The Difference

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Author Greg McKeown in his book “Essentialism” gives this brilliant example.

Nathan Myhrvold, the former Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft has said (and then confirmed to me in person), “The top software developers are more productive than average software developers not by a factor of 10X or 100X or even 1000X but by 10000X.”

Forget the 10000 times, even at 100 times better, the top software developers can do in 2 weeks what the average one might do in 200 weeks (or roughly 4 years – this is as good as not doing it at all). Even if we were to not believe this (I do believe it), consider the edge of doing something of very high quality in 2 weeks versus 20 weeks (4-5 months). This is a huge source of advantage and leverage.

Think about the best in any profession.

They can do things effortlessly. They can do things several times better than anyone else. Getting such a professional on our side is a huge blessing.

Let us take the example of selecting between 2 drivers. This might seem very simple at the outset but as we all know it is not.

When we need a driver, we tell a few people we need one and we probably sign the first or second one that shows up. We ask them a few questions, take some references, ask them to take us for a test drive and see how we feel with them. Depending on the urgency, we sometimes even skip some of the steps and directly get them started.

Well, my point here is that to our untrained eye, 2 drivers with similar experiences will indeed look similar. We find it difficult if not impossible to identify the best one. However, the best ones will be 10x better than the worst ones or the average ones. After all you are not only handing your car over to someone, but you are also handing over your life (when you are letting someone else be at the wheel) in someone’s hands.

I had one driver who drove off before I could even sit in the car. This was so funny that I am laughing as I am typing this. In early 2009, I opened the car door and was just about to sit in the car. I realized I left something home and at the same time, I got a call. So, I did not sit in the car but instead closed the door. The moment I closed the door, the driver Shankar drove away. I thought he would wait ahead so I continued speaking on the phone. He just took off with the car. Once I finished my call, I called him like 25 times, but he did not pick up the phone. He reached the office to realize that I was not sitting behind. When I asked him why he did not pick up, he said “Aapne bola tha phone mat uthao (You had told me not to pick up while driving)”.

The point is that I have experienced a huge difference even between outstanding drivers and the average ones. The best ones are totally worth it. Imagine what the best ones in other areas can do for you. The issue is that there are fewer outstanding professionals in every area of life.

This is a fundamental truth to be understood.

It seems so obvious that we have lost sight of this truth. We fail to realize the difference between an outstanding professional and an average one.

Just because you have someone does not mean you have an outstanding one. Having a Chartered Accountant is not the same as having an outstanding one. Likewise having a financial professional does not mean having an outstanding one who will help you live the life you have imagined with your money.

When you find such a professional in any area of your life, sign up with the professional and give her/him the freedom to deliver the outcome for you.

What do you think?