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Miscellaneous: presentations, public speaking, decision making, people skills etc.

Partnership In Business. Part 3 – Who can be a good match

Partnership In Business. Part 3 – Who can be a good match

This is an article #3 about partnership in business – a series of articles started in Part 1 – Your chances and Part 2 – Right questions. This time we are going to talk about who exactly can become a good business partner.

No friends, no relatives

Many people think that good personal relationships before establishing business is a perfect basis to start business partnership. Of course, if you are enemies, it is highly unlikely that you can be partners in business. But, nevertheless, some distance between partners is absolutely necessary. Partnership is a set of mutual obligations, and you will feel way more uncomfortable to disobey the obligations if there is some distance between you. To some extent, the more distance – the better.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of my relatives could be perfect business partners for me. But it is rather an exception. Such friend or relative must be very adequate and have enough sense of delicacy at work.

A great social technologist V. Tarassov says:

Friendship can be based on business, but business cannot be based on friendship (my 2 cents: otherwise you may lose either).

He or She must be a leader

Captain Obvious strikes back! But let’s first look what it actually means. In life we use the term leader intuitively, without actually thinking what it means. I guess, if I asked you to define what leader means, you would say that is someone who is number one in some contest or sort of that. But that’s not what I mean. There is another meaning. Please look at the picture below. We are going to define leadership in terms of “to-give and to-get” coordinates.

Social strategies in to-get and to-give axes


The terminology below is made up, to the best of my knowledge, by Radislav Gandapas.

How would we call someone who works rather to give then to get, or in other words, the one who struggles first for others, not for himself? It’s an altruist, or a Hero. Left top corner.

How would you call someone who never gives, only gets? The one who gets the resources for himself and never contributes to others? Dependent? It is a form of parasitism. A Parasite! Right bottom corner.

Many people make an agreement with themselves: I reduce my needs, I don’t dream about Ferrari and so on. But in return I don’t make efforts, and at half past five I go to pub. Deliberate asceticism? Radislav calls them Outsiders. As opposed to leaders. Left bottom corner, of course.

One last cell: the one who approximately equally motivated by giving to others and by getting for himself. That’s a Leader.

Hero, Leader, Parasite and Outsider

I think I don’t have to convince you that your partner must reside on upper cells, rather then bottom ones. Ability to give (or dedication in a way) is crucially important in business partnership.

Why leader, not hero? Well, first, heroes attract parasites, not leaders. And second, I think the leader (who also thinks of himself) has more balanced and strong motivation. Plus, in many cases heroes tend to have pure social entrepreneurial mindset, which stops them from building commercially successful ventures.

Same level of maturity

First lets explain maturity. With regards to many matters in life, maturity is a combination of your responsibility and initiative (of course, there are way more components out there, but these are two crucial ones). For a good and productive partnership partners should be in the same ballpark in terms of maturity. For example, for me a partner with high level of initiative but low level of responsibility (let’s call this classic high school attitude) is a misery. But for another “high-schooler” such partner can be a good match!

Skill Set

Business requires a lot of skills (practical things as opposed to theoretical knowledge): networking, managerial skills, people skills, entrepreneurial thinking etc. Nobody was born with such a skill set. So, both you and your partner should eager to get them equally. Your pace and motivation in learning must be comparable, otherwise one of you will turn into a dragging chute for your business.


Even if you don’t make drastic mistakes and your business is not in red, still the process of its growth is very-very SLO-O-OW. So, each partner must be in a good financial situation. Otherwise you can’t afford it! Plus, everyday financial pressure will add more stress into your already tough life.

Some of my colleagues tell that their best motivation to make business was debt they had. Maybe this kind of  negative motivation works perfectly for them, but I would refrain from being motivated by calls from collection agencies.


If I was asked to stress out just one trait a partner should have, I would say it is self-discipline. In startup partners do not have bosses (you may argue that a VC can be such a boss in some cases). Classical discipline based on self-preservation instinct (fear to be fired) does not work here. And you may be surprised to see how many very disciplined people (when they had a boss) turn into unruly lazybones in no-boss environment. Be ready to witness such Jekyll-and-Hyde examples!


You and your partner must resonate

Even though some distance is important, and every partner stays in his lane all the time, but all the partners should be on the same page in terms of philosophy, attitude, thinking, world-building (of course, all with regards to business) etc.

Two more aspects. One – partners’ dedication and motivation also should be on the similar levels. And two, which is often neglected by our rationalism, partners should have similar levels of energy. Your potential partner can be knowledgeable but energetically on his last legs, and this may significantly downplay his contribution and/or hinder any interaction with him/her.

So, where?

I think that the best way to assess someone in advance is either to work or to study together. So, the main sources of potential business partners:

  1. school, university;
  2. colleagues at work;
  3. pals (not close friends!);
  4. some experts in the realm (beware of too unequal partnership);
  5. somebody you may meet at conferences, forums etc.
  6. key employees of your business (unless they became key persons because of political games and unethical moves).

