A Fast Year Indeed

March 4, 2022

I don't know what's going on, and I'm probably not smart enough to understand if somebody was to explain it to me. All I know is we're being tested somehow, by somebody or some thing a whole lot smarter than us, and all I can do is be friendly and keep calm and try and have a nice time till it's over.

-Kurt Vonnegut

As I reflect on hitting my first official year at Fast, I wanted to write about the two most important lessons I learned.

1. Fast is better than perfect

There are many adages all referencing how striving for perfection interferes with progress and it's really true.

I spent most of my career at large banks (even some of the "innovative ones") and the most dramatic difference between these two types of organizations is how much Faster startups are able to move. Others have writen before on how deep this runs in the DNA of startups and seeing it first hand is so exciting. Conversely, at established financial institutions, it's just not the case. The incentives aren't there and the bureacracy and over-processing of process creates too many roadblocks to actually get things done.

Often my gripe at those organizations was that we spent more time on strategy, making presentations, meeting, than actualy doing the work. I'm very supportive of being thoughtful and planning your work, but I think something about big organizations creates an incentive to spend more time talking about the work than actually doing the work.

That always frustrated me, again, not because I'm against planning or process but rather I'm against process that interferes with progress, which I think is in place at those organizations more than people want to admit.

So why does that happen? Why do people create processes that interfere with progress?

Because it feels like it matters. But what feels good and what actually matters aren't necessarily the same thing and I think big organizations simply lose sight of this fact.

Which leads me to the other important lesson I learned...

2. Focus on what really matters

Time is a finite, precious commodity.

It's a commodity that can't be bought back so I often reflect on what time was wasted "feeling good" and what time actually resulted in change. As I get older, this becomes increasingly more important to me and I only recently realized how much time I've wasted trying to feel good rather than trying to do things that mattered, so I'm trying to course correct these days.

At Fast, I have been so happy with how focused we are on doing work that actually matters. Meetings and work streams are always grounded in action items and next steps, which just makes it all feel like we are working together. And, in truth, that just makes the whole thing fun.

We are all commonly bound by finite time and I feel lucky to get to choose where I spend it. I am grateful to have spent the last year with Fast builders--brilliant, kind, and talented people who focus on what matters.