3 min read

How to Grow in 2024

How to Grow in 2024
Photo by Connor Simonson on Unsplash

In high school, one of my professors gave me a riddle that only one other student had solved in his tenure.

The setup is simple: you have 12 steel balls. They all look the same and feel the same yet one is either heavier or lighter than the rest. Using a balance, how do you use least number of weighings you can do to determine which ball has a different weight and whether it’s lighter or heavier?

On an empty Sunday afternoon, I set out for a walk to unlock the insight behind this problem. I walked, grabbed stones on the side of the road, and iterated.

I tested several different methods. I created principles to guide me in the right direction. I kept trying and failing.

After a couple of hours, I’d come to the solution. While it’d be nice to look at this problem and think that my determination proved I could solve anything, it’s not that simple.

Because while I received immediate feedback and quickly iterated on a solution, nothing in the world is this simple. Well, nothing worth spending your life on.

The Feedback Gap

This past year, I created a product that I thought would revolutionize the creator economy. A service that connected creators to their audience through paid Q&A, I thought I hit the jackpot. After reaching out to many creators, I realized that while the audience may like it, creators don’t.

In my mind, it was simple. I had a beautifully constructed vision for reality. I spent months building this product just for it to fall flat.

While I had assumptions for how the world works, I wasn’t testing them. I thought I was right and I was wrong. It took me months to figure it out.

The Vision of the Innovator

When I think of an innovator, I think of geniuses. People who spend all day in their offices, working through tough problems and then reaching a monumental insight that they drop as a bombshell to the world.

Maybe some people can work this way. But for the not-geniuses among us, this never cuts it. We need help. We need to test what we believe.


After my failed experiment with my creator Q&A service, I thought I just didn’t get lucky this time. I tried something and it didn’t work. It was time to move on. I was kind of right.

With more distance from it, I learned that the problem wasn’t that I got unlucky. It’s that I waited too long to get feedback. I thought I understood the world. I thought I knew what was going on and how I could fix the problems I saw before me. But through this, I never actually spoke to the people I was trying to help. I never tested my guiding assumptions, fearful that they wouldn’t pan out to be true.


Carol Dweck’s research on growth and fixed mindsets changed my life. I was in high school at the time and reading her book pushed me to throw away my fear of failure and seek to learn. Her insight was simple: those with a growth mindset see challenges as learning opportunities while those with a fixed mindset see challenges as demonstrations that they aren’t good enough.

The former group learns because they seek out challenges. The latter falls behind, perpetually scared to appear incompetent.

Those with a growth mindset aren’t scared of testing their assumptions. They place it at the center of who they are. They want to learn over all. They want to iterate. They understand that genius isn’t born, it’s made.


It took me over twelve years of education to learn that raising my hand isn’t to get participation points. It’s to test my assumptions.

When I raise my hand, I’m putting a lot on the line. I’m explaining how I got to my answer — the reasoning behind it all. And it’s in this moment that I get the most useful feedback I could ever reach — I get the opportunity to iterate.

I take what I think I know, test it, and come out better able to solve the world’s problems.

No matter what you do, feedback and iteration is the key to doing it better. This is how great products are made, how insights are found, and, most importantly, how great minds are crafted.

The feedback doesn’t come easy. Not all problems are as simple as the 12 balls. You have to seek it out. But building this into your process will make the results so, so much better.