Founder Puzzles Book – Review

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Had “Founder Puzzles” been launched 10 years back, a lot of my poor black hair would have been saved from turning silver because of the 3 unsuccessful startups.

I still remember the day I met Jawwad Ahmed Farid as my mentor at The Nest IO! A huge shout out to Jehan Ara, for introducing us to such great mentors. 

 sameer-jehan-ara-jawwad-farid

From left to right; Jawwad Ahmed Farid, Sameer Ahmed Khan, and Jehan Ara.

Jawwad Farid had a profound effect on me because of his time punctuality and weekly doses of reality checks. My co-founders, Shakir Ghani, and Zohaib Ahmed Shakir were always impressed with Jawwad Farid and how he roasted me most of the time to be better. 

It was a fun, challenging, and hard learning experience. 

I’ve learned a lot from Jawaad Farid, from perfecting the art of pitching to customer satisfaction, it’s been a great journey so far.

If I were to write my past experience with Jawwad Farid and lessons I have learned directly from him, it’d take me multiple blogs to write. However, a few of the lessons that are worth mentioning are;

I remember how when we had morning classes he would be punctual to close the doors at exactly 9 am or give little punishments (like pushups, doing planks, and whatnot) to make his students honor punctuality.

I can not thank him enough for the countless mentoring sessions at “The Nest IO” and at his place, where he would give us time slots for the meeting. 

He introduced me to new people and a special mention of Charles Ill, who was introduced to me by Jawwad Farid at 021Disrupt Dinner, where he asked me to join Charles and try having crabs with him, and this introduction eventually led us to score an investment in 2019! 

He made this equation true for us: Success = Work + Luck

When he used Social Champ finally, he wrote me an apology letter, telling me how he couldn’t use it early with his busy schedule, but now that he had used it, he sees how awesome the app was and why Guy Kawasaki was such a fan. It was a huge honor for me! He didn’t only tell me that he loved it, but he also tagged Jehan Ara and suggested to her that I conduct sessions for the startups and help them with their social media! To quote him here;

“I signed on to hootsuite 3 years ago and absolutely hated it. Social champ is just such a phenomenal piece of work that it deserves more recognition and more exposure. 

I now understand why Guy Kawasaki is so crazy about it. 

Thank you for building this, sharing this and letting us have access to it.“ – Jawwad Farid

He was even kind enough to give us a proper review!

When it comes to pitching, I remember how in Taiwan, when we had a competition, he asked me to join him in a Limo on our way from the airport to the hotel, along with the founders of a couple more startups. And once the journey began, he asked me to pitch to the people in the car about “Social Champ”. I was gobsmacked and told him that I had no slides, he still encouraged me to start as we all were mentored to learn the flow without the pitch deck. And as I started, going through the slides in my head, he kept perfecting me and made my pitch more personalized and empathic then it already was!

Founder Puzzles Book Cover

For Social Champ, being featured for the first time in the book of one of my mentors as a use case in Chapter 7 is an honor and a privilege that I can’t thank him enough for!

I myself have learned a lot from this book, I can’t write all but knowing the importance of “Sunk Costs”, “Marginal Cost”, “Fixed Cost”, etc. 

The book is full of powerful golden nuggets to learn from.

Founders Puzzles is a process to take your dream from the ideation phase to a billion-dollar company. I hope you go beyond that too. The book clearly asks founders and startups to answer the very tough questions before starting their startup or writing their first line of code, for example: Why do they exist? What’s their DNA? 

When I started reading it out, all I could think about was how easy, crisp, and relatable the writing was. It was as if Jawwad Ahmed Farid was talking to me directly, telling me the story of my journey in the world of startups in his words.

As I started going in deep, I understood how the problems I thought were complex and looked messy and thought no one else ever had, were faced by everyone when they started out fresh and were faced in the ecosystem.

Our current economic environment is beneficial for innovative startups, but there’s no accord about the best strategies these companies should use to find and maintain growth. 

As Jawwad Farid says, “If the value is in building intuition and in being wrong, what should you focus on?

