5 arguments: The X factor in entrepreneurship is courage

Reproducing here my column from your story.com


Entrepreneurs rarely bear grudges. Not for them, the expensive pursuits of the ego. Often, investors are dismissive of very raw ideas, and they don’t mince words. Entrepreneurs’ ideas get rejected  all the time — but it goes down only so far. The same investor is more than welcome to see logic in the business in 12 months’ time, and offer series A funding. The entrepreneur is only too happy to let bygones be bygones, forgive wholeheartedly and absorb the funding.

The ability to forgive anyone and everyone is the first argument that the X-factor in entrepreneurship is courage. Only the truly courageous can forgive and move on!

We all know we make our world more significant by the courage of our questions. Courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.

Let’s look at four more arguments.  (Please note that some of it is deliberately exaggerated for a hearty laugh.)

Argument 2: Perseverance

Entrepreneurs often forget which pocket they placed their visiting card in! (There are normally two suits, the college convocation suit and the wedding suit). Rummaging and fumbling, they mutter breathlessly about a project that has currently immersed them in its vice-like grip. It is a moment’s work for them to have rattled off 100 words in 30 seconds that make sense to them and them alone. Scan a networking dinner, and you will spot startups a mile away — because they don’t care how much food they spill, on themselves, or on the floor, as long as they get to meet ‘that VC guy’ whose wallet shines with possibility. And this goes on, dinner after dinner, rejection after rejection. There is no diminishing the enthusiasm of the startup that has a business idea to sell!  From an unrefined amoeba of an idea, to a full-blown revenue model, the startup stumbles in and out of half-meetings and networking dinners till he secures his first angel investment.

Argument 3: Danger is real, but fear is a choice.

The home rent is not paid. The better half is hopping mad and does not understand your passion. You have no idea where you will be in three months’ time. Better still, unless asked, these questions don’t even arise in your mind.

Somewhere inside, you know that, sooner or later, your work will do the talking. This belief is all-consuming and everything else can wait. The degree of self-belief, by itself, is often the defining factor in the varying levels of success between any two entrepreneurs.

Argument 4: Adaptability

Customer interfaces bring out the best in entrepreneurs. If a situation calls for it, they can instantly profess to have an interest in classical music – give them 24 hours, and before the next meeting, they have read up about Pdt. Bhimsen Joshi and Lalgudi Jayaraman, both! Interest areas can be newts, astrophilia or even Karl Marx! So long as the discussion can be put off till the next Google search (answer nature’s call if need be), love for unknown things can be professed to advance a conversation.

Argument 5: Venturing

All an entrepreneur needs to be told is: “Why don’t you go and meet this guy? He can really help you.” The dinner plate is down, and quicker than Edward Cullen in ‘Twilight’ saga, the entrepreneur will be out of the room,  looking up the  six degrees of separation between him and “the man who can help” on LinkedIn.

The best part is the awkwardness of wanting people’s time and attention without really knowing them or needing an introduction, does not cross the mind at all. Venturing wherever needed, taking charge and not worrying about upsetting people comes with the startup welcome kit. All in a day’s work.

Summing up

On a serious note, courage evolved through time when our ancestors wanted to overcome the climatic challenges to live. Courage evolved when there was something they wanted to call their own, and had the gumption to fight to claim it and preserve it. Courage evolved when human consciousness allowed for slightly more complex thought.

Forgiveness, perseverance, belief, adaptability and venturing are five manifestations of courage itself. Interestingly, courage is what we look for, even in leaders, in our spouses, our partners and our friends. Courage, by virtue of what it means, is closely related to “massive determined action.” This is the X-factor of all entrepreneurship.

Heres the link.

Develop a Google clone: That’s what our consciousness should do.


Most of us know that there is a lot of hoax on the internet – for instance Margaret Hello is Graham Bell’s girlfriend, and that’s why we say ‘hello’ when we pick up the phone.

