abridged thoughts on how to excel at Corporate Development
did a podcast with my friends at IVM Podcasts on this a few months ago.
startups and innovators encounter skeptics on a daily basis. most of them like to point at the umpteen shortcomings of your concept (or solution) and how the status-quo or the 800-pound gorilla in your field is better.
i am certain you are thinking “trying to create something new and change the world is hard enough ! … now you are telling me to listen to my skeptics ?!? …are you crazy?”
however, I have found that these skeptics often give invaluable feedback that you rather get from them, than your customers. Use them as a litmus test to help calibrate your solution !
It is because the skeptics are right about some things that they are so wrong about the whole thing. Simon Cox, The Economist
the genesis of my short post was this quote from Simon Cox in the book “Economics, Making Sense of the Modern Economy”, 2nd Edition, The Economist Newspaper Ltd.
Simon gives me hope !
Fight on my friends.
Each of us typically make one or two big decisions about our lives every so often. For example, which career to choose? whether to buy a house or not? finding a life partner, or deciding where to take a big vacation. The implications of each of these choices is varied, but one thing is common — the defaults are well laid out for you.
Defaults are what you are supposed to choose. Thats what normal or good people do. It is what society expects you to do, and will shower you with positive energy when you ‘stick to what is right’.
don’t let conventional wisdom force you into making decisions you don’t need to make and you aren’t ready to make, particularly about very big decisions that you will be living with the rest of your life
I find these words extremely valuable in times of ambiguity and lack of a clear way forward.
You are told that the default choice works, despite being either unprepared or in gross disagreement with it. Some times we do it for loved ones, and at other times we refrain from rocking the cradle.
Its not about spending more time with big decisions, but about spending enough to iterate and not be afraid of making an unconventional choice.
Recently, I made the choice of moving back to India after having stayed in America for a little over a decade. Many friends, colleagues, relatives, and general observers were quite baffled by my decision. I made the choice within the context of what is important to me, and that is what matters most.
photo credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/
I often find myself deeply confused and unclear about navigating life and career decisions. These may range from simple things such as whether to take on a project at work?, or broader questions such as what geography do I want to be in 10 years from now?
No matter what the question, it is quite challenging to step outside of one’s own bubble and see the forest from the trees. What makes navigating these crossroads even harder is that the consequences of most such decisions may only be evaluated over long periods of time. All of us face these questions regularly, and am sure each of us has devised unique ways to find answers.
I constantly turn to my Mentors for guidance and direction when faced with multifaceted decisions. They (my Mentors) are the only way I am able to understand what is going on beyond my own life stage, industry, financial circumstances, geography, career track, and ideologies.
Surround yourself with mentors who not only share their life experiences but also challenge you to think about dimensions you may not have contemplated. Having an insight into what lies ahead, or how people in a different industry think about the same decision is invaluable.
As you think about Mentors, here are my thoughts on who to surround yourself with:
Keep in mind that cultivating a Mentor/Mentee relationship takes time and diligence. You want to be selective in finding Mentors who are genuinely interested in you as an individual, and this takes time. An ideal mentor is someone you have known for atleast a couple of years, and is someone you would love to have a beer with.
Your relationship with your Mentors is a two-way street. You have to pay it forward and share as much as (and perhaps more) you wish to learn.
Think of a person without mentors as a sailor relying on astrology to cross the seas, and a person with mentors as an Admiral with the support of sophisticated GPS satellite navigation and mapping to assist him. The Admiral has a much better lay of the land and the many pitfalls and traps on the path to his goal.
Be the Admiral.
I hope you find Mentors that help make your life more interesting, and at the same time be sure to share your own perspectives with others who could benefit from your experiences.