Alok Kejriwal is one of the mentors on MakeIndiaWork – the startup ecosystem by MonsterIndia.com to support and encourage startups. Here Alok shares metophorical similarities between the movie ‘ The king’s speech’ and an entrepreneur’s life.
Within seconds of watching ‘The King’s Speech’, I was convinced that this amazing movie could have easily been called ‘The Entrepreneur’s Speech’.
There are so much metaphorical similarities between this Oscar winning movie and an Entrepreneur’s life:
Starting up is like Stammering:
Lionel the speech specialist makes a very important point in the early part of the movie when he states that, “no child is born with a stammer”. Various circumstances lead people to stammering after they are born.
I believe that Starting Up and the attempt to become an Entrepreneur is almost like living with perfect speech and then going out of your way to ‘learn’ how to stammer.
Most of the people in the world live regular, typical and if I may add, ‘normal’ lives. Then there comes the Entrepreneur who on the onset behaves and sounds different. She ditches her professional life for a chance at doing something that may never succeed. The cozy ensconces of a Monday-Friday working week are forsaken for a mad all-day, all-year, all-hours working frenzy timetable. Her personal life takes a big hit, where friends and family are sidelined.
If you examine a dedicated entrepreneur closely, you will clearly see the shadow of ‘the odd man out’.
Personally speaking, in family events and while meeting very accomplished career professionals, I feel like a Martian – unable to relate to what is going on. When I speak, others react like I am speaking with a stammer – rambling ideas and words that make no sense to them.
This is not just a King, but also an Entrepreneur talking….
What is the ‘Entrepreneur’s Stammer’?
The business problem she takes up on herself to solve.
Imagine Colin Firth (The King) training to stammer.
That hard but flawless effort won him an Oscar for Best Actor (2011).
In exactly the same way, entrepreneurs struggle and struggle and identify a simple or a complex problem, embrace it and then do all they can to overcome it.
Let’s travel back in time and remember how Telephone numbers in India were ‘discovered’ by consumers like you and me just 10 years back:
The Mumbai telephone directories were 3 large meteor rocks that fell into people’s homes every year. They were bulky, unmanageable, tiny font sized and extremely difficult to navigate. They made good dumbbells for those who couldn’t afford the real ones.
So, if you wanted to make a telephone to call ‘Games2win’ the new startup in town, the process was as torturous as the Spanish Inquisition. Thumbing the ‘meteor’ directory would often yield no results since updates were made once every couple of years (Hence startups were rarely listed). However, if you looked up ‘Rajesh Shah’, you would come across 459 people to choose from. Frustrated, if you called ‘197’ – the State telephone directory service, the quality of help you would receive was amazing. The person on the other line would treat you like you were Osama Bin Laden – someone to get rid of ASAP.
This was a huge problem that desperately needed a solution.
A Colin Firth was badly needed – who would be courageous enough to find a solution to this epic problem.
And, a company called ‘Just Dial’ came along, and voluntarily accepted the role.
In the past decade, Just Dial has mastered the art of ‘discovering’ a telephone contact and the process they have evolved is nothing short of magical. When you call them, they recognize you, search and retrieve your desired number in seconds, sms and e-mail the same to you and also offer many alternatives. In a few months, Just Dial will list itself on the Indian Stock markets and I forecast a Billion $ Company in the making.
Success in solving any universal problem creates massive value – the equivalent of the Oscar Awards for the Entrepreneur.
Now that I stammer, who is my Doctor?
In the movie ‘The King’s Speech’, Prince Albert (Bertie) goes to Lionel – the speech therapist.
Entrepreneurs go to VCs and to Angels.
VCs and Angels are our Lionel’s. They understand entrepreneurs and the problems that we have obsessed ourselves with. They sit with us and help us – not just with their money but also with mentorship, guidance, board connections and creating a broader vision for the business.
In the movie, carefully observe the role that Lionel plays in Prince Albert’s life – it goes way beyond just being a speech therapist.
(Ps – not all VCs are the quality of Lionel. Some of them are horrid – like the quack doctors in the movie who suggest that Prince Albert smokes to ‘relax’ his lungs’).
Stammering can create a King…
Prince Albert was completely obsessed in solving his speech impediment. He dedicated himself fully to doing just that. In his weakness, he found his strength. Unlike his philandering brother, Albert remained rooted to domestic affairs – both personal and that of his Country. His ailment made his sensitive and resolute to handle the threat of the World War and to be able to make difficult decisions and motivate his countrymen to overcome the biggest test of their time.
He was used to pain and in doing everything to overcome it.
Entrepreneurs also become completely captivated by their problems. They live a life of pain – embracing and enjoying a self-inflicted pain. Their struggles and torments become the motivation and inspiration to thousands of other entrepreneurs waiting in the wings.
Like Albert, entrepreneurs who strive hard and give their sweat, toil and blood become kings. Like Albert they contribute not just their country but also to the world at large. And like Albert they remain historically etched in the minds of generations to come.