Independent consultant and ex-Techcrunch writer, Serkan Toto, had a coffee chat with me at Startups in Asia (Singapore). It was fun and that discussion has left a deep impression with me. Serkan said that many Southeast Asian entrepreneurs are not working hard enough, a comment that few would dare to speak on stage.
Some folks mistakenly thought that I was defending Southeast Asia on stage. But my thoughts are actually very much the same as Serkan’s. Entrepreneurs in this region aren’t lazy, but we’re certainly not working hard enough as compared to Chinese and Americans counterparts. This is a personal opinion and may not apply to you, of course.
Often there is more talk than actual work being done. That’s the general feeling that I get. More people actually want to be entrepreneurs because it’s cool and they think it is easy to get rich. You can get rich, for sure, but what are the chances? Only a handful know the painful truth that being an entrepreneur isn’t sexy.
I realized The Social Network (aka the Facebook movie) has had a great influence on young people. After seeing the movie, many friends and family members started asking me more about how they can be a tech entrepreneur. The movie, if you have seen it, mainly featured the glamorous side of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Well, the director had to do that because showing “Mark Zuckerberg” at work wouldn’t sell as many tickets.
But the success behind Facebook is the fruit of countless sleepless nights and weekends burned. There’s nothing glamorous if you’re going through it. At Penn Olson, we have had our own humble story so far. We work hard because we want to achieve a vision. And when we hire, working late nights is very much communicated and expected.
Now, if you have read this far and feeling a little guilt within your heart, congrats. It’s never too late. Work hard and push yourself to the limit. Build something for yourself and walk the talk. Otherwise take the other path and climb the corporate ladder if that would make you happier. There’s no shame to any route, but not giving your best is the real shame.