Journey of Salesman to Entrepreneur

This is my first interview I have done with my ex boss Mr Vital who is started his career as sales men then started small start up and now he is helping thousands of his clients by his solutions. His Company now earns 60Cr turnover.
Me: Hi sir,

Vittl: Hello, Good evening, how about you?

Me: Excellent, I just want know your journey details, can you spare your 10 minutes of time with me.

Vittal: The first things you mentioned was motivational about why people might consider entrepreneurship as their option as opposed to working for an existing organization what are the really the motivating values here well I can suggest three reasons one is the freedom to do what you love two is security for you and your family and one thing I remind everyone is that no one is going to provide for their security except for them and not to rely on the government because who knows what could happen there here are young people who are looking 40 years down the road at retirement.

Me:  yes.

Vittal:  and especially today that we have a pandemic and govt economic slowdown then third is opportunities that are unique to each and every one of us everyone has a unique set of skills knowledge relationships reputation and these give each of us the ability to do something or to start a business that potentially nobody else can and so developing that and taking advantage of that opportunity is one of the drivers of entrepreneurship you get an Entrepreneurship

Me:we hear a lot one is the the positive motivational bout passion finding something that you’re interested in exciting about or excited but rather than trying to pursue a career there but we also hear that Entrepreneurship is very hard work it can be grueling sometimes overwhelming and so forth and so perseverance right is important and both passion and perseverance were central to your talk but an interplay between the two was  interesting how does that work

Vittal:  yes I see them as feeding on each other they don’t necessarily go together you can’t have one without the other for example if you have you can have passion with out skill and that is not likely to lead anywhere long-term I call it a passing fancy or you can have skills out passion but that’s drudgery it isn’t likely to be very sustainable but the combination of the two is very powerful and they feed on each other I call that combination flow some people call it flourishing it goes by different names but examples of passion driving skills are when you are so deeply engaged by an activity or a subject that you spend so much time with that that the hours go by like minutes

yes: right

Vittal:  there your passion is driving perseverance it’s making perseverance easy another an alternative example is  your manager  driving passion there you could if you just dedicate yourself to working on or learning about a particular activity so that you start to get good at it and feel good doing it then that’s an example of perseverance making you or helping you become passionate about.

Me:  alright and make as you find out that you’re passionate about something that you wouldn’t have become passionate about had to do not persevered exactly it has a certain threshold and so on

Me: yeah very good a lot of your toppers are the middle part of your talk focused on personal psychology how many cases people can have self-defeating

Vittal: psychological happy habits rather but then also self empowering right psychological habits so one of the things for example you mentioned was being careful about negative thoughts

for example and how do you deal with negative thoughts of course we’re all going to have negative thoughts but what’s their place in in the process one of the things I say is never say anything negative about yourself and if you have to use the past tense that’s the way I used to be but it’s not the way I am now or it’s not the way I am going forward or it’s not the direction I’m going in I emphasize that there’s the brain is like the human brain is like an iceberg with only 20% of it consciously aware of the messages that come in and 80% of it unconscious and that unconscious mind is doing a lot of processing of messages and some of those messages that we repeat to ourselves again and again it accepts as truth and so a negative idea can turn into reality so we don’t want to repeat negative thoughts about ourselves that’ll hold us back so I suggest that for any negative hought that might creep into your mind think of a specific incident no matter how small where you did the opposite if it was at a party you put everybody else at ease if it was in a game you were the star and keep that specific incident in the four fold of your mind to think about it maybe write it down maybe describe it and detail maybe tell others about it and then let that push the negative thoughts out of that work with honest self-evaluation where sometimes it is appropriate to recognize that you do have deficiencies weaknesses you’ve made mistakes and you do have to confront those in order to learn from them so we don’t want to go down the road of denying that one’s weaknesses or that one has engaged in inappropriate behaviors or whatever so how do you balance what you were just saying with an honest to self evaluation including evaluation of weaknesses that you have well as I said it’s okay in the past tense this is what I’ve done before this is the way this is this was my performance okay before and maybe you can identify some improvement to that performance even since it happened if so great that’s progress already starting and then then you can talk about this is the direction I’m going in and this is what I plan to do in the future.

Me: what about decision making?

Vittal: play a very central role including others in the decisions delegating decisions trusting others to make the right decision and treating each other people other or the others and respectfully in the same way that he or she would like to be treated right so including criticism that criticism is constructive criticism not blame storming and all that usual stuff that you hear about something I often say is look for and find the good in the people around you this is something I look for another executives and and try to work on in myself and build on that good right no matter how small so just as it’s helpful to me to build on the small good things I’ve done so is it really good for others to have you and others recognize the good things they’ve done acknowledged them and that and built on them so then an important part of the entrepreneurs function is going to be selecting people who are in the team and their psychology and their attitudes right that they bring to it are also going to be adding to the mix so are you gonna people who have technical skill sets but they might not be the right social mix if they don’t have that same ability to control contribute positively positive feedback loops and so forth so there’s a lot there on the one hand you want to find people who have a positive mindset and who will can-do attitude and who will contribute to those cultural elements that we talked about that we did that we’ve just talked about and at the same time you don’t want to get everybody identical in the company because if everybody is identical then somebody isn’t necessary and the there are lots of ways to think about diversity the way that seems to be most valuable to any team

