Organize and Start with the End in Mind.

When growing up and playing Lego with my friends, there were no instructions or manuals that we followed. We would empty the entire Lego Box onto the carpet, have a discussion as to what we would make, figure out what piece would be the base, and start building.

Something changed along the way, and now, when I play with my kids, there are always the manual and the instructions that we follow exactly how it tells us to do it.

Of course, both systems are exciting in their own way. It was this very discussion of comparing them that gave me deep managerial insight from my children.

“Lego and Life are most exciting when there are no instructions or manuals,

But to excel, begin with the end in mind”

My son told me it’s so much fun and exciting to play with me, as I don’t push them to follow the rules. And even though by following the rules the end piece may be a lot better looking, after all, it does look how it is supposed to look like as on the box. If we knew exactly what we would end up with, what’s the fun in making it?

He enjoys having an idea of what he wants to make, for example, a boat, car, or plane, and then from what is available to him, start putting pieces together to get to the goal.

I suggested to him, why do you take stuff out of the box, and put it on the ground? If you want to make a plane, just take the pieces you need and start making it.

He gives me that smirk a 5-year-old gives his father when he feels he is smarter than the father, and in a patronizing voice explains to me, “how do you know what you have if you don’t know you have it? Of Course, we need to put everything on the floor, not only that, we need to arrange it all so that we know where it is, and where it can be found”.

It was at this time I was sold to the fact that these kids can explain the most basic concepts that we tend to lose sight of in our day to day lives when just trying to finish the task in front of us.

I do love playing Lego with my kids. So I thought, during these Lego playdates, I will proactively structure the conversation and prompt them to explore insights they can share about life, entrepreneurship, business, leadership, or management.

Sounds insane, what can a 5 or 7-year-old kid teach a 37-year-old father that has founded a startup, has made an accelerator for startups, as well as a fund that invests into the startups that enter the accelerator?

Well, it’s not about teaching something brand new. What I do expect to share are simple insights that tend to be overlooked.

I am a firm believer that we must be smart enough to make it simple enough.

One of the questions we ask at our accelerator is “How would you describe what your company does in such a way that they can understand it, remember it, and say it back to you.” This is not an easy task, and only those teams that have really focused on their niche and offerings are able to simplify it to such a level.

As an example, for my Jewelry startup, Dazuld, the simple explanation is

“Awesome Jewelry, for a Month, Every Month”

For my accelerator, LIFARE, the explanation is

“We give you money, so you can sell more”

For my fund, VCPEX, the explanation is

“We give you a little money, so that you can get a lot of money”

For all three of my companies, we had a plan of what we wanted to build, but there was never a step by step manual or instructions on how to get there.

There is much information available, as well as people we can talk to, to give us ideas and support in building the strategy. However, the magic is in the organization and the execution.

It can’t be that only my 5-year-old son thought about this point, so I started searching which another giant of humanity said something similar.

The quote from Abraham Lincoln, “Give me Six Hours to cut a tree, and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the axe,” resonated to this idea.

This is the first of many posts where I will share the lessons I learnt when playing lego with my kids. We will also share a giant of humanity who has said a similar idea or belief.

I will also share an example of where I was able to follow both those pieces of advice simultaneously. And I want to encourage you to ask yourselves in which part of your life you can implement these teachings as well.

My ah-ha moment was thinking, now that would be a cool book. All the lessons we can learn from babies and giants together in one book, with some pictures of a Lego man visually explaining the same lessons, ensuring the book can be read by teenagers and leaders of tomorrow. My end of this project is clear, we want to have a published book.

So now, I had to start organizing, planning, and sharpening the axe so that we can cut down the tree.

The fun part of the preparation and organization was to ensure we block off time on the weekends to play Lego with him. But we also had to figure out the name of the project, after thinking of “Life Lessons through Lego,” or “Management skills learnt when playing Lego with my kids,” we came up with “Legopreneur”. The Dot.Com was available along with all clean social media handles. Obviously, no one might have thought of this before.

I started planning and figured out what programs we needed; reading how to go about writing a book. But most importantly spent a lot of time brainstorming the best possible strategy and structure to make this dream a reality.

So the same way I played Lego as a child, I put out all the ideas and possibilities on paper. Researched the areas I wanted to know more about. I spent time on structure, strategy, ensuring we got the base to build on.

And then, just started building.

I’ve got no idea what the end project will look like, but what I do know is what I have now, and I can always find out what I don’t know.

If we keep sharpening the axe for 6 hours, we don’t have any time left to cut the tree.

Let’s make it fun and exciting, let’s do it without the manual.

About Miten Shah

Miten Shah is the CEO and founder of LIFARE Accelerator, a company which is located in Antwerp, Belgium, but operates internationally. LIFARE is focused on lifestyle, fashion, and retail sectors with a heavy emphasis on sustainability.
As founder of 4 companies, Miten helps innovative companies accelerate their sales giving them access to financing, mentorship, and specific guidance by corporate partners.