So the latest EA-Tokyo seminar had arrived, refreshed in the new year.
Michael Alfant is a straightforward person. He speaks fast, always cut to the core of the topic, but does not stick to it. The moment we the listeners grasp the idea of what he is telling, he switches to the next subject, never repeating or going back to the old agendas. I wanted to take notes of what he said, but it was so hard because he spoke too fast, switched the topic too quickly, and each topic too stimulating not to focus onto. I couldn’t find any good timing to summarize what he said and to jot down to the note. It was like trying to go to the bathroom while watching a very good movie in the theater, almost standing but cannot take the eye off the screen, starting to think that I might be able to wait until the end credit.
No presentation material, no table, no microphone, no fabulous wardrobe, no arm crossing. He was there, standing before the audience with an awaiting smile and open hands, telling there were not so many stories to offer from him and he was eager to receive questions either. But everybody knew those were not the sign of laziness or disguising inability, even before he started. With every word he said, I could hear the message “I know what I am saying” coming together, unspoken but undeniable.
He has the same aura that the past speakers all had. I couldn’t help listening to his story. What is creating this air around those entrepreneurs? Indeed they have confidence, but a person with confidence but no knowledge are called George W.Bush. Or Sylvester Stallone. So there is also intelligence. But a person with confidence and intelligence but no success is called MBA holder. So there is inevitably a successful record. But a person with confidence, intelligence, success record but no compassion is called TV evangelist. So compassion must be added. But a person with confidence, intelligence, success record, compassion but no lessons learned from failure is called genious. I have never met a genious. So a person with confidence, intelligence, success record, compassion, and war stories is called a serial entrepreneur.
A person with no confidence, no intelligence, no success record, no compassion, no stories is called salary-men.
A few days have passed and I don’t remember much of what he said, but now, that doesn’t matter.
There was indeed an easy phrase like four most important issue an entrepreneur has to take care of: (in prioritized order ) capable management group, cash flow, quality of products, and … never mind, the point is, the quality of the goods (or IP) is not the most important thing. Leave the decision to the engineers and they will continue refining and updating the product endlessly. I heard a story from an aquaintance before. A bunch of talented software programmers got frustrated by the marketing team, built their dream company thanks to the dot-com fever, worked hard to provide the best solution in the world. Three years later, they still haven’t decided any release date.
When an entrepreneur with a long record like him shares the lesson he learned, there is always one or two down to earth advise. It sounds odd – they’re talking about a big picture, talking about something more important than receiving a stable income every month. But among the spiritual guidance as “there is no failure, only challenges” ” migrate your work into your life” such and such, suddenly comes a too practical advice. Keep an eye on the day to day money. Make sure you did all the payment. I had done 79 payments at my previous company, that’s how I remember how long I run it. The grandiose ambition of entreprenour, the guy standing in the shiny building with a victory smile, cuban cigar, Armani jacket (I watched Wall Street four times) is replaced by an image of a tired small guy who knows nothing but doing one thing he wants to believe he is good at, chased by responsibility and dead end, knowing nothing about the better world surrounging him. At least in my naive image, for a short moment.
But carefully listening to their messages, the seemingly unrelated and unbalanced stories starts to light up a strong path they have gone through. A history with so many exceptions but nevertheless leading to a bright future in a convinced way. Then I realize it’s exactly those too down-to-earth stories that make an entrepreneur a real entrepreneur. Someone who actually did that, not being a consultant or observer or judge. After I started to listen to Michael Alfant’s stories and answers (he loves being asked) as enjoying the flow rather than trying to pick up the possible keys to solve my own problems, I felt relaxed and also, felt the need to find out MY path, not his. It is nice to listen to a successful person but that has a side effect. I learn no matter what you do, there are certain rules and disciplines you need to take care of, and at the same time there is no such golden rules for success. It sounds contradicted but it feels quite natural.
For the first time, I felt I had enough. I don’t mean I got bored or tired or not excited. Quite the opposite, but instead of listening to the stories, why not starting right away to make my own? It might not be building a company, but it is something that I haven’t done yet. I do always feel unspoken words or unleased desire internally. What am I doing here? I don’t have to memorize all the small advice from the pioneers, because again and again they showed there is no fixed road or rules you can follow without thinking. Why don’t you make your own story, and share it? – And that’s exactly what EA-Tokyo is trying to do. Create a community to encourage people stand up. The networking session follows the seminar. Inspired? Intrigued? Here you can start it. Talk your dream. Find the partners.
I slightly felt I was trapped, the trap I am happy to be in, I am happy to understand the mechanism and the idea behind this seminar. It’s the way the trick is used, not the trick itself.