Pucker Up, Frog
Let me tell you a story.
In 2009 the London Philharmonic Orchestra recorded the 50 greatest pieces of classical music. Six pieces were by Mozart, five were by Beethoven and three were by Bach. In his lifetime Mozart created 600 pieces. Beethoven created 650. Bach wrote over 1,000. In a study of over 15,000 classical music compositions, the more pieces a composer produced in a five-year window, the greater the odds of a hit.
In the book by Adam Grant called Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World he outlines this and similar statistics to emphasize the following point,
“It’s widely assumed that there is a tradeoff between quantity and quality-if you want to do better work, you have to do less of it-but this turns out to be false. In facts, when it comes to idea generation, quantity is the best predictor of quality.” He adds, “Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection.”
Dean Kaman, the inventor of the Segway frames this paradigm like this, “You gotta kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.”
I love this. How many times have you heard, quantity does not equal quality - the exact opposite of the above. Iteration, evolution and revolution should be our friend! In building our new company, Wearrative, I have routinely carried the boat anchor of my past experiences that steady is the course. Because of that, I have resisted changes in our products and services. Yet, as I have spent more time in this role I have begun to embrace the idea of constant evolution. Granted, there is a time and place for focus and attention and eventually we have to ship product, but the guilt of striking out should be foreign.
The other, more subtle message here, is that success is hard work. It is not easy to create so much material. Further, it is not easy to hear “No” that many times. Based on the above statistics, Bach heard 997, “it’s OK” or “Uggghhh” to hear three, “WOW!!!”. That’s a tough couple of years.
Here are similar statistics:
- Picasso created more than 1800 paintings, 1200 sculptures, 2800 ceramics and 12,000 drawings.
- Maya Angelou wrote 165 poems and 7 autobiographies.
- Edison had 1,093 patents.
- Einstein wrote 248 publications.
In the YouTube world, there is a company called Beme that is working on a new way to deliver news. I love what they are doing and the transparency they have in trying to find their best voice and right format. You should follow them here for two reasons: 1) learn interesting stories and 2) watch a new delivery mechanism take shape and enjoy the failures on their way to finding great.
Here is to great stories,