Cherish the people in your life – a new year lesson

Having recently traveled overseas, the wife and I have been struggling with jet lag. In an attempt to stay awake, yet warm we snuggled up on the couch and tried to find something good to watch. Mr. Church was what we ended up watching. Many times before the movie ended, my wife said, “This is one of the best movies I’ve seen. No movie has affected me like this.”

As with every family or even any two people, we struggle to find movies or shows that we’d both enjoy. The one thing we’ve learnt is that reviews do little for us. Silence, one of the worst movies we’d ever caught had a high Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic score. On the other hand Mr. Church had a poor Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes score. We’ve found escapist fare, preferably not something that will drag us down (Season 3 of Wanted) and short (90 minutes or less) is what works for us. So when we tuned into Mr. Church we weren’t sure what to expect, and were fully prepared to abandon it to our second choice, if it failed to hold us.

Mr. Church didn’t fail us—it held us enthralled. Both of us found ourselves getting drawn in and teary and a little choked up in places. Above all, we’d inadvertently learned our first lesson of 2019.

We are so blessed for all the wonderful people in our lives.

We need to cherish the people—our neighbors in Bangalore and Columbus, our children and parents, family—the numerous cousins, classmates and colleagues in our lives. And for just being there.

As entrepreneurs, I know we’ve all certainly taken people for granted. Whether our partners, employees, advisors, partners or suppliers. Even when we’ve been appreciative of them, we’ve not appreciated the people in our personal lives.

Mr. Church, with its simple, yet moving story of the two protagonists reminded us to be grateful for the blessing that people in our lives are. We couldn’t have started the new year better

Four Things Entrepreneurs Can Do (More of) to Win

In 45BC, Julius Caesar decreed the Julian Calendar. This formalized the then-new trend, that a calendar year begin in January—which for centuries before had started in March. Little did Caesar know that two millennia later, even with the minor modifications of the Gregorian calendar, the world at large would use this time to take stock.

With our own startup still finding its feet and so many good friends looking for jobs, I thought it might be appropriate to look at what entrepeneurs can do in 2009 to win. Even for those of you lucky enough to have a job, as Tom Peters said many years ago, you are the CEO of Me, Inc. and may want to check these out.

So here are 4 things that entrepreneurs need to do more of in 2009

[a] Give – as in contribute freely, your knowledge and at least some of your time. Start with your employees, who may be worried about the company, their own jobs and unclear how best to contribute. Share your learnings with peers in your trade organizations, with customers and prospects – be it in a blog, newsletter or a speech. At the very least, you will realize that you are not in half as bad a situation as many others are. Giving is not only psychically fulfilling but is an investment in your own future that makes just plain good business. And on any given day, giving need not take more time than a longish lunch break!

[b] Reach out – get out in the field, in front of prospects & customers every other day. This means you—not just your marketing or sales person. You can’t talk to customers too much (in a single meeting you can, but then you may never be called back!) The silver lining in a downturn is that customers have time to talk. So reach out. You can start by calling on all those folks you haven’t connected with, just this last year, and work all the way back to those you haven’t spoken to since high school! Remember you are not trying to sell, but to connect.

[c] Listen – having reached out, it is important to listen. You would be surprised at the insights that arise when we truly listen to our customers. Often customer themselves gain clarity when they talk and so many of our own assumptions get uncovered and prove to be baseless. Listening requires both preparation as well as asking clarifying questions. Only those of us who do this well will get invited back.

[d] Simplify – this is a great time to simplify everything about our business and jobs. Simplify your products, your collateral, your sales pitch, your internal systems, your website – you get the picture. Make it easier for people to find you, to understand what it is you do, why you do it better than anyone else and why buying from you and using your products is going to simplify your customers’ own life and work. Simple is not easy – simple is hard! So the sooner you start the better.

In a downturn it’s easy to batten down the hatches and focus on the numbers – which is important, but we are never going to dig ourselves out of a hole, let alone grow or thrive with just a defensive game. So it is important to stay the course with Giving, Reaching out, Listening & Simplifying (GRLS). While this sounds like a lot of work, it is not. GRLS require passion, planning and perseverance – but aren’t these the very reasons you got into business in the first place?

You might want to check out the following two articles for interesting takes on this topic.