Waste is Good

I was just reading an article this week on Wired called Waste is good that triggered me to think about how it relates to entrepreneurship and job search. In a nut shell, the article says that “our brains seem wired to resist waste” – wasted energy, wasted time, wasted attempts, wasted technology, etc… , but in reality waste can be very good for innovation and significant advancement.

If Alan Kay from Xerox didn’t “waste” time and computer power (which was pretty expensive) in the 1970s to create cartoon like icons, windows, pointers, and animation, we may never have had the advancement in personal computing that led to almost one computer in every family today.

This article intrigued me because as a budding entrepreneur, I struggle with how I want to use my time to develop my online marketing business. With all of my MBA and corporate America experience, I instinctly hate “wasting” my time on something that may not work. I rather plan for the most efficient path and try to avoid making any “mistakes.” But I am realizing quickly that entrepreneurship is a different animal all together from corporate america and requires some or a lot “waste” to explore many potential ideas. If I spend too much time on perfecting my plans on one thing, I may lose out on many other possible opportunties.

As a result, I am switching my entrepreneurial approach to “test fast, fail fast.” It will be important for me to explore many different avenues, business models, market segments, so I can see which one could potentially work. I also have to accept that many of my attempts will “fail.” This transition is not easy and counter to my intuition as “failure” is perceived very negatively in corporate america. As I interact with more and more entrepreneurs however, I see that successful ones don’t really have a concept of failure. Instead they looked it as ideas explored and lessons learned so they can continue to work toward a profitable, working model. My challenge is to eliminate the negative words like “waste” or “failure” from my vocabulary and looks at anything unsuccessful as just another step toward finding the profitable model for my business. It is both a humbling and exciting experience.

I also think this concept of “waste is good” applies to job seekers. I see job seekers as basically temporary entrepreneurs. You are the owner of a company where the product is YOU and you need to find the right model and channel to sell YOU into a dream job. So, let 1000 flowers bloom and go after every opportunity you can find. There is no “wasted” effort. Even if 999 flowers doesn’t bloom, you really only need one to bloom. You never know which “flower seed” you planted will actually lead to a “beautiful flower” and a fantastic job.

Wish me luck on my ventures and good luck out there with your search!

– Lei

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