Have you ever heard about the "fear of winning"? Have you ever suffered from it?
I have, more times than I can count. For most of my life, I have been a number 2. I was always quite good, but rarely the best. At school, I often finished the year number 2 or 3 of my class. At chess, I was the second best in my club. At University, I finished my 3rd year of Uni just behind my friend Idriss, who incidentally is now my co-founder in my new venture Kasaz. In my previous startup, I gave up the CEO role to Phil, who had more business experience and was much better equipped than I was to lead the company. Quite frankly, occurrences where I have been number one at anything are rare glitches probably due to dumb luck.
One thing that I have always been very good at is criticising. It is easy to say that something is done badly, but it is another thing to do better. Leading involves making countless decisions and being judged for it. Some are good and some are bad. Deep down I was scared, I always found it easier to criticise, I was scared of leading. I was scared of what people would think of my decisions. I was scared of being questioned.
Then one day, on a trip to Boston to see my brother in law, we passed by Harvard. It was an inspiring place and I fell in love immediately as I saw the chess players playing outside the main gates. I started contemplating doing an MBA at this prestigious university. This was not a new idea for me, I had thought about it before and this trip just reinforced my conviction that I should do one. I was interested in learning a bit more theory about business. I spent the next few months pondering a move to Boston and checking the application process.
Deep down though, the story was different. I started suspecting that the real reason why I wanted to do an MBA was different. Troubled by this thought, I spent much time reflecting and after a while it became clear to me. I could finally acknowledge the real reason to myself and to my wife: I was petrified. The very idea of starting a new startup brought back painful memories of my previous experience and I was scared of failing. Comufy had been rough on my social life and my health, so why start again?
They say that acknowledging one's failures is the first step to redemption. Once I could openly acknowledge my limitations, I could finally start working on myself and overcome the fear. I started reflecting daily on my fears and started reading inspirational books. If you are looking for inspirational books for startup founders, read Bold by Peter Diamandis, this book transformed me. In there you will learn about the great leaders of today in technology, and their goals. Elon Musk came back from Russia one day and realised that rockets were expensive. He then decided to create a private rocket company and launch people to Mars. Wait, what? A ROCKET COMPANY and send people to MARS?? Meanwhile Peter Diamandis himself was busy creating a business that would mine asteroids. Let that sink in for second: Mining asteroids. Now THAT is what I call ambition.
I reflected a long time on my many readings and still do to this day. I have come to realise that these leaders all have something in common, they do not care what others think. Little by little, while thinking and rethinking about these leaders, I started believing that perhaps I too had what it takes to dream big.
Since then, I have developed a fearless attitude to company building. I have started a new business called Kasaz, which aims at revolutionising real estate in Spain. The goal is to become the Spanish leader within eighteen months and the European leader within three to four years. This business will bring a seismic shift to the industry. Some people will think that I am deluded, but here if the beautiful thing, I do not have a shred of doubt that this business will become a resounding success. It will transform the way that people think about real estate platforms, and it will be worth billions. I say it loud and clear, I hope that you also find it in you to stop caring about what others think and to overcome your own limitations.
Onwards and forwards, let's make this world a better place one startup at a time.