And for every single self-serving puff piece out there about getting rejected from the YC interview, I'd say this one stands out as one of the few that are genuine.
My thoughts are … well there is timeout / lonelyplanet / TripAdvisor / meetup / city subreddits etc. so there is no shortage of ways to find cool things to do from 4 yr old to 100 year old!
I have a feeling that if successful a site like mentioned would devolve into a groupon or redbaloon though as it searches for more revenue.
> The lesson that I walked away with was to listen to that pain, no matter how irrational it may seem in the moment... I’ve been learning to listen and to trust my emotions in less desperate situations in the years since the YC interview.
I do not think the author is claiming you should shout about your niece in a YC interview. They told a pretty interesting anecdote and gave the insight they gained from it.
Not to be rude but your comment seems kind of like it should just be a downvote (or I suppose a withheld upvote).
And then the person just tells their subconscious to take a back seat and prefaces their statement with a dismissive phrase.
"I'm struggling to find the right words, and the only ones I've found don't reflect the note I'm trying to sound."
Maybe the irony is in me taking the bait and writing a passive aggressive reply to your passive aggressive reply.
That's why I tend to preface comments that may be perceived as rude with a statement that it is not my intention.
That's just me though.
It does not always work to do this, mind you.
> how did you come to believe in this theory?
There are a lot of ways the situation could have ended up with negative value for everyone involved, and it took a bit of skillful steering to turn it into something valuable. That level of emotional composure seems worth developing.
I think there is so much about the YC format which really hints at that strategy likely being your best route of success -- the time constraint, the lack of pitch deck, etc. I mean, these are people who quite literally go through thousands of these. I can't really see any other way to possibly stand out than to try to be radically genuine and sincere, even when that seems (as the author seemed to have thought!) that it is the "less fancy" or "not the thing you are supposed to say." Quite literally anything else will be something they will have heard, at a minimum, dozens of other times.
I think that's a good insight. "Plans never survive contact with the enemy", and so solutions are constantly changing as a startup explores the problem space. Perhaps what VCs are actually looking for is:
1. The founder identified a problem that actually exists.
2. The problem actually has a solution that can be monetized, in theory.
3. They have confidence that the founder can hone in on a viable solution that can be monetized.
The pitch doesn't have to be the solution, it only has to show that a financially viable path to a solution plausibly exists, and that the founder seems competent enough to find the way towards a financially viable outcome. If even one of the above requirements isn't satisfied, investing money doesn't seem sensible.
Problem is, in some sense, irrelevant. You don't make money from the problem.
A good founder makes money from a solution.
The answer is to have a solution that has not seen a million failures.
In his pitch the founder conceived/pitched the solution as a veiled way to talk about his real problem.
I see it at my job all the time, we talk about technical problems and their solutions as a way of trying to share our fears, anxieties and feelings.
All the heady technical talk is just a proxy for what we really wish we could say.
I know this because I'm often the only one on the team brave enough to state the subtext openly, and have I often been thanked for that.
Every team needs a therapist, it would seem.
I have really come to appreciate the need for regular retros on a team. That a team needs a very safe space to explore failures and difficulties. It helps to have someone who can facilitate, but cam be successful without. It should be long enough to feel slighty awkward, so that people have time to articulate thoughts, and there should be no manager for at least half an hour, so that grievances about them can be aired.
I’ve seen teams really come together and vastly improve with regular safe meetings. I’ve also seen teams start to fall apart when the retro format changed to make it harder to delve into some of the emotional parts.
As has repeated time and time again to the point of almost becoming mythology in my opinion, pg has posted about how he originally hated the AirBnB idea but loved the founders.
The former isn't a "startup" companywise, and the latter isn't one now, but both were certainly novel, and strongly adjacent to the space under discussion. They both got people out of their homes and offices and into unfamiliar parts of town. My guess is the ultimate winner will find a way to hit both the Pokemon Go and Groupon psychological buttons at once.
Which apparently means keeping your passion under pressure.
Not a founder, but a fan of y'alls work :-)
You could have a unique idea that isn't shit. If you can't have a unique idea that isn't shit, you shouldn't be a startup founder in the first place.
At least that is a takeaway I would have.
It is not everything a VC might want to hear, but it is a positive.
Case in point, my YC idea. I spent loads of my free time on building a MVP, got praise for it, but I did not have a burning passion to solve that problem, or even any desire that I wanted to be in that space long term.
