The Unrepentant Recalcitrant

Lessons for an accidental entrepreneur

Archive for the tag “Entrepreneurship”

The Story of Abhimanyu: Why You Must Have an Exit Strategy

Let me tell you the story of Abhimanyu.

Long long ago in a kingdom far far away, an epic battle was fought.

The battle and its larger story were immortalized in an epic Sanskrit poem called “The Mahabharata”.

The war was between two families of cousins battling for control of their kingdom.

Abhimanyu, a warrior prince learnt the strategies of war while in his mothers womb. His overheard his father Arjuna telling his mother Subhadra how to enter, exit and destroy various battle formations.

The most complex of these  battle formations was the “Chakravyuh”, a formation resembling a rotating spiral that moved forward and expanded at the same time.

Here is where the story gets interesting (and relevant, so pay attention!).

Subhadra, listening to her husband teach, fell asleep before he finished. Abhimanyu, learnt the method of entry into the Chakravyuh, the way to fight once inside, but did not hear how he should exit.

Fast forward to the battle, many years later. The bad guys (sic) are winning. Things look grim. The Chakravyuh is advancing on Abhimnayu and his forces. It seems unstoppable.

Abhimanyu, hero that he is, rushes forward and uses his knowledge to penetrate the spiral. He breaks his way in and fights the enemy from the inside.

Alas, he does not know how to get out of the spiral, once he is in. He lacks an exit strategy.

He is surrounded and killed by the enemy forces, and dies a bloody death on the battlefield.


I think I’ve made my point to all of you here (and It isn’t that you shouldn’t fall asleep in class!).

Whatever you do, entrepreneurship or investing or anything else with meaning to you, consider your exit strategy.

Not an exit strategy, not even a couple. You should be devising a decision tree of exits based on your view of multiple different outcomes for your task.

While your life may not depend on it as it did for our hero, you should behave as if it does.

Your outcome(s) will thank you.


As a coda for readers interested in the Mahabharata, it is the longest Indian poem (the title means Great Indian Story), is available in English translation and is one of the most gripping tales ever told. The Bhagavad Gita, a discourse by Lord Krishna is a story within this story and probably better known. In the Gita, Krishna speaks to Arjuna (Abhimanyu’s father) and explains right living and the concept of “Karma”. Try it. You will love it.



Be Quiet

Be Quiet

We talk too much.

It’s all about communication we are taught. Stay in touch. You can never communicate too much. Let’s brainstorm this idea or that one. Let’s discuss strategy. Then let’s discuss tactics.

We have a million meetings. And then some more. We drown ourselves (and our sorrows) in our email. Pushing email has become an acceptable proxy for work in many of our biggest and most powerful organizations.

Every available minute of every available day is full of talk talk talk.

Our minds are not at peace and a million thoughts populate it.

Small, inconsequential, stressful thoughts. Its all about urgent and not at all about important.

How are we supposed to think? How do we ruminate on the big stuff?

Two words: Be Quiet.

Look at the people around you who you respect the most. The powerful, successful and the smart people you know. The ones who have achieved the most in their lives and the ones you know will be stars.

They don’t talk much. They listen.

They spend time alone thinking. Not being weighed down by the compulsion to communicate, their communications take on more meaning, their words take on more weight.

They don’t feel the need to demonstrate their smarts.

They are not rushing from meeting to meeting and email to email.

They communicate only when they have something to say.

There’s a pattern there for you and I to emulate.

Think about it. And then, shut your mouth. Be quiet.

We will be better for it.



All Entrepreneurship is Value Investing

It shouldn’t be a surprise really when you think about it.

Value investing has been described as buying a dollar for fifty cents. Warren Buffet, speaks of investing as delaying the economic gratification of spending money today to have more money in the future. This “more money” is wealth generation resulting from investing in a business that profits.

So, what exactly is a startup?

You have a (great) idea. You start a business. No one believes in your idea. Its crazy they tell you. It would never work. Why, they say, if its such a great idea are the big players in your space not already doing it? As soon as you start valuing your company, you start to see the discrepancy between what you believe the business is worth and what others (“experts”/”investors”) think its worth.

You see where I am going with this?

You “invest” time, effort, energy in this company denying yourself gratification in order to build wealth and if you are successful, the worlds view of the businesses worth now matches your own (or more likely there is froth and the pendulum has swung wildly to overvaluation…You sell into this as fast as you can hombre!)

Value Investing has the concept of a “catalyst”, the event/result that brings together the price of an investment to its real value and converges the two. You, my entrepreneur friend are the catalyst in your business. Believe in yourself and stop listening to the noise.



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