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1/ Things I learnt from the Valley Trip last week.
P.S. these are purely based on my experience and observations, and in no way an expert commentary. Either way, we all have a lot to learn!
2/ There are lot of essential factors at work - such as accountability, experience mapping, averaging to better, evangelism, optimism etc. And it’s difficult to figure the initial few but here goes, in no particular order.
3/ Rules
The first thing you ought to notice!
It’s a small crossing. You can possibly cross it in less than 5 seconds, if you run. There are no cars around. And yet people wait, for the sign to allow you to walk. It’s a great premise! How?
4/ No accidents
Rules help to set a great overall ecosystem culture. People cross without worrying. Cars run without a sudden need to brake. There are no ambiguities. $250 is Jaywalking fine I believe. Everyone is accountable - anyone can be punished.
5/ Attention to detail
Rules are not written without exceptions and overriders. A biker (bicycle) must get down and walk in the company of pedestrians. Every N houses should be accompanied by a park. And so on. Everything has a logic and a premise.
6/ Real Estate
The prices are high. And yet, very affordable, for the amenities they offer. Compare it to the economic difference, and you will be shocked. Delhi with lower economy, has similar sized house at similar cost. Infrastructure is the key!
7/ Infrastructure
Rules and expenses are balanced with amazing infra. Almost every street has a traffic light. All paths, to drive or walk, are paved equally. Amazing arrangements to keep dust at bay. Signages are marked with precision and at good distance.
8/ Greeting with a smile
Strangers do that. They will be the first to wave or say hi. They need not know you. They are uninhabited like that. This makes you welcomed, feel at ease. You become a part of them. The relationship with the ecosystem starts there.
9/ Response
Is a given - if you seem like a decent human. You are not asking for random requests, spamming etc., most people will respond, even if with a basic ‘No’. And that’s good enough. You know the answer - that’s important!
10/ Helpful
Everyone is! They like you, will help. They like your work, will help. You’re human, will help. Hey stranger, will help! It’s the key response of this ecosystem. They will do whatever it takes, to help.
11/ Give first
Is the reason everyone helps IMO. The thinking is long-term. They hardly care for what can they gain today. Or if ever! They will give what they can. Help, contacts, referrals, guidance, place to stay, reworked schedules, et al.
12/ Gratitude
If you offered anything, including a smile, they won’t forget to thank you. Might seem a little too formal but it works. It creates a sense of helpfulness and optimism. This again, is the key IMO. Thanks for reading till now :)
13/ Optimism
Throughout the trip, I didn’t come across anyone who was not in an optimistic mood. How does that happen? I think if you reread the thread, you’ll be able to trace the factors. And optimism in itself is a great push! Agree?
14/ No judgements
All the more reason to be optimistic. Are you starting? Have you failed already? Did you quit midway? All these are just learning grounds as they say. None of these are forever - something they truly believe in.
15/ Acceptance
To just be. To experiment. To fail. To be fine with 3 jobs. To being a house husband. No judgements, right? They truly believe in - whatever makes you click! No one I met was trying to show an unreal scenario.
16/ Fluidity - enjoying the journey
Entrepreneurs, VCs, influencers, key ecosystem people - no one has their thoughts written in stone. They are always open to newer perspectives. The belief is to enjoy the journey as much as have amazing win(s) along with it.
17/ Accountability
If everything is so hunky dory, how does the work really get done? Because everyone is accountable. They get the job done! Not just what they should do. But what should be done, in entirety. No one is ashamed to get their hands dirty.
18/ Value of Time
Every minute counts. 11pm meeting starts at 11. Not 11:02. They don’t make you wait. And yet, they are OK in adjusting for you. Fluidity?! 15mins meetings are great & constructive. No beating around the bush. Crisp discussions!
19/ Work in 3 phases
The actual one. What we know as work! To get the job done. This is where accountability begins. And doesn’t end here. Next is creation - not for work. But for the community, the ecosystem. This is how the system grows. What’s the third?
20/ Sharing endlessly
Process at work. Discussion with friends. Observations. Insights. Discoveries. Hacks or Frameworks. Good books to read. Fantastic tools to try. Good products being hunted. That’s the third and it’s big. So is creating for the ecosystem. Isn’t it?
21/ Relationships beyond work
Why do they create or share, I thought? Give first! Do more than for self. Create newer relationships. They need not focus on just work discussions. And yet be professional. Or not. The idea is to be curious, helpful and grow together.
22/ Communication
Almost everyone uses the same terminology. There is a specific word for stating everything they know. They keep their statements short. Everyone chooses their words carefully, to be precise, effective and to sound encouraging. They value time & understanding.
23/ Encouragement
Why & how, I thought? It makes the conversation comfortable. You open up easily, and are far more observant to what’s being communicated. Bitter < Bittersweet. Encouraging is a better habit builder than discouraging. What is the intent? To help & grow.
24/ Solutions, not problems
It’s the premise of encouraging, while keeping the accountability high. Critique, only when asked. Do not offer unsolicited suggestions. And when asked, don’t just show the problem. It’s easy to say. Show the path, the solution, the possibilities.
25/ Expectation vs Reality
There are hardly any discrepancies here. Doing what we say, and saying what we are to do, is the key. No rosy promises - clear expectations. Precise choice of words. Optimising for time & communication. Aim for the moon, and do whatever it takes.
26/ Optimised for Time
That’s the currency - time! Clear communication. Real expectations. Acceptance. Following the rules. Removing ambiguities. Creating optimisation tools. Sharing learnings. Creating for the ecosystem. If one thread connects all, it’s time optimisation!
27/ Process & Systems
Are built to optimise. Communication. Expectations. Time. Accountability. Rules. Whatever helps the ecosystem. Perhaps the origin of most products we use today - Airtable to Uber, Apple to Figma. Optimises? Adds Value? Worth the $$$.
28/ Uber Pool Express
One good example of optimisation. Uber = great cars, good drivers. Pool = sharing the ride. Express = walk nearby to keep the car as much as on the main roads. Share the resource, reduce the $$$, but even within that, optimise for time.
29/ Experience Mapping
From Uber to Verizon, Facebook to Cafes, everyone is mapping experiences, consciously. Good Friday to you! Hi, how can I help you today? Want menu or shall I suggest what I love? I felt this should be the start of any User Experience - map for betterment.
30/ Health
Did I miss that? They don’t. Most of their systems are inclusive of health. Most innovations are built around it. Pedestrians first. Pro-bike (bicycle) approach. Hiking is big. Most go for picnics and camp out with nature. Recreation is built around health.
31/ Evangelism
Another key aspect built into their DNA? Almost everyone evangelises. Systems. Tools. Processes. Healthy Choices. Food & Cuisines. You name it - and they evangelise it, for each other. Part of help, optimism, encouragement? Perhaps! Works big time!
32/ Average to Better
In the sum of it all, in most cities, a new person in the room averages smarter people in the room. Not here! Chances are, a below average person is averaged to better in the room. Their philosophy is growth, and together. Collective selfishness, no?
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