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August - 2014 - issue > Entrepreneur's Corner
Connecting Dots: 4KTA
Naveen Bisht
Board Member and Chair, Programs-TiE Silicon Valley
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
The author is Co-Founder of AURISS TECHNOLOGIES INC., a serial entrepreneur and Board Member, Chair – Programs, The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) organization, based in Silicon Valley, CA. Learn more at www.4KTA.com and follow Naveen on twitter @Naveen_4KTA

We have heard the phrase "connecting dots". Think of it as a metaphor for taking obscure and non-obvious signals in life and making something meaningful from it. I often find myself looking back on the events that occurred by chance or otherwise in my own journey and try to connect dots from various sources of knowledge, experiences, observations and reflections. I believe that the human beings already have these connection points incorporating intelligence, wisdom, skills, and strong desire innately ingrained in them. The key aspect is this unique ability to use their intuition not only to know that they exist but know what to do with them to continuously grow. Create innovations of value. Begin new initiatives whether you work for a company or embarking on a new venture. This is what all successful people like Steve Jobs used very successfully in every aspect of their life i.e., intuition to connect dots of opportunity that no one else could foresee. For instance, in my own journey to BITS, Pilani to graduate school in US to Silicon Valley on hindsight was one dot leading to the next one. I feel that perhaps there was a particular reason for all these to occur. As you similarly delve deeper into your own past events, you may find that some patterns may begin to emerge from it leading all these dots to possibly connect in your future. Connecting dots for entrepreneurs or someone pursuing new ventures is even more significant.

As you connect the dots in your life, here is a beautiful and insightful quote from Steve Job's Stanford University commencement speech in 2005 to keep in mind, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

While you begin to reflect on your life events, here are four key take away (4KTA) points based upon my experiences in connecting dots that you may find useful.

1. Recognize

The key element is to find, recognize and perceive patterns among seemingly scattered and unrelated events from your experiences, knowledge of current trends, and even observations in unrelated fields. It's your unique ability and intuition to connect them readily than others who are also exposed to the similar trends. Having an existing background in technology and experience in the pertinent market can help you readily recognize opportunities arising from the changes in technology and enable you to better spot risks and market opportunities. These can give impetus to new product ideas or services for your startup. For instance, the ability to spot eroding prices in networking hardware and advances in software technology helped many startups few years back to recognize opportunity in software defined networking market. Using cheap commodity hardware and intelligence of software could drive cost reduction, improve performance, scalability and enable efficient infrastructure. Similarly, by leveraging its innovative virtualization technology, VMware turned itself into a market leader in a short period of time by providing compute cost, performance and efficiency to IT departments in enterprises globally.

2. Cultivate

Now how do you cultivate this ability to be more successful and proficient in identifying opportunities? What is it required for anyone to connect these dots and not only be alert to spot the opportunities and also search for them in the best ways and in most relevant places? You can cultivate by focusing your efforts on identifying changes in technology, market trends, demographical changes and other external factors that play a key role in making any organization successful. Focus on figuring out ways in which these trends and changes are connected. Look for emerging patterns. Connect as many dots as you can on a daily basis. Keep pondering. Be alert and be courageous enough to keep searching for these dots. This is a key step in the process of identifying new business opportunities. Expose yourself to a wide range of business opportunities that may vary greatly. The richer the exposure and observations in your memory, the more effective you may become in comparing newly encountered events or stimuli to identify emerging opportunities.

3. Trust

We have heard it quite often, "Think big". Make a difference and have a higher purpose to serve the humanity. Have an impact in everything you do every day for the betterment of a healthier whole. The point is that your higher purpose should be so inspiring that people want to join you voluntarily to turn it into a reality. They can help you navigate in the face of tremendous adversity that you may encounter. Every startup goes through its cycle of ups and downs before it can create wealth and opportunities for everyone involved. Have complete faith and trust in you. Trust your instincts. Develop an ability to pay extra attention to your intuition. Your inner confidence must exude from you. Your team should feel it as they become part of your vision and share and help you advance it rapidly.

4. Act

As you continue to develop the sensory pattern recognition abilities and the ability to "connect the dots" to identify new opportunities, it becomes crucial for you to comprehend that without acting upon these intuitions, you would never know how the final result would be. You must have the mindset and attitude of an entrepreneur to translate these intuitions into action. Embrace your risk-taking and innovative traits by turning these ideas resulting from connecting dots into a profitable business opportunity. This is how you can convert your ideas and visions into creating products and services that help improve and enhance the lives of others. Continue to improve your ability and intuitive skills with the right environment, skills, knowledge and training to foster the right mindset. Focus completely on bringing yourself that much closer to reaching your dreams and infusing life into your entrepreneurial ventures.

In summary, the four key take away points for connecting the dots are ability to recognize patterns in dots, cultivate ability to identify opportunities, ability to trust your instincts and act on those to turn them into successful ventures.

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