Hypothetically, if we were to slowly re-write history, then in another 500 years, Google could potentially be representing new truths, which the next generation will not know better but to believe.

So, if I were to claim that it was not Alexander Graham Bell, but John Telephone who invented the said machine, and fed enough of it into Google, as arguments, in 500 years, there would be enough evidence that someone named John Telephone contested the invention.

Imagine the magnitude of hoaxes that vested interests could perpetrate! In 500 years, we can safely assume that library reading will at best be an esoteric, rare pursuit. So, our consciousness will be influenced, by what the internet says and that’s pretty much what Google throws up!

Google seems to have an incredible consciousness. It is predictive, intuitive and it knows a lot. It is incredibly useful. Yes, it can’t move physically, but it can track our movements- what is google maps all about?

So human beings have created another consciousness outside of ourselves, called Google, which will not be able to control, the expediency of vested interests that may rewrite history itself- and the impact of which cannot be fully grasped by one human generation.

We will need an Google clone to document things-just to keep things sacrosanct. Let’s try and create consciousness again and call this clone AlterEgo-Google. Lets start with a chemistry laboratory.

For the sake of argument, let us say that the chemical formula of consciousness is Tri-oxyTetra-carboTrihydoDiNitroPorphyrin evolutionase (crazy enough?)

This compound developed about 800 million years ago, when the first trace of multi cellular organisms appeared- at the hypothetical beginning of consciousness. So if it’s a compound, I should be able to see it. Makes sense! I distinctly remember reading that a quantum microscope had been able to see an “excited hydrogen atom.” (on google)

So lets mass produce consciousness. I’m told we cannot, because consciousness is a form of energy and permeates all living beings- it can neither be  created or destroyed. So chemistry lab needs to be revisited later.

Human consciousness is more complex than the world wide web, and is the only thing that probably knows more than Google itself. Tempered by morality, societal expectations and ethical considerations, humans have not killed each other, but have rather been vested in each other’s progress.

So the AlterEgo-Google will surely be created, but not by scientists and researchers. But by brilliant programmers and then run by equally brilliant businessmen; it will present a search alternative to Google.

Alternatives have always been important, even from an evolutionary perspective. The theory of natural selection its billion-year old infinite wisdom, has made several adjustments with our species, the brains and the bodies, primarily making us clued into surviving. Anarchy works only in favour of the anarchist- so we need to create some more consciousness outside of us. Isnt our consciousness telling us that we must allow Google and Alter-Ego Google to battle it out, hopefully on the battleground of facts, and may the best man win!

Google lovers, all of us, definitely need an Alter-Ego Google, just to keep facts under check, if not for anything else. The starting point for this could be questions such as was there another universe before ours? If the universe began 13.7 billion years ago, when there was no time and space, can we say conclusively, that this is the first cycle? Were there cycles before ours?

Let human consciousness first answer these questions. And then put it up on Alter-Ego Google.

Are we using 13.7 billion ears of evolution to make our lives easier or more expendable than ever before? Let the collective consciousness decide.

Daniel Amen: Brain Capability, Evolution and a Question


The homo sapien brain was extremely capable. So much so that it managed to be the only surviving species. As we evaluate various aspects of what could have led to us developing language, here’s a look at how powerful the brain really is. How capable it would ve been of shaping the course of history- and how capable we are, as a species, of actually improving life expectancy, finding new inhabitable worlds and complex global structures that do not exist today.

Not in my words- In Dr.Daniel Amen’s words.

Your brain is involved in everything you do.

Your brain is the organ of your personality, character, and intelligence and is heavily involved in making you who you are.

