If you can find a new approach into a big but apparently played out field, the value of whatever you discover will be multiplied by its enormous surface area. – Paul GrahamThis insightful quote is taken from Paul Graham’s December 2019 essay titled “Fashionable Problems.” In the piece, the legendary programmer, writer, and investor discussed the idea that even though many people have worked hard in a field, most get sucked into working on similar things (fashionable problems). Graham suggests that to find ‘unfashionable problems,’ we should look no further than the areas where everyone else believes there is little left to discover. This theory means even the most saturated and exhausted of industries could be home to undiscovered treasures waiting to be dug up.
The concept is equally useful outside the business world; it applies to the arts, sciences, even athletics. No matter what the field, there is always room for innovation. But to find these treasures, it takes passion, commitment, and courage to and press on where others gave up. It won’t be easy, but the ROI could be extraordinary.
If you haven’t read Paul Graham’s ‘Fashionable Problems‘ essay – you should. We also recommend reading more of Graham’s written work. His multidisciplinary background really shines through his written work, and each one is a work of art. Speaking of art…if you like Graham’s essays, check out his classic book “Hackers & Painters – Big Ideas from the Computer Age“.
Free Your mind.