Move with Velocity

Speed vs Velocity

Move fast = Move with speed.

Speed is how fast an object moves. It is displacement of space per unit of time. Miles per hour. Feet per second.

Velocity is speed with direction.

Speed is a scalar quantity (the magnitude of velocity).

Velocity is a vector quantity which includes magnitude (speed) and direction.

That’s why instead of thinking “Move fast” I like to think “Move with velocity”

However, this does not mean speed is not important. Here are some of my favorite thoughts on the importance of speed balanced with the importance of direction.

Speed can be irrelevant

Speed is irrelevant if you are going in the wrong direction


In one sentence, this highlights why the balance of speed and direction is so important.

At the extremes:

  • if you are moving at 100% speed but in the wrong direction, then that does not help at all. You are going backwards.
  • if you are 100% pointed in the right direction but aren’t moving at all, then that does not help at all. You are stagnant.

If you’re lost, go faster

Going faster increases the chances that you’ll find a landmark and become unlost. This rule has a corollary though: If you’re going the wrong direction, turn around…

… and one clarification: Sometimes going faster looks a lot like going slower in the short run. Because taking the time to read a map, get your bearings and understand the system you’re in ultimately gets you there more quickly.”

Seth Godin

Going fast without reading the map at all means you will likely have to turn around at some point. Going slower in the short run (reading the map) allows you to move with velocity. It allows you to point yourself in the right direction.

Your effort sets your floor, your strategy sets your ceiling.

Taking the time to read the map and set your direction and strategy can help you reach your ceiling.

The cost of moving slow > the cost of getting it exactly right

Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70 percent of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90 percent, in most cases, you’re probably being slow… The cost of being slow is so much higher than the cost of getting the answer exactly right. You collect as much data as you can. You immerse yourself in that data, but then make the decision with your heart.

Jeff Bezos

The pareto principle is extremely powerful: “roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.” To translate to decision making, 80% of information can be uncovered in 20% of the time. Therefore, Bezos saying make decisions with 70% of the information implies that that one should spend <20% of their “time” information gathering before making a decision.

How might one define time within a given context? Let’s say you are building the first version of an app. Practically, one way to do this is set a deadline (intrinsic like “I will launch this in 3 weeks” or external like “I have an interview in 3 weeks and will have it built by then), calculate 20% of this time period (~4 days in this case) and spend no more than 4 days “information gathering” before making a decision in terms of product direction and building.

But remember the corollary: if you’re going the wrong direction, turn around, even if you read the map and originally thought you were going the right direction.

Fail Fast

He wasn’t much for setting goals” & that his main goal for [Nike] was to fail fast enough that he could apply what he was learning to his next venture. He made one short‐term pivot after another, applying the lessons as he went.

Phil Knight

We don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.

Put differently:

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

Obviously the goal is not to fail, the goal is to succeed. But every time you launch something and fail, it allows you to apply learnings as quickly as possible.

Setting a goal doesn’t magically mean it will happen. Motivation can only carry you so far. Your system is what ensures you are doing the small things every day that will take you to your goal. Knowing failure is a given (in small doses or large doses) in any entrepreneurial venture and getting very used to failing often will 1) help you tell your ego to shut-up and stop “protecting” you from failing at something and 2) allow you launch and fail as many times as necessary applying learnings as you go.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s