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The power of ‘togetherness’ within innovation: 3 Lessons I’ve Learned so Far

May 17, 2024

Jason Tan

Table of Contents

Title

Until I decided to commit to my passion and join the startup ecosystem, I’ve always been bullish on empowerment through connection and relationship building. In the various ‘side-quests’ I’ve explored - from championing student mental health and wellbeing, co-creating agricultural programs overseas, improving university wayfinding outcomes and now, student founders - I've been lucky enough to have been given opportunities to chase ‘engagement' at its core.

Similar to the ‘teach a man to fish’ moniker, I’ve always valued the ideal of human-centric impact, and something I’ve come across quite regularly is the concept of ‘togetherness’: using communal approaches rather than individualistic mentalities to build and create together; whether it’s an event, a group project, and especially a startup.

Now that I’m starting out my journey with NextGen Ventures, the following three lessons on ‘togetherness’, are ones I’ve learnt during my various side-quests that I now realise are tied a lot closer to being an innovator and aspiring founder than I previously thought.

Conflict should bond teams, not break them.

Let’s be honest, there’s no way to please everyone, all the time.

At the end of the day there is never any one-size-fits-all approach to any idea. It might be a model that a co-founder doesn’t quite understand, an initiative a customer isn’t too keen on, a direction that goes against a team member - and that’s perfectly fine, if not beneficial.

Personally, I've become a lot more comfortable and confident with conflict in my day-to-day than when I had just entered university. Looking at peers who have excelled, or watching podcasts and reading about how industry leaders manage their lives, something I’ve picked up is their ability to almost cherish conflict.

This goes beyond the general framework of ‘constructive criticism’ when someone pitches something you’re not sold on, or any negotiation tactics you’ve learned from a public speaking course that can persuade someone to your side.

I've observed that it's the power of conflict lies in the new ideas and perspectives it can bring to the table. And it’s only possible when you are arrogantly authentic enough to stand by your ideas, whilst being malleable and open enough for other perspectives and ideas to shape your vision, that conflict becomes a truly beneficial asset within a team.

Humility is key for teamwork

Particularly, when you are starting out, learning and growth should never be a ‘race to the top’, especially if you’re working alongside a team or working collaboratively with others to create something meaningful. True co-creation requires a level of openness and humility to give and receive ideas, feedback and criticism to benefit the team as a whole - but that’s not really news to anyone.

An interesting dynamic comes into play when “Second Year Syndrome” is introduced. It's a term I’ve coined at university and revolves around the idea that an individual who has had some experience in any area, suddenly sees themselves as a subject-matter expert over their peers.

Imagine a team leader who takes charge and ‘has the best insights’ because they’ve done a similar project a couple years ago (that is barely translatable now). The first friend out of university to hit corporate and suddenly they’re some Michelin-starred CBD lunch expert. That one colleague who’s read their first book on management and productivity and they are now the go-to expert on everything self-help.

In essence, you can view Second Year Syndrome as a subset of the Dunning–Kruger effect, which explains how individuals with a limited competence tend to overstate and overestimate their ability. It isn’t always a bad thing; it comes almost naturally as a by-product of a growth mindset, with the aim to acquire knowledge and continually develop personally and professionally at the forefront. But unlike the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is seemingly easier to identify, Second Year Syndrome is much harder to spot.

Because of the relative novelty of the startup ecosystem as a whole, it seems to be more prevalent among early-stage founders who have genuine passion and drive for creating change and implementing ground-breaking ideas. However, the syndrome comes into play when these lofty goals become unchecked, causing team misalignment, clouded judgements, and eventually ill-advised outcomes. We can all imagine examples of startups, sports teams, even something as simple as a group assignment that has fallen through because of this.

How can you break past the barrier? The simple answer is to humble yourself before someone comes along and humbles you.

The complex answer is somewhere between validating your own growth and ideas with your experiences through reflection, and being bullish on your collective next steps to grow and improve your existing vision.

