Somehow, I ended up having a tradition of writing a blog post on every year completion of starting up. It has been quite a trek, with small yet significant victories. There have been times when I had almost given up hope, cried myself to sleep cuddled up like a kid under the blanket. There have been times when I have been so angry, I could yell myself hoarse. And I learnt business, met people, built lasting relationships, alliances and forged lessons from mistakes. It has been quite a trek with my team, who have been my greatest teachers.
While the base is pretty solid, we are experts with wild eyed optimism (living the tightrope like the highway) and we seem to have tackled the existential issues (though they never really go away) – now is the hustle of a different kind. We now look to grow, while all this while, we sought to study and understand. It’s best I write the fourth installment in this series after a few months, but couldn’t resist the prelude. An ejaculation of thoughts cannot be held back now, can they?
Quite like asking someone to marry you.
To build on an existing relationship means having a re-look at every single aspect that governs it. The approach changes, the bandwidth allotted to situations changes and so do the conditioned reactions to certain provocations. When you push to graduate a relationship from ‘being together’ to ‘being together forever’, your presence undergoes a noticeable change. Similarly – as we seek to build on our existing relationships with customers and team alike, new equations and realizations emerge which need to be tackled. It seems marriage needs evolved thought processes than courtship.
Quite like a Zombie Apocalypse plot.
The first step in a zombie apocalypse is to bunch together and fight the dead stumblers. Once you bunch together and survive, you find a safe place and secure it. This takes time and guts. Once the focus shifts to ‘within’, politics and personal equations come to fore, and a selfish man behaves like the selfish man again. Also, the best in some is quite evident in these trying situations because you start fearing the living instead of the dead. Interestingly, as the startup grows older and as you plan expansion, the softer and subtler aspects need to be driven and controlled hard. Gone are the days of the field and the back breaking hard work in the sun. It’s time to build a framework sitting in your office (with feet and ears on the ground, of course) and thus create a future for your team and yourself. Uneasy lies the head that bears the crown, which balances itself on the tightrope as if it’s driving on a wide highway.
Quite like being a tough nut.
It is no secret that being a tough nut brought you here in the first place. Mark Suster wrote on why founders need to be respected, rather than loved. It is crucial to note that you can afford to not be loved only when you start being respected without asking for it, else we drive everything into the ground. Also, respect does not accompany arrogance and vanity. It probably comes by doing your job well, because in the end, that’s all that matters. To do your job well, you need to do good for your people and your team and the world.
It starts with being respected, and then you are loved by thousands (if not millions and billions). There is always a start, there is always the smallest first step, and it probably starts with believing in oneself. This is not easy, not when you’re a part of the crowd, with startup muddy shoes, not making much money and still fighting it out. But if the belief burns inside you and you work towards the vision, the results show. Well, that’s how it has been for the folks we respect :)
The Flitting Moments
Everything is momentary, all the successes and mistakes, though they leave a lasting impact. You’re often so focused on the journey that it seems to exist in every moment. The psychological price of entrepreneurship is deadly, but only if we let it bog us down. The high of creation and team building is a force potent enough to keep driving the blues away. As David Bowie sings-
“We can beat them, for ever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes,
just for one day”