#29 Constraints are Good!

A few days back was listening to Seth Godin on Tim Ferris podcast. At about 48 mins, Seth said something that I had to go back and listen at least 3 times. He said , “Set constraints in everything you do”, and went on to explain why.

Constraints are core to your ability to create meaningful work. Set sets constraints around him all the time.Constraints about how to pick projects, which media he's going to be in, and which he won't.

With regards to his popular AltMBA program, Seth created certain rules. He set constraints on what would be the drop-out rate, how the funds would be spent, what tools would be used, what would be the program cost. These were put in place before and not after the program was built.

He says, if you have a brilliant idea, or if you want to start a company, go through the process of evaluating what the restriction/constraints could be BEFORE you begin.

This can be extrapolated to starting anything new, any new business/ model.

The basic questions to ask are as follows. How much time or money do you have to invest? How much emotional labour and risk you are able to take? Who do you want your customers to be? Seth says if you hate your customers, you’re going to hate your business. Ask yourself what you want to get out of the project. Are you looking for something that makes every day better, or are you looking to grind through a project so in x number of months, or x number of years from now you win the “prize?”You can’t mine asteroids and dominate an industry if you’re only willing to mortgage the house on it. 

Instead, take a deep breath. Figure out what you really want to do. What does success look like when you’re done?


So many times, as startups we have this urge of more action vs more thinking. We think we can revisit this later, but for now, just get started. It really doesn’t work that way.  Look at your current situation. Lay out what risk, resources, and time you have available. Now go build your business around those constraints. You’ll be glad you did.

Ps: Found this another great read on why constraints are good here -https://highgrowthengineering.substack.com/p/why-constraints-are-a-good-thing