🎶 Stone by Faces
A work is never completed, but merely abandoned.Paul Valéry
In the coming weeks, Holloway will be releasing content from our Guide to Raising Venture Capital about product-market fit, so I’ve been thinking about the topic a lot lately. I prefer the conception of product-market fit as a continuum, that is, not a single result you’re aiming for, but as a continually iterated process—a learning process. As a former teacher and poet, most of my past work was a rabid fight against the idea of an “end result”; the purpose of learning, as of writing, is that it’s never finished with you.
There is a difficult freedom that comes in deciding that you will never decide when something is done. Somehow, you have only to decide to keep working, to keep going, nearly like living without believing in an afterlife. What founder or startup employee wouldn’t be dazzled into conscious recognition by Samuel Beckett’s famous lines in The Unnamable?
“Perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”
“I don’t know, I’ll never know.” No shit. But all is not lost. In 1819, the Romantic poet John Keats wrote, “The only means of strengthening one’s intellect is to make up one’s mind about nothing.” Keats’ point in this and other letters was that the more voices we let in, the more experiences we allow ourselves to have, the more we will see that deciding whether any kind of product (poem, idea, app) is right or true or good or done is ultimately the work of ego. As anyone who’s raised a seed round well knows, eventually, you have to prove that what you said is true or not true, but you have to let go of ego in order to figure it out. Because there is no “decide,” there is only “discover.” You choose, at last and not at all least, to trust the process.
That’s Good Work for this week. Looking forward to what’s next.
Rachel and the Holloway Team
Good Work is written and curated by Andy Sparks, Courtney Nash, Dmitriy Kharchenko, Hope Hackett, Joshua Levy, and Rachel Jepsen.