Saturday, 14 December 2013

Friends, Family and Fools: Their Role and Impact on Innovation

I'd like to write about the role and impact of family, friends and fools on creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

This is derived out of my experiences and other blogs and essays I read on startups, life, creativity and innovation.

Holstee Manifesto

So here's my take.
These are generally people you know and guys who also know a great deal about who you are, what you do and what you’re up to.
They are the people you grew up, went to school together, church, your current and former colleagues, mentors and your peers in general.
When you’re thinking of starting or expanding chances are you’ll speak to someone here regarding your big plans. Paul Graham’s fantastic 2006 article, How to Do What You Love says What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends. You shouldn’t worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world. Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That’s the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.”
Your friends set the benchmark for you, provide some form of social validation since they are your close network of people, at times they’ll be your first users, customers, trusted advisors, ambassadors, first employees or business partners or co-founders. They’ll also invest in you, or loan you some money when you’re flat broke. They’ll give you shelter when you can’t pay your rent….if you have a few good ones they’ll always be there J
Robert Krulwich, co-producer of WNYC’s fantastic Radiolab, articulates a kind of social connectedness far more meaningful and genuine than those notions of prestige and peer validation.
“This is the era of Friends in Low Places. The ones you meet now, who will notice you, challenge you, work with you, and watch your back. Maybe they will be your strength”
If you can… fall in love, with the work, with people you work with, with your dreams and their dreams. Whatever it was that got you to this school, don’t let it go. Whatever kept you here, don’t let that go. Believe in your friends. Believe that what you and your friends have to say… that the way you’re saying it — is something new in the world.
The impact: Your friends offer you psychological support, material support and a network that generates leads, opportunities and business etc. The values and morals you share with these friends determine your beliefs and ethics you’ll uphold. Their appetite for risk determines how far they can support you materially and still find you sane & ambitious. Their definition of success and good life may shape your dreams and ambitions. Their “Need for Change” affects what they define as “Innovative or Realistic or what can sell”….what is a good business idea. In short these guys have some sort of validation to make in what you’ll do or think of doing. They can fuel, spark, nurture, drive or kill your innovativeness 
Above all as Austin Kleon wisely put it, “you are a mashup of what you let into your life. This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. On doing what you love, Kleon urges:
Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use — do the work you want to see done.


This is where you were born, bred or raised. Some of us are lucky to have a close knit family while others do not. Our families share different beliefs or values that were inculcated in us as we grew up. Depending on the environment you grew up in, neighbourhood, social class you belong to or the profession of your folks and close relatives and their economic class then that determines your chances of success or failure.
In most cases it has always been a case of Go to School, Get good grades, go to university, get a job, work hard-[get a promotion] buy a car---get an MBA—proceed on the ladder, a house, get married, have kids and live happily ever after. However the crazy ones in the family will not follow this route and chart their own paths to the –happily ever after.
A significant number of would-be startup founders are probably dissuaded from doing it by their parents. I'm not going to say you shouldn't listen to them. Families are entitled to their own traditions, beliefs and values.
Parents tend to protect their kids from risk without realizing it, also protecting them from rewards.

If your parents want you to be an engineer this could be because it's a prestigious and lucrative career     sometimes because their rich friends are engineers. [
4] But not so lucrative or prestigious as it was when their opinions were formed.

The parents who want you to be a doctor may simply not realize how much things have changed. Would they be that unhappy if you were Steve Jobs instead? According to Paul Graham of Y Combinator the way to deal with your parents' opinions about what you should do is to treat them like feature requests. Even if your only goal is to please them, the way to do that is not simply to give them what they ask for. Instead think about why they're asking for something, and see if there's a better way to give them what they need.

Their Impact: The levels of education, upbringing, wealth, social status and common values & beliefs have some impact on your level of success. The lessons they frequently shared with us, their mantra and how they brought us up greatly influences our chances of success.
In some cases your family will join you in your entrepreneurial ride as partners [You’re your brother is one of your suppliers], investors [The rich uncle who gave you seed capital], advisors [mum is a teacher and you’re doing an Edtech startup], professional services [E.g. if your dad is a lawyer he handles your legal] e.t.c.
The family being the basic unit of our society greatly impacts our growing up, our success and even the definition of it. Whatever it is if you have an opportunity to go to school, pursue education. People say the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That line has a great deal of truth in it. The family network of friends, business associates, contacts and acquaintances can open doors that are valuable when it comes to getting things done and landing new contracts. Am not tryna say if you come from a poor or an average family you won’t make it but you might have to work twice as hard and if you want to be a success at everything here are 10 things you need to stop doing.
But what if you have a family to support? This one is real. I wouldn't push anyone with a family to quit a job to start a startup      not that it's a bad idea.
What you can do, if you have a family and want to start a startup, is start a consulting or do a side project on the job you’re in and you can then gradually turn that into a business. Empirically the chances of pulling that off in a huge way seem very small. But at least you'll never be without an income. Just have a plan in place, you got to pay the bills, provide shelter for family, food and all that the society demands of a parent. Do not gamble with family, don’t neglect them nor for go your responsibilities       the real lesson here is to start startups when you're young.

The Fools:
These are the guys who believe in you and find you totally awesome    in the early days. They are the true believers….your early converts….the people you talk to if you need some help when friends and family cannot assist. They are people who look up to you and will support you in kind and materially     don’t take their support for granted. They will work for you on little or no salary, lend their skills in developing your prototype, help you try out different things, lend you a soft loan occasionally, help you clinch a deal at the place they work. Be scrupulously honest and overt in your dealings with them, and do not use your position to gain unfair advantage. It’s good to realize that these fools are rooting for you to succeed, and so be grateful while accepting their help when offered. You should also understand the power of favors, and offer and grant them whenever you can.
Most of all, remember that the journey is the reward so the worst you can do is take advantage of them, shortchange or lie to them deeply that it hurts. You should treat these people well on the way up to ensure they make it nicer for you on the way back down.

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