The Week in Review #34: I am Legend

At the end of July I introduced you to HearthStone. I was on a quest to reach Legend status which is the reserved for the best players in the game. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to hit my goal in July. I came very close, however my game had many flaws. In August I decided to get expert help and had a couple of coaching sessions from professional players. These sessions were helpful in highlighting mistakes that were costing me games.

With that advice and a lot of hard work I finally made it this month.

hearthstone legend

My final rank was #1530 at the end of the season. Out of the millions of players who play this game I am happy with that outcome. While playing the game was fun, the journey to legend helped highlight several relevant lessons that are applicable in life as well as business. Listed below are the top 10 lessons I took away from the process:

1. Learning to Focus: Recurring email notifications, instant messages and Facebook are very distracting. Each of them pulls us away from important tasks at hand. Learning to focus on a singular task and working to towards completing it are critical to your success. This lesson also applies to our inner desire as entrepreneurs to put our fingers in multiple pies. We need to pick a goal and work our way to ensuring we do whatever we can to complete it.

2. Knowledge of the Meta: Markets are constantly changing. Today messaging may be one of the hottest trends and tomorrow it could be virtual reality. If we are not able to keep up with market changes we are most certain to fall behind. During the last week of the month HearthStone released 132 new cards. This caused people to test new strategies and some existing tactics stopped working. If you were not able to adjust to the change it drastically impacted your ability to climb the ladder.

3. Taking part in the Community: Finding your community and actively taking part in it is critical to your success. If we decide to go it alone we are increasing the chances of making mistakes that could be avoided. My final push to legend this month happened because of the great content and advice provided my the professional HearthStone community. When I look back at my entrepreneurship community it has also been critical aspect of my growth. Seek out your tribe and become an active contributing member. This tip alone could make your career.

4. Playing Slowly & Thinking Through Options: All of us have deeply ingrained habits that determine our actions. It could be the way we respond to a competitive threat or an opportunity. I briefly touched about this in cockroach theory. A default reaction is very different from a calculated response. One of the mistakes I used to make while playing the game was going for the obvious play. This is one dimensional thinking and puts you at a severe disadvantage to forward thinking players. Playing your turns slowly and evaluating all options is necessary to play optimally.

5. Rolling with the Punches: It was the final game before I hit legend. My opponent was on the ropes and I was two turns away from victory. It felt good and then….the internet dropped. I lost the game and had to fight through another 3 long games to get back to where I was. The moment that happened I literally blew a fuse. A friend who was watching me play the match told me to take a break. That was great advice at that moment in time. In life we get dealt punches that seem to come out of no where. Our ability to take them and move forward is critical to our success.

6. Adjusting your Mindset: During the third week of the month I felt tired. I was making progress, yet it felt like a grind. I spoke to a friend who was also working towards legend. He told me that was the worst mindset I could have. If you aren’t having fun then I shouldn’t be playing. Looking back at that advice it seems so apt now. How many times in life do we get stuck in rut and complain about hard things are. This is the moment we need to evaluate our current position and our strategy. Have fun, enjoy the work you do and if something feels like a grind; it may be time to take a step back and evaluate where you are.

7. Coaching & Mentorship: As entrepreneurs we dream about the perfect mentor. The person who has already traveled the path we are on. We do our best to seek out these people. Hoping their wisdom will enable us to avoid mistakes and get to our destination faster. Anyone who doesn’t fit our image of who this person needs to be, gets left by the wayside. In our search for this elusive person, we often forget to pay attention to the people around us. The ones who are wanting to help us the most. Often it is the people who we least expect, to have the greatest impact on our lives.

8. Refining your Strategy: When something is clearly not working there will be signs. Customers may not be coming back, our product could be inferior or we may need to look into our marketing strategy. It is very easy to blame external forces for our bad luck. However if we keep doing the same thing and hoping for a different result, that is foolish thinking. Constantly evaluate your current strategy. Determine the pieces that are working and those that need tweaking. This is only possible when we are focused and are thinking through our options.

9. Painful Practice: In July I was frustrated. I was playing well but not getting the results I wanted. Looking back at my stats I was not playing enough to get to where I wanted to be. Everyone wants to find success. However it is the people who put in the time and energy to hone their skills that get to where they want to. If you want to be the very best you have to put in the hours needed. Every game I played, I learned something new. I still enjoyed the game as a whole, yet there were days when I wanted to give up. Having a clear goal and the support of my friends and mentors helped me pull through this period.

