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5 business lessons from Sultan

By Koreel Lahiri
July 12, 2016 09:44 IST
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The recently released blockbuster Hindi film Sultan has some important lessons for the entrepreneur in you.

Are you listening?

SultanUpar Allah neeche dharti… beech mein tera junoon…" (There's God above and the Earth below; all else that lies between those two is your passion)

As simple as it may sound, there are some interesting business takeaways even from a mass-appeal blockbuster like Sultan.

Bhai may have taken up wrestling to pursue his love interest, but in doing so, the film's script managed to weave in some observation regarding the tenacity required to achieve anything in life -- whether in sports or business.

1. You are never too old to start 

No one ever specified the perfect age for any pursuit; we gate ourselves.

Just as it didn't matter whether Sultan took up wrestling at the age of 30, it doesn't matter whether you start-up in your 40s, 30s or 20s.

The power of the idea, intent and determination are more important.

2. Prove you can do it

No matter how good your idea, intent and determination, nobody's going to believe you on the basis of a PowerPoint presentation. Show them!

The many mornings that Sultan self-trained with the sole purpose of getting a seat at the larger table is akin to the proof of concept that a founder must show before he can approach large stakeholders.

3. Don't give up on large goals in hard times 

Whether it was to build a blood bank or seek a reunion, Sultan realised that his larger goal should be to look beyond the immediate product (wrestling trophies).

Product and features are incidental when pursuing a dream or passion.

However crude it might be, it is a demonstration of hard work and single-minded focus (of course, Sultan's case was helped by a love interest, but that's where the founder's passion comes into play).

4. Don't be afraid to re-learn 

In the start-up world, it's called pivoting; in common parlance it's called learning and implementing new skills.

That was what was required of our wrestler in order to face new disruptive competitive forces in the form of MMA (mixed martial arts).

The bottomline -- be nimble, don't get married to a singular idea and be prepared to take a few beatings while re-inventing yourself and your business.

5. Victory loves passion, not ego 

Finally, you should do it because you feel it; not because it will get you glory.

So if you're pursuing an idea simply because it will be a multi-bagger and will give you bragging rights, it might be a good time to pause and re-evaluate.

After all, "sirf Sultan hi Sultan ko hara saktahai" (only Sultan can defeat Sultan).

The author Koreel Lahiri is COO at Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation. In his previous roles, he has been associate editor and head-research at Bloomberg TV India and deputy news editor at CNBC TV18.

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