A Sibyl once came to the palace of the Roman king Tarquin the second, offering for sale at a high price nine volumes. The offer was declined. Turning away, she burned three of the volumes. A little later she offered the remaining six for the price originally asked for the nine. Again, the offer was refused, and three more of the volumes were consigned to the flames. A third time she came, bringing the remaining three volumes, but refusing to reduce any price than that was asked at the first place. Perplexed at her conduct, the king consulted his augurs, and bought the remaining three books.
These books proved to be the priceless “Sibylline verses;” but it was too late to secure the other six precious volumes, which had been burned! The moral of this Roman myth, is that great opportunities of life, like the Sibylline books, both rice in price and diminish in number every time that we neglect to recognize and make use of them in favor of us.
Most of the times, opportunity passes without being recognized. However, there are some men who are always on alert for the unexpected. They have the rare ability to be completely aware of the opportunities around and profit from them.
I had the opportunity to interview many great minds with the rare ability to plan for the unplanned, recognize opportunities and make a fortune out of it. Here are some great examples.
N.R. Narayanamurthy is the founding chairman of Infosys India. Mr. Murthy says, he and his friends were successful in recognizing four events happened in the field of information technology in early 1980s. The four events he talks about are 1)unbundling of software in the US, 2) emergence of inexpensive super mini computers, 3) availability of online transaction processing based on relational database systems, 4) availability of highly talented software engineers for low wages.
Salman Khan is the founder of Khan Academy. Time magazine recently recognized him as one of the most 100 influential people on the planet. He recognized the advances in video streaming and used that as an opportunity to redefine education at a global scale.
Dr. A.K. Pradeep, founder of Neurofocus and CEO of Moodcast. He got his business idea for “Neurofocus” from a plane ride to San Francisco. Here is that story in his words.
“As an entrepreneur, ideas are important, action is important, but planning for the unplanned, learning to recognize it, learning to embrace it, and learning to incorporate in what you do is very important and the critical ingredient for success.”