And I’ve seen that this becomes important when working alongside co-founders or other team members, who although may not share the same experiences, share the same passions and visions for your journey. It’s something that isn’t just relevant within a startup context, but a key life skill that can be translated to whatever you pursue down the line.

The trait of humility is something that eventually attracts collaboration, co-creation, and a communal drive to achieve collective change. Something we often find is that the greatest teams outperform the greatest individuals.

Take pride in being part of the end goal

Own the fact that you’re building something you want to be a part of. Own the fact that you can equally be a recipient of whatever change you are trying to create in the world.

Many startup backstories stem from personal anecdotes, problems that founders themselves have witnessed first-hand, and have taken the steps to solve them.

By learning to envision yourself as someone who could gain value from your ideas, that pride in doing what you care about will lead you down the right paths; whether it be connecting with like minded peers or sending you to chat with industry leaders and mentors. The passion to be a part of that difference is what will end up connecting you to a community of people that are equally driven for change, and those are the ones that will empower you to dream bigger.

So what now?

I say, keep ideating, keep building, keep testing, keep questioning, keep challenging.

And every now and then, look around to see who else is doing the same. Start learning to say “we” instead of “I”, start learning to collaborate instead of compete.

After all, it might be faster to go alone, but it’s easier to go further together.

Author

Jason Tan

Events Cordinator

Ex-Consulting, Student Engagement, Aspiring Founder Passionate about student entrepreneurship and ecosystem growth

Sign Up For Pilot Project

Table of Contents

Title

Until I decided to commit to my passion and join the startup ecosystem, I’ve always been bullish on empowerment through connection and relationship building. In the various ‘side-quests’ I’ve explored - from championing student mental health and wellbeing, co-creating agricultural programs overseas, improving university wayfinding outcomes and now, student founders - I've been lucky enough to have been given opportunities to chase ‘engagement' at its core.

Similar to the ‘teach a man to fish’ moniker, I’ve always valued the ideal of human-centric impact, and something I’ve come across quite regularly is the concept of ‘togetherness’: using communal approaches rather than individualistic mentalities to build and create together; whether it’s an event, a group project, and especially a startup.

Now that I’m starting out my journey with NextGen Ventures, the following three lessons on ‘togetherness’, are ones I’ve learnt during my various side-quests that I now realise are tied a lot closer to being an innovator and aspiring founder than I previously thought.

Conflict should bond teams, not break them.

Let’s be honest, there’s no way to please everyone, all the time.

At the end of the day there is never any one-size-fits-all approach to any idea. It might be a model that a co-founder doesn’t quite understand, an initiative a customer isn’t too keen on, a direction that goes against a team member - and that’s perfectly fine, if not beneficial.

Personally, I've become a lot more comfortable and confident with conflict in my day-to-day than when I had just entered university. Looking at peers who have excelled, or watching podcasts and reading about how industry leaders manage their lives, something I’ve picked up is their ability to almost cherish conflict.

This goes beyond the general framework of ‘constructive criticism’ when someone pitches something you’re not sold on, or any negotiation tactics you’ve learned from a public speaking course that can persuade someone to your side.

I've observed that it's the power of conflict lies in the new ideas and perspectives it can bring to the table. And it’s only possible when you are arrogantly authentic enough to stand by your ideas, whilst being malleable and open enough for other perspectives and ideas to shape your vision, that conflict becomes a truly beneficial asset within a team.

Humility is key for teamwork

Particularly, when you are starting out, learning and growth should never be a ‘race to the top’, especially if you’re working alongside a team or working collaboratively with others to create something meaningful. True co-creation requires a level of openness and humility to give and receive ideas, feedback and criticism to benefit the team as a whole - but that’s not really news to anyone.

An interesting dynamic comes into play when “Second Year Syndrome” is introduced. It's a term I’ve coined at university and revolves around the idea that an individual who has had some experience in any area, suddenly sees themselves as a subject-matter expert over their peers.

