about, it just goes to show that a lot of people's default state is one of risk-aversion.


> [...] the plausibility of someone as knowledgeable as Musk putting his money and name on the line without having already considered a lot of the things [...] Musk would've not only thought about risks already for more than a couple hours, but that he would've consulted a lot of domain experts about such things before even deciding to take on such a project.

Three months ago, after the Bloomberg feature was released, he literally said that they had no idea what they were doing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPzpugrbwBE&feature=youtu.be...


So were not allowed to give our concerns because ultimately they may not be correct?

Also, there's a ton of companies with a ton of knowledge who have done things which failed spectacularly or have refused to do things that would work. Tesla's whole existence is sentiment to that.

Is Musk immune to making such mistakes? The consensus on his Hyperloop idea still seems to be that is infeasible.


> It's easy to think of reasons why something won't work. It requires an insanely small amount of effort compared to finding a way to make something work. "Reasons why not" are a dime a dozen.

I'd enhance that a little and say that it's easy to think of facile reasons it won't work. But let's say you think of a reason why a thing won't work after two minutes. If someone else has been working at the problem for two hours, or two days, or two months, or two years, what's more probable?

- They never made the initial connection to the flaw, and have failed subsequently to notice it or account for it.

- They thought of a solution to the flaw which you haven't.

Hrm. Maybe I just don't have that high of an opinion of my own faculties, but I tend to assume it's the latter. Especially if the person in question is a very intelligent person with a strong track record of outperforming expectations.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't probe, or seek clarification, or ruminate on the flaw. But if you tell someone who's been working on a tunnel boring problem for a whole quarter that "boring through rock is the most expensive way to connect 2 places (sic)" as at least one person in this thread has observed, I'd argue that that's not a useful reaction. My reaction is, "I wonder what he knows that I don't."


Criticism is the sign of a healthy society. If someone is afraid of criticism or doesn't want to take it, then they are only hurting their own work. That's not to say Musk is guilty of that, but his fans could accept it.

If we didn't have critics we'd still have kings with divine right. This seems like an exaggeration, but it's really just to say that we need people to look at things critically.

I haven't collected any evidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if those who find success are always looking for reasons why something will work, and those who run into failure are always looking for reasons why something won't work.

This isn't that far from prosperity gospel preaching. Believing doesn't make things happen, otherwise NeXT would be dominating the industry and not Apple because boy did Jobs believe and give it his all.

Sometimes smart people are wrong, and it doesn't hurt those people anyway if dummies are discussing their work.


> If we didn't have critics we'd still have kings with divine right. This seems like an exaggeration, but it's really just to say that we need people to look at things critically.

That's an extreme straw man that trades a lot on what a "critic" is.

Martin Luther didn't criticize the papacy because he doubted the papacy's capacity to realize its ambitions. He criticized the way the papacy was then operating.

People holding forth on how something can't be done are best described not as critics but doubters (or haters). "I can't imagine a way to do X, therefore X can't be done." How many impossible things does Musk have to do before people take serious Musk's ability to realize his visions?

Hating is so easy. But today's capacity to develop technology is utterly unprecedented.

Lead. Follow. Or get out of the way.


People holding forth on how something can't be done are best described not as critics but doubters (or haters). "I can't imagine a way to do X, therefore X can't be done." How many impossible things does Musk have to do before people take serious Musk's ability to realize his visions?

We're talking about strawmen: nobody is saying that. Nobody is saying it can't be done. They are saying...let's wait until it is done, because right now it's just a video. Is that hating or an entirely reasonable stance to take?


Remind me, what does the NS at the beginning of class names in the OSX frameworks stand for again? It's on the tip of my tongue.

The technology Jobs believed in and developed at NeXT really did dominate the industry. It's in the phone I'm typing this on right now.


Completely fair (and cool!), but the use of nextstep at Apple is really a side-effect of NeXT failing to be what Steve wanted it to be (a competitor to Apple or simply successful).


I think you were making a very valid point, having faith and following your dream far more often leads down a blind alley than to fortune and success. But at the level Must operates at, it's the only way to do the things he does. Dedication isn't enough though, it has to be well judged dedication to viable goals backed with the right skills and talent.

I think Linux on the desktop would have been a better example though. Millions of hours of dev time have been spent on it and it's no closer to providing any competition to Apple or Microsoft now than it did in the 90s. I think there was a complacency in the Linux desktop world that success was inevitable given enough effort. I don't think Musk has ever been complacent about the success of his businesses. I don't think Jobs was either.




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