Default to action

I recently interviewed a startup CEO for my podcast (episode coming out in a few weeks). When I asked the question, “What three traits or characteristics do you look for in people you work with?”, one of his answers was “I look for people who default to action.”

“Default to action” – I love it.

I think that’s such a concise summary of a powerful concept.

It’s tough to work with someone who needs a lot of handholding and guidance, especially in the startup world where there is so much going on. And in this particular case, the employees of my guest’s company work fully remote across multiple time zones, so the problem is exacerbated.

There is certainly a learning curve to many things and situations where direction is necessary. But overall, I’d rather someone take initiative under uncertain circumstances as opposed to waiting around for instruction and advice.

That person may not always get it right, but that’s OK. You live and you learn. At least they took charge and made something happen.

I chatted with a friend about his idea to start a podcast over four months ago, and recently talked to him again about it. All I heard was excuses of why he hasn’t launched yet. (Hey buddy, if you’re reading this, you know who you are!)

“I’m traveling soon and don’t want to start it yet.” Just start recording, dude.

“I might land a full time job soon, and I don’t want to start the podcast in case that happens.” Ya know, sorry to say it, you might also not land that job. So just start recording.

“I’m still in the planning phases.” Stop planning, start recording.

Buy a mic so it stares you in the face everyday that you don’t use it.

You’ll never know what will happen until you do it, do it.

Default to action.

What do you think about the term “default to action?” Have you had situations where defaulting to action was the right or wrong thing to do? I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at

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2 thoughts on “Default to action

  1. I definitely agree. Defaulting to action is the most important value one can have. I’m more about getting things done vs. coming up with excuses.

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