In the village, of course. My Indian village in the jungle features 23 kinds of snakes, some scorpions and salamandras. When I walk along the rice patties I can hear myself think - it’s that quiet. On the coast there is evidence of internet signal from the far away cell phone tower. At 1 MB per second it’s slower than a tandoori oven. Now I really think before checking that email. How did I end up here?
Isn’t it a great idea to start this new blog with a story of my $100, 000 failure? My Kickstarter campaign to publish “Becoming an Entrepreneur” to put it nicely was not as successful as hoped. 1000 supporters backed the campaign for over $16,000 - but the goal was to raise $100, 000. (I am still publishing the book through a traditional publisher.) But since I have never failed so big before, I wanted to get something out of the failure itself.
The first thing that came to mind was regret. I could regret not setting a lower goal… Nah, then the book would be nothing like I wanted. After the regrets passed then came the realization that I was free to do anything again. I was back to zero, and for some reason it started to feel good. Strange.
One thing failure did was wipe the slate clean. I had no obligations since Kickstarter refunded all backers. I could even give up on it all. But was there a hidden opportunity in having nothing? I thought, yes. I finally had nothing to lose. That in itself was valuable. This was not an intuitive discovery for me. If you think logically, saying that failure is good because it puts you back to zero, as opposed to having something is likely saying that zero is more than a positive number. Obviously mathematically the idea is wrong.
But it felt right. For a startup, and for life in general. A small success is worse than a big failure. As long as you are shooting for your REAL goal as opposed to a stepping stone of some sort - it’s all or nothing. Otherwise life becomes a series of stepping stones, often leading to a place you didn’t want to go. But how do I know this?
I had to live through it. Unintentionally.
If you run a serious Kickstarter campaign, you invest at least 2 months of time from start to finish. You tell everyone about it. Whether you fail or succeed everyone will know. Here I was with basically nothing at the end, except an opportunity to pivot, and hopefully become the next best-seller.
- Figure out what I was doing wrong (What I was doing wrong was that I let myself experience an information overload.)
- I had to change something (Unload and become productive again. I chose to go to a pre-internet destination for that.)
- I had to do it over again (Redefine the book, and redo the campaign.)
Basically, it was a life pivot. I needed to redesign my life to get rid of my information overload and become more productive. Failure made it easier to say good-bye to a lot of things that before I thought were really important.
Here is what I changed:
- My use of the internet - no browsing until work is done for the day. Not even I really need to just Google one little thing. This way I can figure out what I am really thinking.
- No access to fast unlimited internet - I don’t need it to get work done. I found a pre-internet era location in rural India. I am here now.
- No extra clothes I don’t wear and stuff I don’t use - I sold expensive clothes and threw out the other stuff. Having two outfits makes it easy to decide what to wear, not that it even matters in this village.
- No access to information that is not crucial for my current project - politics, celebrities, parties, and distant acquaintances, etc
The goal is to focus the mind on one thing only - the book itself. True focus is a luxury in the age of global information overload. Having that luxury is paying off - my productivity had doubled since the pivot.
Fail. Learn. Reset. The next time around you can set your goal as high as you want.
keeping it cool in the heat