According to Jeff Bezos, the number one sign of intelligence isn't that you get every call right. It's that you have the intellectual humility and respect for truth required to admit when you were wrong. That's why the Amazon boss looks to hire those who can speak thoughtfully about having changed their minds.
If he's looking to add a few new members to the team based on this criteria, a recent Twitter thread should provide plenty of leads.
It was kicked off by VC Hunter Walk, who asked his more than 200,000 followers to share something they believed ten years ago that they no longer believe today.
What's something you believed 10 years ago that you disagree with today???-- Haunter Walk (@hunterwalk) October 28, 2019
Then: taking satisfaction in your work along the way is bad because it dampens your hunger for success
Now: Not true, pat yourself on the back when needed ️
The resulting discussion was both a fascinating window into the thinking of startup insiders and a perfect demonstrated of the Bezos's principle that the cleverest people are constantly evolving their opinions.
A big oops on social media
Among the most common missed calls shared by Walk's followers was a failure to understand earlier the possible negative condequences of social media, which the 2016 election and its ugly aftermath have so clearly demonstrated.
Former Twitter executive and Obama White House Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman, for instance, recalled that back in the day he believed "that it makes sense to err on the side of a permissive content policy." Today, he's changed his mind.
He wasn't the only one expressing reservations about the products he helped build. Kevin Fox, who designed the interface for Gmail at Google chimed in with similar sentiments.
That social media is a force for good.-- Kevin Fox (@kfury) October 28, 2019
Today I know it *can* be, but is not intrinsically positive.
Founder Bill Morein was more specific about his misunderstanding of social media.
10 years ago: what's engagement?-- Bill Morein (@wmorein) October 28, 2019
8 years ago: engagement is the solution to all product management problems
today: engagement is ruining the world
Aside from regrets around social media's unintended consequences, the other big theme that emerged was the need to take a hard look at hustle culture. Many startup veterans confessed to previous workaholism and claimed to have since changed their ways.
Former WeWork executive Dave Fano, Beeswax CEO Ari Paparo, and several others tweeted about mending their control freak ways and learning to delegate.
Then: If you want something done right do it yourself-- Ari Paparo (@aripap) October 28, 2019
Now: Other than Tweeting I can hire someone better than me at almost anything
Others focused, like Walk, on the anxiety and constant striving that used to keep them from enjoying the journey. Now, they claim, they savor their successes along the way.
Then: Anxiety is a crucial ingredient for sustaining success over time because it pushes you to consider consider all of the ways things could go wrong.-- Vanessa Mason (@vanessamason) October 28, 2019
Now: Feeling positive and content in the present enables you to build the relationships and practices that sustain success
Meanwhile, a third group shared how they had rethought their early beliefs about the need to work crazy hours when you're building a startup.
Hah, similar vein:-- Ashley Mayer (@ashleymayer) October 28, 2019
Then: There's never any reason not to be busy at a startup. You can always do more!
Now: Take your breaks when you can ffs.
Then: people need to work 8 hours a day/40 hours a week.-- Jenny Thompson (@JCT_212) October 28, 2019
Now: time isn't the goal, results are. If you can get me results in 2 hours a week, I'll pay you the same amount (or more!)
Sleeping is a waste of time. Now, I believe sleep is the most important self-care gift I can give myself.-- Nanea Reeves (@nanea) October 29, 2019
Braid these three threads together and they create a holistic sense of some the startup community rethinking not just work-life balance, but their definition of success as a whole. Maybe that's just age leading to wisdom for many individuals. Maybe it's a sign that hustle culture itself is starting to crumble. You be the judge.
These two clusters of responses were the most common, but the long thread offered all sorts of other missed calls and personal transformations, from predictions that rents would go down in San Francisco (whoops) to reformed news junkies who have now sworn off the daily headlines.
Check it out if you're in the market for a reminder that the more you're willing to say "I was wrong" the faster you learn.