Being wrong.

The more wrong you are, the more wrong you have been, the more wrong models you have under your belt, the more valuable you are as a data scientist, as a modeler, as an ML and AI specialist. Because you understand what breaks the model and you can account for it.” 

Some business owners and entrepreneurs randomly try out different solutions to see what will work, producing as many failures as successes. 

The strategies and procedures discussed in the book aren’t created randomly, of course — they’re the outcome of case studies of startups who have been trying, again and again, practicing multiple ideas over and over with various new options introduced to them. 

Founder Puzzles approach encourages companies that are both more capital efficient and that support human creativity more effectively. As he says;

“If you have high fixed costs and high marginal costs, your business is inherently broken and is likely to run into trouble in the next downturn.” – Jawwad Farid, Founder Puzzles

Motivated by lessons from financing, it relies on “validated learning,” active personal experimentation, and several counter-intuitive practices that reduce product development cycles, measure actual growth without resorting to vanity metrics to learn what consumers actually want. The book comes with Google worksheet templates so that startups can keep evolving their KPI sheets.  

So, my suggestion to everyone starting fresh, rather than repeating mistakes that most founders make, why not read Founder Puzzles that offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – to test their vision continuously and adapt and adjust before it’s too late. 

Mr. Farid provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever. The book offers a systematic way for startup founders to get the information they need to make swift decisions and unpuzzle the problems that they face in today’s changing and challenging world. 

Fairytale Life Vs Reality, chose your battles wisely!

One who keeps chasing a life shown in the movies continues to live in a fairytale. Their happiness is fragile and dependant on money. In reality, not everyone gets a big house, a shiny car, chefs, or drivers. And even if one gets it all, there is no guaranteed happiness.

Happiness is a state of mind, and little does it have to do with money but, with positive people around you. The ones who cherish on your little wins in life, the ones who hold your hands in your rainy days and say that there will be better days. The ones who make you feel a hero!

If people around you, especially the loved ones, keep complaining about not getting the fairytale life they dream of and force you to do more, even though you are giving your best, no matter how optimistic you are in life, one day, you’ll lose your spark too. You’ll feel like a loser, even though you might have done greater good for society. You’ll be frustrated with life, not knowing the people around you are making you suffocate subconsciously. It’s their problem that they want to live a life on your expense and dreams.

In this case, you have two options, either groom them by giving them all your time, showing what love can do and money cannot, and again there is no guarantee they’ll change OR change your company, leaving them to fate, hoping one day when fairytale meets reality it’ll be all sorted out, in a way either good or bad, but in the end, it all gets sorted out.

You have a limited time in life.
You have a purpose and aim to fulfill.

It’s your choice. Either live your life for the greater good or spend most of it trying to change people.

Abdul Sattar Edhi, Dr. Abdul Bari, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, would have chosen purpose over people.

All the best for whatever you chose!

Peace!

Propaganda against the unity of Islamic sects in Karachi amidst pandemic

I write this with a heavy heart.

The Government of Sindh or Media or someone in a greater power, is flaming the fire of Islamic Unity between Sunni-Shia in Karachi. And if you haven’t noticed, the younger generation is already debating/fighting on social media calling each other out. It is 2020. It has taken a lot many lives to have the current peace and love we have between the two sects. I’ve friends in a different sect who’d take a bullet for me and I’d for them.

But clearly, someone is not happy about this peace in Karachi.

And to understand this, you need to put your Islamic “sect” lenses away for a while.
If you can’t, this post is not for you, scroll away.

As far in the time, I can remember, I’ve never missed the Taraveh Prayers in Ramadan, including both the Sunnah (To hear complete Quran in Taraveh and to read Taraveh all Ramadan). Friday Prayers in Ramadan had greater importance to me. Itekaaf in Masjids made me want to sit there longer with scholars and learn the forgotten. Ramadan for me and many others comes as a light that keeps us going through the rest of 11 months.

I can say the “Julus” and “Majlis” are equally important for the other sect too.

