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If God were an entrepreneur - (seeing God through rose-coloured startup glasses)

Amit Balooni
14th Sep 2016
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“Let there be light,” He willed and just like that, one fine day, the world began!

Understanding God is not easy and I claim no enlightenment or interest in theology. Neither His methods nor His means are easily comprehensible to us mortals. Considering the human quest for God has yielded little result, it’s fair to admit that He is beyond our realm.

ys-god-entrepreneur

While we struggle to build even a bug-free app, He conjures up massive heavenly bodies and complex genetic material out of vacuum (not even thin air!). We struggle to be on time for those back-to-back meetings and He is simply omnipresent — in all places, all the time. I know it seems a little far-fetched, therefore, to see Him as a fellow entrepreneur.

But probe deeper and you would know that all is not well under Him. Beyond our awe of the Divine, the trouble in His magical enterprise called ‘Earth’ is all too conspicuous. I mean, take a look around and the insanity that surrounds us nowadays!

Surely, His issues are much more complex than ours and He too seems to be having some difficulty in sorting these out. If you think being an entrepreneur is challenging, it should be a tad comforting to know that being God is not easy either. Maybe His powers are a bit overrated and stories all apocryphal, akin to anecdotes of Einstein, Howard Hughes, Steve Jobs or Roman demigods.

With the realisation of His challenges and similarity in exaggeration, I’m glad we have found some common, albeit small, ground with Him.

Visionaries build great enterprises?

I’m told that having foresight, a ‘vision’, is a prerequisite for building a successful enterprise. Although I’m uncertain if such paranormal, future-gazing eyesight exists, I do agree that this brings a bit of superhuman imagery to an otherwise boring narrative of plain hard work, serious errors, retrials and persistence of the entrepreneurs. We love magic in our fables and this veil of a miraculous divine vision may have blinded us from seeing God’s real pain and toil to build our world.

We take life on Earth for granted but it hasn’t been without His share of trials and tribulations. If Earth is by any measure a successful enterprise, then, by contrast, those barren, hot or cold heavenly bodies seem like a zillion failed experiments!

Closer home, Edison once said “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” It seems God has a similar trial-and-error approach.

I risk a guess that His first venture ended up somewhat like Pluto — a dark, frozen, tiny mass of gas, rock and mud. Full of errors! And so, I presume, He pivoted to something like the sun and found it too hot to handle. Journeying from one extreme to another and exploring everything in between, He finally found the right mix on Earth, very similar to an entrepreneur seeking a Goldilocks-like balance of growth, profit, scale and sustenance.

Both mortal Edison (and many like him) and eternal God have a flair for learning from mistakes. It sounds simple in retrospect, but it’s never easy to get up after failing again and again. In God’s case it’s a zillion cycles of build-fail-restart. His persistence is inspiring and He goes further.

He isn’t sweeping failures under the carpet of embarrassment. Instead, he aligns them up neatly in the sky and lights them up every day for everyone to see. ‘There is no shame in failing’, is His message, I suppose.

So, next time your venture fails, remember you are in good company. Just look up. The stars may just be the daily reminder you need to keep going.

Formulation, evolution and valuation

The stories of UFO sightings go as far back as 1400 BC, when the Egyptians first saw fiery discs in the sky. Notwithstanding NASA’s failure to find life elsewhere despite a $20 billion annual budget, many people, from the pharaohs to Spielberg, have given us varied versions of how aliens look. If any of these are indeed true, I infer God is possibly a serial entrepreneur already.

The guesstimates on the evolution of the universe and the life in it all seem to indicate that He follows a certain method in building these habitable enterprises (or planets).

  1. Start small with whatever little is available (His resources vary from cloudy nebulae to dicey dark matter).
  2. Transform these slowly into a sphere. Now, the sphere is actually a very optimal shape — it has the best surface area-to-volume ratio, is symmetrical from all sides and has no weak edges or specific vulnerable points. It’s worthwhile to note that while God has no dearth of space and can choose more flamboyant shapes like a trapezoidal prism or cuboid, He decides to be optimal and frugal instead.
  3. Once a strong infrastructure is ready, He moves in the low-risk test marketers like single cell bacteria, with a free hand to evolve into more complex organisms.
  4. He tweaks continually, using all sorts of tools like rain, volcanoes and continental drifts, till the climatic conditions are just right and conducive to the evolving complex life.
  5. More importantly, He does all this real slow. Real, real slow, I mean. The smallest of developments are spread over billions of years. Things evolve steadily; bit by bit; cell by cell.

