THE ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY. learning from the courage of those who dare to conduct risky business

Unfortunately, many of us are brought up with risk aversion. With a constant reminder from our parents, don’t do this and don’t do that.  While out of love, the downside is that we grow up avoiding risk, fearing the consequences and tomorrow.

You can always look at any situation as good or bad, risky or exciting, dangerous or adventurous.  Your cup is always half empty or half full and you can always win big or lose it all.  Here is a story that I have just read in Financial Times (25/26 July 2021) Obituary section on a Steelworker turned pioneering stockpicker. Yang Huaiding was a warehouse attendant in an ailing Shanghai steel factory earning just over a hundred dollars per month.  In 1988 he poured his efforts into scanning local newspapers at the local library and discovered that the treasury bonds had different prices in different cities.  He managed to scrape together all his savings, took an overnight train to another city (Hefei, in the province of Anhui) to buy all the bonds he could, and returned the same day to sell them in his city earning a profit of about $125 (equivalent to a monthly wage). 

A simple daring act and just a few hundred dollars went on to prove his hypothesis that earned him millions in the years that followed.   Not only that, Yang was brave and courageous enough to walk into the tax office a year after he started his bond purchasing. In 1989 he walked into the Tax office and declared his business making sure he comes out clean and without breaking any rules or evading taxes.

He contributed his courage to a story dating back to his childhood about a man who dared to eat a crab after he found his village invaded by these creatures which no one had seen before. The man was courageous enough to approach, catch, kill, cook and eat one crab, and in the process discovering a most delicious and nourishing source of food.  “Learn from the courage of those who dare to eat crab and conduct risky personal investments” was one of the slogans that Yang had printed on his business cards. If you want to succeed, sometimes you need to dare, you need to take the risk that no one is willing to take, be daring, be courageous.   If Yang did it, you can do it.

Staying in The Flow: The entrepreneurial journey

In the past couple of years, I have made one big change in my life and that’s to make sure I stay in the flow. As entrepreneurs, we have been told that we need to work hard, all god-given hours, and bend reality.  All that’s true but it becomes a lot easier when you stay in the flow.  Startup success is not guaranteed by the number of hours you work, rather by how you use those hours to achieve your goal and that means living in the flow.

It has taken me some time in understanding what it means to be in the flow.  Many people think that they need to work hard, endless hours, weekends, and none stop.  I did that for the best part of 23 years.  I worked many weekends, I worked through my holidays, I might as well have had the mobile implanted in my head to save my hands from holding it. I proudly and always would announce that I am a workaholic and that nothing would stand in my way of getting what I wanted.

 I succeeded in getting everything I wanted but along the way, I lost many other opportunities of having fun, enjoying life, and realizing that there is a much easier way to get all the above, everything you want, and much more.   

That method is nothing more than tapping into and staying in the flow.  To understand this, you have to understand that we all go in different directions. To be in the flow doesn’t mean that you have to do what others are doing and how they are doing. Salmon is in the flow, but Salmon is in its own flow, and it flows against the current.  To be in the flow is to follow your direction and your flow and in order to do that, you need to tap into something deeper.  BUT how do you tap into that something deeper?  Sounds esoteric!. 

 Allow me just a few minutes.  If you’ve read so far, you will now agree that to be in the flow doesn’t mean that you have to be doing what everybody else is doing.   It also doesn’t mean that you should stop working towards your goal.  To be in the flow for Salmon means swimming harder than most other fish against the current, upstream, risking their lives on the way, and ending up exhausted and dying after laying their eggs. 

 Being in the flow for me has meant following my heart and doing what I love against all odds.  While a few years ago, I was struggling with my startup #Urbytus, I set up many events big and small.  I created The Presidents Club, we held annual conferences, quarterly meetings, forums, and so on.  I tried my hardest to get more clients, publicity. It was hard work and it worked and before the pandemic hit in March 2020, I was set to start more events.  We all know what happened next.  I was stopped dead in my track. For months I was unsure of how to get this back on track and I was struggling to find a safe method for recreating our forums and get-togethers in small numbers.   Until one day a long-term client of Urbytus sent an email with a bunch of questions.

 

I had two options, simply answer the email, like I answer all the support emails, or invite him to lunch, thank him for all these years of business and answer his questions in the process. Lunch with The Presidents Club, was born because of the pandemic and so far it has meant, I have learnt much more about some of my clients, I have addressed more of their concerns, we have discussed in detail and at ease the future of the product and what it needs to be in their view.

 

 

To be in the flow, meant letting go of old ideas and allowing the present to PRESENT me with new opportunities and possibilities. To be in the flow has been my way of life for the past 3 years, where I have been a startup mentor, teacher, and advisor. All of these opportunities have helped me along my path, life, and this beautiful journey on earth.  Being in the flow means doing your best and keeping your dreams live as your vision and using every opportunity that life throws at you on your path even if that means swimming against the current :-).  Love you all.