I was born in Ceará. For those who are not familiar, Ceará is a Brazilian state known for its arid lands in the backlands, reminiscent of a desert, and its beautiful beaches that enchant tourists from all over the world (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceará).
The scarcity of everything has taught us resilience. And this resilience is a precious asset for ensuring our survival and for creating a people stubborn enough to invent things. Scarcity in the era of abundance (https://amzn.to/3oyO25R) teaches us to be more "Lean" (https://amzn.to/429brZ8) in order to create a lot with very little.
One of the great inventors from Ceará was José de Alencar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/José_de_Alencar), an inventor of stories. José de Alencar wrote "Iracema" (https://amzn.to/3orydxR) in 1865, which tells the story of the beautiful Indian woman Iracema, who falls in love with the Portuguese warrior Martim and gives birth to the first mestizo, symbolizing the great mixture of peoples we have in Brazil.
According to a local legend, Iracema had the power to answer the questions of travelers who sat by a bonfire on Mucuripe Beach. They had the chance to consult her and find answers to their deepest inquiries, in a trance-like state that invoked the spirits of the greatest knowledge in the world. Iracema was a kind of Oracle of Delphi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oracle) from Greek mythology.
One day, Iracema meets one of these travelers who confides in her about all his anguish in entrepreneurship and not knowing exactly the path he should follow for the success of his digital products. Iracema, who had always been timeless, didn't exactly know what entrepreneurship or digital meant, but she knew how to summon all the spirits of wisdom to clarify the doubts of this young man who was so lost.
Then Iracema orders the traveler to sit by a bonfire and, while observing the small boats on the beach and a full moon that stubbornly turned night into day, start contemplating his uncertainties in a way that she can discern which spirits she should invite to join them that night.
To everyone's surprise, the first spirit that appears speaks in a strange language, which mysteriously was interpreted by the Indian woman with her magical powers.
And he said, "Young one, when creating products, you shouldn't think about the millions of uses or list functionalities like a Swiss army knife. You should understand the 'why' of the product. The reason it was created. Once you grasp the 'why' of this product, you can then proceed to think about the 'how' and 'what'. Great entrepreneurs who understand this bring purpose to their products and not only guide their teams but also create a legion of followers for their product. Apple doesn't make computers just as Harley doesn't make motorcycles. Discover the 'why' of your product and develop the rest from there." And suddenly, the spirit starts to fade away but not before saying to the traveler, "Read!" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4), (https://amzn.to/43oVRtD)
The second spirit begins to materialize and says, "To create products, you need a strong team. Build a team of missionaries, not mercenaries. They will find the best way to create the solution. Sometimes you will need to show this team harsh realities, but together you will find a way out. Your journey as an entrepreneur is a decade-long journey, so prepare yourself to run a marathon, not a 100-meter sprint. Are you willing to dedicate the next 10 years of your life to solving this problem?
And before disappearing, the spirit whispers like the wind, "Read!" (https://amzn.to/436DFoN)
The third spirit emerges slowly, appearing to be older than the others. It speaks in a more deliberate manner, conveying the serenity of one who has lived many lives. It says, "Cohesive and small teams," and repeats, "Cohesive and small!" If you want to further delay a delayed project, hire more people for it! The effort of communication and coordination will destroy you, so be careful. And before disappearing completely, it repeats the phrase that was already in the young one's mind: "Read!" (https://amzn.to/3IENEd0)
The fourth spirit emerges from the fire. He introduces himself as the "firefighter-in-chief" and speaks with the wisdom of someone who has walked this path many times before - blitzscaling! The word sounds strange even to Iracema, but he explains: you need to scale the business, make it grow. "Sometimes you have to let fires burn," he says. Find the business model and make it grow. Sometimes you won't have all the tools you need to scale this business and you'll have to do "things that don't scale to scale the business." Do things manually, prove that the business model is correct, and then rush to automate. No one had understood what he meant by blitzscaling, and with all the patience of a philosopher (yes, he is a philosopher graduated from Oxford), he says he coined the term inspired by blitzkrieg, which was a way the Germans had to surprise and swiftly capture an entire city during World War II. Hence the name, which precisely represents the idea of scaling rapidly and taking the market by surprise. The fire begins to fade, and the firefighter-in-chief disappears with a sound that can be heard in the distance, saying, "Read!" (https://amzn.to/3BV7zR6)
Iracema was already tired of this whole story but remembered that something important was missing. Something that the young traveler hadn't thought to ask but she knew would make his journey smoother. Something that would teach the traveler about balance. And knowing the importance of it, she summons the fifth spirit.
He appears with the countenance of Indian wisdom and begins to distribute phrases that seem like tweets in the traveler's mind, short but making complete sense:
- "Understand that ethical wealth creation is possible. If you secretly despise wealth, it will elude you."
- "You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. You must own equity - a piece of a business - to gain your financial freedom."
- "Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and, above all, integrity."
- "Specific knowledge is knowledge that you cannot be trained for. If society can train you, it can train someone else, and replace you."
- "Pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people."
- "There is no skill called 'business.' Avoid business magazines and business classes."
And he disappears as if by magic, but not before repeating the phrase: "Read!" (https://amzn.to/3ODYNOR)
Many people ask me for book recommendations. I'm not sure why they ask me, but the books mentioned above are a good starting point for entrepreneurs (The text above is best read by clicking on the book references). They won't make you create anything but will help you think. To learn from the experiences of others. The responsibility for execution will always be yours. And no matter how much you learn, there will always be more and more things to learn, and more mistakes will be made. Make different mistakes, that's learning, and it's part of the journey.
The legend of Iracema told here is a big lie. I made up all of this to tell this story. But quoting Murakami once again (I've talked about him here - https://www.regismelo.com/the-path-of-im-perfection/), a writer is a professional creator of lies.
I turned 48 this week. Time and reading have taught me to create (well-intentioned) lies to tell stories. Thank you to all the authors who inspire me every day. I hope one day I can write lies as well-written as yours.
(All the photos shown here are from the coast of Ceará captured by the great photographer Alex Uchoa. To learn more about his work, visit https://www.instagram.com/alexuchoaphotography/)