I may be one of the few people who would argue that much of the world revolves around fear and expectations, but let me try to present the argument to you.
First, the part on fear.
Fear plays a major, major role in all of our lives. In fact, it's kind of like an invisible friend that follows you around wherever you go. Every single decision you make has some element of fear attached to it. When I say that, I mean that fear played some part in the decision making process. While that may not be a huge deal, the huge deal is that we rarely acknowledge its participation in the decision making process.
Fear is like gravity. It's always there, and we get used to it. Fear sometimes spurs people into action, and other times withholds people from acting.
Like I said, every decision we make has an element of "fearsomeness" consideration. Do you turn left on the yellow light or wait? What if a police man sees you? What if you get hit? But what if the car behind you thinks you're going to pull through the light and they hit you from behind? All elements of fear. That's an easy example, but what about the more subtle ways fear affects us. Some people grow up with parents that tell them 'you can be anything you want to be.' Others have parents who say 'you have to be a doctor (or lawyer or XYZ) to carry on the family tradition.' The fear that the child won't honor the heritage of the family dictates that whole person's life. Imagine! One simple emotion dictating a person's entire life. If that's not deep-in-your-gut, mind blowingly significant I don't know what is. And few people face their fears! Instead we mask fear by other terms. "She's just shy" or "I'm just not good at [insert skill]." For example, being a telesales representative is not an easy job. I've rarely seen fear show its face so clearly as when you put a phone in front of someone and ask them to start cold-calling. Few people can stand up to the constant rejection. Oh, and how about public speaking? How many people would rather die than speak in front of an audience (literally - studies show many people would rather die!).
Paul Sherman, the editor of Pototmac Tech Wire, puts on an awesome Mobile Outlook panel every year. I participated in 2010 and 2011 and again this year at USA Today's Gannett HQ in McLean, VA. It's funny to go back and watch the older panels when we asked for a show of hands -- back then, everyone was using Blackberry phones and only a few early adopters had Android phones. Oh, how quickly things change -- at this year's panel the ratio was reversed. And interestingly, nobody was using a WindowsPhone device.
As I get into angel investing, I'm creating a framework with which to evaluate potential opportunities, which I presented as a keynote at the event. My main message: Find the good ideas that are masquerading as bad ideas -- therein lie the billion dollar exits. This is a tip I picked up from Paul Graham's excellent Black Swan Farming essay. Here's a Venn diagram of what these "good ideas in hiding" look like:
This is super counter-intuitive, because we all tend to look for the good ideas, both as entrepreneurs and as investors. In the slides below, you'll see that the framework I'm developing focuses on teams that can prototype & iterate quickly, are doing something in a meaningfully large market, and can "dump the poop," or pivot quickly when it turns out that a bad idea is actually just that: A bad idea, and not a good idea in hiding.