10 Lessons from the Animal Kingdom for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Investors

There are many great voices but not all are human. While animals cannot speak, they can teach us amazing lessons without saying anything. These lessons are especially useful for entrepreneurs, executives, professionals, and students. Mahesh Dumbre shares 10 lessons worth pondering from the Animal Kingdom.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexel

1. Feed the eagles and eat the chicken.

This is how the world works. High performers whether in sales, marketing or startups (who are also good team players) get rewarded while others get slaughtered in the race of career success.  

There are other factors such as diplomacy, people skills, and even some degree of luck, still, the performance and capability are what we can definitely count on.

2. Be like ants at work.

I love this quote by Jim Ron: I think everybody should study ants. They have an amazing four-part philosophy. Never give up, look ahead, stay positive, and do all you can

Diligence, persistence and industrious nature always pay in the short and long term.

3. Be weary of a lone wolf.

Occasionally, or rather many times, you will meet someone who wants to grow at the cost of others.

While you should respect them for their drive, focus and shrewdness, make sure that they are not harming you or your company.

4. Even a blind squirrel can find a nut.

This is similar to saying “Even a broken clock is right twice a day”. Everybody can get lucky every once in a while. Even better, if you have a strategy and a plan.

5. As a tiger, are you chasing an antelope or a field mouse?

It is prudent to stop wasting time, effort and mindshare on small things.

If a tiger started eating field mice to satisfy his hunger, he will starve. To survive, he must chase an antelope or a bigger animal.

It is better to chase bigger goals, as the effort required is similar most of the times.

6. It is okay to ride a cow until you find a horse.

While we all must aim for the best things in life, the best takes time, patience, strategy, smart and hard work, some luck, and a lot more.

In-between, it is okay to pursue opportunities that may not be perfect, but that will take you closer to your end goal. 

For example, as a startup founder, before getting the big and most reputed VCs as investors, you have to work with angels and early-stage investors. Before aspiring to become a CEO, you have to work in multiple other roles.

7. You can either be a bull or a bear, but you definitely do not want to be a bakra (scapegoat).

My good friend Mani (one of the best intellectual property experts from India) jokingly used to say, “Mahesh, you need not be a bull or bear (like in stock markets), but you mustn’t become a “bakra” (poor goat who gets sacrificed).”

It is a highly competitive world out there. Given the limited number of growth opportunities for a huge talent pool, sometimes people resort to funny tactics in order to get ahead.

It is up to you and you only to be aware of tricks and traps set up by others and ensure that you do not fall prey. 

There are sharks in the water.

8. Don’t expect fairness

“If you expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair, you’re fooling yourself. That’s like expecting the lion not to eat sheep because sheep do not eat lion.”  Needs no explanation.

9. A lion never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep.

There is no need to worry about people who think small and who do not matter.

10. There are no butterfly experts among caterpillars.

If you are trying to do something new or different, it is highly likely that others won’t be able to understand and appreciate it. 

Either you have to think and decide for yourself going by your intuition or be extremely selective about your advisors who have already done something similar before you.

And lastly, as Maya Angelou said:

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

This is part 2 of the 3 part series on “Lessons learnt from evaluating 500+ global early-stage startups”. Read part 1 here.


About the author: Mahesh Dumbre MBA 2011 closely works with entrepreneurs, investors and executives around the world, helping them achieve growth potential.  He is an ex-Tata Group executive who enjoyed building businesses globally (17 years in 8 countries across 11 industries, 80+ million USD value addition) as well as teaching and writing. He can be reached at Mahesh.jd@gmail.com.

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