Founders in Silicon Valley are usually quite articulate about their experiences. They get interviewed all the time, which is why we learn a lot about what’s happening within these startups. It’s a mature ecosystem, and founders are happy to share both their highlights and their lowlights.
Unfortunately, Indian founders are still very reticent, and it’s very hard to figure out what’s happening within the company. They play with their cards close to their chest, and I’m not sure why they bottle up these secrets. Why aren’t they willing to be more open ? They don’t need to share proprietary information, but the truth is that a founder learns something new every single day, because he has to deal with multiple challenges. Sharing these learnings with others can be extremely helpful.
For one thing, it helps the founder to internalize the lesson, because once he’s written down everything he’s been through, the learning is deeply etched in his mind. It becomes part of his IP – his magic sauce! Writing down what the problem was; what the possible solutions could have been; why he chose a particular solution; and how it finally worked out (preferably in real-time ) , helps him to think through the options much more clearly. Not only does this allow him to analyse what he did and why, but it also allows him to speculate about what other paths he could have explored. This helps to seal the lessons in his mind , so that he becomes a much smarter founder the next time he ( or his team) needs to deal with a similar problem.
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The right time to share these lessons is when they are still fresh in his mind. As time goes by, memories get distorted , and they fade. The founder is tempted to provide a more sanitized version of what the reality was, and this distorts the lessons.
I tell founders that they need to chronicle these war stories, not only in order to help other founders succeed, but also to establish a brand for themselves. Investors can see that you’re articulate, frank, have an opinion, and are courageous enough to share it. Also, these are great war stories you can share with your grand-children!
Founders are busy, and many don’t think this is a priority for them. They should do this for selfish reasons , because the best way to help yourself is to help others. Founders just need to be disciplined, and record their learnings every day, before going to bed, or while travelling back home. This helps their brain to review what transpired, and this technique will allow new solutions to bubble up from their subconscious when they are sleeping.