Have you been watching the Olympics?
Let’s start with the fact that his country’s not known for its cold weather. Or that its favorite sport is cricket. Add to that the fact that its own Olympic committee was recently suspended because it elected criminals to its leadership. Oh, and top it off with the fact that there’s not a single place to practice the luge in the entire country.
There’s just no way to explain Indian athlete Shiva Keshavan’s appearance at this year’s Olympic Winter Games.
Until you realize that he’s been practicing by putting wheels on his luge and taking it for a spin down long roads in the Himalayas. Or that folks from Reddit’s Dogecoin community donated over $7,000 to help him travel to the games—since his own country’s Olympic Association couldn’t support him. Or that this isn’t his first effort at competing for a luge medal. He’s competed in Vancouver, Torino, Salt Lake City, and Nagano. And the story only gets better when you watch this video of him falling off his luge—and then miraculously staying calm enough to get back on it (at the 45 second mark).
Shiva’s story is a great one that springs up from this year’s Olympics that has nothing to do with winning a gold medal. Because there are things we can all take away from his story.
Three Lessons for Entrepreneurs
1. When everyone around you is doing one thing, it’s perfectly fine to do something different. Even when it’s hard and people don’t get it.
In a country of cricket players, Shiva does the luge. Imagine what it’s like to talk to his friends on a weekend. Not just one weekend. Every weekend.
I spend a lot of time with WordPress entrepreneurs. A lot of times we talk about pricing. And one of the most common things I hear is that they’ve determined their price not on their own, or based on the value they’re creating, but simply by matching someone else.
You don’t have to do “me-too” pricing, just like you don’t have to create “me-too” products. When others are going left, sometimes (like Shiva) it’s worth going right.
One recent example, unrelated to pricing, but related to doing their own thing, was the launch of VelocityPage at 10:30 pm on a Friday night.
Yeah, it’s crazy. But so is practicing luge in the Himalayas. Am I right?
2. Money is always available, if you tell a good story.
One quick look at the Dogecoin thread that raised the $7,000 for Shiva and you’ll notice something really interesting. Many of the posts say stuff like, “I walked away from my computer and when I came back, it was already funded!”
It took three hours to find the funds. Not because a lot of people were sitting around waiting for an excuse to donate Dogecoin. No. It only took three hours because the story was told the right way.
How are you telling your story?
Are you producing the third or fourth plugin that does what you do? In a market that already has some great solutions? There better be a good reason and great story.
In the superhero world, it’s known as an origin story. If you’re my age, it’s a bit like watching Popeye cartoons when he yells “that’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!”
Why do you exist? And why should someone care? Trust me, when the story is right, your audience will find you. And they’ll fund you.
3. Lastly, when calamity hits, stay calm and react slowly.
When you watch the film as Shiva falls off the luge and then gets back on, one thing you won’t notice the first time is how slow he moves.
You won’t notice it because the whole thing takes virtually no time at all. But as you watch it a few times, you start to notice that there are no abrupt reactions. No sudden moves. Nothing but calm and smooth responses to a horrible and unpredicted challenge.
Most of the time, when things get hard, we react. Sometimes we overreact. And more often than not, the overreaction creates more consequence than the initial error.
It’s easy to be in reaction mode. It’s a lot harder to slow down and make less moves (rather than more). But that’s exactly what allows Shiva to get back on.
So let me ask you this…
Who’s been your Olympic hero this time around, and what lessons are you taking away from what you’ve already seen?
Photograph by Alex Livesey/Getty via newyorker.com.
Chris Lema is the VP of Software Engineering at Emphasys Software, where he manages high performers and oversees product development and innovation. He’s also a blogger, ebook author and runs a WordPress meetup in North County San Diego. His coaching focuses on helping WordPress businesses, or businesses wanting to leverage WordPress.