Rajesh Setty, Business Alchemist

I met first met Raj Setty at an 800CEOREAD Author Pow-wow in 2007. I found him intelligent, kind and curious – a wonderful combination.  Rajesh is an entrepreneur and a business alchemist. His mission in life is to help bring new ideas to life, with love. His core belief is that while good ideas matter, the magic really is in amplifying them. Raj has co-founded a number of technology companies and a publishing company over the last few years. He consults and speaks on the topic of leverage, the secret ingredient that will bring an unfair competitive advantage for any company.

You describe yourself as an ‘alchemist.’  Can you say a little bit about what you mean by that, and why it’s important?

At my consulting company, Foresight Plus, the focus is on amplifying ideas – either we bring new ideas to life or bring new life to current ideas. In both cases, there is a need for business alchemy – the process of mixing the right ingredients in the right proportions to bring out the gold (in this case, more revenues and profits).

At FP, there are many business alchemists at work – we can combine seemingly unrelated things to produce good results. Business alchemy is important today because it focuses on making the most of everything we already have, rather than trying to find the missing piece of the puzzle to reach our goals.

You’re passionate about helping entrepreneurs succeed.  What are some of the key things you believe are required for entrepreneurial success?

I can sum it up in two words: “Pay twice.”

Entrepreneurs have to be ready to pay a price to get what they want. This price is not just in terms of the time, energy and money they put in but also all the sacrifices they have to make along the way.

They also have to pay a price way before they begin pursuing their entrepreneurial dream. This price is the investment to build their network – sort of digging their well before they are thirsty. As an entrepreneur, your best bet is to create an environment where you have “an over-capacity of help” you can draw upon. Paying twice (once during the journey and once before you start the journey) will ensure that you build the mutual obligations that will produce that over-capacity of help in the future.

Lots of people are interested in writing books.  You’ve done it – again and again.  What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be a writer?

Here is what I share with most new authors in the publishing firms I am involved with:

  • Write more: This seems too basic but it’s a fact of life – if you want to be good at something, you have to practice more of it.
  • Don’t try to solve Friday’s problem on Monday: Many times new authors are overwhelmed by trying to figure out everything before they put pen to paper. The first step is to start. Now.
  • Get good help: Writing seems like a lonely adventure. It can be, if you treat it that way. For you to succeed in writing, you need to surround yourself with a great team.
  • Drop your ego: Not everything you write needs to be published. Not everything you write will be good. Check your ego at the door so that you don’t get too attached to what you’ve written.
  • Read about  writing: There are a lot of good books written about writing. Learn from the masters and grow.

What are you most excited about these days?

Nowadays, I am excited about four things that can be summed up by the acronym SAAIL:

S – Significant Projects: I love important work that has the potential to change the game in new and interesting ways. If I am helping people who are pursuing significant projects, they will automatically be smart, ambitious and good-hearted people. Then, work no longer feels like work.

A – Amplification: My expertise is in amplifying ideas. I come up with some of my own ideas but I also totally enjoy amplifying the ideas of others.

A – Alchemy: In the quest to do new things or improve old things, people tend to forget how things can be mixed up to produce gold. I have personally been part of many business alchemy projects. They are fun and provide a great ROI.

I – Innovation: There is always a better way of solving a problem or capitalizing on an opportunity.

L – Leverage: Nobody has unlimited resources (especially of time and money). By employing time-tested principles of leverage, outlined in my upcoming book, The Art of Leverage, you can get a big output with a relatively small input.

I am happy to say that I am surrounded by projects that will fit into the SAAIL thinking. And I am always looking for more such projects.

If you could change one thing about the way most people approach business, what would it be?

If I have to pick only one thing, it would be the mindset with which they approach business. Most people overestimate their own positive impact on their business and underestimate the impact of good help from others. If they can reverse this, it would make a huge difference.

You can follow Raj on his blog at www.rajeshsetty.com/blog or on Twitter at @RajSetty

About Erika Andersen

Over the past 30 years, Erika has developed a reputation for creating approaches to learning and business-building that are custom tailored to her clients’ challenges, goals, and culture.

Visit Erika's Forbes.com Blog

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