A taxi service available via a phone is not a unique idea, and it loses millions every single day (Uber).
A company that trades in government issued tax credits for not-pollution is not a unique idea, the Reagan administration invented it (Tesla)
A database sold to end users is not a unique idea, IBM did it in the 1960s (Oracle)
This list could go on ad-infinitum.
If you don't have solid differentiators, growth charts, revenue models a touching story will not help your startup.
They had lots of attention from the VC, but all the VC did was shoot down their idea(s). The emotional outburst changed the mood in the room, and they got a different kind of response from the VC.
By revealing his pain, he learned the lesson which has apparently since served him well. The rest, including the mood, is just background.
In other words, if you're weighing two opportunities, one which addresses a minor annoyance or vague concern ("oh no, millenials are withdrawn") and another which fills an agonizing void ("why can't I connect with my niece?"), go with the second one.
My takeaway is something like it's better to drive from the clearest articulation of the problem to the solution, rather than divert into business-speak and make yourself sound cookie cutter. e.g. "I couldn't connect with my niece. It was isolating. Many millenials feel isolated this way. We solved the problem with my niece by doing X. X can scale to other millienials" is a better type of pitch.
Though I'm glad they did finally figure it out, I think the lesson is to really reflect on your goals before pitching anything.
I took a break from doing startup anything for about a year after that happened - I still have trust issues as a result of this experience. For anyone who thinks "radical honesty" or BS like that is effective in life or business, you're just going to look like an immature asshole or someone with serious mental issues.
The next step would be for the founders to start personally arranging such activities and see what works and which parts are hard.
There's still an existing community for games like the original PC Red Faction, as crazy as that is. Perfectly fun games, just needs players and some names in game streaming to pick it up.
I like the idea of booting up old games in that format as well.
It's definitely a hard problem, but with the increase in recreation time, especially for creative workers, that we're continuing to see I think it could be a big company.
Does it? There might be some games to avoid from publishers that are still active, but I imagine there's a ton of effectively-abandonware games out there to build your idea upon.
Yes! If you really believe you have a solution to a problem, then it makes sense to execute that solution in a way that doesn't scale, to verify that, with infinite resources, the solution works, and it feels good. This is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for what comes next, which is (roughly) about making the production more efficient with technology. If you can maintain the utility of the solution and drive the cost down, there may be profit in those hills!
In the last few months this has actually become a relatively straightforward problem to solve thanks to now having 10x more data on various social activities due to the pandemic.
I thought the pandemic showed us all that we don't need to pay anyone money to connect. We could just go for a walk together and talk. If that unnecessary massive part of the economy was to disappear, we would have more free time to connect, too.
I hate to say this, but just GTFO the house and go do something. Anything. Do something neither of you have before, explore the world together. Start by going for a walk someplace. If you don't even know what you like how is someone else going to know?
Curated activities are for tourists on vacation.
What will they like? Which places will be interesting?
It's not at all a given that someone with data and information can't give a more informed opinion on what options are available that may be popular with a set of people than those people themselves.
Why should curated activities only be for tourists on vacation?
There are tons of activities people aren't aware are available, or are aware of but don't know whether would be suitable for them, and which they avoid because there's an opportunity cost to making the wrong choice. Exploring that yourself can be fun, but it's also hit and miss.
The biggest problem to me with this idea isn't the idea that they can do better, but that even the founder took an emotionally charged situation to get to the point of verbalising that this was what he wanted. Wanting to help people who aren't necessarily aware that there's an issue someone could solve for them is tricky.
I live in London. There's stuff to do all over the place. If anything, the challenge is filtering and curating. I'd love a site that did it for me. Especially if it could also book things. Heck, I might even pay for personalised recommendations if it could cut the time I spend on choosing.
But I don't think I'm typical.
I suspect a lot of their potential userbase would be really hard to reach.
You could book an activity on Airbnb, they offer that. You could go kayaking. You could go apple/pumpkin picking. etc. etc
You just have to think of things.
EDIT: With respect to Airbnb, they're all group activities, which for the most part makes them less interesting to me. I'd like the idea, a map, tickets/bookings if necessary, but for the most part I'd have no interest in guided activities. I get that makes it harder to profit of because you're giving away half the work by telling users about the activity.
That's the point. Pick something at random, you'll learn what you find interesting together. You can even bond over discussions about what you didn't like. As long as "random" isn't something that's a hard NO for either party you should be good.
