I read a post by Om Malik, the founder of GigaOm with the title “Patterns and Fallacies: Why they have no place in silicon valley“, it is a great read. I can empathize with Om, I moved to the US to pursue my graduate study in Louisiana State University. I had to take an English Writing and Speech test as I was a recipient of the University Graduate Assistance Program. I had learnt english all my life and as far as I can remember my instructions were all in english, and here I was taking the english test in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I passed the written english test with flying colors (it was just a pass/fail grade :)) but I had to take English as a spoken language class in the first semester. I was just dumbfounded, here I was thinking in English but the University thought my spoken english was not good enough. I took the class, met some wonderful international students and made some great friends as well, but what was interesting during the class was that all the students were made to change their accent that students in Louisiana would understand. “Go slow on the drawwwl”, you became “you’all” and many nuances of living in the South. It was fun and I learnt a lot. But coming back to our topic of Patterns and Fallacies, we tend to make decisions based on patterns, it is wired into our system. There is no fighting it, I have seen this with investors all the time…
The good investors (read seasoned ones with battle scars) see beyond the patterns and try to learn about the entrepreneur, spend time with them and understand where they are coming from etc. and then there are some investors who basically jerk you around for months and give you all kinds of signals that they are interested in your company and then flip you the finger. Rejection is a bummer but you know what life goes on. As an entrepreneur you need to handle rejection graciously, accept it as a signal that you are doing something wrong, learn from it and focus on your Circle of Influence. I have written about a good way to handle rejection. Whenever I get a No for any pitch that I am making, I get doubly motivated actually I get really excited because this is the challenge that I love. I love to prove the nay sayers wrong, is’nt that what it means to be an entrepreneur? I remember the time when we were going around meeting all the investors raising money for CLARA the startup that I invested in and recently got acquired by Jive Software… there were so many nay sayers, but in the end we proved all of them wrong, it was such a sweet victory. Sure we were lucky, but it would have not happened if we had not worked so hard to continue on for another day.
The message from this post is quite simple, if you starting to follow patterns and make decision just based on those… Stop, ask yourself is it a fallacy or you are really seeing a pattern. The problem with patterns is that it is very subjective, anecdotal and we don’t have enough data to draw broad conclusions. Our instincts are definitely something to rely on but reach deep inside and ask yourself some tough questions. If you are an investor, don’t jerk entrepreneurs around and keep them hanging… make up your mind quickly and follow through. I know I know I am contradicting myself by saying don’t follow patterns but act quickly… I never said this was easy. I know what works for me, I am in it to help entrepreneurs. I get intrinsic motivation by being of service to the entrepreneurial community and that is good enough for me. I don’t try to pick winners and I don’t try to act like I know it all because I don’t. If you are an entrepreneur and need help reach out to me I will try my best to help you.
To all investors out there help the entrepreneurs win, and if you focus on that you will win. Be humble and don’t act like you know it all, because no-one does. It is the hard work of the entrepreneur and the investors that makes companies succeed. You need luck but what I have found out is that the harder I work the luckier I get…
- Too Damn Sure: The Epidemiologist Fallacy (wmbriggs.com)
- Patterns & fallacies: Why they have no place in my Silicon Valley (gigaom.com)
- The Fallacies of Big Data (web2.sys-con.com)
- Logical Fallacies (lokogogodjc.wordpress.com)
- Genus, Division, & the Straw Man Fallacy (kkennyblog.wordpress.com)