The last 18 months have made me more empathetic with the telemarketing calls and people on the other side. It was not the case before.
What has changed? I find myself in their shoe now. I am a sales guy now for our product. Every week, I write numerous emails, messages, and talk to people.
There has been a constant flow of communication, sometimes rejections, and sometimes appreciation and conversion as a customer. Early days it would get very frustrating; I would be in all rage and anger. Sometimes even end up crying alone at night.
People will reject you, never reply to you or make fun of you. That is the part of the sale. I have to live with it. Not everyone is going to buy my product or going to believe in our journey.
I am lucky that I have a few mentors who are very successful now in their life. They went through the same struggle in their early days. Talking to them, listening, and learning from their story helped me grow and come this far.
As the company grows, we get lost in many activities that take away focus from culture. We hire in a flock with people of various backgrounds and expectations. We forgo our principle because we need a 10X engineer or high flying sales folk. The side effect of this is people who were with you from day zero when you and company was nothing start to see the change, some leave. They no more find the organization sticking to its original principle and culture.
Culture is an asset that can help in building a successful company for the long run. A founder should not delegate it to some HR. Monkey see monkey do. It is the founder’s responsibility to keep the company aligned and work as an operating system, not independent silos fighting with each other.
We like to see and learn from our leaders. If we are not doing our job well, why do we expect the team does it differently?
The entire family/organization needs to know what is not acceptable as company culture. That is the founder’s job.
Great companies like Zenefits, Uber, and Carta are up into ashes because of culture mismatch. [find web link]
If you don’t trust me, do read The phoenix project book. 🙂
Society has associated success with the accumulation of wealth. The more money you have, the more successful you are.
Is success the manifest of our wealth accumulation? Or is it about seeing people around you, believers getting better with you? Is it not about being together, going hand in hand with our life journey?
How much money does a man need? I have heard about stories where many have died with all their wealth in isolation. They made wealth but not close-knit of friends, people around. We are a social animal and, we thrive with like-minded people around us. Some of us are not rich with wealth but knowledge.
Are we all perfect? Even the moon has a dark spot. Lotus grows in the swamp and diamond deep beneath the coal mines.
How can we expect humans to be perfect at all things? We are broken, imperfect in one or the other way. I will not go in the deep how Mozart was deaf or Van van Gogh an eccentric or Picasso ultra egoist.
We are not perfect. We have to live with this. People who like us, love us will be with us in all the times of our life. Our imperfection will not scare them. That 1000 hours to perfection via deliberate practice was flawed.
Every minute, every meeting, we are judging our counterparts. It is a human tendency; we like and dislike people on our experience, observation, and our likings.
I get advice from friends and people on how I should talk, dress, and act when on a sales call. The problem for me is, I have never followed any of their advice. As a result, I have lost many customers and also got a small bunch of believers who are helping us in shaping our product.
People who have rejected it because we have not fallen to their checklist does not affect me. I don’t want to build a business where I have to pretend or act what I or as an organization is we are not.
Who are we to judge, define, and comment on the actions of others? Are we so complete within ourselves that we have got the world to have an opinion?
It is so easy to get carried away in the noise or have animosity over other actions/appreciation. We will become better by acquiring self-knowledge rather than telling, pointing fingers at others.
Our journey of life is small, mostly spent in our thoughts and, it’s our thoughts which or whom we have to fight.
It took me many years; I am still learning. Our dependence on the outside world is not as much we think. In the end, our life depends on our guiding principles and the true north.
I spent time reading the book title: Alibaba’s world, written by an early employee, ex-pat. The scale at which Alibaba operates is phenomenal. Its contribution to China’s economy is noteworthy.
What fascinated me most about Alibaba is connecting the villages, small-time creators sell goods while staying and working at their remote hometown. The work and economic activity are not limited to a few cities but across the country. As a small business owner, you can manage your living standard while working from your native instead of becoming an alien in a metro.
Another part I liked about is Jack Ma’s leadership, believing in people above pedigree. Having self-belief and fostering it across the organization and, listening to customers, working closely with them aligning with solving there pain point.
We don’t get to hear about eBay’s disaster in China or Yahoo China acquisition by Alibaba much in western media.
The last chapter accumulates 40 such learning. I am adding the simple ones I could resonate with:
On chasing a dream
- Dream Big.
- Never underestimate yourself.
- Never overestimate your competitor.
- Build a company to last.
- The bigger the problem, the greater the opportunity.
- Today is tough but the day after tomorrow is beautiful.
- Focus on the customer and the rest will follow.
- Learn from your competitors but never copy them
- Be fast as a rabbit but patient as a turtle.
- It is more important to be the best than to be fast.
- Free is sometimes a business model.
- Find opportunities in the crisis.
- Use your competitor’s strength against it.
- Do not complain about problems, solve them.
- Don’t dwell on mistakes.
- Embrace, do not skip taking tough decisions.
- Have the team work for the goal, not the boss.
- Don’t let it get personal.
- Assemble a team, not a collection of all-stars.
- Spread the wealth.
- Action speaks louder than words.
- Honor and respect the work of people who came before you.
On Chinese Government
- Love the government but don’t marry it.
Why are we doing this? Is this something I can end my career? Is this the purpose of my life? Am I all geared up for walking up every morning and working on it?
Finding purpose is like finding the meaning, true north, or guiding star in life. We get lost to externals. Our end knocks us.
The fancy shiny externals have so much for us to accumulate that self takes a backseat. We keep chasing one thing after another, comparing ourselves to others, or blindly becoming a disciple of some cult.
What we need it purpose, which will come from the inside. Once we have that, nothing external will matter. We will be masters of our destiny and king of our hut. We will be happier and live a meaningful life.
Running a startup is like a marriage. It is like working with a family: team, customers, and believers. It could get overwhelming at times. There would be an itch, making a better product, winning new customers, and keeping everyone on the same page.
It is crazy, fun-filled, and full of uncertainties & excitement. It is like raising a child. Clarity, openness, and aligning an individual’s vision with an organization’s journey keeps things sane.
Can we do everything? Like they sell you in the bestseller 10000 hours to mastery? Or is it more about how we approach a task? Is it our mindset and, how we see a challenge exciting or painful limits us?
Is all our achievements in life, the limits created by our brain? Are we so scared of failing and victimized by others? Have we created an artificial safely net calling your limit?
I am not rejecting the circle of competence or status quo but, are we limiting ourselves hiding behind it? What about the billions going on brain science and Neuroplasticity?