Appearances, looks and its effects on Sales

Remember everything is Sales, if you have to persuade someone to something you’d like.

But also remember this.

APPEARANCES Creates Baseline Trust: If you had to ask someone to watch your bags at the airport, would you choose the unshaven dude or the man in a  business suit responding to emails on his phone? Naturally you choose the person in the suit. The reason why appearances creates trust is, if someone has a “got his stuff together approach” they have no interest in desperately taking anything from you because they don’t need to. Go find a posh neighborhood… then go find a unkempt neighborhood… then ask yourself… Do I trust the people that surround me?

For the astute reader, you’re going to realize you feel slightly uncomfortable asking the man in the suit to watch your bags compared to the questionable unshaven young man. Why? You realize his time is valuable. Similarly, people negotiate less with you if you have a ” I have my shit together ” approach and surprisingly have your way much more often than you thought possible.

This idea can be very analogously applied to Cash and wealth, from where I picked it up.

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What does it mean to be outcome independent?

The only reason to do something is if you enjoy it . The process and the pleasure / pain it gives you .
Not the goal.
Not the outcome .
Not the result.

But the process itself and happiness / suffering it brings.

The goals and results with deadlines should serve as a marker to better gauge yourself and to know yourself better and to set your actions in the right direction but not the determinant in themselves.

If you don’t enjoy the process , then it’s just not worth it. But if you do, we can truly become outcome independent and keep working at it till we start to enjoy and revel in the expertise .

Over time we will start achieving those goals , but only as a side effect and we would be better able to gauge ourselves , strengths and weaknesses and thus set more achievable stretch goals and thus put the “happiness experience ” that we are so good at , on an ever expanding virtuous cycle.

So revel in the moment , enjoy the process , if you don’t look forward to doing something or aren’t constantly thinking about something , then you don’t enjoy the process . You should delegate it to someone who does .

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Some thoughts I am wrestling with

I am really interested in a wide variety of industries – Renewables, ( Solar, Offshore wind, Nuclear Fusion, BIPVs ), Nuclear powered Shipping and its infrastructure,  and EVs in general. But am also drawn to the entertainment industry- the convergence of Modelling, Fashion labels and luxury, Hotels , Bars and Pubs – how this industry “brands” and “creates” the perception of beauty, shapes the mass psychology and ‘awards’ value to a product as mundane as a sweater that costs $100 but is sold at $100,000 , about as much as a TESLA Roadster. It fascinates me to no end and I would love to be a part of that  industry in my life time as ‘Persuasion’ is a subject very close to my heart.

But that being said, I am also fascinated by technologies that “sustain” like Terra-farming, barren terrain reclamation, floating cities, Cancer Cures,  and technologies that “expand” like SpaceX’s mission , Androids and robotics, AI . But all expansion is only possible from a sustainable platform. 

If I am at-least half as lucky as I would like to be, I would want to be involved in at the  least half of these above mentioned industries in my lifetime. 

Which in turn gives rise to my interests in how the Koreans and Japs have created Chaebols and Keiratsu, a very resilient  set of diverse companies with complex cross-holdings but rendering the Chairman with great control. Very interesting. 

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Why should I choose you- asked a VC?

I was engrossed in a deep conversation with a VC yesterday for some fund raising advice – who all of a sudden pointed to a newspaper cut out on a recent competitor who got funded. Apparently the highest in our industry so far. 

Then he looked at me and said – ” I  think the game is over. They are the Flipkart of Solar.” 

I just looked at him and I didn’t know whether he was being serious with that question or just trying to stress test me. Lets hope he was only trying to stress test me harmlessly.

I believe in a unique concept. That I am aggregating zealots who will witness what monumental change looks like from the front lines , when they get on-board SolarTown and I need them to be respectful of that fact. Not towards me or the company, mind you. But towards renewables as a whole and Indian market in specific. 

I needed them to have their hearts, souls and minds deep into the industry , to know the market pulse and to understand where we are, where we will be and where we are going. I need them to KNOW the basics of our terrain before engaging the frontlines.

From a prospective VC, I needed three things :

1. The ability to intuitively understand the Indian Distributed solar market , where it is, where value can be created and where not.

2. The ability to connect me or open gates. As an entrepreneur, I had like to believe that I am very very good at wedging open even the gates of heaven, once I have my foot in the door and thats what I need them to get me. Be it prospective hires, potential partners or future Series B investors.

3. Track-record. I would choose ,preferably, those Series A firms ( or at least the partners ) who can display credible track record in helping a company get to that next level like Series B participation following it up with a $10m+ round. I need money.Yes. But smart money. 

But getting back to the VC gauging me , while I was gauging him, I came back to him with an answer : ” To take the performance graph vs time of the company you mentioned vs Us. We have done in 3 years  what it took them double time  to achieve. When you compound that rate of growth over the next decade, you can see the momentum that will make our lead in market share. Besides all this talk about market share is futile right about now, the mainstream solar market i.e. residential is not even viable till 2017 mostly. What companies should be doing now is sharpening their blades and getting to understand what will or will not work. The time to go to war will come but that is  not now.” 

Lets hope he does a little more leaning in on the market and he is able to check a few of those three boxes over the coming months.

 

Posted in distributed generation, fundraising, solar, solartown, startups, VC | Leave a comment

To keep marching

Sometimes its too much to take.

All the load and all the expectations, others’ too but more importantly my own.  It feels like the weight of the thousand earths on your shoulder to bear. Darkness clouds my eyes from all directions as I think about the gargantuan task that lies ahead. 

I look at my decade’s goals and they appear impossible. 

