Necessary but not sufficient

Many years ago, I read an interesting tidbit somewhere about raising capital for startups. There was a checklist of qualities that correlate with fundraising success (and ultimately startup success). The list went something like this:

  • good team
  • good market opportunity
  • good traction
  • good timing

…and other bullet points of that nature. But the key takeaway came after: these conditions are “necessary but not sufficient“. It wasn’t simply enough to “check all the boxes.” For the company to be a historic success, it had to be great at something. Like best in class good at something. That really shifted my perspective a bit, but it makes sense. You can’t optimize for outlier results by filtering out “bad” qualities and then simply taking what remains.

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that this, like many other concepts, is recursive. It applies to startups, it applies to teams, and it applies to individuals. Necessary but not sufficient:

  • intelligent, resilient, empathetic
  • good written and spoken communication
  • continuous learner with growth mindset
  • organized, deliberate, productive
  • absent any toxic or dysfunctional behaviors

When I think back to the best people I’ve ever worked with, these were baseline things they all more or less had in common, but they all excelled in something beyond checking off a standard list of qualities. It’s helped me gain some perspective, and made me rethink my own career goals.

This month marks four years since I started at Privy. We will be 50 strong in about a week. I hope to find and connect with many more great colleagues and friends.


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