Art of UnLearning,the must-have trait for Entrepreneurs

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” -Alvin Toffler One of the reasons why many startups fail to cross the chasm is founder’s ability to unlearn and relearn. If you have been working in corporate world, you were used to certain ways of conducting business, a certain respect that you commanded in the industry (especially with vendors).

“Two things seemed pretty apparent to me. One was that in order to be a pilot a man had to learn more than any one man ought to learn; and the other was that he must learn it all over again in a different way every 24 hours.” Mark Twain

One of the reasons why many startups fail to cross the chasm is founder’s ability to unlearn and relearn.

UnLearning in Progress
UnLearning in Progress

If you have been working in corporate world, you were used to certain ways of conducting business, a certain respect that you commanded in the industry (especially with vendors).

And the moment you step out of your designation, you lose all of the softer perks associated with the designation.

When you start-up, you again have to build the same level of credibility – you were earlier respected as ‘Engineering Manager @ BIG firm’ and now, you need to build credibility as ‘Founder of an unknown company’.

Vendors, who earlier danced at your fingertips, now needs a lot more follow-up (they do not care to answer your phone). While you were respected for all your experience in the industry (for instance as a Business Intelligence guru), one day you find out that you are nobody!

Recently, I met an entrepreneur (a super successful guy in his corporate life), who has been running his venture for the last three years, started with certain hypothesis, failed at few initiatives(actually most) and this is what he said –

It took me a year to unlearn myself and start afresh. All of the relationship building had to start from a different perspective (as CEO). Most importantly, I had to stop thinking of myself as ‘why would some IITian do such a crappy operational job?’. Why would Ex-Director of a BIG firm run after these small vendors?’

My notion of ‘I-know-it-all‘ fell flat, but it took me a while to realize this.

Sometimes it’s one’s ego that prohibits one to unlearn the past. Letting  go of the baggage seems to be the most difficult part.

Have you also experienced something similar?

[Article sponsored by Sun Startup Essentials.]

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