From our skewed startup upbringing, we may find this a painfully slow template to build an enterprise. We know that even if things are at a nebulous stage, we can still scale them up faster. All it requires is a tool called valuation, some projections and some assistance from angels and VCs. If only God knew about it!

As with all His cryptic messages, I’m sure there is a profound meaning in this planet-building thing. But with my disabilities in understanding His deeper intents, the best I could do was simplify His formula as below.

  1. Start small with bootstrapped capital.
  2. Build a frugal but robust infrastructure.
  3. Refine the business model at smaller scale and get required traction.
  4. Continually address the challenges of scalability over a period of time.
  5. Build things at your pace and don’t bother about valuations.

While His pace of things is outdated, things are built on His own strength, His own resources and thankfully, built to last for ages. Maybe self-sufficiency is a good thing, after all. Maybe not knowing too much about valuations is a good thing for Him. Maybe too many cooks could have spoilt the broth. Maybe it’s a good thing that we have only one stakeholder, one God to deal with.

Maybe slow and steady is good too. And as an afterthought, maybe sustenance should supersede speed and scale.

Maybe? God knows!

Building organisational culture!

It would be an understatement to say that different people see God in different ways. While some are busy finding Him between their eyebrows or in places of worship, others are trekking to Himalayan caves or deserts. His relationship with us is a moot point too. King, Son, Father, Mother, Holy Spirit or Big Boss— to each his own!

He chooses to deliver messages through self-proclaimed, sometime dubious, spiritual officers. Seems bizarre that one who could build huge wireless devices like the solar system wouldn’t know how to send a direct email, cced to all.

I doubt if being inaccessible, confusing and incommunicado is a good way to build an enterprise!

The theological school of Deism propounds that God is merely a silent spectator. It must be disappointing for those who want to act as per ‘will of God’. Our notions notwithstanding, there is little empirical evidence that He has any preference for loyalty or ‘yes sir’ or weightage for good deeds or sacrifice. His appraisal system is erratic at best. Haven’t you noticed that someone always seems to be getting more reward with much less work or fasting?

And then there is this unpredictability. First He would ignore the overcapacity build up and then retrench using crude methods like cyclones or mosquitoes. No wonder so many people are angry with His policies. No wonder attempts to define Him cause so much mayhem.

Whatever happened to those lessons on leadership — be fair and consistent, reward people, encourage loyalty. Is this how you build organisations, dear God?

While I lament, there is distinct theme I notice — He doesn’t interfere, except coincidentally. He doesn’t meddle if you get an idea, feel inspired and start pursuing it to a tangible conclusion. He doesn’t interfere if you fail, gather yourself up and redo it. I know we need someone to hold our hand (or fund fast depleting bank accounts) if things aren’t going our way, but it seems non-interference is His way of encouraging us to take action, pursue excellence and take full responsibility for it.

He takes our errors in stride. He tolerates the little chaos, garbage and damage to Earth and even takes the blame for all things that go wrong. That’s some liberty just to encourage ideation, action and responsibility in us!

Now imagine if you let all your employees bring their own ideas to the workplace and in their zeal to get things moving, they end up blowing up the roof! Would you patiently wait for them to realise their folly, hoping they would rebuild it soon and while some of them vociferously blame you for using such fragile concrete? Who can risk so much, provide all resources and be a mute spectator, just to ensure people can follow their heart, be creative and take action for what they want to pursue? God, I guess.

Needs a hell (or heaven) of a lot of patience! Some may call it divine grace, divine forgiveness or divine kindness. Others may call it faith in humanity. Through the pink glasses of entrepreneurship, it sounds like a strong commitment to intrapreneurship.

Is He a role model for entrepreneurs?

Considering all things about God seem like conjecture, I’m not sure if He is a role model for entrepreneurs. My own relationship with Him is complex and complicates by the day. Just like an electron in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, I’m never sure of His real position.

But I do look up often. Not so much to pray, but in the hope of understanding His cryptic messages and learning a lesson or two from His working style. Most of the time, I don’t find much in the dark grey sky of the city. But then there are lucky days when stars are visible. It keeps me going.

There could be an easier way though. Close your eyes and look inside. I’m told the grand entrepreneur often visits there.

 

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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