Entrepreneurship, life and happiness
“I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity, and I am more invulnerable than Archilles; Fortune hath not one place to hit me.” ~ Sir Thomas Browne
We ended up watching this amazing talk by Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness . The point is that you can synthesize happiness when you are not satisfied with what you get. I am not saying it is easy. But it is not impossible. It is similar to what Randy Pausch said:
“Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”. ~ Randy Pausch (1960-2008); Prof of CS and HCI at Carnegie Melon University
The Ted talk by Dan Gilbert is about synthesizing happiness in life. How can we do that? Well, think of it as the experience you get when you don’t get what you want. Or what you really make of the situation when you don’t get what you want. It feels really relevant in life, even more so being an entrepreneur – when rejections become a part of life! One day is awesome because you get selected to pitch at a Techcrunch event or you get into the finals of some startup grandslam. Next day you are low because you get rejected by YC. A lot depends on how you handle such situations – especially rejections or when you don’t get what you want. You can consider a rejection (e.g. from a grad school or an accelerator) as a learning experience and be happy about the fact that you tried, or you reached the finals. How do we handle rejections as a team? We discuss what happened and why it happened, learn from it and move on. If you really believe in your idea, keep working hard, learn from rejections and move on. There is a reason why perseverance is what you hear all the time from mentors, entrepreneurs etc. We got plenty of feedback over the past few months. All the advice, guidance, feedback you get, may not make sense the moment you hear it. But keep a note of it. As you grow as a startup, you will realize what the feedback you got from a VC, angel or a mentor really meant. In fact, these rejections can make you work harder if you really believe in what you are trying to do.
In the past few months/years, 1 or more members of our team have attended a number of startup events, conferences etc and here are some of the best take away’s:
1. You should be an entrepreneur when you have nothing better to do – Rich Miner (Android founder) at the Cyberposium held at HBS in Nov. You give up a lot and it requires a lot of energy, passion and hard work. The truth is, the life of an entrepreneur is really very very very hard. It can be lonely at times and mostly stressful. But if you love what you do (more than anything else you could do), these things don’t matter!
2. You don’t have to do everything right now – Anindita Mukherjee (Sr VP and Chief Marketing Officer at Frito Lays N. America). Stop for a moment and think about it. How much we want to achieve in life. But you don’t have to do everything right now. Have goals, have dates in mind for them.
3. Seek help, advice, guidance. You can never get enough. Just prioritize and focus on what you need.
4. Stay focused. Distractions are tempting!
5. Work like crazy – but don’t forget your spouse.
6. Breaks are important – you don’t realize it till you are back! Its refreshing.
7. Read, read, read – Learn, learn, learn
8. Being a founder can be lonely sometimes. Be prepared for it! If it gets too bad, get some help.
9. Co-founders are extremely important. I would love to say it is my idea, I did it ALL by myself. But the reality is, you are making things worse that way. You need a cofounder!
Advise to Women (entrepreneurs):
1) Learn to Code: It is so satisfying when you are not dependent on anyone to deploy the latest code in prod and test it yourself!
2) Be confident: (fake it till you make it – a hard one for truly honest people but not impossible).
3) Dream Big: Biggest one – You can do much more than you think you can. DREAM BIG and work towards making it a reality. Sometimes its OK to go with your instincts.
Fav books on entrepreneurship! Must read for all founders!
1) Screw It, Let’s do it! – Richard Branson
2) The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Building a business when there are no easy answers – Ben Horowitz
3) And of course the lean series!
Lastly, enjoy the journey. Do your best to make it a rewarding one for yourself and those you work with!