Like most entrepreneurs, earlier this year I was inspired to challenge myself further, embrace new ideas, work on being a better leader and get out of my comfort zone.
Those who know me personally attest to how entrepreneurship changed my personality, not just for the better. Over the last four years I had invested every dollar and minute of my life into starting and building my company. I haven’t seen my family in three years and missed out on some special moments in my friends’ lives as well. Knowingly, I was sucked into a state where I was burnt out.
During the middle of the year, I decided to change this and to slow down and get things done right rather than done a little faster, and to protect my energy. I also embraced certain activities and philosophies, which may not have a direct association to the work I do, but ended up shaping my leadership mindset.
Embracing Newfound Lessons
Here’s what I embraced and how it impacted various areas of my life as an entrepreneur:
My biggest challenge this year was my fear of public speaking and feeling paralyzed when I was to speak on a podium. So, I enrolled in a public speaking class, but didn’t go beyond the first two sessions, as I discovered it really wasn’t how I wanted to learn.
After a lot of internal conflict, I managed to gather the courage to take up speaking opportunities that came my way and face my fears head-on! I have improvised substantially and public speaking is a work in progress, but I am no longer running away from what was once my worst nightmare!
Growing up, I was an avid reader. I lost my grasp of this excellent hobby when life hit me. Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s public challenge, to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies, I was motivated to pick up from where I had left off.
In 2015 I ended up reading almost two-dozen books, mostly during the summer where I was able to incorporate reading into my daily routine, and discipline myself to sit at the waterfront every evening, and read. The most influential book I read this year was “ Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” and “It’s All Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson.
Over the last 24 months I have tried relentlessly to get access to some of the top publications, as a contributor. That vision was realized this year as I was recognized as a “Thought Leader” and got the opportunity to contribute to the top business and entrepreneurship publications.
I completed a five-day workshop with yoga and meditation experts. During the workshop, I learned that my success as an entrepreneur hinged on finding my internal emotional balance. My takeaways were around controlling passion, expressing gratitude, focusing on my best work and getting beyond my comfort zone.
Paying it Forward
No entrepreneur has succeeded without a little help along the way. Entrepreneurs have a responsibility to support other entrepreneurs; in the form of donations or equity investments to champion the growth of new ideas. Summer 2015, I made a decision to pay it forward by investing in budding entrepreneurs.
My biggest learning this year came in the form of understanding corporate governance. As a first-time entrepreneur, I was focused on starting and growing a business, building a team and implementing scalable processes. I also had my first encounter with corporate governance.
I learned what it meant to be a board member, the responsibilities that come along with it and fiduciary obligations. It’s not something you can learn by reading, you must learn it by making mistakes and putting yourself out there. If you’re fortunate you will experience this lesson and that is when you truly “graduate entrepreneurship!”
This year, I also joined communities to broaden my entrepreneurship background and network. Specifically, TiE and YEC, which are invite-only communities of successful entrepreneurs that help each other with personal and professional development; both of which increased my network net worth!
New Year, Open Mind
When it comes to embracing a new year ahead, I want to go into 2016 with an open mind. So, I hope I can embrace new ideas and activities that allow me to:
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine.
Essentially, meditation is defined as the act or process of spending time in quiet thought. Yet, I am still trying to understand what meditation truly means for me. Some people meditate by chanting, as a breathing exercise, and others reflect on life. Hopefully 2016 will enlighten me with more wisdom.
Make the World Better
Most importantly, I am ready to jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon, once again, wiser than before! There are many unresolved problems and opportunities that exist in our world today, and I hope to identify one that inspires me to dedicate myself to the task of solving it.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sohin Shah is an entrepreneur and one of the early adopters of crowdfunding. He successfully crowdfunded Valuation App from 57 backers in 2012 and went on to start iFunding which is now one of the leading real estate crowdfunding platforms in the world. He is extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and loves discussing new ideas. Connect with @SohinShah1 on Twitter.
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