Everywhere I've lived since has lacked this sort of resource, and it's made meeting people & getting out and exploring much less newbie-friendly.
Maybe I just need to build the change I want to see in the world...
nyc has theskint, differnet neighborhood specific events listings (bushwickdaily, brokelyn come to mind for me), industry/event category specific listings (like different calendars for music / concerts, calendars for comedy, etc).
one problem is that these event discovery streams are scattered across mediums. for example you might find some nyc events scattered across some promoter's IG account, some that are advertised on TikTok, some on some old fashioned blog style website like those I initially listed above.
aggregators exist as well but they tend to be un-sexy and not likely to find long-tail / niche stuff / cooler more underground stuff.
the solution is often to ask people around you or involved in the space you're interested in how they find out about events. they will then tell you about the mailing list, or the IG account, or the website, or whatever.
of course, smaller cities and towns often don't have as large of 'scenes'. and anywhere you go, it's often more fruitful to just create the scene you want to be a part of.
It's probably generational and based on how one interacts with others (are most of their friendships online or not).
One of the more effective ways of knowing where to go, is by talking with friends and collecting, curating that information over time. I don't know if this start-up is capable of replicating that experience - there are tons of urban blogs and the like that claim to do the same that I rarely use - but the problem domain and general solution seems reasonable.
Investors are both skeptics and speculators. And they can't be a good speculator without being deeply skeptical.
That's very different from hating and haters, though.
Haters hate irrationally, often driven by malicious envy.
Skeptics rightly ask people to give evidence for their claims, especially if those people are asking for funding. Why should they believe you?
Don Valentine, the founder of Sequoia, was famous for asking: "Why the f*ck should I give you my money?"
He was right to ask that, and that was a tone that worked at the time, when capital was scarcer.
For the record, Michael Seibel is not a hater. He is a skeptic when he has to be. And he is right to be skeptical. The burden of proof, when you have neither product nor traction, must be on the founder to prove to an investor that they should give them money.
Everybody understands what the author is saying and that it isn't an insult.
The important thing for the entrepreneur to do afterwards is to remember your responses and try to understand what he was driving at. There is a lot of emotion in the moment, but when you look back you find the wisdom.
For reference we were lucky enough to get him and Dalton as our YC advisors.
It honestly felt like a big waste of time. The critiques weren't helpful, mostly just along the lines of "Why should I like your idea?". I thought we did well in the interview and kept our cool the whole time. We weren't in it for the money as we were profitable and wanted to expand our professional network and talent pool. It felt like we were just there to teach them about the cannabis market. We were acquired a couple years later with a nice outcome and I hold nothing against Seibel but I wish it hadn't felt like he was so antagonistic from the start.
I have gone out with entrepreneur clients and after a few drinks I suddenly have clarity as to why they really are trying to build their app/product/etc and that always changes everything. I sorta wish people would be more honest like this more often.
I previously worked with a very smart and capable woman who was in charge of a client-facing department at an agency I was part of. She would ask me to review a presentation she had put together (often sales-focused, but not always), and I'd go through and at the end I'd often find myself saying, "You know, I'm finding this is (muddled | too much information | unclear). What exactly are you trying to say?"
And then she'd give me a succinct, spoken paragraph that completely nailed it. And I would say, "Okay, write that down and present that!"
I thought about this a fair bit because it was such an effective approach. It bears noting that, AFAIK, different parts of the brain are used for written communication as opposed to spoken communication. For instance it is possible to acquire a brain injury that prevents speech but not writing or vice versa. So although I think part of this issue is psychological (people get less clear, e.g. unnecessarily formal or stilted, when writing), I think another part of it has to do with the way people think.
I think a good technique that helps with this is having someone verbally ask you pointed questions ("what does this do?", "why should I care?", "how is it different?") while being recorded, and then take your spoken answers and use those in your written materials.
Alternatively - if they can't do that as they are really good speakers, they need to find someone who can translate their in-cohesiveness into something digestible for other people. This skillset is very rare and I would argue is super important in the early days alongside building effective product/executing/product fit.
I find writing (narrative prose, not PowerPoint) a great way to force me to clarify my thinking.
But frankly, fundraising is so formal that it makes it really hard to try. You get a 30m (maybe 60 if you're lucky) slot with an investor and a pitch deck. The investor may decide to lead the meeting themselves and just ask any question that comes to mind (most questions are objections disguised as questions... Sometimes not really disguised at all) or they may just stay quiet and let you do the old pitch monolog.
