The Beauty of Inexperience: The Low-End of the Curve

Last week I was in India to launch Build an A Team.

I don’t know quite what I expected. I read The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye when I was younger and Freedom at Midnight more recently; I’ve seen the film Gandhi. As an investor in the emerging markets (Latin America), I had some sense of India as a market–but that was it.

From the moment I stepped off the plane in Bangalore, I loved it there. It was 3 am, but so much was happening that it seemed more like 9 pm. The activity—the bustle—the frenetic abundance of life.

When Raju Narisetti (former CEO, Gizmodo Media), one of my very first podcast guests, explained to me that the U.S. doesn’t really have big cities, I didn’t get it. I lived in Manhattan for many years; I know big cities. But Indian cities are hugely populous—approaching 20 million people in Mumbai, with Delhi a close second. Bangalore at ~12 million is second tier. In India, New York City would be more of a town.

And it was hot—80 degrees at 3 am; during the day, in Delhi, it got up to 105.

I loved the chaos. Driving is so easy in the United States—comparatively—you can practically fall asleep. Not in India. You may be going one direction, but even on freeways, people will go the wrong direction. There are cars, two wheelers, bicycles—in the smaller villages, cows. A constant din of honking. People honk as if they are greeting each other. Not that I was driving—that would have been a bad idea.

I loved listening to my friends Amit Kapoor and Neera Vohra recount their family histories. Two generations ago they lived in what is now Pakistan, and then their families immigrated to what is now India; they had to start over. Lots of families started over. Like I said, I’ve read Freedom at Midnight, but it felt much more real after I heard these stories.

I loved how the women dress—their beautiful garments.

I loved that while I could speak English (a relief), I was surrounded by people speaking many other languages, the tip of a cultural iceberg encompassing all their lifeways and ideas, yet we could still communicate. And I was grateful for the safe harbor of HBR, a familiar anchor in a sea of NEW.

I loved hearing the immigrant story of Ram Ganglani—growing up in India and leaving to go to Africa then the Middle East to make his way as an importer/exporter, his own kind of disruptor.

I loved meeting Sumeet Shetty at SAP India—a quiz bowl champion. He made a video to encourage my daughter (a quiz bowl enthusiast) and her team to be successful. It was a unique and inspiring gift I could bring my daughter from India.

I loved visiting the Taj Mahal—truly a wonder—a beautiful spectacular place.

My friends who are 1st and 2nd generation immigrants have a new context in my mind. I have always known they are from India. Now I know where they are from; where their families come from. I know them better, and I like them more—as is so often the case with people.

Perhaps that’s why Indian food tastes so good now. A week ago it didn’t. I didn’t hate it, but I could do without it. But before last week I didn’t have a connection to it. Now I do.

It’s a gift to be a novice, something to embrace and appreciate.

To have fresh eyes; a curious mind.

To re-discover in mid-life the wonder of childhood.

Speaking of wonder, I encourage you to listen to my new guest, Pat Flynn, on the Disrupt Yourself podcast. He has a fascinating and inspiring personal story of solving a problem for himself that turned out to be a solution for many other people as well. I think you are going to LOVE it.

And finally, in the spirit of learning from Pat, we are launching an affiliate program with Heleo, The Next Big Idea Book Club. I’ve signed up—it’s sponsored by Susan Cain, Adam Grant, Dan Pink, and Malcolm Gladwell. All people I admire. We’d love to have you join us. You can sign up here.

My best,

Click to access the login or register cheese