Then the Corona Virus hit the world. SOP’s were made. Almost all masjid’s of both sects followed SOPS; masks, sanitizers, and distance-markings were done to protect people. But masjids were still locked down for Taraveh, Friday Prayers, and Itekaaf. Almost all Islamic Scholars still agreed with the government’s decision and informed the masses to corporate.
Even then, reporters, media & government spoke against Masjids. Rangers in Sindh took aggressive actions to hit the old or young, with sticks as they left masjids. These videos became viral on social media. Scholars were imprisoned and with their masjid’s sealed.
All this was new in these plague times, but was this necessary or not even after following SOP’s is a different debate which I’m not here to discuss.

Here’s what went wrong. The government of Sindh or someone in power decided to give protection (containers) to block roads and allow “Julus” activities for the Shia sect. They were allowed to perform their practices with no strict intervention from Rangers either. Strangely, no television anchor, media, or government spoke against this as much as they previously did for Friday Prayers, Itekaaf, or Taraveh. This favoritism with one sect leads to endless debates on social media.

Pause. Think again. Rules should be the same for all. If rules are made for one and not the other, it creates a division and forms a subconscious meaning that Sunni-Sect prayers aren’t as important as Shia-sects. That is what most feel. And if you don’t feel the same, you haven’t put the “sect” lens away yet.

Considering SOPS are followed, will there be “Eid” Prayers?
Will Masjids open in the last 10 nights of Ramadan?
Should the Sunni-Sect now follow the laws of government against Masjids?
A very good question and I leave this on you to decide.

PS: This post is not to divide the Muslims, but to call out the decision and power makers to stop this act of poor leadership. Let Karachi live an age free for sect/caste wars!

It takes a pandemic to make us realize the worth of our luxuries.

Everything is so irrelevant in these times.
The latest cars, big houses, expensive brand clothes, watches, perfumes, etc., they have no meaning at all now. This is their true worth – nothing!

Most of the factory workers have been fired and that too without severance packages. The poor class is suffering, but it’s a different problem for the lower-middle-class. The lower-middle-class never before stood in lines for food or begged or asked for money. I know so many. They’d prefer to die out of hunger than to ask anyone for sustenance. These are sad times. We should be searching for them and helping them through this time.

People who know what “hunger” is, are coming forward to help with as little they have. The middle-class families are donating even Rs.500 or Rs.1000 to help, knowing that it’s not a lot.

There is just one race now, to survive, and to survive, we don’t need a lot of resources. And I hope by now you’d have realized it too. Whatever you save due to less commute, less shopping, less dining, spend that on the ones shy to ask. They are struggling to have a one time meal in a day.

All those dreams you had to “win” the world, whatever that means to you, can be fulfilled some other time. Or maybe the truth is this pandemic made all your desires seem materialistic now. The people who stand for others are the true unsung heroes. They win in the eyes of Heavens and in the hearts of all humans they serve.

COVID-19 Breakout – We Need to Stay Calm & Positive

COVID-19 Breakout

Health or illnesses, life or death, happens from the Above. A falling leaf from a tree, or dancing drops from the sky, everything is in control from Allah. 

Do not fear. Have faith.

COVID-19 Breakout

In the recent outbreak of Coronavirus, doctors suggest to keep your surroundings clean, wash your hands, and maintain a social distance. Avoid casual social gatherings. Stay at home as much as you can. 

Cleanliness is the key here. 

These are precautions. Acting on them is Sunnah and necessary. That’s the best we can do. Leave the rest on Allah.

Some other quick reminders are; Always be in Wudhu as it protects you. Pray your five-times Salah. Pray for humanity. Help workers that rely on daily wages through Sadqa/Zakat.

Once upon a time, Khalid ibn Walid (RA) swallowed poison and nothing happened to him by the grace of Allah, Allah saved him.

Before drinking the poison, Khalid Ibn Walid (RA) recited the following dua:

 

*بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي لَا يَضُرُّ مَعَ اسْمِهِ شَيْءٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ*

 

“Bismillahillazi La yadurru Maasmihi Shaiun fil-ardi wa La fis-smaaie, Wahuwas Samiul Alim”

 

“In the name of Allah, Whose name is when mentioned nothing on Earth or in Heaven can cause harm, and He is the Hearer, the Knower.”