Imagine a team leader who takes charge and ‘has the best insights’ because they’ve done a similar project a couple years ago (that is barely translatable now). The first friend out of university to hit corporate and suddenly they’re some Michelin-starred CBD lunch expert. That one colleague who’s read their first book on management and productivity and they are now the go-to expert on everything self-help.

In essence, you can view Second Year Syndrome as a subset of the Dunning–Kruger effect, which explains how individuals with a limited competence tend to overstate and overestimate their ability. It isn’t always a bad thing; it comes almost naturally as a by-product of a growth mindset, with the aim to acquire knowledge and continually develop personally and professionally at the forefront. But unlike the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is seemingly easier to identify, Second Year Syndrome is much harder to spot.

Because of the relative novelty of the startup ecosystem as a whole, it seems to be more prevalent among early-stage founders who have genuine passion and drive for creating change and implementing ground-breaking ideas. However, the syndrome comes into play when these lofty goals become unchecked, causing team misalignment, clouded judgements, and eventually ill-advised outcomes. We can all imagine examples of startups, sports teams, even something as simple as a group assignment that has fallen through because of this.

How can you break past the barrier? The simple answer is to humble yourself before someone comes along and humbles you.

The complex answer is somewhere between validating your own growth and ideas with your experiences through reflection, and being bullish on your collective next steps to grow and improve your existing vision.

And I’ve seen that this becomes important when working alongside co-founders or other team members, who although may not share the same experiences, share the same passions and visions for your journey. It’s something that isn’t just relevant within a startup context, but a key life skill that can be translated to whatever you pursue down the line.

The trait of humility is something that eventually attracts collaboration, co-creation, and a communal drive to achieve collective change. Something we often find is that the greatest teams outperform the greatest individuals.

Take pride in being part of the end goal

Own the fact that you’re building something you want to be a part of. Own the fact that you can equally be a recipient of whatever change you are trying to create in the world.

Many startup backstories stem from personal anecdotes, problems that founders themselves have witnessed first-hand, and have taken the steps to solve them.

By learning to envision yourself as someone who could gain value from your ideas, that pride in doing what you care about will lead you down the right paths; whether it be connecting with like minded peers or sending you to chat with industry leaders and mentors. The passion to be a part of that difference is what will end up connecting you to a community of people that are equally driven for change, and those are the ones that will empower you to dream bigger.

So what now?

I say, keep ideating, keep building, keep testing, keep questioning, keep challenging.

And every now and then, look around to see who else is doing the same. Start learning to say “we” instead of “I”, start learning to collaborate instead of compete.

After all, it might be faster to go alone, but it’s easier to go further together.

Author

Jason Tan

Events Cordinator

Ex-Consulting, Student Engagement, Aspiring Founder Passionate about student entrepreneurship and ecosystem growth

Sign Up For Pilot Project

Table of Contents

Title

Until I decided to commit to my passion and join the startup ecosystem, I’ve always been bullish on empowerment through connection and relationship building. In the various ‘side-quests’ I’ve explored - from championing student mental health and wellbeing, co-creating agricultural programs overseas, improving university wayfinding outcomes and now, student founders - I've been lucky enough to have been given opportunities to chase ‘engagement' at its core.

Similar to the ‘teach a man to fish’ moniker, I’ve always valued the ideal of human-centric impact, and something I’ve come across quite regularly is the concept of ‘togetherness’: using communal approaches rather than individualistic mentalities to build and create together; whether it’s an event, a group project, and especially a startup.

Now that I’m starting out my journey with NextGen Ventures, the following three lessons on ‘togetherness’, are ones I’ve learnt during my various side-quests that I now realise are tied a lot closer to being an innovator and aspiring founder than I previously thought.

Conflict should bond teams, not break them.

Let’s be honest, there’s no way to please everyone, all the time.

At the end of the day there is never any one-size-fits-all approach to any idea. It might be a model that a co-founder doesn’t quite understand, an initiative a customer isn’t too keen on, a direction that goes against a team member - and that’s perfectly fine, if not beneficial.