Me:  as far as I can tell is cognitive diversity any business team so how do different members of the team think about things are do they all

Vittal: what if some of the ways people can be different some people focus on the big picture some people focus on the individual components some people are more relationship and dealing with other people some people are more transactional and having a mix of those Different styles I think strengthens the team in fact Scott page at the University has done tests that find that diverse teams that are diverse in cognitively outperform teams that are stronger but less diverse more homogeneous cuz they’re double-edged sort of the cognitive diversity because then you have cognitive styles and they can clash right as well as being complementary to each other so as part of an additional level of management is being able to manage the clash constructively

Me:  yes and and I do think there’s you can go too far and thatthere’s an optimal middle ground.

Vittal: okay I think of them as three overlapping circles say like a Venn diagram if they’re two all overlapping that’s suboptimal but if they’re completely non overlapping the members of that team may have trouble working together

ME:  okay fair enough issues of money and funding obviously come up a lot in out of ownership right at all levels but particularly the the entry stage young people are often deter because they don’t think they can raise the funding or they don’t know how to think about the the funding process and you did have some advice about seeking funding but not until you’re ready all right so what does that mean when are you ready to seek funding

Vittal:  well I do think there are a finite number of times in a company’s life that are optimal for fundraising and they are right after the company has achieved a significant milestone that reduces risk to potential investors and when would those times be well typically Well here’s some examples if you are profitable that eliminates the risk that you can generate revenue if you can generate revenue that eliminates the risk that you can get customers if you have customers that eliminates the risk that your prototype works and if you have a working prototype that eliminates the risk that your idea can even be made to work in the first place so those are exempt of milestones that we probably be perceived as significant risk reducers by prospective investors of course the key question is how can a entrepreneur get to that point where they have reached one of those milestones that’s  perhaps take some funding just to get there and so I encourage them to look at all of their resources and so we fill out that chart that has lots of different types of assets on it you may have a spare bedroom great that means that I don’t have to rent an office I may have some computer equipment and access to the Internet great that means I don’t have to buy that equipment whatever a friends-and-family can provide initial funding I can be creative about how I engage others to get involved with the company I can perhaps offer a combination of stock and flexibility in addition to capital in that way get a desire hitting people who are enthusiastic about the product or the project right and so the conversation is necessarily lower but they’ll get more psychological rewards.

Me:so being creative in all those dimensions absolutely right toward the end you also talked about ethics which certainly as an ethics professor I found refreshing and you raised the provocative question about whether entrepreneurship is ethical particular essence in business ethics we don’t hear a lot about entrepreneurship  so what – or your thoughts there

Vittal: I do think it is one of the most ethical career choices you can make and let me explain why I say that first of all we as you said we don’t often hear about entrepreneurship what do we hear about we hear about corporate philanthropy as being very ethical we hear about graft and corruption and theft as being unethical I don’t disagree with either of those but I don’t think it’s the whole story and I don’t even think it’s the most important part of the story and helpful to look at the stages of the entrepreneurial process what does it require for somebody to become anpreneur well they have to have an idea which they have to develop that takes rationality creativity persistence they have to have the courage to strike out on their own that takes courage they have to have intellectual honesty to reject an idea for which there’s no customer demand as I eventually was forced to do with my first company when I after six months finally accepted the fact there was no customer demand for a cool new technology called conditional voting and you have to create win wins with your employees with your customers or else they’re not going to deal with you they’re going to go somewhere else so all of these qualities in an individual that entrepreneurship demands our qualities

Me:  I think it’s fair to say we’d like to see in the people around us our neighbors and our co-workers now consider the social benefits that entrepreneurship generates.

Vittal: it’s impossible to be successful as an entrepreneur without making the world a better place by creating more choice more innovation lower costs or some combination of the above because again if people don’t feel their world is going to be made better by your product or service they don’t have to buy answer they’re going to go elsewhere similarly all of your stakeholders the employees shareholders and customers and partners have to their worlds have to be made better or else they’re going to go elsewhere so both individually and socially I see lots of qualities that we’d like in our co-workers and neighbors that entrepreneurship brings out in the people around us and which entrepreneurship demands if you’re going to be sick festival at it and if you stand back and look at the tens of millions of entrepreneurs around the world  who are all serving customer needs and creating these win wins and innovating they are driving improvements in quality of life standard of living and economic growth around the world and all that is deeply ethical absolutely and and incidentally guess what’s funding most of the philanthropy  in the world entrepreneurship right so given all of those factors

Me:I rest my case that entrepreneurship is among the most ethical career choices you can make so as an individual entrepreneurship require certain virtues of character for the venture to succeed it has to be a network of win-win relationships that are developed those make the world a Better place in a number of respects Including philanthropy because of all of the extra wealth that it generates all thanks Very much for your time sir,

Thank you