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We were recently summing up the last iteration of our product, when one of my co-founders appreciated me for the tough questions I keep asking him and the others. While I was drafting a reply, I felt it may also be worthy of a post.

In any setup, there are times when things start slowing down and people start losing focus. Also, when most of the parties involved are guilty of sloth, it makes it that much more tougher to ask questions. Which inturn can make it tempting to do something like what Warren Buffet warned against in his latest annual letter:

“From the start, Charlie and I have believed in having a rational and unbending standard for measuring what we have – or have not – accomplished. That keeps us from the temptation of seeing where the arrow of performance lands and then painting the bull’s eye around it.”

When you decide that you will be the one asking tough questions, you run the risk of not being loved anymore. You need to make a choice – whether you want to be the loved one in a mediocre performing system or possibly the hated one in a high performing system. But, coming to think of it, if you are really asking the right kind of questions then people will either come around, or they never truely loved you in the first place.

Another significant advantage to asking tough questions, making it more worthy of the risk, is that it forces you to always be on your heels and pushes you to give our best. Like Mahatma Gandhi said – “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Ofcourse, it does help when you are already a part of an amazing team.

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The Zen Attitude

I was reading Srikrishna‘s latest article on Hindu Business Line – Zen and the entrepreneur.

We seem to encounter the first two koans mentioned in his article (Persevere, grow) on a daily basis, the third one (listening to customers) is yet to happen to us. It would be a happy moment if we were to get that far.

The Zen koans are meant to tire the logic, giving a student of Zen the opportunity to look beyond from where the intellect ends. But the Koans of entrepreneurship require you to work within the bounds of logic.

One of my favorite koans is the Epimenides Paradox (which I happened to read in Douglas Hofstadter‘s epic book GEB). Epimenides was a Cretan who made one immortal statement: “All Cretans are liars.”

Its been a primal human trait to try making meaning out of the chaos. The fascinating fields of astronomy, philosophy, evolution, number theory, quantum physics, .. have all sprung out of this basic urge; the urge to define the (currently) indefinable. But once meaning has been made things become less interesting, losing their charm. True-blood entrepreneurs look forward to the challenge of not being able to see or define success clearly. They prefer chances of failure over the comfort of a well set path to mediocre success.

All said there is much an entrepreneur can learn from spirituality.

Let the sufi in you follow your heart,
let the zen in you step aside letting life take its course,
let the yogi in you enjoy the path that leads to your destiny.

Sri, thanks for adding to the chaos! 🙂

funds
We have all heard stories of how hard companies are finding it to raise funds. It feels nice to hear a different story once in a while. I have always tried to maintain a positive outlook in life, and my fool’s optimism tells me that there was never a better time to start on a venture :-). History has it that many of the great institutions we look up to today started off during a downturn. And I for sure wouldn’t want to miss out on the one that’s going on right now.

I happened to be passing by Kevin’s Corner yesterday, and found his posts on fund raising refreshing for my tastes.

Links to Kevin’s posts on fund raising:
1. Raising Seed Capital In A Recession
2. Venture Capital Outlook For 09
3. Raising Seed Capital In The “Great” Recession

Little angel

As the borders get blurry between F&Fs, Angels and VCs, Scott Shane tries to make some ground with his post which some what demystifies the angel math.

It also brings up the point that entrepreneurs look at angel investments for reasons more than the funds and contacts it brings in. Angels should ideally be less of businessmen and more of what the name means.

Article Link: The Funny Math of the Angel – Venture Capital Financing Gap