In any case, it's really stressful especially for first time entrepreneurs and especially if you're introverted and not the witty think-on-your-feet type.
The good news is with time and practice you can get better at it. But generally it is soul-crushing work, at least until you find one investor who "gets" it.. And usually you only need one!
Yes, but maybe it's still a good predictor of which founders will succeed and which won't?
If you can't spontaneously answer probing, challenging questions from customers, employees, vendors, and yes investors, will you do a good job running and growing a successful company?
There are a lot of confounding variables and luck involved. I’ve met some frankly terribly antisocial founders that happened to get the perfect niche, I’ve met some that worked their asses off and were doing everything right but still failed due to terrible timing and a market crash, and everything in between.
Basically what is the current set of things they require more depth of understanding in order to make their investment decision.
OP blew up in his interview and got to the truth. But really, what he shouted when out of control wasn't that different from the story that he started with. Imagine that he started with that honest story. It would have been part of his elevator pitch, and part of his deck, and he would have given that same speech a few hundred times, and all the color and passion would have long since evaporated.
The conclusion that I draw is that you get to the truth by getting someone to switch off autopilot. And that can be done by provoking an emotional reaction (not that that's what the YC guy was intending to do, I'm guessing), or by loosening up through the application of a little alcohol.
[Edited for grammar]
I don't believe that the majority are being intentionally dishonest
We as humans are all victims to it and we (at least most of us here on HN) recognize the patterns and the innateness within our own selves.
Hopefully as a society we can begin moving forwards to a point in which we are taught from a very young age to recognize these biases and unintentional and/or subconscious behaviors of ours that may be counterproductive to our own individual goals and efforts.
The first things I look for when I'm evaluating someone in almost any context are:
* stand for something, anything
* show me some passion and where you find joy or, conversely what makes you sad.
* tell me what you don't do/support/optimize. Negative space
Haha, chuckled at this. YC was perhaps the only interview in which my co-founder and I felt like the interviewers were incredible kind – but also some of the most challenging ones. We loved it!
Our interview was on election day in 2016, they called us in for a second interview, we then went out for drinks with a bunch of other founders and watched all of them get email responses that day. We didn't hear back all day and stayed up all night watching the election results come in, then woke up, drove to the airport, took the plane back to NYC and finally got the rejection when we landed.
Is this advice to always launch sooner still applicable?
I've heard it regurgitated a few times over the past decade or so, especially here and from the YC/VC crowd, and I feel like it made sense at some point.
But nowadays do people not expect a little bit more? The field is more crowded and the bar to entry is much lower for competitors/cloners/etc and your first impression can only be made once.
It doesn't matter that it's 2021 and things have gotten more polished. If it's a painful enough problem people will put up with a shitty solution at first.
Sign up now for early access to my Udemy course, Scream Your Way To Funding
Because it's easier to learn sincerity and fake it than it is to have an idea that you actually believe in and can support.
Does that sound bitter? It's not meant to.
The analogy I use is an expedition to the new world. Get funding from the Queen, get the ships and crew, sail to the new world, get the gold, come back, distribute profits and disband.
Really there is no need to pretend to get married, or actually get married, to a business line.
I would be immediately suspect of all the founders that cannot compartmentalize the idea. Save the "passion" for all the employees you need to gaslight into accepting lower compensation.
I think what's important is not the breakdown, but the demonstration of pain. You can probably recreate this genuinely by focusing on the specific who and what around your customer. Who are they (in his case himself/his sister), why are they in pain (reconnecting with his sister/her brother), and I guess you probably need a way to turn that pain into a gain, but it sounds like that last part is something you iterate on, so it's not as big of a deal.
You don't have to shout at VCs to be interesting to them, but shouting at VCs is a way to show VCs both the who and the what of pain, which they find interesting.
If the niece was an instigator for the idea, I assumed the author would have created the product and tested it with the niece? If they’ve shown no interest and stayed in their room, maybe it’s not a great idea?
Rational thinking: my pitch wasn't great, but I at least connected with the personal problem side of my message. My idea needs work, or my use-case needs attention.
Magical thinking: If I had made that outburst early enough to change the tone, I could have made a better impact with my message. If my pitch starts to go south, just have a breakdown to shift the focus from that to my personal story.