 

Aban ibn Uthman Radi Allahu Anhu narrates from Uthman ibn Affan Radi Allahu Anhu (his father) that RasoolAllah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam said: “If anyone recites the above dua in the evening, nothing shall harm him till the morning. And if anyone recites the dua three times in the morning, nothing shall harm him till the evening.”

Another dua that comes to mind is; once Prophet said: “If somebody recites this dua while he saw someone else in some fatigue or tensions, he would not be involved in that fatigue or tension.”

 

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي عَافَانِي مِمَّا ابْتَلاَكَ بِهِ وَفَضَّلَنِي عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِمَّنْ خَلَقَ تَفْضِيلاً

 

“Al-Hamdulillahi Alladhi Aafani Mimmabtalaka bihi wa faddalani Ala kathirin mimman khalaqa tafdila”.

 

“All praise is for Allah, Who saved me from what He has afflicted you with and favored me more than many others He created.”

Have faith. 

Do not panic or stress. 

But when things go wrong, and you don’t understand what’s happening in your life, close your eyes, and take a deep breath and pray,

 “Oh, Allah! I know this is Your plan, the very best for me. Just help me through it. And bless me with all your blessings.”

Take care of yourself and the people around you, do the needful for anyone in distress and hope for the best of health and wealth for everyone!

 I wish you and your family the best of health in this difficult time.

 

Stay Calm & Spread Positivity.

Peace!

Sameer Ahmed Khan.

Inspired by the beautiful culture of Oman

If officially all men were to wear traditional white shalwar kameez and all women were to wear black Burqa in Pakistan, how would you feel about it?
 
I saw people in Oman doing the same, feeling proud of their culture, wearing the same during office hours, the same during important events such as Eid, Marriage, etc.
 
If you think we’d go back to stone ages, probably you can say the same about Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same shirt every day!
 
This post will make each of you react differently, but imagine a world where you didn’t judge anyone based on their clothes (or brands), nor have to worry about what you wore every day.
 
We are all indirectly affected by the materialistic world.
We seek beauty outside, but it is only found within us.
If you think the brands you wear define you, it’s high time to fix the insecure you. Your house, your car, your entire lifestyle can all be gone in a snap, would that ever change the person you were? It’s the heart that really matters in the end. All else is just a mirage we keep running after, greed that is never enough.

Suckers will keep sucking, doers will do. Who are you?

There are people who suck and their entire purpose in life is to keep sucking!
 
You show them light, they’ll say it’s too bright.
You give them hope, they’ll ask you to stop dreaming
 
No matter what you do or tell, their words will suck out the energy in you. They’ll constantly complain about everything and anything; humans, nations, weather, food, system, army, religion, they just need a story, to begin with!
They love problems and never care to find a solution.
 
You can’t win from them. They are not here to listen. They are here to suck! When you find these suckers, stay away from them, they’ll suck all your energy, all your time, and worst – they’ll suck the life out of you!
 
You’ll have such a person in your life, at your university, in your family, in your friend circle and 500% on your social media!
 
By now you should know what to do next? Need help?
 
If you spot a person, stalk their previous back to back 5 tweets or facebook posts. If they spread hate, complain, it’s their goodbye time. Do it. You’ll live longer.
 
PS: This is sucking post for all the suckers out there to stay away from young generation who want to fix things. Let them breathe. Stay away.
 
PSS: This post does not intend to make you think that you are always right. Those who criticize you to make you a better person are gold! Find them, respect them and cherish them. But still, if you don’t see the big picture in this post? I smell a new sucker.
 
Peace!

Can we have the same heart when we were 11 years old?

Why can’t we have the same heart when we were 11 years old?

I often play a game called PUBG Mobile where you land with 100 players and the last one surviving wins. Players have to find weapons and eliminate each other.
 
