This is not a text that will give you tips in the form of topics on how to be a high-successful entrepreneur or even offer secret tools. “Do this and enjoy the potatoes of the winner you will be”. Instead, I’ll write about the basics – “how to work” – and I’ll use what I’ve learned from astrophysics as an example to tell you about a great way to do business.
WHY READ THIS ARTICLE
Today there is a lot of talk about entrepreneurship. A question of context, as people write about what they are interested in: according to the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the evolution of entrepreneurial activity in Brazil made the country rank first among the 70 analyzed (pre-economic and policy). Not to mention the cultural aspiration that being an entrepreneur has become. In a quick Google search the term “Steve Jobs” brought up 317,000,000 results, while “Entrepreneurship” only returned 77,400,000.
It’s a shame that in the midst of this whirlwind of knowledge almost nothing is said about something fundamental like the fact that the decisions we make are based on our perception of reality. This means that to follow path A or G we go through a supposedly logical process of seeing the conditions that are given, judging them and acting according to the ends we expect.
The problem is that we see the world from a perspective infected by our ideas of what reality is and how the world works. This contamination comes from our personal baggage, from the values and beliefs that we have and that directly affect our eyes. It is almost a normalization, a saying-as-reality-should-be, and we use every decision opportunity to force our perspective in some way on practical life. And that affects business.
The real trick of a good decision, therefore, is to distance yourself from our theories and hypotheses about the characteristics of reality and truly listen to what it has to say, preferably with your eyes wide open.
In November 2015, Associação Aventura de Construir offered another training as it does monthly in Lapa de Baixo. The public is always made up of micro-entrepreneurs from the Northwest region of the city, from poor and peripheral neighborhoods. To attend it only costs the value of the ticket to reach the place. The difference of this short two-hour course was that it brought Professor Jorge Luis Melendez Moreno, from the Astronomy Department of the University of São Paulo.
On this day Professor Melendez explained his scientific research looking for a solar system with similarities to ours, as this would make it easier to find a planet like Earth. The method consists of using telescopes to look at light beams coming from distant stars in the universe in order to look for planets, which do not emit their own light and are almost invisible. Analyzing the beams it is possible to say if there is any stellar body gravitating a sun and that is how new planets and solar systems possibly the same as ours are found. The professor even told about how he changed his initial search hypothesis – and adjusted it in light of the first conflicting results.
BUT WHAT ABOUT BUSINESS?
Why would low-income micro-entrepreneurs close their businesses early and spend the amount of public transport fare to attend a lecture by a scientist who studies the stars?
To hear from Professor Melendez and Aventura de Construir how the scientific approach is the same that any entrepreneur should have in their business decisions: to see the signs of observable reality and be impacted by the messages. This is the working method that allows us to expand our reason in the face of reality, in addition to forcing the barriers of our own ideas. It is only by looking at the clues that reality offers you that we can reach our goals, like Professor Melendez. Another good example is that of Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin when he studied a plaque of bacteria that he had forgotten in his laboratory for weeks instead of discarding it. This “way of working” invariably implies being humble in the face of the facts, following the clues given and adapting your trajectory when necessary.
No entrepreneur should take anything he does for granted. Each challenging situation contains the answers to your overcoming. The French scientist Louis Pasteur used to say that chance only favors prepared people and requires observation.
REALITY, IN PRACTICE
I recently went to a coffee shop where I would have a meeting with three other people. After I sat down, I noticed that the place’s Wi-Fi had been blocked and the table plugs removed. I asked the cashier why the changes were made to hear a loud “because people spent too much time in here”. Here’s the first coffee shop that wants to shape customer needs and denies the fact that people need to hold regular meetings.