#53 — Circle of Competence (or Not)

Today is Yom Kippur. For me that means a lot of repenting. 😬 So I gotta ask… Will you forgive me for any boring emails, any podcast editing errors, and any terrible book recommendations? If so, then onto the regularly scheduled programming…

The Built in Seattle Podcast is back!

School is back in session. Podcast is back to its regular cadence. I’ve got a ton of great interviews lined up for you. This week’s episode (#46) is with Laura Clise, Founder & CEO at Intentionalist. Hear how Laura built partnerships with top tier brands, reframed consumer spending questions, and learned from small business owners.

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Thursday Thought

You know how much I love Charlie Munger. Both he and Buffet talk about staying in their “Circle of Competence.”

In Poor Charlie’s Almanac, he calls out this Thomas Edison quote:

“I’m no genius. I’m smart in spots, and I stay around those spots.”

Farnam Street breaks it down in more detail.

Basically, you have an advantage within your circle of competence. It’s one constraint that creates leverage.

But there’s a counterpoint.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to rethink a domain. It can be easier to maintain a beginners mind.

For example, I love Ryan Frazier and Kenny Cason’s founding story at Arrived. They were able to transition from B2B SaaS into consumer fin-tech / real estate company — very different ballgames.

Joe Heitzeberg didn’t know about meat before CrowdCow. He told me that he specifically wanted “an adventure.”

Many many examples of this.

As I’m considering different markets and startup opportunities, I’ve felt this tension.

Here’s how I’m squaring it:

  1. For my own ideation, I’m staying in my circle. I need guardrails to make the world smaller. For me this means b2b SaaS.

  2. BUT, I will happily go way out of the circle if I fall in love with a team. i.e. I don’t want to venture out there alone, but I’d do it for the right team.

Going with this for now, but reserving the right to update my beliefs (as Adam Grant says).

What’s your approach — leverage your circle of competence? Or go on an adventure?