While playing a solo game, I saw a guy in front of me. We had guns pointed to each other and I just said before shooting, “Hey! Wanna team up?!”, and this 11-year old kid replied, “Sure, but can you put your gun behind your back and walk out so I can trust you won’t shoot me?” And this I did. It was fun teaming up with a stranger for the first time. He was also a very smart kid as in the game you can speak with strangers in a limited radius, so when he went out of range, he used to fire in the air just to get my attention. Luckily, we both were the last two surviving players left in a map of 100 players!
 
I asked the kid to shoot me up so he’d win but he laughed and said that he wins a lot so I should shoot him up. To which I replied that I don’t play solo a lot, I play in a squad so this win won’t matter. He didn’t agree to it. Then I shared an idea to pull the trigger of a frag grenade together which blasts in few seconds if not thrown away. The idea was to blast ourselves out together, which he agreed to do. He pulled the trigger a second earlier and that got me out and he won. He was super sad when he realized that!
 
Now if there is anything to learn from the above story, it is the generosity of an 11- year old kid who wanted to make me happy. It’s hard to win a game with 100 players to kill and be the last one winning getting the title of “Chicken Dinner”. But the kid was okay to share that victory title with me. A kid from the U.S had never known me but had a heart that cared.
 
In our lives, we have forgotten the 11-year old us. Somewhere down the line, we all had been a super generous kid, trying to help others and sacrifice our happiness for others. We used to be sad when we saw someone else sad, cried when someone was rude. Where are those emotions lost now? Forget helping strangers, we have stopped caring for the ones we know unless there is something for us in return.
 
Can we have the same heart again that helps and most importantly sacrifices for others with no return intended? If helping strangers is too much, can we begin with thanking those we know; parents, teachers, mentors, advisors, siblings, friends, employees? Let’s at least try to brighten someone’s day if we can’t brighten our own and leave it on Karma! That helps. I’m telling you. It does.

Peace!

Your parents are a blessing you have, for a very limited time in your life!

Your parents are a blessing you have, for a very limited time in your life!

They deserve your time more than your girlfriend or your business or your job or your startup or whatever that keeps you busy ignoring them!

If you cannot withstand their taunts, their silly jokes, their constant complains, their reckless anger, their everyday requests, their forced order, there is something wrong with you, not them!

If you fail to see the love in those annoying phone calls asking you to come back home early, if you fail to see them aging, if you fail to see how you ignore their existence, if you feel embarrassed with them when in the outside world, if your routine has more priority than their requests?
You need to remember your past when they were not as embarrassed as you are now when they had to change your diapers, a time when you could hardly walk and were nothing without their support.

What changed you now?
Is it the race you run proving something to the world?
Is it winning over your girlfriend or boyfriend?
Is it the company of your friends who equally treat their parents as you do?
Is it the addiction of having more fame, more money or more power?
Will having all make you a better person, someone the world can trust? Clearly, if you can’t take care of those you brought you to this world, you can’t be trusted at all.

It’s never too late for many. You might still have a chance.
A day will come when you’ll be ready to give up all for that one smile but that won’t be enough. You’ll look around and feel empty, heartbroken and in regret but that’s not all, you’ll become a parent too, wishing, praying, hoping for a child better than you.

Don’t try to win this life at the price of your Hereafter.
May our last moments be not full of regrets.
May our lives be of a good example when we meet Him!
Amen!

Peace!

Let your pain challenge you to be better!

Pain sometimes is inevitable.
But if you embrace it, and channel its energy into positivity, you’ll rise much stronger and wiser than before.
Challenge yourself.

Shy to speak in public? Teach!
Lazy? Go to the gym!
Night owl? Beat the sun every morning!

Do things that you believe you can never do but are good for you! Do for yourself, not to prove anything to the world.

Forget being praised or shamed by society or your social media followers at all. Let your armor go.

Give your best shot at anything you do, because even if you fail, you’ll be content that you tried your best.
And please, please, please, enjoy the journey, live in the present, and be stronger than before – every day!

Peace!