Nearbound Weekend 01/13: Paul Graham On How Great Partnership Work Happens

Nearbound Weekend 01/13: Paul Graham On How Great Partnership Work Happens

Ella Richmond 3 min

Recap of the nearbound daily this week

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How to do great work in 2024


For most people, "work" is something other people tell them to do.


It’s prescriptive: you’re paid to do X tasks, and get Y results.

It’s methodical: here are all of the playbooks we’ve established.

It’s impersonal: if you don’t do it well, someone else can.


I was once told a story about why successful partner professionals don’t fit into this mold.


If you have the time to read the full story, it’s worth it. Otherwise, here’s a quick summary.


Jared was a partner professional at Drift. Within his first week, he was expected to present a strategy on where the company was going to place its partner bets. At that meeting, he shared his primary goal was to win a sumo alliance with Marketo.


Spoiler: he won the alliance, but it took a helluva lot of great work.


So what will it take for partner pros to do great work in 2024?


To uncover the answer, I turned to industry legend Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator and a notable computer scientist, venture capitalist, and author.


He shared,

If you don’t try to be the best, you won’t even be good…Many more people could try to do great work than do. What holds them back is a combination of modesty and fear.

Then he continued,

There’s a kind of excited curiosity that’s both the engine and the rudder of great work.

Curiosity is the key to all four steps in doing great work: it will choose the field for you, get you to the frontier, cause you to notice the gaps in it, and drive you to explore them. The whole process is a kind of dance with curiosity.

Considering Paul’s take on great work alongside Isaac’s belief about “boringization”—that the businesses that do the boring stuff best, will win—a realization emerged.


There’s a misconception that great work must be cutting-edge, but great work doesn’t have to be new or radical.


Great work is about uncovering and filling gaps that wildly improve the human experience. It’s that simple.


Here’s the formula if you want to do great work in 2024:

  1. Decide you want to do great work

  2. Avoid the biggest pitfalls: doing something too big and crazy or getting complacent and failing to experiment

  3. Become excitedly curious about partnerships, ecosystems, your organization’s GTM, and every other department in your organization

  4. Let your curiosity uncover gaps (aka opportunities to create new value)

  5. Work hard to create that value

Because as Paul Graham puts it,

Great work happens by focusing consistently on something you’re genuinely interested in. When you pause to take stock, you’re surprised how far you’ve come.

Let’s see how far you can get in one year!

— Ella

Do great work, together

Share this with someone you’d love to do great work with in 2024



Ella Richmond 3 min

Nearbound Weekend 01/13: Paul Graham On How Great Partnership Work Happens

What does it take for partner professionals to achieve 'great work' in 2024? Industry legend Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator shared

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