Learning is a continuous process. Because life is a continuous journey that throws various difficulties at us all the time, unless we are learning constantly, we’ll not survive.
You could respond to these challenges in many different ways. One way is you accept these hurdles gracefully, learn from them and move on. But how do you learn to deal gracefully with life’s difficulties? How do you stay positive in the face of challenges and failures? This is where lessons from people who have gone before us come in handy. Seeking their advice and lessons is a great way to prepare us for our own journey. That’s probably why many people say entrepreneurs are like learning machines. They’re in constant search of opportunities to learn and experience.
To that end, in this collection, we bring five excellent pieces of advice from five founders who have already excelled in their respective filed. I hope you’ll enjoy them.
1. Life is not about destinations or achievements. It’s all about the journey. Even calling it a journey is misleading. Because every journey has a destination, often that is the whole point of a journey. Alan Watts has an interesting saying, “Treat life as dancing.”.
When you dance or sing, you do not wait for the ending. You simply enjoy dancing or singing. Life is like that. You do not need to reach a certain stage to enjoy it. You enjoy it throughout the process. Enjoy the process and you will live a happy life. Do not treat life based on achievements. Enjoy it like dancing and do not wait for it to end. Just be.
We suffer because we don’t live in the present. We live in our heads. We imagine things. As Seneca said, “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality”. Sadhguru also said something similar, “Human beings suffer their own memory and imagination; that is they suffer that which does not exist.” (Ayman Sadiq, read his FS interview here)
2. Always be very very transparent, honest, and open. For example, communicate on day one what you can do, your expectations, the expectations of your partners, and so on. It’s okay if your views are different. But always be transparent and open.
You don't need to win everything. There will be losses. For example, one of our co-founders left a few years back when he migrated abroad. It was a difficult period. But when I look back now, I say it's fine. People will come and go. If I leave LCP, it doesn't mean that LCP will die. None of us are indispensable. I think we don't need to win everything. You can let small things go. Instead, have a few focus areas where you want to win.
Always maintain a healthy balance in everything you do. It’s about working smart. Hire people who are better than you. Don't work yourself to death. Build an organization where people can work and have a life as well. (Bijon Islam, read his interview The rise of LCP and the business of management consulting with LightCastle Partners CEO Bijon Islam here)
3. You should continue doing it and not get disheartened when people say no. You will hear more Nos than Yes. I have seen many people who are doing well and have good ideas but after a few rejections, they stop trying. But entrepreneurship is difficult and you can’t have it any easier. Now that I think about my previous experience, especially our first venture which was in fintech, I can connect.
We gave up too easily. We did not raise money and once ran out of money, we quit. We had a lot of interesting ideas. But we did not try hard enough. To that end, I would say not to give up. Continue doing it. (Tazin Shadid, read his interview here)
4. In startups, you have to think fast. Things change fast. The reality of today may not be the reality of tomorrow. You have to be extremely flexible and adaptable. You have to be able to change, which is not easy for many people. Because for many of us, our characters are not built that way. So the first lesson is to be adaptive and flexible.
Have humility. Having humility is important. I think worldwide, including in Bangladesh, the CEOs that we see, get blindsided. They think that they're always right because they have all these ‘Yes’ men around them. They don't understand that they can be wrong. They have no humility. Having that humility can make all the difference between you and an average leader.
As a female boss, you're going to face a different and difficult environment. You just have to navigate it the best you can. You can talk to other female leaders but don’t expect an answer from everyone. (Nahita Nishmin, read her FS interview here)
5. My suggestion is always: to be creative with your business models, build hypotheses, test many different ideas and see what works. I think that's very important in media businesses, especially. You will be surprised by the outcomes of those kinds of experiments.
Apart from that, engagement is way more important than vanity numbers. So make sure you're building an engaging experience for the user base, and keeping up with how the users interact with your product.
I think self-reflection is important. Break your life up into quarters. Have a one-year plan about where you want to see yourself every year. Break that plan into quarters. Once you commit yourself to do something in a quarter, stick to it, see it through and at the end of the quarter, reflect back, see what worked and what didn’t, and then tweak it again from the second quarter.
For example, if you decide tomorrow that you will learn yoga or front-end coding or how to build an app, dedicate a proper quarter to it, and at the end of the quarter reflect on yourself. How was the experience? Did you enjoy it? Could you get better or not? You sometimes need to give yourself a good amount of time to try things out before you realize what is good or not good enough for you.
So my principle is to break my life into quarters. At the start of the quarter, I plan out what I want to do and at the end of the quarter, I look back and reflect on whether I actually enjoyed doing it or not. Do I want to continue doing it? Then I restructure my life based on reflection. (Mohan Belani, read his FS interview here)
Credit: Part of the cover photo was created using DALL-E