Shmulik Fishman is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Argyle, the leading employment data platform that provides companies access to user-permissioned records in real-time.

Shmulik Fishman

There’s Only One Way to Accomplish the Improbable


It is wicked hard to grow potatoes on Mars, but it’s possible. Mark Watney (Matt Damon in The Martian film) had all the motivation he needed; his survival depended on it. As improbable as cultivating a potato farm on Mars may be, Mark achieved his goal because he brought his A-game. Day after day, month after month, even when he suffered setbacks, including losing his entire crop. Catastrophic mistakes didn’t stop his attempts; instead, after each loss, he got up and started over (and over and over) until he had a breakthrough.

Growing potatoes on Mars sounds more ridiculous than upgrading businesses from paper-based income verification, but I promise you that moving away from ingrained habits is incredibly hard. What makes it possible is bringing our A-game every day.

Your A-game is not a switch that can be turned on or off. It is not achieved by solving a mathematical equation or breaking the code. It’s not trackable in Looker or in a spreadsheet. Those are outputs; your A-game is your input. It’s getting a good night of sleep, staying intellectually curious, going the extra mile for a client and colleague, or staying up late until the code has been patched and is back in production. There is no formula other than hard work to build up your A-game. Similar to how one feels when they find love or joy, you will know your A-game when you find it.

The worst feeling for anyone growing potatoes on Mars is having their own team members eat those potatoes without bringing their A-game to the farm every day. On a small farm, it’s easy to spot those people. As our operation scales it’s critical to ensure that everyone on the farm is bringing their A-game to growing our business every day.

A-gamers are not umpires. They are not outside arbitrators enforcing regulations on the rest of us. They’re simply dedicated to maintaining a culture where everyone contributes to the best of their ability, stays engaged, and catalyzes us forward.

Here’s to changing our universe,