Jake Worth

Jake Worth

Do the Hard Things First

Published: January 25, 2021 • Updated: May 23, 2023 2 min read

  • startups

“First thing in the morning, eat a live frog, and you can go through the rest of your day knowing the worst is behind you.” — Mark Twain

A concept that I admire is ‘Doing the Hard Thing First’ via Ben Orenstein. Ben described on the Art of Product Podcast Episode 50. Here’s my summary:

Choose the hard part of the problem, the part you’re unsure about, the part that success depends on, and solve that first!

The Hard Part of the Problem

The hard part of the problem will be the most differentiating, and therefore valuable. If it was easy, there would be no opportunity. You’re lucky that Schlep Blindness has failed to hide it from you. It might be impossible, at least the way you’re thinking about it. Solve that problem first before investing any more time in the idea.

Here’s a contrived example: an application that analyzes a blood sample and correctly identifies a complex, poorly understood disease. They say it can’t be done. Can we do it? What people, tools, and technological advancements will it require? If you have a goal like this, solve the hard part first. You can build the Slack notifier later.

It’s okay to fail. At least your didn’t waste your time gold-plating a failed idea. Regroup and move forward.

What are your thoughts on doing hard things? Let me know!

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