Personally, I've become a lot more comfortable and confident with conflict in my day-to-day than when I had just entered university. Looking at peers who have excelled, or watching podcasts and reading about how industry leaders manage their lives, something I’ve picked up is their ability to almost cherish conflict.

This goes beyond the general framework of ‘constructive criticism’ when someone pitches something you’re not sold on, or any negotiation tactics you’ve learned from a public speaking course that can persuade someone to your side.

I've observed that it's the power of conflict lies in the new ideas and perspectives it can bring to the table. And it’s only possible when you are arrogantly authentic enough to stand by your ideas, whilst being malleable and open enough for other perspectives and ideas to shape your vision, that conflict becomes a truly beneficial asset within a team.

Humility is key for teamwork

Particularly, when you are starting out, learning and growth should never be a ‘race to the top’, especially if you’re working alongside a team or working collaboratively with others to create something meaningful. True co-creation requires a level of openness and humility to give and receive ideas, feedback and criticism to benefit the team as a whole - but that’s not really news to anyone.

An interesting dynamic comes into play when “Second Year Syndrome” is introduced. It's a term I’ve coined at university and revolves around the idea that an individual who has had some experience in any area, suddenly sees themselves as a subject-matter expert over their peers.

Imagine a team leader who takes charge and ‘has the best insights’ because they’ve done a similar project a couple years ago (that is barely translatable now). The first friend out of university to hit corporate and suddenly they’re some Michelin-starred CBD lunch expert. That one colleague who’s read their first book on management and productivity and they are now the go-to expert on everything self-help.

In essence, you can view Second Year Syndrome as a subset of the Dunning–Kruger effect, which explains how individuals with a limited competence tend to overstate and overestimate their ability. It isn’t always a bad thing; it comes almost naturally as a by-product of a growth mindset, with the aim to acquire knowledge and continually develop personally and professionally at the forefront. But unlike the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is seemingly easier to identify, Second Year Syndrome is much harder to spot.

Because of the relative novelty of the startup ecosystem as a whole, it seems to be more prevalent among early-stage founders who have genuine passion and drive for creating change and implementing ground-breaking ideas. However, the syndrome comes into play when these lofty goals become unchecked, causing team misalignment, clouded judgements, and eventually ill-advised outcomes. We can all imagine examples of startups, sports teams, even something as simple as a group assignment that has fallen through because of this.

How can you break past the barrier? The simple answer is to humble yourself before someone comes along and humbles you.

The complex answer is somewhere between validating your own growth and ideas with your experiences through reflection, and being bullish on your collective next steps to grow and improve your existing vision.

And I’ve seen that this becomes important when working alongside co-founders or other team members, who although may not share the same experiences, share the same passions and visions for your journey. It’s something that isn’t just relevant within a startup context, but a key life skill that can be translated to whatever you pursue down the line.

The trait of humility is something that eventually attracts collaboration, co-creation, and a communal drive to achieve collective change. Something we often find is that the greatest teams outperform the greatest individuals.

Take pride in being part of the end goal

Own the fact that you’re building something you want to be a part of. Own the fact that you can equally be a recipient of whatever change you are trying to create in the world.

Many startup backstories stem from personal anecdotes, problems that founders themselves have witnessed first-hand, and have taken the steps to solve them.

By learning to envision yourself as someone who could gain value from your ideas, that pride in doing what you care about will lead you down the right paths; whether it be connecting with like minded peers or sending you to chat with industry leaders and mentors. The passion to be a part of that difference is what will end up connecting you to a community of people that are equally driven for change, and those are the ones that will empower you to dream bigger.

So what now?

I say, keep ideating, keep building, keep testing, keep questioning, keep challenging.

And every now and then, look around to see who else is doing the same. Start learning to say “we” instead of “I”, start learning to collaborate instead of compete.

After all, it might be faster to go alone, but it’s easier to go further together.

Author

Jason Tan

Events Cordinator

Ex-Consulting, Student Engagement, Aspiring Founder Passionate about student entrepreneurship and ecosystem growth

Sign Up For Pilot Project

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