Your brain controls everything you do, feel, and think. When you look in the mirror, you can thank your brain for what you see. Your brain controls whether you hit the gym or sit at the computer to check your Facebook page. If you feel the need to light up a cigarette or drink a couple cups of java, that’s also your brain’s doing.ACTION STEP Remember that your brain is involved in everything you do, every
decision you make, every bite of food you take, every cigarette you smoke, every worrisome thought you have, every workout you skip, every alcoholic beverage you drink, and more.
Daniel G. Amen, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body: Use Your Brain to Get and Keep the Body You Have Always Wanted

“Having a sense of purpose, as well as connections to past and future generations, allows us to reach beyond ourselves to affirm that our lives matter. Without a spiritual connection, many people experience an overriding sense of despair. Morality, values, and a spiritual connection to others and the universe are critical for many people to feel a sense of wholeness and connection, and a reason to get up in the morning and to take good care of themselves.”
Daniel G. Amen, Unleash the Power of the Female Brain: Supercharging yours for better health, energy, mood, focus and sex

So here’s the Question!

Where can you take the human race, if you have full control over your brain? Just look back at how far we have come. The mobile phone in your hand – could’ve been part of a magic show in the 1970s. Whats the magic show of 2040 going to be? Be alive, be alert to the possibilities of your mind.

Positioning is more returns for less headache!

Positioning is about setting yourself apart from the rest- in "usage" terms.
Positioning is about setting yourself apart from the rest- in “usage” terms.
The focus of this blog is to connect the dots- from how we evolved as a species- acquired language and how we use it to communicate today.

Positioning is the pinnacle of all communication- like the six-pack abs of body constitution. Everyone would love to have it- but its not easy to achieve and maintain.

Positioning is more returns for less headache!

In our “overcommunicated universe”, no brand or person or institution, has the luxury of being indecisive- hence the need for a sharp positioning (the process of identifying an appropriate market niche for a product, service or brand and getting it established it in that market)

When most entrepreneurs/organisations/marketers hear the word “positioning,” they think “very big brands.”

They lament that they cannot lose some of their customers, because ‘positioning’ makes it look as though they’re interested in only a ‘certain kind’ of customer.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, and it’s actually quite the opposite.

It is true that bigger brands have a little more ‘room for error’ than smaller businesses- but if any business should write a brand positioning, it is the small business or an entrepreneur or an organisation that’s looking to strengthen its position in the marketplace. It doesn’t cost a dime to write one, and it could save hours of time and enormous resources.

For one simple reason: focus.

Positioning is more returns for less headache!

Focus is a companies’ best friend, and a well-crafted brand positioning can bring greater focus than ever before. Simply put pen to paper and add some clarity to your activities- and share this with your agency-

You have to decide-

a. who is the most profitable target customer (80% revenue)

b. who is the definitive business to compete with (parallel offerings)

c. what you can best bring to the marketplace (what your customers come to you for?)

d. how to connect emotionally (what do your customers feel when they interact with you- relief from pain? Break from hunger? Time saved? Convenience? In safe hands? Protected?)

Once you know what ‘value’ to bring to mind, its very easy for you to figure out everything else. In the short term, it may appear that you’re losing customers- in the long term, you will be spending far lesser money- by targeting your communication- to people who ‘have use for it.’

Your positioning is a gift of prioritization that no other document can give you.

Your brand-positioning statement can give you the clarity you need to move your business forward. And yes, always remember that positioning is not about being “stuck”. Within your core positioning, you evolve to be consistent with a changing world.

We are closest to chimpanzees among the four apes.  

Picture courtesy: http://ohmygodfacts.com/7-interesting-chimpanzee-facts/2/

A human hemoglobin molecule differs from its chimpanzee counterpart in only a single amino acid.
A human hemoglobin molecule differs from its chimpanzee counterpart in only a single amino acid.

The study of positioning cannot be complete without understanding how we interpret and use language.

The study of how we acquired language cannot be complete without understanding how we evolved.

Anthropologists across the world have made the task of a learner like me easier. They have done all the hardwork and I am only proposing some theories. In bullet points, with more references and gratitude than I can possibly express- heres a critical view to our evolution.

