Mr Gutman: Second-time entrepreneurs

In an interesting post I wish I had more time to respond to, it is theorized that I (and, therefore, we at Odeo) aren't working hard enough.

I'm really interested in this topic. He makes some good points. But my theory is that it's not the endless hours and stress that were the key to my (or anyone else's) success. (Endless hours and stress should not be confused with tenacity.)

I firmly believe that the extreme imbalance so pervasively assumed to be a required component of startup life is detrimental to effectiveness in the long run. What I think is much more key is focus.

I think the most people, especially people who work on the web (the ultimate distraction machine) are pretty unfocused throughout most of their day. (For example, refer to this blog post.) And if you can get better at doing the right things, that is a much more effective way to "push the pedal to the floor" than sleeping under your desk (or not sleeping at all).

Now, I'm not as good as I'd like to be at focus and task selection—but I'm a hell of a lot better than I used to be. And I think I get more done per day now—and more of the right things done—than I did when I was working on Blogger.

Another trick to this theory is that it's harder to demonstrate focus to your people than it is to demonstrate willingness to put in insane hours. And all this is not to say that, endless hours can't make up for some lack of focus. (Although, at a certain point, you have decreasing returns and start making bad decisions. I wonder how many of Blogger's bugs were put in after midnight by me.)

For an excellent book on this subject (and others), see Slack.