When an adult can't keep their cool in a professional environment, it's very telling.
The Galileo Seven maneuver.
I wouldn't want to know the fury of a disgruntled Founder looking to revenge for a failed YC interview.
Sometimes it is about professionalism. Even though the founder is feeling passionate about their problem space, there are some boundaries you never cross.
In this case it's more of an emotional outburst due to frustration.
If you suppress all emotion with an escalation to a threat of police and security you're going to have a far less dynamic and safe workplace.
People (Customers, VCs, Entrepreneurs) can empathize or sympathize with stories. They can't with ideas. It's really that simple. It wasn't the outburst or the emotion. It's the story.
If your idea doesn't have a genuine story, it's not likely to end up a genuine business.
Most VCs you’ll meet are nice people and mediocre at what they do. They have money, which for many startups is enough of a reason to work with them.
There is a remarkable difference between partners at Sequoia, Greylock, Benchmark vs. a random fund.
I think in any communication, the "burden" of clarity is on the person with more information.
You think you see a real problem. You think you have an idea for how to solve it. You think you are the right person to execute on it. All of that state exists in your mind as a founder, and it's the reason you're standing before the VC.
The VC is experienced in getting these answers out of people because that's what they do all day. As a founder, on the "best" case scenario, you make it easy for the VC to see it. At worst case, you make it so hard that they can't "pull" it out of you despite their best effort.
If they can't get this answer out of you, why would they invest? Why would they think you "have it" when you are not showing it?
But I have to say, your message seems quite biased towards the VC. Surely not all VCs are created equal. Just as not all founders are equally capable in communicating ideas, I’m sure not all VCs are equally capable in understanding ideas.
The clarification of pain point was the good part.
Getting the interviewer to be _attentive_ is already a given since you've earned the timeslot. Getting them _alarmed_ is what happened here. Showcasing a fighting spirit to stir up some emotional investment.
Though I doubt airing out even the perfect greivance there would've been enough to flip the decision. The growth story just doesn't seem to track.
Also helps that the frustration was aimed at a personal matter instead of directly at someone in the room.
In our work, when we explains things, even When my brother does his YouTube family video... we always follow "today's" way of doing things.
It does feel ok, but it taste like déjà-vue.
I find it so more captivating when suddenly a unik-and-personal approach steals the show.
Even if the personal approach can be wrong or ridiculous, it feels always very fresh, compare to the me-too explanation.
It's sharp, it's bare bone, it's naked, it's trurth.
Or you might deceive yourself in a really insidious way.
Talk to customers.
I'd get it if he was identifying being isolated from others in a meaningful way as a problem and he'd come up with some magic beans to address this disconnect, for example to address when his niece came to stay with him and it resulted in a good outcome as opposed to what actually happened.
But that's not what happened. He was just frustrated. What was there to pitch/learn and apply for others in this story?
Very strange. I'm obviously missing something. Hopefully someone can point it out
Albeit it sounds like you don't get to shape the questions you're asked. But I'm willing to bet you can bend your answers towards the specific pain point that prompted them to start this project (their niece). Then go on to what you're app does, then the TAM.
And this is coming from someone who isn't a huge fan of Sinek either..
*Edit - I'm curious from those who've been through YC if my idea about bending your answers actually has any merit in your experience?
You can even place media posts at your current location that others can see on the map, but the content is only visible when you are within 50m.
I use it when I travel (more frequently these days!), but I have not updated it in a looong time. Might open source it one day
 - https://app.mirrorspace.net
With the business problem being at its core "Millenials have too much disposable money and time on their hands, much more than they know what to do with", one really has to put an effort to creatively search for and to listen very carefully to find any pain in that.
Maybe you'll get all the problems those before you had. Maybe. But at least the high pain is here, and attempting to deal with it will get you started.
I've been a part of so many investor pitches and presentations (both receiving and pitching), and one major trend I constantly see is entrepreneurs who have the right itch or instinct into a problem space but they haven't fully thought through why people should care. When they give reasons for why people should care, it's often removed from reality and overly idealistic. A lot of people get bitter for getting turned down on this "last mile" of reasoning that investors demand, but _everything_ is in this last mile. This is how you orient your team to think about problems. This is how you become customer obsessed. This is how you market why you exist.
And then try to scale it. And then try to monetize it. That sounds even harder getting the VC pump and dump lottery ticket, though.
