[I wrote this blog back in 2013 when I had recently joined Plan9 - PITB's Tech Incubator. Since then I have come a long way on my journey and with it my passion for entrepreneurship has only grown but the values are still the same. And it is the tireless practice of these values that I would say, without giving it a second thought, has become my competitive advantage. Enjoy :) ]
I live entrepreneurship and I call myself an entrepreneur! Believe it or not, some tend to believe I am one. Entrepreneur or not so much, I can assure you that I am the guy you revert to, if you want to build a brand.
These days, I introduce myself as the guy responsible for all the mess at Plan9, which is now termed as Pakistan's largest tech incubator. 20 successful startups have come out of the incubator to date, whereas 12 are presently enrolled as part of the third cycle. We, my team and I, refer to them as 'ours' since we co-live the experience.
What makes this entrepreneurial journey both beautiful and 'successful' at the same time, I am asked often.
Many international mentors say, cementing my belief further; the team is as important or in some cases more important than the business idea or product being offered. This is true for startups, SMEs and as I opine for large organizations alike.
I define the 'perfect' team as number of 'right' members who bring the synergies not to an equilibrium stage but define new points of positivity. 'Right' members believe in you as a leader, the 'nonsense' that you keep repeating and the collective purpose. To make the team effective, you must display immense respect for the person your colleague is.
In fact, it's not just for the person but towards his background being defined by multiple factors including economic, social and more personal catalysts.
It is the ability to identify and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each member and utilize their potential for the purpose accordingly that measures the strength of a good 'manager'.
When interviewing candidates that are potential team members, I always try to gauge clarity of their passion. Passion could be for God, for someone, for a particular field, or for their country. Whatever it is, it has to come out clear!
It is the extent of clarity that is a pre-req.
Talking about myself and my passion for the country I represent 'Pakistaniyat' or for that matter patriotism. It isn't about communicating in your national language alone but about working with sincerity, dedication and with the intention of adding genuine value to one’s society in whatever we may do.
Have you ever wondered why so many great initiatives take off and wither away? It is because the people involved lack either one or all of the following: Passion, Capability, Clarity & Passion again. Wasn’t that short & sweet? J
Given the dynamics of a ‘perfect’ team, what makes its impact impressionable?
I often narrate the example of Steve Jobs and Apple to define the factors that effect the extent of impact of an action. In 2001, Apple introduced iPod. During his keynote speech, Jobs said:
“The field that we decided to do it in--the choice we made--was music. Now, why music? Well, we love music. And it’s always good to do something you love. More importantly, music’s a part of everyone’s life. Everyone. Music’s been around forever. It will always be around. This is not a speculative market. And, because it’s a part of everyone’s life, it’s a very large target market. All around the world. It knows no boundaries.”
As I feel, it was the ability of Jobs and Apple to ‘connect’ to people via the product and develop a relationship with each of them based on something that was of value to them. Similarly, it’s the ability to co-live the experience with the user that becomes a game changer and the transition from good to great is made.
My biggest fear professionally is to be ‘good’. Good is not enough. I may settle for ‘Great’ though. In everything I have done, or I aspire to do, I ask myself one question several times in a week:
“Have we achieved the best we could? If not, why not. If yes, what’s next!”
In team meetings at PLAN9, I often tell my team the same thing again & again, packed differently though.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes people make fun of your “doll house syndrome” mocking you and your belief that you’re self-proclaimed superstars. Let them mock you. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. All you need to do is to keep asking yourself if you’ve landing in your comfort zone because then you’re in the red zone. Come out and jump into the Learning Zone. And you will see, you will continue to be extraordinary.”
I know the musketeers in my team must be smiling reading this. They’ve heard this before. Once, to say the least! ;)