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Idea: The life force of the system

May 28, 2008
tags: ,

Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about small people

[Schwartz]

No matter how determined you are, it’s hard not to be influenced by the people around you. It’s not so much that you do whatever a city expects of you, but that you get discouraged when no one around you cares about the same things you do.

[Paul Graham]

Its sort of a personal post, and has seldom to do with economics or business. So please bear with me.
I love to ask questions. I always did. I still remember, that when I was young, my mom explained to me the secrets of this universe, the beauty of chlorophyll, black hole, concept of anti matter and everything science fiction is made of. I never got to see Star Wars and Captain Kirk’s heroism, but for me, my mom showed me a movie which was million times more engrossing than Star Wars. And to me, it did something really substantial. I started loving ideas. I loved physics and always dreamed of being an astronaut. 🙂

I was immensely attracted towards IIT in my higher secondary years. To me, it was like those guys did the coolest and the best thing in this part of the world. But I couldn’t make it. So I joined another college in another part of the country, which didn’t do half of what those guys up in IIT did. At the same time, I was immensely fascinated with Stanford and MIT. These three institutes didn’t really stand for prestige to me. You show me the building and it didn’t do much other than incite, ‘Okay.. MIT’. Or something to that effect. To me, all those three were embodiments of idea. Idea strong and compelling.
I think idea is what drives this entire ecosystem. Life force of creativity. And for this we need, people. For people are the fuel of this huge machine called idea. Idea needs millions and millions of people thinking, talking and working together to solve that one problem which is gonna change the way we think.
Its not only IIT, but IISc, IIMs, ISI and a host of other insititutions have this. It has nothing to do with building or that thappa, but people. Get people who are compelled by ideas and you are never gonna have a less satisfied sleep. Or perhaps no sleep, even.
And I strongly believe, that startups should come up from this level and not from any other level. Not to make money, not to have the ‘greatest ever’ tag or something like that. Startups are hub of creativity and ideas are fuels of it.So hire ‘idea’ people even if you don’t have an office and swanky little chair to show your superiority off. ‘Idea’ people will stay with you even if you don’t pay them, just because they see a higher purpose to their existence. Something more subtle, compelling and increasingly vital for their own existence. These type of people can never be happy in places which pay them a million but keep them in bean counting jobs. They need in effect ideas to survive, to breathe and eat. And if you are bringing people together, don’t look for the ‘gellness quotient’. Chances are you will not. Just gauge one thing, how much is the other guy compelled with ideas. Is he an ‘idea’ person and secondly is he interested in this domain. For I believe, that startups have to be extremely flexible and undergo spec changes once in every week, so who brings these changes. Probability is, greater is the tendency of your co-founders to be ‘idea’ guys, higher the chances that the change is for the better and not for the worse. And yes, if he is an idea guy, he/she will stick to you, even if you two are as different as chalk and cheese. For what matters to him/her are ideas and not people.
It is not to say in any way, that IITians, or MITians make better startup material or worse even, ‘idea’ guys. No. I believe I am an idea guy, and look at me, I am not even an IITian. My flirtations with IIT is gazing at that IITM gate whenever I go from my home to Guindy, or somewhere to that effect.
There are thousands and thousands of people out there, in villages, towns and cities who are driven by ideas. We as a country are in acute shortage of such people as they either languish in places where their curiosity is not kindled or they make it sure they are not in India. So it is imperative that only better teachers and not better education can incite people to turn into idea people in large numbers. But good teachers are few and far in between. So I am at a loss, to bring those guys out in the open. Youtube and e-learning are all okay, but I want it to be more dynamic, more subtle, more bandwidth-high, more … more… more…

Only then, my brother and your cousin will embrace the world of curiosity in a better way. And yes, let artistes be artistes, businessmen be businessmen, but let them be thinking, idea oriented people, at least, at the very least.

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