How Do You Compete With Your Idol?

Feb 3 2014, 9:13am CST | by

How Do You Compete With Your Idol?


By Neil Thanedar, CEO, LabDoor./>

I’ve been looking up to my father my entire life. I have never learned more from a single person than I have from him. But I have a confession to make: I don’t want to grow up to be my father.

Dr. Shri Thanedar grew up with nearly every obstacle an aspiring entrepreneur could face. He was born in poverty. In rural India. To parents who, combined, had less than a high school diploma. He rose above this to earn four degrees, become a U.S. citizen, launch companies that have employed hundreds of Americans, and continue to innovate.

However, if I grew up to become just like my father, I would feel like I let him and myself down. I grew up in suburban St. Louis to M.D. and Ph.D. parents. I spent most of my childhood in private schools. I received near-daily lessons in entrepreneurship at home, and was allowed the privilege to work through college and beyond in low-paying startup environments. I had the safety net of my family if needed. So I owe it to myself to stand on the shoulders of my parents and achieve greater success.

This was the driving force that led me to search for startup success beyond my first company. For many reasons, I could never fully claim the success of an analytical chemistry laboratory as my own. After all, I had grown up watching my dad launch and grow chemical testing labs. That was his success. The world deserved something bigger from me. Incremental improvement was unacceptable.

‘Earning’ Your Way

The concept of privilege is a very thorny subject.

It’s at the very core of our political debate. In the 2012 U.S. presidential elections, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney led this fight. The mixed-race professor from modest means took on the Caucasian businessman with a rich, famous lineage. Even the out-of-context memes associated with the candidates reflect the dichotomy.

We all want to believe that our own successes are 100% earned. But what if they’re not? How do we judge ourselves and others on this inherently uneven playing field?

My proposal: value the delta. The daughter of migrant workers who becomes an award-winning teacher deserves to be held up for admiration next to the son of a dentist and psychiatrist who builds a billion-dollar company.

As a startup founder living and working in San Francisco, I’m aware both of the recognition that the bootstrapper receives inside the startup ecosystem, and the derision that the concept receives elsewhere. The truth lies somewhere in the middle – we should celebrate those who have succeeded despite limited means while ensuring that fewer people are forced to follow the same paths to prosperity in the future.

The Rule of Three

My grandmother always loved to remind us about her ‘rule of three.’ As the story goes, my ancestors have a long history of rising out of poverty, fighting their way to relative success in one generation, solidifying their power in the second generation, and losing it all in the third.

The bootstrapper begat the businessman who begat the black sheep.

It’s not an uncommon phenomenon. While other families may stay on top for a little longer (Conrad Hilton’s second generation rise didn’t come crashing down until great-granddaughters Paris and Nicky), it’s hard to keep the entrepreneurial fire going endlessly. Safety nets can easily become hammocks.

As a proud member of a second-generation of Thanedars, I know I have two responsibilities. First, I’m driven to meet and exceed my own expectations. Second, it’s time to figure out how to break this nasty cycle and keep the motivation strong, for our family and others./>/>

How to Break the Cycle and Succeed Anyway

If not harnessed properly, the burden of high expectations can be an even stronger degrading force than the lure of a safety net.

I’ve learned to ignore the finish line. Just like at LabDoor, mission always trumps exits. Fight upwind for as long as possible, building skills and experiences. When these efforts meet your passion, success will find you.

Every Election Day growing up, my dad and I would sit together and watch the results come in. When a candidate was announced as the winner, the TV station would show footage from the victorious politician’s living room, where they would be surrounded by cheering relatives and campaign staff. Dad would always look at me and say (in a happier version of a famous scene with two other first- and second-generation men), “Senator Thanedar. President Thanedar. One day, that will be us.”

Neil Thanedar is CEO & Founder of LabDoor, a digital health startup that uses science to tell consumers what’s really inside dietary supplements. Before LabDoor, Neil founded Avomeen Analytical Services, an FDA-registered product safety laboratory, and also worked on emerging mobile sports and medical device products. He owns degrees in Cellular & Molecular Biology and Business Administration from the University of Michigan. 

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Global entrepreneurship summit boost for SMEs
Marrakech, Nov 22 (IANS) Nine agreements were signed between the Moroccan General Confederation of Enterprises (CGEM) and several small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as between major Moroccan banks and start-ups at the 5th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2014) held in Morocco.
 
 
NASA's flying saucer among 'Best of What's New'
Washington, Nov 22 (IANS) NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a spacecraft that aims to facilitate the safe landing of future Mars missions, has earned a place in the the Popular Science magazine's "Best Of What's New" list.
 
 
Indian helping to light up Gambia (Diaspora Feature)
Banjul (Gambia), Nov 22 (IANS) Like many Indians who are proving to be philanthropists around Africa, Ram Mohan has set up a social business called Comafrique Intelizon Initiative and has embarked on the replacement of candles in villages in the Gambia with solar lights from India.
 
 
Leopards in human areas not conflict animals: Study
New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) Leopards in human areas are not always "stray" or "conflict" animals but residents with strategies to thrive in human dominated areas, says the first GPS-based study of leopards in India.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Davis Cup final: Switzerland nudges ahead with doubles win
Lille, Nov 23 (IANS/EFE) Superstar Swiss duo of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka put their country ahead in the Davis Cup final with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over the French pair of Richard Gasquet and Julien...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Former police official arrested over students' disappearance in Mexico
Mexico City, Nov 23 (IANS/EFE) A former deputy police chief and suspected member of the Guerreros Unidos ("United Warriors") drug cartel, that allegedly, is involved in the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Iran to allow UN inspectors access to Marivan nuclear site
Tehran, Nov 23 (IANS) Iran decided to allow UN nuclear inspectors access to its Marivan nuclear site, Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) said Saturday. "We are ready to provide a controlled access to the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Kendall Jenner feels she is like Hannah Montana
Los Angeles, Nov 23 (IANS) Model Kendall Jenner, who is seen in a reality TV show "Kourtney and Khloé Take The Hamptons", says she feels "like Hannah Montana" while juggling between fashion and TV. Hannah Montana,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Iran nuclear issue: Kerry holds talks with Gulf foreign ministers
Vienna, Nov 23 (IANS) US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with the foreign ministers of UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain on the Iranian nuclear issue Saturday. Earlier, Kerry delayed his departure from Vienna in...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Professor Green not ready for kids
Professor Green and Millie Mackintosh are not ready to have children. The 30-year-old rapper - who is married to the former 'Made in Chelsea' star - has revealed they do not want to have a baby yet because their dogs...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Taylor Swift's midriff mystery
Taylor Swift doesn't want people to know she has a belly button. The 'Blank Space' hitmaker admitted she chooses not to wear tops which reveal her midriff because she wants to keep her fans guessing as to whether she...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Wilko Johnson: 'I shouldn't be here'
Wilko Johnson believes he ''shouldn't be here'' after battling cancer. The 'Game of Thrones' actor was given the all clear in October following a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, and has recalled the ''marvellous...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Penelope Cruz joins Ben Stiller in 'Zoolander 2'
Los Angeles, Nov 23 (IANS) Actress Penelope Cruz is all set to star with actor Ben Stiller in the film "Zoolander 2". According to Deadline magazine, details of Cruz's role in the sequel of "Zoolander" has not been...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
No general election in Pakistan before 2018: Nawaz Sharif
Islamabad, Nov 23 (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Saturday that a general election would not be held in the country before 2018. He thus rejected the demands by the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf...
Read more on Politics Balla