And beware of: close friends, relatives, bossy dictators, anybody lacking trust, someone who can pre-judge you (say, because of the difference in the age), somebody who got upper hand on you etc.

Check all this in practice

When you are at lunch with your colleagues and you are talking about geopolitics, business, investments etc. many people may seem to be a perfect business-match for you. But don’t rush to make conclusions. The devil is in the detail. Watch them. For example, minor signs of laziness at work can indicate that your potential partner works as Swiss watch only because he fears his boss. If so, it is very likely that he lacks of self-discipline, and this will become flagrant in your startup. Or your friend asks you to teach him about investments, but bails out after the first time: obvious lack of persisting. The same way you may notice some flavor of procrastination, irresponsibility etc.

Watch non-congruence in the behavior. This comes with experience.

Instead of conclusion

We see that finding a good partner is somewhat like finding a needle in a haystack. Moreover, not each needle will work for you. Nevertheless, don’t give up!  Best of luck and all the success in your partnerships!

My Two Cents On Three Steps Elon Musk Took To Become Successful

My Two Cents On Three Steps Elon Musk Took To Become Successful

I read some articles by Jason Fernando, and they are very interesting. But Three Steps Elon Musk Took To Become Successful attracted my attention because in my opinion it refers to the correct steps, but the interpretation misses key points. This article is my 2 cents on what made Elon Musk so successful.

1. A Clear Sense of Motivation

Jason writes:

Picture the scenario: you’re 28 years old and receive a cash payment of $22 million. This is the situation Elon Musk faced in 1999 after the sale of his first Internet company, Zip2. Under these circumstances, most of us would likely retire into a life of recreation and luxury.

Couple of years ago, before I started my first startup, I would also agree with this statement. But there is a bit of the elephant in the room: Elon got 22mln for creating the viable business. And on the way to complete this task he experienced the drug of pure leadership, it is like a tiger who first time felt the taste of flesh. After such an experience none of the people who I know, would agree to just veg out in the lap of luxury. Successful entrepreneurs actually can. But the feeling that you are capable of creating a viable business is HUGE REWARD in itself.

Puzzled? It's Dopamine molecula
Puzzled? It’s Dopamine

Yeah, it may sound idiotic. Especially if you are in the middle of your project, when you already exhausted and dazzled by the amount of unexpected troubles on your way. But trust me on that: after a relatively short vacation (in comparison to the time you spent building your startup), you will be bored and be happy as a clam to come back either to further develop your business or to found a new one.
I have pretty exciting avocations (sailing, motorcycle, snowboarding etc), but nothing really can compare to the fixes of adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin you get in your business. Especially at its early stages.

2. Confronting the Worst-Case Scenario

The author refers to Sun Tzu’s “win first, and then go to war”, saying that one of the interpretations is to accept the worst-case scenario first. Really? Accept the defeat, and then go to war?! Do you really believe that with a such attitude anybody can create a successful business? Yes, I know that you will definitely learn to be aware of the worst-case scenario down the road anyway, but it cannot become a cornerstone of your success. And also, how is it connected to “win first, and then go to war”? Can anybody explain this to me? To me it looks far-far-fetched.

My own interpretations of this counsel would be:

  • – win rather strategically than tactically;
  • – fight for the future rather for the past or present;
  • – ideally, do not compete, go for the niche which is not occupied;
  • – create demand first, then start selling

and so on.

And we can see that Elon Musk is a master of “win first, and then go to war”-approach. But I disbelieve that it’s because he has an experience of worst-case scenario and had been living for just $1 a day.

3. Self-Education

Jason states that one of the keys to Elon’s success is his life-long self-education. And even though the author refers to it as to a “hard-won knowledge” gained as a result of the access we all have to information nowadays, I think that the main point here is missing. Or at least it deserves to be stressed out more. Musk is successful not just because that he gobbled up gazillion of books and textbooks. The secret of his self-education is practice.

There is no correlation between how much you read and the level of your success. In fact, I know people who read a lot, but are not bold enough to go and apply the knowledge. For them it is an alibi – nobody can rebuke them, because they do so much: visit seminars, read books, take educational courses, mingle with like-minded people etc.

And also I know another sort of people – they are successful but they have not much time for reading. Their self-education is mostly limited to some training courses, when it is really needed for the business. But they prefer to imperfectly act rather than perfectly linger.

Musk knows this secret: his knowledge is very practical, so, it turns into practical skills quickly.


I think that we can conclude that we got the hang of some elements of Elon Musk’s success: self-education to gain appropriate skills, a good advice from Sun Tzu and a very natural entrepreneurial motivation.

They are all simple, but not so easy to practice. Anyway, I wish you good luck in practicing them! These lessons definitely won’t go amiss.