10. Tracking your Stats: How well is your business doing? What statistics are you using to benchmark it’s growth? Are those the best indicators of your progress? These are difficult questions all of us must answer. When I started playing the game it was just for fun. The day I installed a program to track my game play things changed. Mistakes I was making became apparent. I could review close games and see where I could have chosen a different line of play. If we adopt a similar strategy to our lives and business, I am sure we will see a marked improvement as well.

I hope to build upon this list in the coming weeks. In the meanwhile I wish everyone all the best and hope you have a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #16: A Call to be Extraordinary

What does success mean to you? I remember being asked that question by an uncle when I was barely 12 years old. It seemed like a straight forward question at the time. The world we live in does a great job of projecting what comprises of a successful life. It has the staples of working at a large company, married with kids and living in a beautiful home. Having these basics meant you are were all set for life. Our schools and education system are geared towards preaching this way of life. Resulting in a large majority of people spending their entire lives working towards some else’s perception of success.

In recent years something interesting has started to happen. We have transcended the basic requirements outlined by Abraham Maslow, leading us to question this definition of success. Everyday people are choosing to take the path less traveled. The one where we give ourselves the highest probability of living a life of greater significance. Where we care about something that is larger just ourselves and our selfish pursuits. The highlighted article does a great job of breaking success down and allowing us to see it through a variety of lenses.

We are living in exciting times. Where technology and science has enabled a single person to alter the way the world works. With the growing pains of humanity, we owe it the world and ourselves to dare to be extraordinary.

The Economics of You: A Call to Be Extraordinary “Personal value is very much tethered to not only how we view ourselves as being successful, but how we actually feel when we experience some form of success.” This quote stood out for me when I was reading through this great article. This article is a fantastic read and forces us to think about the life we are living. I hope you will take the time out to give it a read.

30 Startup Lessons Another one of my favorite types posts, where the author has outlined 30 lessons from the trenches. “The best startup pieces of advice I’ve found are stories from other founders. Taking the best out of them and learning is a continuous challenge.” I completely agree with this lesson. I always have an eye out for such stories and have learnt the most from them.

How to Failure-proof your Business with Customer Development This article is part of the evergreen series that runs every week. I find these posts very informative as the authors spend a lot of time curating the best links regarding the topic. This week it is all about how to validate your business before you get started. This is a process that is part art and part science. Lots of great resources and links are shared. A post every entrepreneur should bookmark for future reference.

3 Better Questions to Ask in User Interview This post builds on the article mentioned above. Asking the right questions during customer development is key. The three questions mentioned in this post will make sure you get started in the right direction.

Top Selling Techniques from 6 Sales Masters Sales is the life blood of any startup. This is a skill which is not taught at universities or school. We can only acquire it by doing the work and going out there and selling ourselves. Learning from the best is often a great way how to avoid amateur mistakes and this post provides six great takeaways. For someone just getting started with sales this is a great resource.

Focus Your Startup Marketing on the Mind, not the Product The stories we share about our startup can make or break our company. This post talks in great detail how to position your startup and story. Many new startups often forget about the narrative and purely focus on the features and benefit. The author shares some great examples to get your creative juices flowing.

How to Impress an Interviewer There are a host of articles written on how to ace an interview. While we are busy figuring out how we will answer the latest brain teasers, we often overlook the bigger picture. The author talks in great detail about the importance of self awareness in this post. She mentions a great process on how we can improve our level of self awareness. Whether you are applying for a job or going to be starting your own company, this is key to your future success.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

Overcoming the Execution Gap

With the new year in full swing, many of us may have set goals towards what we aspire to achieve in 2013. However, there is a big difference between setting goals and achieving them. Essentially the execution gap in the middle is where many fall. In 2013 you may want to become healthier, boost your business forward or write the book that you have always wanted to. These are good goals to work towards but in order to be truly committed about this we need to over come the execution gap.

Here are three steps to get you started:

Continue Reading….

Is it Urgent or Important?

Time management is one of the greatest challenges that entrepreneurs face. With a constant flux of incoming and outgoing requests, it often becomes difficult to focus on the long term. This results in short term wins, it does however leave the business at a long term disadvantage. I liked the video attached above. Compartmentalizing your day and ensuring that you put aside adequate time to think about long term implications of your decisions is critical.

Clearly Define Success

It is the first week of January. It is a time when we all have this blank slate in front of us, which is 2011. Our actions in this first month will however, have a major impact on what we end up achieving this year. I believe that New year resolutions are personal promises, made to ourselves, and can have long term benefits. During this period I also write down very specific goals of what success should look like this year in the businesses that I run.

