I guess you can always tell when someone comes very close to you, even though you are asleep or your eyes are closed.
In my hotel room in San Francisco, on a chilly, early one morning, I experienced that feeling.
I abruptly opened my eyes and was shocked to see a fully armor clad Stormtrooper standing by my bed-side with his E-11 blaster rifle directly pointing to my head.
As an Entrepreneur, I am well trained to keep my cool under extreme situations. Worse things have happened to me than an armed Stormtrooper pointing a blaster rifle towards my head and so I looked at him and gently smiled.
‘Are you humanoid 257142 of Inter Galactic Milky way planet Earth?’ immediately hissed a menacing electronic voice.
I quickly figured that the Stormtrooper had combined the first two numerals of my birthday, home and office and was checking if I was in fact the person he was hunting for.
Wow. So noble of him.
‘Aye Aye,’ I answered in a rather casual and almost friendly tone.
‘Prepare yourself. I have a mission to complete on you’, came back an arctic cold electronic voice, devoid of any emotion.
Now my heart began to beat really fast. What did he mean by ‘Mission to complete on me’? Was he going to extricate my frontal brain and put a chip in it or inject a laser code in my heart?
I immediately thought of my brain and heart because I believe those are only real valuable body parts that I possess.
Trembling, I got up and slowly walked towards my coffee counter. I mean, if I was going to die, like any honorable man, at least I deserved my last coffee.
I asked him, ‘Stormtrooper! Would you like a mildly roasted, slightly coarse Phillips Highlander coffee – dripped, not dunked?
I cannot promise that it will be better than what you get on the Death Star, but this one has a very nice tropical spicy overtone and comes from the Southern Plains of India. I usually drink it to remind me of my Vedic roots. I guess we all like to be reminded of who we are once in a while.’
My intellectual jibe proved worthless on Stormtrooper. So after pouring my coffee in my favorite Campion School mug, I looked at him and said, ‘I am ready for your mission’.
Stormtrooper said, ‘We have indentified you as Rodinhood of planet Earth and note that you often speak about the Jedi knights and Master Yoda. The Dark force would like also like to be spoken about and I am here as an emissary of the Dark Force to be interviewed by you’.
I cannot describe how relieved I felt. You know the feeling – when you expect something really dreadful is about to happen and then it turns out to be a false alarm.
Emboldened, and showing little emotion, I replied ‘ Well, I usually don’t do interviews of people who demand attention. As a free writer, I decide for myself. Having said so, I am intrigued by your visit and approach and hence will take up your offer. However, it will be only three or four questions’.
An entrepreneur has to project his self worth and dignity, no matter what the circumstances.
Stormtrooper swiftly lifted his gun and put it away. He then stood in rapt attention while I gazed fixedly at him.
I asked – ‘Stormtrooper, can you tell me what entrepreneurs and professionals can learn from your community’?
Stormtrooper replied - ‘Discipline. We have tremendous faith in our cause and have inflexible discipline in pursuing our mission. We do not waiver. We do not think. We do. We die in our missions to deliver. We sometimes observe humans and see that very often they are not prepared to die while trying to achieve their goals. This is something entrepreneurs could learn from Stormtroopers’.
‘Hmmm… interesting’, I acknowledged. ‘ Now tell me, don’t you feel bad being on the dark side’?
‘There is no good or bad side. It’s just what you believe in. It’s all about a balance between two sides. In case of entrepreneurs, so many decisions can be labeled as ‘dark side’. For example, firing your colleagues or having a vigorous showdown with your partner. Being able to argue with your investors. To sue and litigate for what may be contentious issues. There is both black and white in the universe, but let me tell you that the majority of the color is grey’.
I was slightly impressed and moved on. ‘Maybe,’ I said, and asked ‘Do you ever reflect on your actions? I mean The Dark Side has killed and maimed so many people. Don’t you feel guilty?’
There was no reply.
‘What do you look forward to doing when you wake up everyday?’ I asked him.
Stormtrooper replied, ‘We don’t need to wake up. We are always awake.
We are given missions to complete and once I receive that download, I think of nothing else. I am never distracted. I don’t think of ‘why’ I am doing this mission. I just do whatever I am asked to do’.
I interjected ‘But, Imagine if you had come here and I had no cooperated – you would have killed me. Just before firing your E-11 rifle at me, for a moment wouldn’t you think of ‘why am I killing’ Rodinhood 257142?
‘No’ was the monotonous reply.
‘Explain’ I demanded.
‘We look at things only our way. I believe there is something entrepreneurs can learn from that too. Just become centered on what you want. While interacting with the outside world, it’s not really important to worry about the problems of others and how they may feel or react. If I want something from somebody, I will do everything to get it,’ he responded.
It seemed like a scary and slightly one-sided discussion, bereft of any sentiment.
‘Ok Stormtrooper,’ I said, ‘Last Question. What would you like to share with my readers’?
Stormtrooper spoke ‘ I think your readers will benefit from just understanding how we function – not why we function. We are extremely organized. We know exactly what to do and how to do it. Entrepreneurs often don’t get into the finer details of execution and that harms them quickly.
We are well prepared. Look at my plastic molded special armor for instance – it can withstand so many kinds of weapon assaults and extreme weather conditions. I wonder how many start up’s prepare themselves for all kinds of situations they could land up in. Its nice to stick to plan A, but is there a plan B and a plan C to fall back on?
Also, I think the biggest lesson to learn from Stormtroopers is teamwork. We distribute work really well between ourselves and then carve out who does what. Entrepreneurs sometimes behave like Jedi knights – trying to fight the battle all by themselves- but as we all know, Jedi knights also get killed sometimes. They must accept that team building and teamwork alone will win battle after battle – coz that’s the unwritten law of the universe’.
Before I knew it, Stormtrooper had turned around and stomped out of my door.
I was exhilarated, relieved and I must confess – somewhat smitten by the Dark Side.