10 Things To Know About Making Decisions. Part 2

10 Things To Know About Making Decisions. Part 2

Every day we make a gazillion of decisions – what to eat, when to get up, what to buy, how to plan the day, what to answer when being asked etc. Sometimes our decisions affect not only us, but also other people, their present and future.
Our doubts and difficulties in decision making drain our energy and kill our productivity.
After years of having issues with making important decisions, I learnt a lot and came up with ten key points I want to share with you. This is Part 2 of this post. Part 1 can be found here.

  1. Bear in mind that each decision has its price. I talk about the efforts to make this decision. Now I will pull Captain Obvious: your efforts to make a decision should not outweigh the benefits of the decision. A great example: a company has a budget of 2 thousand dollars and don’t have a plan ready on how to spend this amount. They hire consultants to help to make this decision. Cost of their services was… 50,000 dollars! You think it is impossible? It is a true story. I will not name this blue-chip company, but such an anti-record took place more than 10 years ago.
  2. Don’t try to change your decision at the last moment. Don’t change horses in midstream. The best way to jeopardize anything is to make major changes in the activity which has begun. If you made up your mind and already started executing your decision, don’t change until done.
  3. For any decision made by someone else there is a point of no return. I mean if you delegate decision making to someone else, there is always a certain point of time after which you will have very little or no impact on the result.
  4. Intuitive decision. Everybody is aware of how to make logical decisions. There are hundreds of books written on this topic and tons of practical courses offered. But nobody teaches us how to make intuitive ones. Too bad. Because almost everybody can recall at least one case when they followed the intuitive decision even if it seemed logically wrong – and were right. Yes, sometimes we need to follow our intuition. That is why I would like to share a technique how to do that. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the author (I have heard this quite long ago from a person who also wasn’t an author), but I admire his or her wisdom – this technique works!
    You need to choose one of the several options. You concentrate on your feelings in the area of your solar plexus. And now you walk through your options one by one. And watch your solar plexus feelings. You should choose the option giving the most comfortable feeling.
  5. Some decisions must be made quickly (example: you see a girl of your dream and you have doubts to get acquainted right now or wait for a better moment. This is an example of do-it-right-now things, make this decision to approach this girl quick!). Some decisions must be postponed, or, ideally, never made (let’s return back to the girl of your dream. Say, you married her. And today you have a quarrel. She throws plates into you. You are both shouting… Finally one of you comes to a conclusion that a divorce is the only way to resolve the problem. All emotional decisions like this one belong to the kind of decisions you’d better postpone and preferably avoid).
    You should strive to get a level of wisdom that you can distinguish the first (do-it-right-now decisions) from the latter (better-postpone ones).
10 Things To Know About Making Decisions. Part 1

10 Things To Know About Making Decisions. Part 1

Every day we make a gazillion of decisions – what to eat, when to get up, what to buy, how to plan the day, what to answer when being asked etc. Sometimes our decisions affect not only us, but also other people, their present and future.
After years of having issues with making important decisions, I learnt a lot and came up with ten key points I want to share with you. This is Part 1 of this post.

  1. Often you have to make decisions when you’re lacking some or all the information needed. Be ready to face this. It is normal. This happens very often especially in business and in investments. What can you do? Train your “decision-making muscles”, i.e. make such decisions. Yes, simply make them. You probably will never have all the information you need or want. So work with what you have. Sometimes I recall a good saying: “The moment when the last button is sewed on the jacket of the last soldier will never happen”, meaning exactly what I just mentioned – you will never be ready to everything.
  2. Inability to make decisions quickly. Fight it. For example, I have my own rule: when I collected and analyzed all the information needed (or in most of the cases all the information available to me), I give myself 1 minute to make the decision. It can be hard, but it is just a matter of self-discipline – never waste time. You also should have an algorithm how to choose between approximately equal options – a coin toss or something similar and easily doable.
  3. Decision = Responsibility. By the way, how would you define responsibility? I mean how to re-phrase it without saying words “responsible” or “responsibility”. My version is: responsibility is when you equal your actions and the result, so you proclaim yourself an author of this result if you are an author of action. And you should always do it, no matter if the result is good or bad. Coming back to decisions, every time you made a decision, you took responsibility over what happens next (including the things out of your control).
  4. Sometimes a bad decision can be better than a good one. Sounds weird, but that is true in many cases. A bad decision can be better than a good one provided that a bad one was made in time and a good one was made way too late. Bear in mind the time factor, or a time multiplier. When too late, this multiplier can be zero.
  5. Your main enemy is a fear of failure. And his little sibling – Procrastination (this cool-looking buzzword means waste of time, lingering because a person is afraid of starting something uncomfortable or something which potentially may fail). The most important thing to understand is that you are not a looser just because you failed. Failure is just one step on your road to success. It is important to make next steps. Of course, you should not repeat the mistakes, but I believe you will not. And you should not be afraid of mistakes. Moreover, I would suggest to carefully collect every mistake – it educates you. The only thing you must be scared of is a deliberate burning of time in order to postpone possible mistakes and failures. You will lose much more if you don’t start rather than if you start and fail.

Part 2 can be found here