It's no secret that the startup lifestyle is demanding, but it's also meant to be satisfying and fulfilling, especially since entrepreneurs are in control of their own destiny. I recently read a book that conveys just that message. After reading Deep Patel's first book, A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success, and spending some time talking with this young entrepreneur, I realized he is as innovative and creative as his main character, Ty.
A Paperboy's Fable is about a teenage boy who discovers an undervalued opportunity and uses basic business principles to create a successful enterprise. The book takes the often murky topic of how to achieve success and gives it a relatable, refreshing spin, while also offering straightforward advice. As a bonus, the book includes 15 insightful interviews with influential business leaders, CEO's and scholars, which illustrate the principles behind the paperboy's story.
How did a high school student manage write a book, gain access to influencers and launch himself as a budding entrepreneur and business writer?
By living by the guidelines he writes about. This is Patel's story, as told through some of the principles illustrated in his book:
1. Harness ingenuity
For Patel, harnessing ingenuity meant harnessing creativity he didn't know he had. A Paperboy's Fable came about because of unexpected circumstances: during his sophomore year, he was put into a creative-writing class he hadn't signed up for. Patel had previously served as a script editor and creative consultant for the 2012 comedy She Wants Me, produced by Charlie Sheen. But the creative-writing class--along with the English class he was taking at the time--helped him to hone his skills and inspired him to branch out. Soon after he had taken the class, the idea behind A Paperboy's Fable came to him. The story pays homage to his father, who had been a paperboy as a teenager, making less than minimum wage.
"I had grown up with these stories about my dad, but after taking the class, I realized it could be a basis for an interesting book," Patel said. "I thought using a paperboy as the central character to illustrate business points could be really appealing and engaging."
2. Recognize opportunity
Once Patel had completed the first draft of A Paperboy's Fable, he began putting out inquiries to get it published. Although he knew it would be a long shot, he also realized that if he didn't take a chance, he could be missing out on a potentially amazing opportunity. He eventually managed to snag the attention of Post Hill Press. They agreed to publish his work, but wanted to flesh out the book by adding interviews with business leaders and professors.
3. Build a network
Patel knew he needed to do some serious networking if he was to gain access to the kind of luminaries who would make his book stand out. But how to get these busy, important people to take note and make the time to speak with him? Patel started by going to the people he knew or had a connection to, and asking them for help reaching out to key people. By creating strategic connections, he was able to quickly build a network and approach influential leaders. He avoided mass emails, opting instead for a personal touch. Each request he made was well researched and concise. This showed he had taken the time to do his homework on the person, and also that he valued the person's time.
Above all, Patel was persistent. He continually reached out to notable leaders, knowing he would get rejected more often than not. But his efforts paid off when he landed interviews with innovators like Rus Yusupov, cofounder of Vine; Gina Smith, author of iWoz; and Gen. David Petraeus, who was a paperboy many decades before he became the director of the CIA.
4. Deliver with consistency
Now that the book is published, Patel is still in contact with the connections he has built. His ability to continue to cultivate his network has led to more opportunities. For example, he is a contributing writer for several leading publications. He has continued to delve into the entrepreneurial world by pursuing interviews with those who are breaking barriers in business and tapping influential leaders he admires.
It's obvious that Patel is the kind of person who is always looking for ways to expand his horizons and push himself to the next level. He recently landed an internship at Slyde Handboards, a Southern California surfing business that successfully pitched itself on ABC's Shark Tank and received backing from Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher. The internship came his way after Patel interviewed the founders, Steve and Angela Watts, for the HuffPost, and continued to stay in touch afterward. Patel realizes that as he builds his network and keeps crushing his goals, he will gain more experience in a variety of environments.
6. Brand for the future
I have no doubt we will be hearing great things from Patel in the future. Already he is working on his next big project. He is currently finishing up his second book, The Gray Veil, a story about a mobster who has Alzheimer's.
According to Patel: "You're never too young or old to fulfill a dream, but you have to start with something that matters to you. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and take risks."
Most important, you've got to keep hustling.