I'd believe you if the folks I'm recalling had a good track record of having built successful businesses, or if their thinking struck me as... well... thinking, rather than cargo cultism. I know what it looks like when a person is thinking -- even fallaciously or sloppily, but still rubbing neurons together -- and I know what it looks like when a person is bullshitting to give the appearance of thought when they really have nothing at all going on upstairs. Buzzwords divorced from meaning and used without proper context are a dead giveaway for cargo-cult thinking.
Now granted, I know far more about programming than business. I can spot a cargo cult programmer after three sentences. In business it takes me a lot longer, maybe 6-12 months of working with someone. But by then if I've watched the cargo cultism long enough I can be pretty sure that's what I'm seeing, and I stop giving the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes when someone repeatedly seems like an intellectual impostor, it's because they are.
"Even the smartest people in the world will panic (and in some cases pivot) when doubts start to creep into their mind."
I think that's a lame excuse. Maybe my expectations are irrational, but I expect the kind of people who get millions or tens of millions of dollars to experiment with to be fighter pilots, not bus drivers. And if you wreck the ten million dollar plane, you don't get to fly another right away. Someone else gets a turn.
I also expect them to be smarter than me. When I talk to them I should have the feeling I've talked to an intellectual superior, not an impostoring dumbass.
It downright offends me to see the American middle class collapsing and people with no jobs while this shit goes on. If you're an entrepreneur, you're a working stiff too. Your job is to create value, and probably jobs, by building new businesses. When ordinary working stiffs screw up they get passed over or fired. When these guys screw up they get promoted -- or at least endless second chances.
I think what it boils down to is credentialism and cronyism rather than performance-based investing. If I were an investor I would split my odds between two areas: taking a chance on newbies, and investing in people with proven track records. But I would not repeatedly invest in people with poor track records just because their resume says "MIT Sloan School of Business."
Yeah, it's a rant. You're talking to a war veteran here. I also earned these war stories in the Boston metro area, and have heard a fair number from a friend in New York. I've been told that this problem is worse on the East Coast due to the absolute worship of ivy league degrees and in-group connections there. The West Coast is more meritocratically-focused. Never lived or worked there, but the culture I've seen in the West supports that notion.