I plan the year ending with a scary goal.
I get scared looking at the goal and all the unforeseen obstacles that arise.
Then I plan the month. I am a little less scared.
Then the week. 
Then tomorrow. 

I take one step ahead of the other. I condition my mind to do the unpleasurable. I condition my mind to talk the right things that I feel are right. I condition myself to avoid social niceties – the root cause of mediocrity and the fear of embarrassment. I condition myself to just f*king execute the day’s plan , whether or not I feel like it. “Feeling like it” is irrelevant . Totally disconnected from hope, enthusiasm, motivation, fatigue and its peers. 

Similarly perfection is over-rated. To violently execute rather than languish in planned hesitation. That is my everyday theme. So I force myself to get on with it. To make that last phone call. To write that last e-mail. To bullet the last slide on the tomorrow’s PPT. There is a reason its called “Entrepreneurshit” and its not all pretty. 

Whether I succeed or fail, I know I stood tall for a cause I believed in . I know I didn’t let my intention to manifest a Clean powered world die and fade away inside me. I know I shall not lay down and die and will go down swinging if I have to , on my glorious burden to make sure that renewable powered world comes to life.

I know I will keep marching , regardless of whether I get to where I want to, because some causes are even worth failing for. I know I would have succeeded either way , because my place will never be among those cold and timid souls, who know neither victory nor defeat. 

So I tip my hat , to those who have the courage , to Just keep marching.

 

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Belief systems and the limit of what’s possible.

Today , while hitting the weights hard , I was contemplating the reason behind why I believe what I believe and why don’t my parents believe in some of my audacious dreams.

The reason might be as simple as information disparity.

Let me explain , since the dawn of the great equaliser: the internet, this generation has access to any of the great examples that man kind has to offer. So you can witness men from history who give you a glimpse of what you can be if you try hard enough . You know its possible because you know they exist. But your parents don’t, they don’t have enough exposure or information at their disposal to challenge their limiting beliefs, which brings me to my next question.

Are we limited to achieve anything , only because we haven’t seen anyone else do it yet. What about the men pre-internet who set out to do things that no man has done before. Then it all comes down to what we internally define as ‘limits’ then , doesn’t it? What if we decide to say ‘so what?’

” so what if there are no example? I will set the first one “

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Strategy is fun

I have always felt that business strategy is like chess. It’s my favourite subject in business. To frame strategy , execute it, adapt to it on the fly and win. The last part is the most fun part.

Except that here, unlike chess, you have externalities ( governments, people, markets, disruptive tech) by the truckloads, like playing chess while white-water rafting. If you enjoy both those sports, you would probably enjoy business strategy.

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The only quality you need to look for in a founder

As I have come to meet many people in this startup journey, I have come to realise something key. Something that will stick with me, for long as I live.

The only thing that matters to succeed is to be “maniacally determined”.

There. Thats the only quality required for a founder/ cofounder/ founding team / star employee.

Everything else, and I mean every single freaking thing else, follows suit.

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Commitment, Will power and determination

Too many people take too many things flippantly. 

In the words of scarface ” There are only two things you shouldn’t break  for anybody – your Word and your Balls”

When he said Balls , what he really means is Honour.

Your word and your honour mean a lot, the pillars/ foundations of your whole life. They set your reputation in stone for the rest of your life. But too many people do break them and thereby they fail to stand for anything at all, floating away like dustballs in deserts unable to withstand storms in their lives.

There are good reasons and bad reasons to keep your word. Rather, the spirit of your promise should be held even if not the exact same description. But breaking the spirit of the promise , just so you can save your own ass is something I am not a great fan of. We all face obstacles, but those obstacles are not good reasons to break your word. You should train to beat obstacles. It is the nature of this race called Life.

Watch this , if you dont believe me
 

 

 

 

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The finity of time, energy and attention

I’d like to keep this post simple and uncomplicated in bullet points.

I believe that we have finite time, attention and energy in our lives and it is upto us to make sure how we optimise the usage of these in order to design the lives we want. 

At the starting of one’s career, even  if one has a lot of potential, we are deemed to be – “unproven” , so to speak. So you need to make your bones first , as the wisdom goes. For an entrepreneur, that means your first success. Without this, you can forget your planned progression to a serial entrepreneur. Serial “successful” Entrepreneur. (As much as I  agree failure is a better teacher, nothing succeeds like success and there is only so much you can learn from repeated failures unless you become sick of failing anymore )

So its ultra-essential that if you intend to change the world for the better, then you better, work your ass off on your first venture and become a 100hr workweek-obsessive-messianic leader if need be. So work is the first and foremost priority you need to take on. This will take care of your basic financial health.

If you are like me, then I don’t take any commitment weakly and so I keep commitments to a very small minimum and give it all I got. I enter a department making up my mind to become the absolute best in what I intend to do, say top 5% in the world. Its Hard. But its fun because I take up things that, I like to think, make me better and better. One aspect/ passion of my life compounding into another and creates a unique powerful arsenal to take on challenges and thus improve my odds of changing this world.

So as I have figured out, in this phase of my life, I have room for only three things that I am working on for the next 5 years where I intend to become the absolute best at, i.e. top 5% in the world –

1.My first and only venture ( SolarTown )

2. Fitness

3. Social skills

I will blog about the first two here extensively. Maybe I can learn from the incoming inbound readers about how I can improve more on these two. Maybe I will help another person to take up his long and arduous journey , just like I used to find inspiration from Mark Cuban‘s posts, although I am no Mark Cuban. Just doing my best to be my best for now. But most importantly, I do this for myself , since writing gives me an enormous clarity of thought and feels almost therapeutic about my courses of actions. 

So here goes.

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