A Lesson From Matt Flannery, co-Founder of Kiva

Matt Flannery

A takeaway from Valley

Did I tell you that I participated in E-bootcamp as a partner to help organize the event? I was lucky to have the luxury of staying slightly over a week in Valley and on Stanford University Campus for the event. I really learned a lot. I am still suffering from some information overload caused by large influx of lessons from visionary figures, VCs, and fellow entrepreneurs. For the key lessons that I learned, you can find here in the link.

I got a chance to talk with Matt Flannery, co-founder of Kiva, the pioneer in web-based micro-lending sector. I approached him and asked this question. “How did you get confidence in yourself? when you had no track record and when people call you idealists or crazy” He made a gentle grin and said. “Just get small things done for today. Gain confidence from that, not from what others say. Let confidence build itself”

A way to overcome self-doubt

My focus has been future-dominant. I’ve always thought about my bold vision and strived hard to align my current activities with the vision. While it sounds perfectly logical, it just did not work for me. So I pivoted my vision to the following, inspired by Matt’s advice.

Think today

This is counter-intuitive as a piece of advice for entrepreneurs. Yet there is a point. Whenever I think about the vision, I feel compelled to disregard myself as “Nobody”, “Useless guy”, “Underachiever”, and “loser”.  Compared to the size of my vision, the size of me at the moment is infinitely smaller. It is not easy to overcome this nagging self-doubt coming from comparison. Yet there is a little psychological trick to bypass this problem.

By thinking today and completing tasks of today, one can base her confidence on them. Now one has a tangible, if small, achievement that she can derive confidence from. To prevent one from getting short-sighted, one needs to think vision as well, but only occasionally, say once a half-year.

Excellent implementation is the universal language.

In entrepreneur’s world, mediocrity is a common enemy. Excellence is built through actions. Although I do not personally like Samwer Brother’s philosophy of “executrepreneur”. I think highly of them for their mastery of execution.

I came to a conclusion that I need two years of hard-training to transform myself as a hardcore executor. I have bold vision but I am a bit far from top-level executor. And that’s where I am heading for. This is the most crucial lesson that I learned from Valley. Idea is cheap and it’s all about implementation.

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