But I think step 1 is doable.
It reinforces my worst suspicions, to be frank.
It's not so weird. Facebook is essentially the same folly.
Perhaps you meant sad.
> Well I thought that we'd spend a lot of time doing things together but that's not how it turned out. She's always in her room, and I'm always at work or doing my own thing.
Maybe she just doesn't enjoy his company anymore? People's relationships fall apart, and not much can be done. Maybe they are at different stages in their lives, and there's not much of a connection and need in each other anymore.
There's another comment up the chain, I thought of replying to it but deemed too off-topic. Why would Gen-Xers and Millennials would want to connect with each other in a social setting? I get the mentorship/work related networking/etc part, but other than that, why would those 2 groups talk to each other if they are not relatives?
Even being just a few years apart with your friends can be weird.
Sometimes it's better not to connect to each other.
They want a place to go and connect with their niece and their app is supposed to help you find that place.
The pain point of "I can't connect with my niece" is not solved with "I need an app to recommend social venues I can invite her to". That's just not the problem you're trying to solve - but it is a bullshit yarn you can spin to try to pitch yet another local venue discovery app.
They're looking for the piece that says "here's an attractive idea" that gets that someone involved.
Sometimes I have a similar issue with my son. It's usually as simple as saying "here's what we're doing this weekend" as opposed to getting the brick wall response to "what do you want to do this weekend?" of "I dunno."
There are tons of different websites that offer "Things to do in ____" but most of them are so spammy. Something that was personalized based on your preferences/interests, or based on a group of people's preferences, would open up a lot of doors.
Perhaps there's value in a business of "teaching humans how to human".
If you hire people, the answer here is yes. My experience is that technical skills are 'easy' to teach, but interpersonal skills are almost impossible.
If you figure out how to train people from a wide swath of humanity, different backgrounds, and disparate experiences to be human people and communicate effectively and efficiently, you'll literally, not figuratively, be the king of the planet.
They can't have killers on the loose hating their guts, they need to bribe them into compliance. That's what funding is really about. Unfortunately, it's a bad idea because it puts killers into positions of authority. Maybe that's why society is so messed up now.
This feels like peak Silicon Valley cluelessness
Thinking every problem has a tech/app solution.
"When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. 'That is idiotic; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3' can be shortened to '1 + 1 is 2, not 3."
"Don't be snarky."
That fact that Michael Seibel is responding to folks in this thread who are doing the quarterbacking speaks volumes to the success of this founder's pitch in spite of not receiving an invitation to YC this go-around. First, a rejection today is not a rejection tomorrow. Second, Michael is a busy guy. The fact he's taking the time to speak up for a founder he feels a connection with is perhaps worth more long-term than a single YC acceptance letter. There are YC-backed founders that never get that level of attention.
I don't have proof that it is happening but it happens on every other social site so it would be shocking if it isnt happening here.
I then re-read it once more. I am now convinced that this doesn't mean anything. It's a vomit of words. Someone please help explain this to me.
My failure to convince others makes it _appear_ like I am skating where the puck is going, when I was simply following it down an obvious path, and no one else was.
But maybe this is common for tech focused people surrounded by non-techies?
It's not like there is a difference isn't it? Gretsky probably thought other players were stupid or were poisoned by lead or something.
#1 is the lonliest number, you are at the local top, meaning the local #1
What you are experiencing goes with the territory, you should focus your efforts on hyping yourself up as the individual sitting at the local top, instead of ruminating on the collective organizational goals which are not being reached in the most streamlined and effortless way because other people aren't at your level.
But you can still try to stimulate them to improve like Gretsky himself and Jordan did in their own teams.
I think Musk spews a lot of BS, but one thing I agree with him is that if you think you have an edge you want to bet frequently because as the high frequency will have your edge manifest itself and you'd end up better/way better than random.
Also yet another important point is that your competitor is not somebody who is Omniscient and gets it right 100% of the times, but people who hold your same role in competing organizations.
So being wrong is not terrible, unfortunately the terrible part is that unlike sports the mistakes of people in your same position in competing organizations are hidden from your collegues and teammates. Hence the grass is always greener, and the comparison immediately skips to the Omniscient being.
That is a huge problem, and I don't know if it will ever be solved given that work is unspectacular and there is not a trail of events and decisions which can be publicly examined.
No such thing as a highlight reel (and even there was, nobody would ever bother looking at it.)