We all hope to double our revenue growth, increase profit margins or get outside investment to accelerate our growth path. However, what you need to do is be realistic about where you are and what you can actually achieve this year. This can only happen by taking stock of where you are first. How did you do in 2010? What were your sales figures? What are your profit margins at? How many customers did you bring on and how many did you lose? Depending on your business, take key metrics and set specific and realistic goals that you will work towards in 2011.

Create a roadmap for 2011, this will help towards achieving a much higher probability of making meaningful strides towards growing your business to where you want it to go. This exercise beats pulling random numbers and lofty goals without taking into account whether they are achievable or not. Wishing all my readers the best of success in the new year!

5 Mistakes to Avoid as an Entrepreneur


As humans we are bound to make mistakes. What really impacts us negatively is, when we do not learn from our mistakes, and continue to repeat them over and over again. As entrepreneurs this can be very costly, in the end this is the reason why some of us succeed, and some do not. Listed below are some of the bigger mistakes I have made in the past, thankfully I have learned from them .

Not Listening: When we are on a roll, or think we know more than almost anyone else in the room, we make our biggest mistakes. When I was very young, my grandfather would tell me we have been given thirty teeth to guard one tongue, and two ears in wisdom and for a reason. I did not fully understand what he was saying till much later. However, after making a series of mistakes that could easily have been avoided by actually listening to some of my mentors, advisors and friends, instead of saying I knew it all and better, I began to truly appreciate the wisdom of those words.

Lack of Focus: Getting distracted is something I think entrepreneurs suffer from, more than anyone else. Any new project excites us to the extent that we drop whatever else we are doing, to move onto the next big thing. This leaves a trail of semi finished products/services that could have been so much more. My advice to all new entrepreneurs is, select one project and give it all that you have. Building one company successfully is a huge challenge. Make sure it gets your undivided attention.

Incorrect Niche Selection: This mistake hurts a lot ! If you get this one wrong, a domino effect follows. I repeatedly see entrepreneurs picking niches that are too small, or saturated. Doing your market research upfront, and picking the right niche , can be the difference between success and failure.

Cash Flow Mismanagement: Spending money is easy. Spending money wisely, is a long learning curve . Countless times I have seen new startups spend way too extravagantly in the beginning, well before they have any customer. As they progress, further mistakes made in mismanagement of credit terms and sales cycles, put enormous pressure on the company as a whole. Cash flows represent your life line in the world of entrepreneurship. Once it runs out, the end becomes almost inevitable.

Giving up too early/too late: If you have not read “The Dip” by Seth Godin, I strongly recommend you do so. First things first, startups on average take a minimum of 24 months to gather traction, make sure you can commit that much time to your venture. I see too many people quitting way to early when things do not go as planned. Get used to things not going as planned….if you cannot, I recommend you choose another line of work. On the other hand, when things are obviously not working after 36+ months, it may be wise to throw in the towel, analyze what went wrong, and learn from your mistakes.

These are some common mistakes that end up costing entrepreneurs dearly. Which mistakes would you add to this list ? I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Setting Revenue Targets


Earlier on I used to think that setting monetary revenue targets would help provide a tangible goal for everyone on the team to want to achieve. We all know we need sales and revenue to survive, but I thought putting a number to it would make it easier to imagine. The problem that occurred in this most of the time was, it constrained everyone on the team to a certain degree. If the target was $100k then we would be looking to close medium to larger sized accounts which would help us get to our target in time. If the targets were not challenging enough, the team would not really push itself to do the best they could. Finding the right number turned out to be a lot more challenging than we thought it would be.

When I began experimenting with not setting any revenue targets, and focusing instead on closing as much business as we could at regular intervals, things started to do a lot better. We began focusing on a couple of key accounts to gather momentum, and used that traction to push ourselves even harder the next time. On an average results started to get better, and the pressure of hitting specific numbers or achieving a quota was lifted. However, this strategy did not work with all types of teams. In order to keep pushing oneself, a certain amount of perseverance and self discipline is required. Some teams misuse the lack of accountability to not bring in required sales to keep the business alive. In this scenario, the story ends badly for everyone involved, as sales is the life blood of any business, without sales you cannot exist.

Even if one does not use specific revenue targets, I have found it useful to have team discussions on how many customers we need to close, in order to generate enough momentum to start closing at a faster pace. Does your business require one big reference customer which will make it easier for you to sell to the others? Do you need to show a certain track record with a number of implementations before your solutions can be trusted? The number of sales needed for your business to generate enough momentum to make the sales process easier and faster, is dependent on your particular product/service. What is your businesses magic number?