Positioning Yourself Near the Opportunity

Oct 25, 2023

A quote from NVIDIA’s Huang in a recent interview:

You want to position yourself near opportunities. You don’t have to be that perfect. You want to position yourself near the tree. Even if you don’t catch the apple before it hits the ground, so long as you’re the first one to pick it up. You want to position yourself close to the opportunities.

That’s kind of a lot of my work, is positioning the company near opportunities, and the company having the skills to monetize each one of the steps along the way so that we can be sustainable.

Jensen Huang, CEO and co-founder of NVIDIA (on the Acquired Podcast)

Whether gaming, crypto, or AI, NVIDIA has positioned itself around the opportunity, and Huang has built the company to monetize each step. Not every opportunity has worked out for NVIDIA, but some do.

The exact opportunities are mostly unknowable — there are too many confounding variables, even for the smartest analysts. Bill Gates initially missed the Internet (his 1995 book, The Road Ahead, barely mentioned the web). Their first few attempts didn’t land correctly (but nobody remembers those). In retrospect, nobody could have predicted exactly what the best business models and products would be.

I think Huang’s advice holds true on a personal level. You won’t always know what the best opportunities are ahead of time. But it’s about making bets that are directionally correct and adjusting afterward. Why it’s important to be able to adapt your strategy quickly when given new information.

It’s better to be approximately right than exactly wrong — Carveth Read in Logic: Deductive and Inductive (1898)

And a quote from the ultimate orator, Cicero, which I quoted in The Stoic Arrow,

For though if a man were to make it his purpose to take a true aim with a spear or arrow at some mark, his ultimate end, corresponding to the ultimate good as we pronounce it, would be to do all he could to aim straight: the man in this illustration would have to do everything to aim straight, and yet, although he did everything to attain his purpose, his 'ultimate End,' so to speak, would be what corresponded to what we call the Chief Good in the conduct of life, whereas the actual hitting of the mark would be in our phrase 'to be chosen' but not 'to be desired.’

Sed ex hoc primum error tollendus est, ne quis sequi existimet, ut duo sint ultima bonorum. etenim, si cui propositum sit conliniare hastam aliquo aut sagittam, sicut nos ultimum in bonis dicimus, [sic illi facere omnia, quae possit, ut conliniet] huic in eius modi similitudine omnia sint facienda, ut conliniet, et tamen, ut omnia faciat, quo propositum adsequatur, sit hoc quasi ultimum, quale nos summum in vita bonum dicimus, illud autem, ut feriat, quasi seligendum, non expetendum.  – Cicero, De Finibus III.6