  1. Considerable controversy exists about the identity of the first hominoid.
  2. Studies of ape DNA have explained a great deal about how the living apes evolved. The Asian apes evolved first. The line of apes leading to gibbons diverged from other apes about 15 million years ago, while orangutans split off about 10 million years ago (see figure 23.3). Neither are closely related to humans.
  3. The African apes evolved more recently, between 6 and 10 million years ago. These apes are the closest living relatives to humans; some taxonomists have even ad-vocated placing humans and the African apes in the same zoological family, the Hominidae
  4. We are closest to the chimpanzees, than any other kind of ape. This is well-established. Based on genetic differences, scientists estimate that gorillas diverged from the line lead-ing to chimpanzees and humans some 8 million years ago.
  5. What is particularly bizarre, is that because this split was so recent, the genes of humans and chimpanzees have not had time to evolve many genetic differences. For example, a human hemoglobin molecule differs from its chimpanzee counterpart in only a single amino acid. In general, humans and chimpanzees exhibit a level of genetic similarity normally found between closely related sibling species of the same genus.
  6. The common ancestor of apes and hominids is thought to have been an arboreal climber. Much of the subsequent evolution of the hominoids reflected different approaches to locomotion. Hominids became bipedal, walking up-right, while the apes evolved knuckle-walking, supporting their weight on the back sides of their fingers

When you are bipedal, a major part of the weight of your body is supported by your feet.

This alters many things, the gait, the relative position of the head to the rest of the body, the extensive freedom that the forelimbs (hands get) to accomplish other things rather than just support locomotion.

Seen over a few hundred years, each attribute contributes to a unique aspect of our evolution.

Of what use would speech be, without the anatomy to hear?


I’ve already shared this as a response to a comment on my blog.  However, some more thoughts came my way in person, notably Mr.Vithal Nadkarni, a mentor, whose vast breadth of reading I someday hope to match at least by half.

There’s very little of original thought on this blog. Maybe less than 10%. It’s a tribute to the work of many greats, who persevered to discover the beauty of how human beings started to speak. It’s also a simpler place for students to make sense of the evolutionary miracle that we are.

Speech could not have existed without hearing. I think this is very basic.

Equally basic is the assumption, that in all evolution form precedes function eg- birds had feathers for millions of years before they realized that they were meant for flight.

It is therefore safe to assume that by the time the cultural setting for language began to be expressed, the structures that permit speech had already been in place for a long time – at least since the emergence prior to 150,000 years ago of Homo sapiens as an anatomical entity.

By logic, the faculty of hearing had to be developed before this- some scholars have suggested that the development of the human ear enabled it to pick up human speech better than the chimpanzee ear. This appears to have happened by 350,000 years ago, according to fossils of human remains found in northern Spain.

Interestingly, after the emergence of homo sapiens, they drove all other ‘homo’ species to extinction. This was about 50000 years ago. The most evolved species before us, the Neanderthals who flourished between 300,000 – 28,000 had relatively advanced communication abilities, but evidence suggests that they may have had a limited vocal range compared to modern humans. They are credited with fine stone art and invention of burials.
Homo sapiens first emerged 150000 yrs  ago, and by 50000 years ago, were the only surviving species. Something drastic happened. One big documented change is climate- but  responding to adversity as group demanded coordination. Language is one of the biggest tools to enable coordination. Home sapiens surely developed the ability for language, which was their biggest competitive advantage in survival.

By then the FOXP2 gene, and the other physical features associated with spoken language, such as the vocal tract, the structure of the brain and the size of the spinal cord, were already in place. It is difficult to put a date to the appearance of the human larynx (paleontologists say thus, because there are no bones just muscle and cartilage associated with the larynx- also called voice box). The vocal cords themselves are no more than infoldings of the larynx. They vibrate, like the strings of a violin, to produce a huge range of sounds in modern humans)

The above, placed in context with the 90,000 year-old double burial from Jebel Qafzeh, Israel (one of the earliest that shows careful placement of the deceased)indicating complex constructs around the ritual of burial that were communicated within a community in some way- suggest that modern speech (as opposed to sound)  is young- and emerged between 90000 and 40000 years ago.