Entrepreneurship is something that involves risk, commitment, and passion. People who have inherited these qualities from their experiences are filling the startup world.
Being an Entrepreneur is like creating something. So it has a lot to do with creativity and innovation. For this month, I felt excitement as I was about to talk to an Entrepreneur and an author, Suneel Gupta. Suneel is the co-founder and CEO of Rise, backed by Greylock and Google Ventures and One Medical.
Suneel has co-authored the book Backable with Carlye Adler, published by Hachette India. We had set a Zoom meeting to discuss more the book, Backable.
Suneel joined the call, and we were all set.
The story behind Backable
The first question that we had was about the title of the book. We wanted to know the story behind the book title ‘Backable‘. The book is not a general self-help book. Suneel elaborated more on why he chose this title for his book.
“I have been an Entrepreneur who was out there initially to raise money for my company, and I was having no success.” We nodded as he continued, “During that time, what I was hearing from the investors was that do you have a backable idea?”
Suneel wasn’t aware of what is meant by backable at that time. It’s not just that the investors are looking for funding the startups. Suneel elaborated further, “We all have ideas inside of us, and in a lot of ways, that’s what makes us human.” But what if the ideas you are having are not something that others are excited about too? “When you can’t get others excited about your idea, it’s not just career-limiting experience but a life-limiting experience.”
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It is not just about success!
As we see the business, it’s all about numbers, but when we look at it in a literal sense, it’s about emotions and even spirituality, as Suneel explained. Every self-help book has stories about success and successful people. You would never want to read a book discussing failures or hardships. The people are concerned about the result. Backable, as we said, is a different book.
We wanted to know why the stories in the book were included. “Any story that would show a fast track to success, I would not be interested in that because I don’t think it resembles the reality,” Suneel said. “I also was very interested in was to understand that the people we admire, the version of them today, is not the version of them when they started as,” he continued.
It’s pretty obvious to assume the fact that someone great has always been that way. “You would say that they are gifted ones,” we asked. “If we believe that, it makes us feel that we can’t ever become that way,” Suneel explained. He also said something about the leaders today.
“The most inspirational thing the leaders could do is to talk about not only their success but to talk about their failures, setbacks, and mishaps.” Suneel truly believes that if the leaders can show this side to the people, that can be wildly inspirational.
In terms of storytelling, you fall in love with a character to whom you can relate. “At the end of the day, we are talking about relatability.”
One of the things we are fascinated was about the stories Suneel has mentioned n the book. We were curious to know what was the thought process when he was sharing the stories. ” One of the things I have learned as a writer, especially with the business books, it’s tempting to skip the details and get to the punch line.”
But in Backable, Suneel had tried to keep the details of the story. According to him, it’s the details people care about the most. The feelings, emotions, and thinking that go into the characterization while telling the story matter the most. “I try to include the details that make me feel, Wow, I have been through this too!”
For five years, Suneel has traveled across the United States, meeting with Entrepreneurs, giving talks in colleges and universities, talking about his learnings. With this practice, he was able to test the material he was putting up in the book. “I cut out the stuff that was not resonating. I looked for the intellectual and an emotional pull, the content which doesn’t have these, and I cut it off from the book.”
The 7 Step Approach
The fascinating practical thing we read in Backable was the seven-step approach. “Whenever you are creating something out of nothing, that makes you an entrepreneur.” The most common question Suneel gets from the people who are entrepreneurial by nature is, “How do I get started?”
The starting point is where most of the people get stuck at. With Backable, Suneel shares a step-by-step framework. The first step is to start by convincing yourself first, which we believe is lacking in most cases.
“The first step is to convince not them but yourself, because if you don’t believe, then they can’t believe.” Hearing such a strong statement, we nodded in affirmation. The truth of being starting with anything is to believe in it, to be in there.
“If not forced, if you can give people a step-by-step framework, I truly believe that it will be clarifying a lot of things for them who are set to be entrepreneurs.”
You don’t need to be a great speaker
Like us, Suneel also firstly believed that you need an excellent communication style to be backable. “Firstly, I believed that the Backable people have a certain style of communication or maybe they are great speakers, but I found out that t was not the case.” “It’s not charisma that makes a person backable; it’s conviction,” he elaborated further.
Adding on to this, people’s popular belief in their minds while starting is “Fake it till you make it.” This is a misconception. Suneel explained it further that it can work sometimes but not a sure shot way.
Dealing with the Vulnerability
When we come up with an idea, it’s very tempting to share it with the people around us. I also had this in mind and was super glad when Suneel brought this in. “Whenever you come up with an idea, that’s a very vulnerable moment.” One should never share the idea with anybody in this vulnerable situation, as it can be a demotivating factor for you to stop pursuing your vision.
You might be excited about your idea, but the person you share your idea with might not be as excited as you are. That can be pretty deflating and may crush you.
“People who are backable have learned from their negative experiences to resist the temptations to share their idea immediately.”
The Ultimate thing to be Backable
Following the seven-step approach is the best step-by-step approach for entrepreneurs. But we wanted to know the common element in all that is a must-have to persuade the people to believe. Suneel was extraordinarily truthful, and he gave a fantastic explanation too. “The ultimate thing needed is authenticity.” He truly believes that the thing that gets in the way of authenticity is ego.
He advises that the best thing would be that you are no being managed or driven by your ego. he quoted, “You can hide your ego, but you can’t hide your attitude surrounding that ego.”
The most practical advice he gave is when you are walking in a room to make a pitch, and the entire focus is on you, you may feel that the spotlight is on you, your job is to turn the spotlight to something else, be it your story, your character, your mission, vision, etc.
Knowing Suneel as a person
After talking about the book, we were tempted to know Suneel as a person. “As a person currently, I am bridging the gap between my mom and my daughters.” Suneel’s mother was living in Pakistan at the time of partition and landed up in Baroda as a refugee in pretty meager conditions.
She wanted to be an engineer with the Ford motor company. Sounds crazy, right? But dreams do come there, and she stepped forward, entered the United States, and became the first female Engineer in the company. Learning this about Suneel’s life and his mother is fascinating.
Being raised in a different situation, Suneel feels that compared to his mother, he said that he was born in like Taj Mahal. He had a proper education, and the condition was way lot better than his mother’s.
There is a downside to it too. Sunil said, “The passion, the hunger to achieve something dies down when you are comfortable.” As a parent, Suneel wants his daughters to keep that hunger, that passion alive in them while having a better life.
“As parents, we want to give our kids the life better than we had, but often I find myself wondering that while giving my daughters that better life, I would also be killing that passion.”
Every morning, Suneel plays a game with his daughters in which he asks them two questions, what’s the meaning of life and they say, to find the gift. Secondly, he asks them what purpose of life to which they answer, “give it away!” His favorite is the quote is by Pablo Picasso, and he makes sure that he plays this game every day with his daughters.
We discussed more the best and worst advice Suneel got. The best one he quoted was to become someone you are not, and the worst was that long-term success comes from short-term embarrassment. He said that the failures are the ones that helped me reach where he is today.
Quoting Bill Gates, he said, “Success is a lousy teacher!”
In the end, we closed up on our discussion with the question regarding health. We have seen numerous people neglecting their health in search of great success.
Suneel as the founder of a healthcare company is very particular about health. He said, “It’s vital to have good health.” While building his company, which is in healthcare, his primary focus was on using innovation to improve health outcomes. If you see the other way round, healthy people are more innovative.
We didn’t realize when the time flew and he had to rush for work. We bade adieu and thanked him for his time.
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