Photo by Joel Wyncott on Unsplash

Pros and amateurs both fail. But here’s the difference.

David Kadavy
2 min readMar 29, 2022


The main difference between pro and amateur creators: Amateurs expect everything to work.

So, the amateur leaves in their wake a trail of half-finished and failed projects.

The pro also leaves a trail of half-finished and failed projects, but by a different name. They’re called prototypes.

  • The amateur tries to film a new series. The pro puts together a “pilot.”
  • The amateur tries to mix a hit song. The pro records a “demo.”
  • The amateur tries to write a book. The pro writes a “first draft.”
  • The amateur tries to build fully-featured software. The pro ships version “alpha.”
  • The amateur tries to write a “tight five.” The pro goes to open mics and “works out material.”
  • The amateur puts their life savings into one idea. The pro adds an angel investment to their “portfolio.”

As a result, the amateur burns out, gets in over their head, or fails spectacularly. It will be a miracle if they get back up and dust off.

Meanwhile, the pro also quits or fails. But that outcome was always in the cards. The amateur tried to go on a date with destiny, the pro collected data.

Pros prototype.

This post was originally published on my weekly newsletter »



David Kadavy

Author, ‘Mind Management, Not Time Management’ Former design & productivity advisor to Timeful (Google acq’d).