Taste > Skill

To do any great work, you need two fundamental assets: taste and skill.

For building products:

  • Taste is knowing what is good – being able to recognize it.
  • Skill is the ability to build – to do what is needed to do the work.

They are totally independent, you could have one or the other, but having both allows you to make truly great work.

It also helps in personal growth. The fundamental question is whether your skill is good enough for your taste.

Right now, you could be in one of two scenarios

Taste > Skill

when your taste is ahead of your skills, you are not satisfied with the work you produce.

every time you're unhappy with your work, it just means your taste for what is good is ahead of what you're able to create.

This is good. This means your skill has room to grow.

You have a voice in your head saying you can do better., a reference point of something you aren't able to achieve yet

Skill >= Taste

When your skill is equal or higher than your taste, you're able to build what you believe is good.

You're happy with your work, but you also stop growing, unless you grow your taste first.

This dynamic between taste and skill is crucial.

Skill is your floor, taste is your ceiling

The most effective way to improve your taste is by being exposed to what is good.

To create a good team, you have to work in one.

This makes good taste more valuable than good skills, the latter is easier to catch up with.

Closing the gap

If great taste is knowing what's good, and great skill is knowing how to build things, the third element is knowing why.

Know what makes good things good

You may study hundreds of artworks or great design work, and develop intuitive taste for good ones.

But unless you create your own designs, or paint or sketch, you learn what makes good things good, and ultimately allowing your taste to turn into skills

Thus, the two ways to help with closing the gap is:

  • just build stuff: your bad output constantly triggers your reasoning, question yourself "why do I think this is crap?"
  • discuss with others: elaborate on your judgement in your discussions. if you disagree on something being good, chances are you want to figure out why.


  • grow your taste – expose yourself to high-quality stuff
  • grow your skills on something you already have good taste for – e.g. learning design as a programmer
  • combine your taste and skills in a unique way – you know good design (taste) and you can code (skill)

This unique combination can help you decide what to work on and what to build as an entrepreneur.

It helps answer "why me?", and gives you the answer to these two important questions:

  • Why are you better positioned than most other people for doing that?
  • Why do you have a special shot at being successful?