A call from Mumbai
I picked up the phone and I heard the familiar click, the momentary sound of the call centre, before the silence. It is at this point that I usually just hang up. If I stay on the phone, it will be someone claiming to be from Microsoft saying I have a problem with my computer. Or it will be someone claiming to be concerned that I haven’t received all the money I’m owed from my car accident. But I’ve never had an accident? Confronted with the truth, these callers usually just hang-up or make some shambolic attempt to defend their indefensible position.
This time, however, I stayed on the phone. I was talking to Divraj from Mumbai, claiming I had a problem with my windows computer. At this point in time, I only had mac computers, but I played along for a bit. I wondered where this was going to go. But my patience wore thin and I told him straight, “I have no windows computer”. He was angry and had a shout at me. As I listened to him shout, I heard the anger, the frustration emanating from Divraj, the scammer and I was overcome by curiosity; “Hold on, look I’m sorry I wasted your time, but I’m genuinely interested why an intelligent guy like you is scamming people for a living”.
He actually calmed down and we had a conversation about prospects in Mumbai. Divraj just couldn’t conceive of any other job he could possibly get that would pay him the money he was getting from this job. He was earning the equivalent of about $30,000, which is pretty good in Mumbai. I tried my best to convince him that actually with his degree in computer science, his ability to sell, albeit he was using it for bad, he could indeed do better. When we finally parted on good terms, Divraj was assuring me he would give it careful thought. He admitted that although the money was good, he wasn’t happy, he wasn’t fulfilled and he didn’t like being dishonest. He was making himself miserable, but couldn’t see a way out. Does that sound a little familiar?
Stuck in jobs that trap us and make us miserable
Although most of us aren’t working as telemarketing scammers, a large number of us are in jobs we dislike. We’re working for people and companies we don’t care much for. If you happen to be entrepreneurial, this is when thoughts start bubbling up in your mind: “What if I just make a break from the hamster-wheel job and start a business of my own?”
I’ve done it myself and I’m still doing it, still learning and it’s important to view it as a journey and not a destination. Yet because I have worked with so many different companies and organisations, along with my partner, Cathy; we’ve developed a lot of thinking around what makes businesses work or what makes them dysfunctional. We’ve been able to spot commonalities between problems. We both also happen to be avid psychology readers, so we’ve also applied a psychological lens to the problem.
Making experience useful, creating the course
Drawing on our own experience and the experience of clients we decided to spend a year collating our thinking. We researched the issues and authored a course and set up the infrastructure for a community. The aim is to help business at birth, help entrepreneurs approach their challenge with their eyes wide open. We want them to be mentally equipped to face the unknown path ahead.
We’ve called this course, ‘How to Start and Run a Legendary Business’. We’ve published it first on Udemy.com, an e-learning platform with millions of users. The thinking being that we could make use of their user base to find interested customers. However, we’re also building the community and hosting the course on our own ‘Mighty Network’, called ‘The Legendary Business Academy’.
We know the power of knowledge exchange, of good communication, of mentoring and coaching and so we want to bring this to life in a new community. What would be really cool is if Divraj turned up there one day, but I think we all have a little of Divraj in us.