The term “collaborative consumption” was inked a few years back (see the TED video below) and has since led a sharing revolution through technology, which makes 10000-year-old human habit “sharing” easy and fun. The “sharing” mechanism is “what is mine is yours”. In fact, it really is “what is mine is what you can ‘rent’ or ‘borrow’”. It involves consuming, collaborative mechanism, trust, and trading.
Ever since using airbnb and made bunch of friends and money, I’ve been thinking: Not all sharing experiences are created equal. While lots of technology startups simply enable sharing transactions, others are creating meaningful human relations while sharing: I think “buddy” collaborative consumption says it right.
Mark my words on it: only those who can create human relationships while sharing are built to last, and loved by people.
Airbnb and zimride are just two such examples of “buddy” collaborative consumption.
The key characteristic for a “buddy” collaborative consumption is “time together”. When a group of people are brought together by airbnb or zimride to share resource, they spent a lot time together. Many of my airbnb guests become my dear friends and each other’s resource, because we spent a lot of time together talking, sharing. Zimride literally put together people in one moving car for hours if not days, imagine how many jokes they are telling each!
On the contrary, lots of other sharing enablers simply provide a trading mechanism.
If we can create a platform not only enabling age old sharing mechanism, but also bring people to spend time together while sharing, it’s more likely to be loved by our users.
This is a TED talk by Dan, a high school math teacher. Yes, a high school math teach can have TED ideas worth spreading. You just have to watch.
There is a wow effect if you are patient enough to watch the entire video, and you will be rewarded with his discovery. I only wish I grew up learning math this way.
But it’s not too late. As entrepreneurs we are trying to solve real world problems, we can and should put this problem formulation mindset in use before going out blindly working on a “solution” that is not needed.
So, ask ourselves to try answer this question in one short sentence: what is the problem?
Can’t describe it in words? Find a real world object and show it (visualization). Technology today makes it so easy to capture any real life moments…Once it’s tangible and visible, problem will be formulated naturally. From there it will become easier to come up with variety of solutions.
I have a bad habit of checking profiles of successful startup founders, most of time it leaves me admire, wonder, and even feel inadequate in comparison. I see all these extremely smart people either have JD/MD/Master/PHD from top school at an early age, or quit the school all together to become one of their own kind. Lot of times, they are an expert in their chosen fields, a protege software developer, a gifted scientist etc.; If success is measured by how well one is doing what s/he is good at, it definitely seems far reaching to me.
I am not sure how many people are similar to me: have lot of different interests, an active mind but a bit of ADD, “know” many things well but not good enough to be an “expert”, by which standard it dictates the authority of giving speeches, lectures, writing books, publishing papers etc.
Just a few examples based on myself: I am good with mathematics, was fluent with C coding at one point, but nowhere near the level of mathematician/statistician/hackers. I like playing soccer, a lot, but not at varsity level, I don’t think I can coach a soccer camp for kids. I like playing guitar, can even sing along a bit, but not anywhere near to be able to perform. I am proficient with web analytics, but not at the level it needs to deep hacking or customizing it. I am a good analyst who can do a lot of things with spreadsheet, database that most of people can not, but comparing to best in the breed, I am probably not as proficient.
The problem is, I never feel the need to go deeper than I already went. On top of that, I just don’t feel I am smart enough to become a leading authority/force within a field especially in tech industry.
Are there a lot of people like me?
A TED talk by Brene Brown resonated with my inner vulnerability, because it celebrates ”willingness to let go who we thought we should be in order to be who we were”.
Society tells us “you need to be an expert on something to succeed in life”.
What if that is not what I want: to become an expert on something?
What if I deem my worthiness somewhere else? What if I am at my happiest only when I am feel my personal worthiness? Is it possible to still “succeed” at that moment, even when you are not being an expert?
I think to many entrepreneurs (to-be), the inner struggle is to break that curse: the curse of common sense of “expertise”, externally-enforced discipline, the strong desire to turn the table around and prove others are wrong about “me”.
I even begin to question myself, among most successful entrepreneurs, the most critical driving force might simply NOT be their superior IQs, pedigree, gifts. Instead, it may simply be the desire to embrace their inner worthiness and let it shine.
Watch Brene Brown’s talk here: