Saturday, July 9, 2022


Sharing three short stories that I came across via the casual reading pursuit over the last weekend.

In Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Penny Oleksiak became Canada's most decorated Olympic athlete (with 7 medals in swimming). After this feat, she tweeted-
"I just googled “Canada’s most decorated Olympian” and my name came up. I want to thank that teacher in high school who told me to stop swimming to focus on school bc swimming wouldn’t get me anywhere. This is what dreams are made of."

Beau Jessup, as a 16 year old, went along with her Dad to China. During the trip, they met Dad's business colleague who asked Beau to suggest an English name for her daughter. Beau took that request seriously since naming a child is an important event in one's life, something that stays for rest of their lives. She asked the family various characteristics they wanted their kid to have and suggested an apt name. Upon returning, Beau did some research to figure out that there wasn't any organized business (a gap!) that helped Chinese families name their kid in English language. She found an unmet need, while all Chinese babies were given traditional Chinese names at birth, there was a growing demand to name kids in English language too. (an opportunity!) In the next few years, she has helped name 670,000 babies.

Finally, the story of Brian Fitzpatrick from Google, which appeared in HBR a few years ago. Brian joined Google as an Engineer. In his quest to better the end-user needs, he identified strategic gap in the organization. He felt that Google wasn't doing good enough job in giving users better control of their personal data. His efforts led to Google building a product called Takeout ( that allowed users to export the captured user data from various Google Services. So much was the impact of this project that the then CEO Eric Schmidt started highlighting Takeout to regulators and customers to build a strong case for Google's non-monopolistic practices and focus on user's privacy.

To summarize:
1. Gaps (problem areas) are all around us, it just takes a courage and a bit of situational awareness to embrace them and turn them into opportunities).
2. Ravi Venkatesan aptly describes in his recent post (link in comments) "Those who see an ‘π—Όπ—½π—½π—Όπ—Ώπ˜π˜‚π—»π—Άπ˜π˜†’ in every problem have often built things that have pushed the world forward."

Quoting Stephen Covey-"Effective people are not problem-minded. They are opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems."

What's your take on this ? Do share more examples from from your experience.

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