For My Grandchildren

Advice from my grandfather for me and my siblings, circa 2005. It’s been over ten years since he handed this to me after I taught him how to type on a computer, and I hope I live to pass it down to my children and grandchildren.

For My Grandchildren (July 2005)

Believe in God almighty and always trust in God almighty.

Do not forget your origins.

Do not waste your time.

Do not put off ’til tomorrow what you can do today.

Do not postpone your work for tomorrow as tomorrow never comes: A man who is destined for success makes every minute useful of his life.

Avoid laziness and always be a careful person.

Concentrate on your studies.

For success, following elements are absolutely necessary:

  • Seriousness and concentration
  • Learning and practicing
  • Revisions
  • Concerted efforts
  • Scan everything: what, why and how?

Make your self strong:

  • Physically
  • Mentally
  • Financially

Change/Make your fortune yourself by working hard

You all brothers and sisters give respect to each other and extend help to each other at every moment.

Give unlimited respect to your parents and be kind and sympathetic with them.

Remember, as you sue, so shall you reap.

Give due respect to every human being and help them.

Be patient. Patience makes everything possible.

Take care of your health. Do not forget to exercise and walk.

Attend the library daily for hours and also borrow books for reading at home.

Do not take rest until your good is better and better is the best.

Muhammad Iqbal Malik

Undesirable experiences

A wise friend of mine told me this yesterday:

You are moving, life is moving, the universe is moving. Who you are today is vastly different than who you were yesterday. Our problems come when we try to make today like yesterday and tomorrow like today.

That made me think of the concept of post-traumatic growth (read about it some time back in “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor). The fact that growth—and another concept he calls “falling upwards”—come from undesirable experiences.

Entering a crowded market

“Don’t be afraid to enter a crowded market – just be better than everybody else.” — Bob Parsons, GoDaddy

I once met a man who emigrated to the US from Mexico with basically nothing, then eventually became a Porsche-driving millionaire. His industry? Shipping palettes.

His message was the same: in a crowded market, there’s always room for one more.

Failing before beginning

In the early part of the scientific revolution, Francis Bacon said:

Man cannot do what has never been done, except by means not yet tried.

My understanding is that there are two parts to this; the means and the ends. Succeeding means getting both parts right. The fact that a field is littered with failed attempts doesn’t mean that the aim is unobtainable, or not worth obtaining. Nor does it mean that unconventional thinking is the key to success. It can just as easily be the key to new varieties of failure.

What it does mean, I think, is that taking conventional approaches to unsolved problems is a sure way to fail before you’ve even begun.

Summly’s founder on competition (2012)

17-year old Nick D’Aloisio’s news reading app Summly was acquired by Yahoo last month for $30 million. Matthew Bishop interviewed D’Aloisio at DLDMunich in January of 2012, a little over a year before the acquisition. When asked, “Why can’t Google, with their vast team of engineers, simply knock off what you’ve done and drive you out of business?” He replied:

There aren’t really any real competitors in the summarization space yet. They all keep getting bought out. I’m not worried about Google doing it themselves. For the money they could spend to buy us and implement us, it would be much more worthwhile than hiring 50 PhD guys. We’re already in the front so they would have to play catch up. So, what’s to say we don’t sell to their competitor and suddenly it gets implemented overnight into all these devices, Google’s lost out. I think they realize that if they want to get into the space, they may as well look for other services; either us or one they feel is most appropriate for their business needs.

Later, he added:

The bigger the corporation the less the innovation. It’s really true.

Despite the contradictions in his statements throughout the interview, it seems like D’Aloisio was hoping for a bidding war between Yahoo and Google for his company from the beginning.

Dear failed entrepreneur

You failed, it sucks and it wasn’t your fault.

Investors saw an opportunity the same way you saw one, that’s their game, its a numbers game for them. They invest in lots of promises, they win some, loose more but the wins cover the losses so don’t worry about them.

You did your best and that’s all that matters; the rest was beyond your control.

People fail like you every single day. In fact, almost every successful entrepreneur has a CV of failure much longer than you would have guessed, but no one ever talks about these failures; by the time they hit their big win, the failures are long forgotten.

Only the successes ever make it to TechCrunch and hardly anyone ever gets there on their first try.

So stop beating yourself up; get up, dust-off your shoulders and get to work on your next gig. When you reflect on this experience as you work on your next startup, you’ll be able to see just how much you’ve learnt from this failure and maybe even be able to appreciate it.

Keep tossing the coin and your win, your success, will come soon. You haven’t failed until you quit.

Best of luck.

Happy 3rd Birthday to Sameer’s Eats

Three years ago on this day, my buddy Sameer and I released our very first episode of Sameer’s Eats, a fun and quirky web show highlighting some of our favorite halal restaurants. Since then, we’ve traveled all around the country, discovered new places, made new partnerships and met some incredible people along the way. As we approach nearly 200,000 views with an actively increasing audience from around the world, I’m humbly thankful to our loyal supporters and ambitiously looking forward to growing Sameer’s Eats into something far beyond just another web show.

Below is our first episode featuring one of our favorite restaurants to date, Kabab Paradise.

P.S. If you haven’t heard, we recently announced the Sameer’s Eats Halal Food Tour.

Delicious optimism

Some months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who happens to be an attorney. I used the term “entrepreneurial spirit” when describing my advised solution to a business problem at the center of our discussion.

He started to laugh and replied, “I don’t have that gene.” I will never forget what he said next. He said, “you entrepreneurs have this ‘Delicious Optimism’ — this knowing beyond knowledge that every problem is solvable if you just ‘spray on’ a little entrepreneurial thinking.” I remember this vividly because it stopped me in my tracks.

He was right. I have always been a glass-half-full kind of person and I generally believe that there is a winning outcome to virtually any scenario as long as you are creative, have a vision, and you execute on that vision.

But here I was talking to a major litigator — a man with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of everything that can and probably will go wrong. He gets a daily exposure to humanity at its worst; stealing, lying, being greedy, taking the easy way out, cheating on their partners, hiding their mistakes, etc.

He reframed again, admitting candidly that he actually admired “Delicious Optimism” and wished he had it. Just as I was starting to feel self conscious and even a little bit foolish, he clarified and asserted, “No, the world needs folks like you…society wouldn’t advance without people who take on risk fully expecting the best possible outcome.” I joked by saying, “Of course you like that mindset. It’s the source of your bread and butter.” On that, we shared a good laugh.

But it was the first time someone really pointed out to me that there was something intrinsically different about how entrepreneurs think. He referred to it as a gene which works for me because, while I am certain it can be developed and refined, I think it is something you’re either born with or you’re not. Some people simply aren’t built to be entrepreneurs and this attribute is the key identifier.

I don’t want to live in a world where everyone assumes the worst and trust is a fantasy. Even if it is borderline delusional, I enjoy living in the worldview that we are always evolving and improving — that our finest days are still ahead.

Outside of that view, I think I would find it hard to get up in the morning much less accomplish anything worth noting. I prefer being one of those folks, like Warren Buffett, when he famously wrote that everyday he “tap dances to work.” That’s “Delicious Optimism” for you right there.