There was a time (however brief) when Mozart did not know how to play the Piano (he started playing it at the ripe age of TWO!). There was a time before Picasso knew how to paint. There was a time before Einstein knew how to calculate. They learnt.

I often come across Entrepreneurs who will tell me they do not know how to do something. I do not know how to code. I do not know to sell. I can’t understand the numbers. 

Well, then learn! 

There is no choice in the matter. All of us were delivered on this planet, a blank slate. We go on to learn things and apply them. Nobody was born knowing something. So not knowing is not an excuse. If you don’t know something and its important to know it in order to take your venture ahead; LEARN IT.

I know you must be thinking – is that not what the co-founder is for?

Yes. But in the event that you do not have one, you can’t stand paralysed, you need to move ahead. The moment they see the journey moving forward, their willingness to get on-board with your vision increases.

Always move forward.

Never be averse to learning.

General Thinking

The Myth of Talent

Talent is a myth, I was told… Now I believe it.

In order to arrive at perfection in any area of pursuit, you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice. Let us put that time in perspective. If you put in about 3 hours of practice a day, which is hard, you will do approximately 1000 hours of practice a year. So 10,000 hours of practice is a decade of undying commitment to a cause!

Now the objection that often comes up against this argument is child prodigies. They tend to be able to master something truly complicated very early in life. The truth of the matter is most children who seem to show prodigious talent are just compressing a lot of practice in a very short period of time. They tend to get enamoured by something let us say playing the piano or chess; and end up spending 10’s of hours everyday practicing the same.

Mozart started playing the piano at the age of 3 and used to practice for hours on the piano. The Williams sisters used to practice tennis since the age of 6. They would spend their days at the tennis court trying to hit a traffic cone with their service from 8AM to 4PM. Tiger Woods would practice the same shot a 100 times at the golf course since the are of 8.

When children take to something and find it enjoyable, practice seems like play and they play what they wish to play for hours. This practice is what makes them prodigious not something that they are born with.

Talent is a myth, don’t fall prey to it. Nobody is born more capable or with more ability than you were. All of us acquired it in this world once we came here. You can as well! Let nobody tell you something is too hard to do and therefore not for you.

We all learn and have the inherent ability to. The only differentiator is how much quality time we spend learning it.

General Thinking


Steve Jobs famously said ‘let intuition be your guide’.

Most people seem to think that there are people who are just genuinely intuitive and others who are not. What is intuition and where does it come from? Is it some kind of talent? Is there some way to inculcate it?

All of us have intuition built into us; we do not give it a chance. Intuition is a sub-conscious process and hence, it is very difficult to be aware of it. Or in other words if you are aware of it, you would negate it (It would then be a conscious process!).

Nevertheless, all of us have the ability to arrive at these insights and epiphanies. The reason that these do not arrive at insights with striking frequency is because we are not doing a great deal of the ground work that is needed to arrive at them.

According to the dictionary:

Intuition ~ The faculty of knowing or understanding something without reasoning or proof

I have a different definition; Intuition is the subconscious processing of information that we have acquired over a period of time, which leads to an insight. The reasoning is subconscious and hence not obvious.

Our subconscious mind is better at solving problems than our conscious mind.

In an experiment conducted in the U.S., researchers asked students to sit in front of the screen with four quadrants. An X would appear in one quadrant at a time and they were asked to hit a corresponding button. Amongst random Xs they put in a complex pattern which was governed by an algorithm. After 4000 trials the students were much faster and accurate.

When asked after the experiment not one had noticed any pattern. When asked specifically about a pattern none of them had identified one or could figure the algorithm.

To make sure that this was not the way things naturally functioned, they run the experiment again but this time the algorithm was changed after 3500 trials and accuracy plummeted. They said it was as if their fingers lost the rhythm.

Their subconscious minds had successfully solved the complex algorithm while the conscious mind was completely unaware of it.  We are capable of learning things that we do not even know we are learning.

Nobody ever taught you your mother tongue!

The first step to inculcate intuition is to acquire a great deal of information. This does not mean that you have to be on a survey mode all of the time. It means talking to people who have varied points of view. If there is a particular thing/subject that you would like to know better, talk to more people who are involved in that industry or area. That is all you need to ever do. The subconscious would take care of the rest.

I think there would be little argument against the fact that Steve Jobs had great intuition. If you read any book about him, the one thing that really stands out is that, he used to spend a great deal of time talking to people. He would speak to most of them about life, technology and how technology was evolving. These were general conversations in the minds of those who spoke to him but he was collecting the information from all of them and letting it stew.

Talking about a wide array of things instead of being boxed into a single subject is very important. Human behaviour is rich and strange. Every outcome in life is somehow influenced by human behaviour. Talking about topics that are varied results in understanding human behaviour better.

The better you understand human behaviour the more successful you will be in life. Human behaviour is completely unpredictable and fundamental basis of every business.

Once all of this information has been acquired, the mind then plays the part of slow-walking you to an epiphany. If you need to utilise the insight, you will realise the value of it. If not, it is just another observation that is stored away somewhere in the corners of your mind.


Finding your Co-founder

Last week we had a great Startups Club meet at Chennai. The topic of the meeting was ‘Finding your Co-founder’. We had a discussions about the importance of a co-founder, after which, we arrived at the customary game. As a part of the game, all of the individuals who were present in the room were divided into two groups. Each was handed a slip which contained the name of an animal.
The participants were suppose to act like the animal mentioned on the slip and find their pair in the other team. As soon as the activity began, people started finding their pairs. It all happened really fast!
Once most of the members had found their pair, we got down to understand what we had learnt from the entire exercise:
Don’t be afraid to be who you are – In the context of the game, individuals were forced to act like a monkey, a dog, etc. Those who were not afraid of being what they were, were the first to find their counterpart. In life as well it is important to be who you are to find your right match. Pretending to be a person who you are not might get you a co-founder, but in the long run it will end in disaster.
Be around the kind of people who you are looking for – If you are seeking a technical person, there is no point in going to startup meets and looking for them. Go to places which such people frequent. Go to ‘Developers Conferences’ where you are certain to find people who have a technical background. hang out where you are certain they would!
When you find an opportunity don’t judge it and embrace it – We all have a view of ourselves. The way the world views us might not be the same as the way we view ourselves. Therefore, it is important to stop judging, when seeking a co-founder. You might be mighty surprised with what you find. Don’t stereotype people on the basis of how they look, talk, walk, etc. be open to everyone, you might be surprised how smart a ragged looking guy might turn out to be.
Keep moving forward – One of the member who did not find his corresponding partner, found out at the end of the game that the person next to him was the one! An entrepreneurs life is filled with challenges and difficulties. Just because a couple of attempts do not work out for you, does not mean nothing would. If you stop moving forward, you move backwards.
Never give up as an entrepreneurs, you might just be about to strike gold!