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RodinStar / Startup

Nikola or Thomas!

Thomas Edison wore shoes two sizes too large so that he could slip into and out of them without stooping down to untie them.
A genius no doubt could invent slip-ons instead don’t you think?

And, Nikola Tesla on the other hand carried a swag around him. Handsome mustaches and hats made him the center of attention people say.

Tesla was Guru Dutt of Inventors (for lack of a more appropriate, closer to home example) while Thomas Edison was the Pritam (the musician) of dressing up.

This apart, these two gentlemen who started “war of currents” back in time have always been pitted against each other in history as competitors and adversaries. Enemies would be no less the adjective.

Why, You ask?

They were Legends. Two different kinds. Exemplary both of them but why Edison is in every text book you read and Tesla only in a company that tries to fight in the competitive manufacturing industry, much recently with their electric car for example.

What makes Edison better? Was he a better Inventor or a better entrepreneur? Did Nikola really suck at Science compared to Edison or in PR and investor relationship?

You should have mostly figured it out by now. Well.

Edison had over a 1000 Patents when he died, while the much advanced scientist and far sighted, futuristic inventor had just about 300 odd patents. Tesla died a broke and broken heart man in a NYC hotel. While Edison lives in every invention you use today. Including this one, while only some will know that most inventions, including the Internet and electricity would be no where close to what they are now without Tesla.

Edison was not just a genius inventor. He was a true blue entrepreneur who ran multiple startups, multi tasked and was terrific in managing investors.

It is believed that whenever he got a source of an idea, he picked assistants to work on the basics of the inventions. This helped him work on multiple projects at the same time.
Which in term helped the investors stay on many non productive projects in the reflected glory of inventions like the kinetoscope or the bulb.

Whereas, Nikola Tesla, the man with eidetic memory, a man who could picture 3d plans in his mind alone. The man who basically is the father of modern invention lives in oblivion. He could not even stop J P Morgan from leaving him when he needed him the most for his money.

When one deciphers it, it seems right off course.

Someone said, and I quote “Edison’s enduring legacy isn’t a specific patent or technology, but his invention factories, which divided the innovation process into small tasks that were carried out by legions of workers”.

That basically is the gist of this all actually.

It doesn’t matter anymore or ever before that how good are you at what you do unless you know how to do the following:

• Have a straightforward vision.
• Master the art of delegation.
• Have a growth agenda, without being stuck-up on an idea.
• Know when to move on.
• Have multiple back up plans.
• Sell your idea to people and the investors.
• Can bring decorum to success vs failures – a sort of equilibrium
• Can make people believe in you, if not your idea.
• You know what to talk to the media

I leave the rest to your imagination while I rest with mine and the greatest quote of the modern world by Thomas A Edison.

“I have not failed, I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work”



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  1. rahul – this article shows how great a storyteller you are!

    i loved every bit of it! especially the learnings at the end 🙂

    thank you!!

  2. Thank you Asha. Your kindness is inspiring.

  3. ooops!! rahul i messed up the bottom part of your post!!

  4. Really well written 🙂

  5. SO very WOW. SO Happy. This is amazing.  I should have started writing here much earlier :} 🙂

    Thank you so much Asha. 

  6. thank you 🙂 

  7. As time will point out, many men don’t do things by plan

    Masters like Mozart, Beethoven and Van Gogh followed their hearts…

    and of course, looking back, everything looks ‘templatisable’…

    If you read up how Steve Jobs made the iPhone, you will be surprised 🙂

  8. Yes Alok. That is an amazing angle to ponder on. Your heart can lead you to greatness. 

    I read today about Dan Brown’s success story. A failed musician to the most respectable thriller writer of our times.

    He had a calling for greatness as a kid, he pictured himself in a great big theater full of audience. He thought it was through music. He launched himself as one and sucked at it. When he became a writer, his books deception point and digital fortress sold about 40k copies combined. Then he wrote Da Vinci Code with a new publisher and made $ 400000 in a day.

    To speak about his books he went to events. Big events.

    The calling came true. He followed his heart. Be it music or writing and he got unimaginable success.

    But it also makes me think, that if greatness can happen just by chance, if it can also happen by following your heart. How much more can we do if we have a plan.

  9. Amazing Piece, Rahul. God bless you.

  10. Thank you Puneet 🙂 

  11. I strongly believe that Tesla was miles ahead of Edison so far as the discovery of the things is concerned. Alternating current is the best example of that. Edison was more of a CEO.

    Well written!!

    Sunil Suri 

  12. Tesla was interested in things for their own sake.  If Kickstarter existed then, we’d have had free planet wide wireless electricity by now.  He came up with the design for the machine and an investor also agreed to fund it but it finally got scuttled ‘coz there was no way to make money off it.   Alternating current was just a pit stop but one which he was not able to cross….  

    On the bright side, wireless electricity is still waiting to be discovered.  As is the FTL warp drive… 🙂

    Templatising and chunking tasks has its place but at the cutting edge of discovery there is only one thing that will keep you going: raw lust.

  13. Edison was not straight as an arrow. He was quite political and had made every effort to block Tesla’s funding and projects. More than their achievements, their rivalry was legendary. One in the pure pursuit of wealth and the other in the pure pursuit of knowledge.

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