How I learned a New Business Through Show, Don’t Tell Stories (And You Can Too)

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Photo by Annie Spratt

“Daddy, you are looking up again?” My 9 year old daughter sighed. I promised both my young daughters to be fully present when I was inside the store, shopping with them.

I was looking at the lights in the store. A year ago, I was not that way.

My boss wanted to launch a local version of lighting business that was successful internationally. I was upfront with him. I did not know anything about LED — I had to google to find out what the full form was! He asked me to go ahead anyway.

In the process, I learned a new business. An analogy would work here.

And starting a conversation is not as easy as it sounds. It is like getting a foot in the door with a prospect — these are low probability events.

Section A: Conversation Starters, Small Talk Materials on LED

1) What is LED?

· L stands for Light

· E stands for Emitting

· Next logical word is Firefly. Light Emitting Firefly would have been easy to remember.

· Actually, D stands for Diode. That is the only tech term.

2) What is a good analogy for LEDs?

LED are like electric cars while traditional lights are like motor cars

Perception of electric cars

1. Prestige, Price, Eco friendly

2. Low Maintenance as there are no mechanically moving parts.

3) What is cool about LEDs?

In the human body, one of the weakest link is our knees. It is a mechanical part that wears out with time.

LED lights have no moving parts to fatigue — no gases, no filaments. There is no glass to break or screwed contacts to loosen.

Inside the Diode, Electronics directly produce light directly from solid materials. They have sapphire and gallium in the semiconductor electronics and some wires are made of gold. That adds to the overall cost.

On the flip side, they last really long. It is an investment play with green benefits as the pop up.

4) Anything more about lights that can be good conversation material?

In Norway and Sweden, there is very little sunlight during the winter months. And these Scandinavian countries use giant mirrors, light-therapy clinics to overcome seasonal depression.

Quality of light has a bearing on our health.

There is a scale for that — Kelvin scale. 10,000 Kelvin is the beautiful blue sky day. Candlelight is 1,900 Kelvin. Household bulb is around 2,700 Kelvin.

LED can range from 4000 to as high as 7000 Kelvin. You can find higher end at hospitals.

5) What is the biggest myth about lights?

The myth is that watts and brightness are same.

Watts is the cost; brightness is the output.

What really interests us actually is how luminant the place is So, brightness is rightly measured in lumens.

Way before lumens, during the middle-ages, the word used was foot candles. How many foots can the candle light reach.

In today’s world, the higher your ceiling, more lumens you need — all else equal.

Section B: Jargons that can trip you when you have a LED lighting expert standing next to you

1) Ballast?

It is the starter for a traditional bulb, like an ignition spark for car. Note: The new word for LEDs is driver.

2) T12/T8/ T what?

T is for tube light. Every number after that, divide by 8. It will give you the inches of diameter of the bulb. T8 is a 1 inch blub. T12 is the guzzler, it is 1.5 inch diameter bulb.

3) Shoebox?

Street and parking lighting

4) Lamp?

It is not a lamp, you and I visualize in real world. It actually refers to the bulb.

5) Transfers?

Frames that house the tube lights

SECTION C: The Best for Last

I enjoy creating snippets of stories around new businesses and make it interesting for myself and others. More importantly, when I roll with the punches that tranquilize the awkward starts — it creates awesome learning momentum.

That momentum needs a spark:

Even today, the conventional wisdom is that people are hired for experience. My experience is different. There are leaders who smile when I exercise the often invisible option “I do not know but this is what I think”

And hire me anyway.

When I look up while I visit a store — I may see the bulbs visually. Mentally, Richard Branson’s words echo, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes — then learn how to do it later!”

For that “learning later”, I tapped into what I enjoy about stories — show, don’t tell.

Hope you enjoyed the read.

Karthik Rajan

P.S. Which section resonated with you?

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Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.

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