Continuing our research on what makes great entrepreneurs and their work towards facing the challenges involved, our lovely Behaviour Hackers team is sharing with you today the story of Simon Austen. He is the CEO and founder of Zoku which has been running for 4 years now.
“Zoku was founded in 2015 with the intention of creating a new generation of personal technology, in reaction to the crude, inelegant and intrusive standards of the current state of the art. The Zoku mission is to create technology that is intuitive, invisible and constant, to enrich and support lives through technology, and remove the dependency on obstructive smartphones and crude peripherals. Ultimately we aim to facilitate society’s transition into a world where accessing information and entertainment is as natural as a sense.”
Let’s scroll down and find out a bit more about Simon’s journey. Enjoy!:)
Q.1. Was there a time where you felt you want to give up? What did you do? What kept you going?
S: “All the time. I think there’s a certain amount of pride, because I’ve always wanted to achieve something and never really quite achieved my potential. I suppose the flip side of that is the sunk cost fallacy (a continued behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources-time, money, or effort). 3.5 years in…giving up is just a waste of 3.5 years of work. If I can just power through…
Other things that kept me going is, when I got to a really bad place, something came out that suddenly reinvigorated the process (i.e. money, a person or technology, entered into my experience of awareness). I think that is just serendipity – it just happens like that.
The frequency of that happening requires you to have enough stamina to go from one moment of serendipity to the next!”
Q.2. How often these moments happen?
S: “Not very often…maybe they happen once every 3-6 months. So, you have to be prepared of 5 months of success and then it diminishes, and there is a month of “depression” just praying there is one ray of light that will appear from wherever.”
Tip! When asked what are the traits of a successful entrepreneur, Elon Musk said,
“This requires a lot of self-analysis, which is very hard to do, being so close by definition. I think people do not think critically enough. People assume too many things to be true without a sufficient basis in that belief. It is very important that people closely analyse what is supposed to be true, analyse things by first principles not by analogy, or not by convention. If you assume things are true by convention, which is actually what most people do, then it’s difficult to gain insight into how things can be bettered.
Also, people tend to overweight risk on a personal level. People are mostly afraid of failure, but they should be less risk averse, when there is not much at risk. ”- Elon Musk
Q.3. Is it all about the passion for your product?
S: “It is, because I’m driven to invent stuff, it’s in the core of my being.
If I weren’t to do this, I would be doing EXACTLY the same thing with something else!
And I’m happy, or at least content, to do that. It can be really hard, and can be miserable sometimes, but I know it’s what I need to do, it’s my calling, my passion.
Even if the day/week/month has gone really badly, no progress has been made, there will always be that time where you lay in bed dropping off to sleep, and – because you can see the whole thing in its entirely complete version and you thought about it every day for years and years and years – it’s already (kind of) there!
So, it’s bridging the gap between that and what reality looks like now, not the fantasy in your head, but the future memory. It’s a reality that it’s GOING to occur.
You become so familiar and so attached to that idea that it seems like a conclusion. So, any adversity is by definition temporary, because you know it’s going to happen – even with no proof, but it’s so crystallised in your mind.
I imagine that it could be considered a type of insanity! It could be detrimental simply because you’re making decisions based on a fantasy, something that you don’t know it exists, but you have absolute faith that it does!”
“Every business needs a maniac and a minder” – Stephen Lloyd
Q.4. However, I assume that must be based on something more than just a fantasy in your head, is that right? How do you test your idea?
S: ”Yes, you are testing the idea in various ways, one of them is testing whether people want it- if people keep saying “this is great”, “I want it”, it makes it feel worthwhile.
It forces you to realise you’re not just doing it selfishly. Although, it is selfish at the end of the day, people keep praising me for my “ingenuity” and my “stamina”, but that’s not true actually.
I want it to work, I want it to be there and to materialise it!
To go back to the previous question, I think the passion in this context doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. You can be passionately violent, or passionately hateful, but it’s still such an intensity of emotions. There is the other side, being passionately happy or excited, but it is all underpinned by this drive. I can hate how badly something’s gone, and I can love how well something’s gone, but they’re two sides of the same coin. For me, that coin is the driving force.
Q.5. What would you say to yourself at the beginning of your journey? Or, to someone who is at the start of their career as an entrepreneur?
S: “I wouldn’t tell anything to myself. I don’t have any belief in destiny, and I think the series of steps that I’ve taken got me here.
I’ve learned many lessons by talking to other people who went through the same thing. Finding mentors is the most valuable thing.”
Q.6. Have you ever experienced self-doubt regarding your business and yourself, or Impostor Syndrome?
S: “Always. I’m intimately familiar with IS. Right now, talking to you and thinking someone’s gonna read it, and I’m talking as if I’m in a position of authority, it makes me think “What gives me the right?!”.
I’ve got investors and other stakeholders, and I’m always thinking “One day they will find me out, one day they will say this was all a joke and we wanted to see how far I would go to fulfill my dream, let’s take bets”, sort of thing.
Sometimes it feels like that…actually it’s all the time!
From talking to other people in similar positions, everybody gets Impostor Syndrome.”
Q.7. That is true, 70% of the population, men and women, experience at least one episode of Impostor Syndrome in their lifetime. This is one of the main reasons we, at Behaviour Hackers, provide training on IS.
Whatdo you do to fight it?
S: “I think without self-doubt, you don’t put in enough checks and balances to be successful.
I’ve known very, very confident people who have been victims of hubris because they thought they could do everything by themselves and never stopped to self-analyse. You have to internalise as many inputs as possible and analyse your own decisions.”
Thank you, Simon, for the interview!
And to you, our readers, we hope you enjoyed reading this story and hopefully you took valuable lessons from it:)
We’re looking forward to sharing with you the next story in a couple of weeks!
With so much 💗,
Behaviour Hackers Team
Author: Ingrid Constantin