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Creating “no-brainers for the future”

By Rajesh Setty on Wed 03 Feb 2010, 11:01 PM – Leave Comment

First, I have to share a personal story to set the context.

This is the “behind the scenes” story of how a book series and now a book imprint was created over a dinner with a long-time friend. A friend who I respect a lot.

If I look at the entire last year (2009) and reflect on all the events that I attended and decide to pick on one event that was game-changing, it would be a talk by Charlie Rose at the Flint Center.

To be brutally honest, it was not the talk but the dinner I had with my long-time friend Mitchell Levy before the talk.

So, it was really the “pre-event meeting” that was game changing.

For the ten or so years I have known Mitchell, I don’t remember a conversation that was less than insightful. I always walk away with one or two things that makes me think and reflect and become better in one way or the other.

So, I was not expecting anything less. We talked about a number of things and over that time, I shared about my crazy idea – a book that I had written on Twitter (not about it but using it). The book was called THINKtweet. I shared with him the genesis of the idea and why the format would be increasingly relevant in the future.

For those interested, here is a quick video that provides a sneak-peek into the genesis of this project ( in less than ten minutes.)

Mitchell patiently heard me and by the end of the meeting, we had a plan to publish THINKtweet. We alao agreed that we should partner on this book series and grow it beyond this first book.

Over the next few weeks, my friends at Stresslimitdesign helped us design and package the book. Long story short – the book was published on June 1, 2009.

Over the next few months, we got serious interest from MANY people to publish their work in this format. The general consensus was that these were books designed for the A.D.D. generation.

A couple of months ago, my super-smart friend Karen Kang helped us brainstorm the branding for the series. Over the next few days, we renamed the series to THINKaha ( our books are designed to give at least a dozen “Aha Moments” in less than 30 minutes ) and also finalized a tag line which is:


Bite-sized books for thinking people

As of today, we have close to a dozen books in print and more coming. You can see the entire series here:

While this story was evolving, Mitchell and I realized that we had not finalized our business arrangement. I still remember that day when the arrangement was finalized. It was in a coffee shop (Roasted Coffee Bean) in Cupertino. It was at the end of a brainstorming meeting and we were just getting ready to leave. While heading back to our respective cars, we finalized the terms and the general roles we will play. It must have taken a total of two minutes to “negotiate” the business arrangement.

In essence, coming up with a “No Brainer” arrangement was a no-brainer for us.


The simple reason is that we both trusted each other completely. Trusted that both of us will look out for each other more than we look out for ourselves.

Mind you, that this “No Brainer” mindset didn’t develop overnight. It was the result of a long friendship built over a decade.

That philosophy of creating “No-brainers for the future” has saved me a ton of time, energy and heartache over the years.

The rule if there is any is simple – build lifetime relationships where you care for the concern of others involved as if it’s your own concern.

Many of your current relationships can blossom into “No-brainers for the future” if you put enough care into it.

If you have many such relationships, congratulations. Life is better that way. If not, it is not too late to start building them right now.

Posted under Business Models, Main Page, entrepreneurship.

4 Lessons from Jeff Bezos – Must Watch Video

By Rajesh Setty on Thu 23 Jul 2009, 6:55 AM – 3 Comments

In this wonderful video by Jeff Bezos about why Amazon acquired Zappos, Jeff shares four important lessons. The short talk is peppered with stories from the early Amazon days. This is a must-see video for all entrepreneurs and want-to-be entrepreneurs.

If you don’t have 9 minutes to spend on this one, here is a quick summary of the four lessons that Jeff shares:

1. Obsess over customers: We pay attention to our competition but that’s not where we put our energy. We truly obsess

2. Invent: Really important to invent. Any time we have a problem we don’t have “either/or” thinking. We try to invent where we try to have both. We need to invent on their behalf. We also need to listen to our customers.

3. Think Long-term: It is actually much rare than you think. Most of the initiatives we take may actually to take 5-7 years to pay any dividends for us. It may pay dividends to our customers immediately but our shareholders may have to wait a long time to see the returns. It is a huge competitive advantage to think long-term.

4. It’s Always Day 1: There’s always more invention in the future, always more customer innovation and new ways to innovate over customers.

For those of you who are willing to make that investment, please click Play below and be ready to be thrilled.

Have a great Thursday!

Hat Tip: Mike Stelzner (Twitter: @Mike_Stelzner) for pointing the video. Thanks Mike.

Posted under entrepreneurship.

The Three Stages of an Idea

By Rajesh Setty on Sun 28 Jun 2009, 11:41 AM – 20 Comments


All of us get MANY new ideas everyday. Majority of these ideas will never see the light of the day.They die in our minds. But, some ideas we choose to pursue. How do we determine which ones to kill and which ones to pursue? It’s a million dollar question, really.

Here is one model to think about what makes you pursue some ideas and what makes you abandon most of them. At each stage, there are a few attributes that become VERY important – so I have chosen to include a short note with each of the attributes in various stages.

So, here is that simple model:

1.Think: This is where you are bouncing off many ideas and determining which ones to pick

The focus attributes in this stage are:

Curiosity: Curiosity moves you from the sidelines right into the arena. It’s an entry ticket to the playing field. Without curiosity, you are a mere spectator.

Connection: You may be curious about many things but not all of them you will connect with so much that you want to spend your time, energy, money and other resources to pursue them. For example, you might think of a new kind of crib or a baby stroller but you just may not connect with the idea enough to do anything about that brilliant idea.

Conviction: You make a deeper connection when you feel it in your gut. That’s when conviction comes in. You just know that this is something that you want to make it happen.

2. Tinker: This is where you have zeroed in on one or two ideas to pursue. You are now mobilizing the resources to pursue those ideas.

The focus attributes in this stage are:

Challenge: You know it takes time, energy, money and other resources to make this work. You know it’s not going to be easy. You know that the odds are stacked up against you. You know that you may not get all the support to make this work. Yes, you know lots of things might go wrong and still, you are willing to face the challenge and pursue that idea.

Courage: You are bold enough to take the first step – this is where the rubber meets the road.

Capacity: You are able to convince enough people to build the capacity now and in the future to make this idea a reality.

3. Take Off: This is where you are off to the races with the chosen ideas.

The focus attributes in this stage are:

Creativity: Things won’t happen the way you planned out. That happens only in the movies. In real life, it’s all above “improv” – real-time re-adjustments and adaptations. You have the creativity (within yourself or within the team that you have put together) to keep the momentum going.

Change: You are not only for change but you look forward to it. You welcome it. Change is the name of the game for any idea to go from a concept to reality and you have to be able to embrace it with grace.

Commitment: You are committed to the see this through and it shows up everyday in your words and actions.

I wish you the very best with those ideas that you plan to pursue and make them a reality!

Posted under Main Page, entrepreneurship.