Patrick McKenzie recently tweeted:
Your idea is not valuable, at all. All value is in the execution. You think you are an exception; you are not. You should not insist on an NDA to talk about it; nobody serious will engage in contract review over an idea, and this will mark you as clueless.— Patrick McKenzie (@patio11) December 1, 2017
If we take a step back to examine this quote, it seems fairly clear that it cannot be true. The idea you choose to use to start a business is clearly important. If you start with a bad idea at a bad time, you are probably destined to fail. Certain ideas are simply bad, and will not lead to a successful business.
That said, I think that completely misses the point. Patrick would most likely agree with my analysis, yet he decided to tweet this anyway.
Why? To make people think. That's the power of hyperbole. If he tweeted instead about how both the idea and execution are important no one would care. We would think to ourselves, of course, that's true, but it wouldn't really challenge or point of view.
Hyperbole forces us to reexamine our beliefs, even if the statement isn't entirely correct.
If you read a book like Grain Brain, it will try to convince you that bread and grains are extremely unhealthy. If we stop and think, this can't be entirely true. We can probably all name at least one person who eats bread regularly and is in great shape.
But once again, I think the book is purposeful in its hyperbole in order to force us to reexamine what we believe to be true. Should we really be eating bread every day?
Hyperbole is enormously powerful in changing the way we think and act. But take it for what it is meant to be, rather than as gospel. If you swear off bread for the rest of your life, that could end up causing you a lot of unhappiness. If you don't spend any idea coming up with a good business idea that you care about, you'll probably have a lot less fun and success in the process.