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If you spend most of your week with people from work, you tend to form a community. And with any community you will encounter many ups and downs along the way. During our years developing and running mobile applications together, we argued, laughed, broke up and sometimes cried.
But during those tough times, it was often the lessons I learned from kids that helped me keep going and ultimately led our team to create an app called Magic, which Apple selected as the one of the best apps of 2017. Here are five insights I learned from kids that helped us create this award-winning company:
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1. Patience is a superpower
“Are we there yet?” A common expression uttered by a bored child on a long car ride. While this may be a tired trope, it’s no surprise that kids are often impatient. For them, everything has to happen immediately because they don’t understand the concept of time. So when my twin asked me this question, I would refrain from saying “no” and instead turn the conversation into an educational game.
One of my business partners asked me every few weeks, “When are we going to be successful?” So instead of answering his question, I took the same approach and tried to engage in conversations about our progress, how far we’d come, brainstorming ideas for how to move forward, and what lay ahead. Instead of getting frustrated, this shift in my mindset reminded me that patience is a superpower – something I had to develop if we were to succeed.
2. Make short-term goals
LEGOs are one of the most popular toys among children because it is so easy to be successful with them. All they have to do is follow the instructions, and each of their little pieces will eventually come together in minutes to form a larger construct, helping them achieve their short-term goals more quickly. By combining small steps with immediate results, you motivate children to keep going.
This can also be applied to business. Instead of focusing on long-term goals, it’s essential to break them down into smaller chunks to keep the momentum going. For example, our team has agreed to release evolutionary app updates every three months. Once we published the new version of the app, we shared it with the community, opinion leaders and media to get feedback and improve the product.
This strategy has helped raise awareness of our product, keep us motivated through the development process, and grow us from a few thousand to a few million users. In general, our team stays motivated when small successes come from our short-term goals.
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3. Don’t listen to what others say. Keep believing.
My kids can use hammers to paint, kitchen appliances to play music, or deodorant as a microphone to sing. At a young age, they had no established imaginary and social behavior patterns. However, this allowed them to be creative and confident in their ideas, regardless of what others said or thought.
The same is true in business – don’t listen to what others say, but keep believing and have faith in your ideas. When we first released Magic, a lot of people said it would flop and never succeed. We didn’t let that stop us and kept going, even in difficult times, which eventually paid off. When people around you question your ideas, remember that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughed at the first iPhone model in 2007.
4. Turn failure into motivation
I am always amazed at how stubborn kids can be when they practice what they love. For example, when I’m playing football with my kids and I don’t score a goal, my kids always cheer me on and say, “Daddy, don’t worry. Now you know what not to do. Just try again.”
This lesson helped me realize that failure can be a great experience rather than something to be embarrassed or embarrassed about. This helped me stay motivated even when hundreds of investors and journalists rejected our ideas. With each rejection, I worked on improving my pitch to make sure it was just right. Whenever we face setbacks or fall short of expectations, I encourage our team to see those failures as an opportunity to learn, not only for ourselves, but for the future of the company and how this can be improved.
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5. Go through tough times together
A child’s empathy is sincere and supportive. For example, if one of my twins falls and starts crying, the other helps them get up and they hug.
This taught me the importance of team spirit and how supporting your team can help you overcome obstacles. Making machine learning based apps is based on a lot of research and development. Usually only one of the five hypotheses turns out to be true. I supported our team members when they thought they had tried all possible opinions, and within a few weeks they usually found a solution that worked.
By embracing the spirit of children’s creativity, self-confidence and teamwork, I am able to stay positive even in difficult times and use failures as an opportunity to learn, which led our team to build an app with millions of users and has even earned an Apple Award.