Pay It Forward: Ignite the True Spirit of Entrepreneurship

How can you be a true entrepreneur if you don't help your fellow entrepreneurs?

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It was the year 1975, and a usual busy day for Robert Noyce, the founder/CEO of Intel, an unknown, wannabe entrepreneur called him for advice. Mr Noyce not only met him but also coached this young entrepreneur who later founded a company that has gone on to become the most admired company in the world.

Kudos if you guessed whom Mr Robert Noyce took under his wing. Yes, I’m talking about Mr. Steve Jobs. Why have I have brought this point here? Any guess? The reason is to draw your attention to Silicon Valley’s open secret to success that is nothing but paying it forward. What exactly is paying it forward? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as to respond to a person's kindness to oneself by being kind to someone else. 

The Origin of the Concept

‘Pay it forward’ was used in the prize-winning play, Dyskolos, in ancient Athens in 317 BC. The concept was rediscovered and described by Benjamin Franklin in his letter to Benjamin Webb. The expression has been brought into popular culture by the bestselling novel Paying It Forward by Catherine Hyde Ryan that was later adapted into a film of the same name, starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt.

During his early days, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, struggled and turned to his mentor, Steve Jobs for advice. And Steve Jobs paid it forward keeping up with Silicon Valley’s pay it forward culture and suggested him to go to India. If you dig deeper into the history of Silicon Valley, you will come across many examples that show the pay it forward mindset of entrepreneurs.

Help Others to Help Yourself

I personally believe paying it forward ignites the true spirit of entrepreneurship. Why? In the core of entrepreneurship lies the will to help people, offer solutions to problems, and make people’s lives better. How can you be a true entrepreneur if you don’t help your fellow entrepreneurs?

During my early years, I, too, struggled a lot and I was lucky to have wonderful mentors; and without their help, I can’t imagine myself reaching where I’m today. If I don’t mentor young entrepreneurs, I will not do justice to the true spirit of an entrepreneur. This is also the reason why I started out Youngpreneur India to lay the foundation for entrepreneurship in the younger generation.

Does paying it forward give anything back to you? The answer is a big resounding yes. Stanford University psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky, found good deeds were the direct cause of an increase in well-being in her research. She says, “There are a lot of positive social consequences to being kind—other people appreciate you, they're grateful and they might reciprocate.”

What’s more, The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley, which offers science-based insights for healthy living has listed 5 ways giving is good for you:

  • It promotes corporations and social connection
  • Giving is good for health
  • Giving makes us feel happy
  • It evokes gratitude
  • Giving is contagious

My friend, paying it forward gives back too. When you pay it forward, it brings mutually shared joy. It not only ignites the true spirit of entrepreneurship within you but also promotes the attitude of gratitude within the receiver. 

It is easy to resolve to pay it forward, but translating intention into reality is another matter entirely. However, if you think about your early days and understand the true meaning of being an entrepreneur, you will not find any difficulty in paying it forward.