Make things that people want to buy.
Really, that's about it. In the private sector you will either be doing this or working for someone that does it. And when it comes to innovation, it's wierd when you think about it: humans have lived thousands of years without [whatever it is you invented]. So why would they want it? The thing is humans are curious creatures, always interested in new things, so it's always possible to get them to try new things. (It's not always about innovation though, sometimes it's about being more efficient and winning on price.)
(Also contained within this directive is the (sad) fact that you can spend quite a lot of time focused on the 'want' side, manipulating people into wanting to buy something.)
The innovation route is a daunting task. There is already so much good stuff out there, created by people no less intelligent or diligent than yourself. But that innate human restless, curious quality will always favor the underdog, so why not make new things that people want?
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Good luck, Dan!
"Self-interest and society’s interests are generally symbiotic: more than anything else, it is pursuit of selfinterest that motivates people to push themselves to do the difficult things that benefit them and that contribute to society. In return, society rewards those who give it what it wants. That is why how much money people have earned is a rough measure of how much they gave society what it wanted—NOT
how much they desired to make money"
Innovation for its own sake is dumb. Don't build a house with 8 doors instead of 8 windows just because you can.
It's related only in the sense that your post implied that you're filtering out the advice you've been given. And I wanted to add this in because I think its the most important thing, and easy to lose sight of.
One more thing, before I forget: another useful thing to do is to contrast "make things that people want to buy" with some common alternatives: "make cool things" or "make something the way it should be made" or even "think about how to make things". These are all easy traps to fall into.
In many ways, I feel like "make things people want to buy" is the economic equivalent of the Buddhist prescription to end suffering, "Eradicate craving and aversion." Simple enough sounding, but it has far-reaching repercussions and quite a lot of fruit for thought.
I'll look up Dalio - although strictly speaking he is wrong. There are plenty of ways to make money without making what people want. For example, any kind of passive income. You would have to stretch the definition of "thing" beyond breaking to let it describe "capital". Passive income is at best a kind of 'second-order' "making things" fraught with every kind of moral hazard.
See The Bible, or frankly any other religious/political text.
P.S Not to take away the fact that those texts are legitimately interesting and valuable in their own rights. But they are by dead people propagated as instruments by the living.
As a particularist, I would avoid following general principles of conduct in every case, since these do not work in the generality they claim. While I might prefer to use art, literature and religion as a guide to some aspects of conduct in particular cases, I would avoid following to the letter any express or implied general principles of conduct they might contain. With respect to your article, as far as religious texts go, there is Ecclesiastes 9:11.
"Welcome to Startups, where the truth is made up and the choices don't matter"
This is brilliant, and I think that combining strengths in this way is going to be the key to success in the new economy. There can't be very many people in the world who are the best at doing X when there are only O(N) possible X's, but when you go for being one of the best at combining X and Y, now you have O(N^2) choices.
Take, for example, this list of companies worth more than 1 Billion dollars:
You will immediately notice that most of the companies valued over $1Bn are valued at or around the $1Bn dollar mark. Contrast this with companies like Facebook and Google which are tens or hundreds of times larger than this.
The key is - the companies that have such a huge risk involved that they can only be tackled by young founders are the ones most likely to produce an outsized return. While most investors won't complain about a $1Bn exit, they would froth at the mouth at the thought of a $100Bn one.
That said, most entrepreneurs would be satisfied with a $10M exit, let alone a $1Bn one. With this in mind, no age can truly be considered 'over the hill'.
I spent my 20s and 30s writing software for companies, inventing new things, and having managers taking credit for everything I did. I expected pay raises and promotions, but those went to the people in the managers' social kliqs who had people skills (bullsh*tting, backstabbing, drinking at happy hour with the rest, gossiping, schmozing around the office instead of working, watering office plants, making coffee, etc.) instead of technical skills (developing code, coming up with new ideas for inventions and software, writing documentation, debugging, knowing how a computer works, knowing how to do research analysis and design, quality control, keeping up with trends via Hacker News and other sites) and my problem was that I was too good at the technical skills and I had to go. So I was 'used' to get to 'goals' and once those goals were reached I'd be fired and then find work at another company where it started all over again. Until the stress of it all made me too sick to work and I ended up on disability. (Programmers are a dime a dozen these days, we get 500 resumes a week for your position and we can hire a programmer for a fraction of your salary that won't get sick on the job!)
I guess I should have developed some 'people skills'?
Anyway now that I am in my 40's even if I was well enough to work, nobody would hire me, I'm too old. I have dual degrees in computer science and business management, but it just don't matter anymore.
The second myth, yes you need to focus on more than the business. My mistake was not focusing on my emotional, physical, and mental health and I got really sick doing my "balls to the wall" software development and focusing 100% of my energy into my job. Always keep a backup career as well in case software development or whatever doesn't work out. Find something you love to do and turn it into a hobby, that you might be able to turn into a business. Or else if you don't love it you might hate it and it makes you sick anyway.
funny, but it really made me stop reading any further... in these information overdose ADHD-ed times you shouldn't joke with things that can make readers subconsciously mark what you're writing as "not informative enough" and instantly switch to another thread :)