here's some advice that i've heard from multiple sources:

"if at first you don't succeed, try, try again"

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." -- famous inventor and businessman (and possible scoundrel) Thomas Edison, who also said, "Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits."

"The odds of a hit versus a miss do not increase over time. The periods of one's career with the most hits will also have the most misses. So maximizing quantity -- taking more swings at the bat -- is much higher payoff than trying to improve one's batting average." -- Marc Andreessen at (he also says, " * How energetic are we? How inclined towards motion are we? Those of you who read my first age and the entrepreneur post will recognize that this is a variation on the "optimize for the maximum number of swings of the bat" principle. In a highly uncertain world, a bias to action is key to catalyzing success, and luck, and is often to be preferred to thinking things through more throughly." --

" First, if one calculates the age curves separately for major and minor works within careers, the resulting functions are basically identical...

    Second... minor and major contributions... fluctuate together. Those periods in a creator's life that see the most masterpieces also witness the greatest number of easily forgotten productions, on the average.
    Another way of saying the same thing is to note that the "quality ratio," or the proportion of major products to total output per age unit, tends to fluctuate randomly over the course of any career. The quality ratio neither increases nor decreases with age...
    These outcomes are valid for both artistic and scientific modes of creative contribution. What these two results signify is that... age becomes irrelevant to determining the success of a particular contribution." -- Age and Outstanding Achievement: What Do We Know After a Century of Research?, Dean Simonton, via Marc Andreessen (

" [C]reativity is a probabilistic consequence of productivity, a relationship that holds both within and across careers.

    Within single careers, the count of major works per age period will be a positive function of total works generated each period, yielding a quality ratio that exhibits no systematic developmental trends.
    And across careers, those individual creators who are the most productive will also tend, on the average, to be the most creative: Individual variation in quantity is positively associated with variation in quality." -- again, Age and Outstanding Achievement: What Do We Know After a Century of Research?, Dean Simonton, via Marc Andreessen (

(interestingly, Simonton goes on to refute the model of age peaks as a function of enthusiasm vs. experience)

me: "what's the best way to learn to do theory? should i try a big hard problem first or an easire one?" a brilliant theoretical neuroscientist (paraphrased): "actually, the most important thing isn't what kind of problem to try; the most important thing is to try a lot of them"

now, in the first case we are talking about startup success, and in the second we are talking about learning, but it's interesting that a common element is that quantity of tries is what is recommended