Turns Out, Sometimes You Need A Swift Kick To Pursue Your Dreams
By Prof. John Rizvi, Esq., The Patent Professor®
"Stop Freaking Emailing Me!"
An innocent typo in the group email I was sending out to my family diverted the message into the inbox of a complete stranger whose reply above was followed by the most epic chewing-out I ever received in my life:
“You have neither the guts to start your own patent law firm nor the brains to give up.”
As I processed his reply, I realized that for the last two years I had been sharing my intimate thoughts about escaping the gray twilight of America’s top Intellectual Property firm in New York - and starting my own company - with somebody outside my family.
His soul-crunching reply above would literally force a painful round of self-analysis and ultimately launch me into the happiest and most rewarding period of my life, which I describe more fully in a recent article published by YFS Magazine entitled Turns Out, Sometimes You Need A Swift Kick To Pursue Your Dreams.
The bi-monthly emails, intended only for my father’s eyes, outlined my fears, frustrations and the challenges of working for Fish & Neave, a company eternally linked with some of the most magnificent inventors of our time, including Henry Ford and the Wright brothers. My decision to leave engineering and enter patent law was driven by a strong internal desire to work with early-stage inventors like Steve Jobs and Sarah Blakely BEFORE they reached stratospheric heights with their commercial enterprises.
Instead, I was locked in gray, dull boardrooms and offices, whose sole purpose seemed to rest on advancing the interests of large business rather than helping small inventors strike a home run in the American entrepreneurial landscape. My dream had been replaced by an Orwellian nightmare which drained my creativity and disrupted by internal compass.
The Force Field of Self-Doubt
I knew things had to change; I knew I had to emulate the achievements of my future clients who overcame life’s obstacles to reach their dreams. But exactly how or when to do this plagued me. I spilled this this force field of emotion, anxiety and self-doubt into those private group emails that I thought only my dad and family members would be reading.
Starting a new company is a daunting prospect, riddled with uncertainty and far-reaching implications for your family and your career. Fear and doubt lace any decision to leave the security and financial womb of a large company, especially one as prominent and powerful as the one I used to work for 20 years ago.
The trade-off between financial security, social stature and the lure of an independent business intimately connecting me to the dreams of small, brilliant inventors, was omnisciently present to me, day and night.
I needed a swift kick in the posterior to get going, but I had no idea a perfect stranger would be the one wearing the boot.
After two years of confessional over email that included periods of griping, moaning, yearning and pleading, the unknown email recipient had finally had enough: “Stop Freaking Emailing Me!”, read the subject line as I sat back in my chair in complete shock.
Accessing Your Inner Compass
Stripped of my dignity, I almost replied back with a sharp, telling retort. Instead, my inner compass reset, gradually accepting his insight and wisdom. In order to move towards True North and the dream of my own Miami Patent Attorney Firm, I had to finally take action.
The time was NOW.
I remember digging out that famous quote by one of my heroes, Teddy Roosevelt, which would later serve as the inspiration for my Amazon best seller in the patent law category, Escaping The Gray: When Launching Your Idea Full Throttle Is The Only Option.
It was titled Dare Mighty Things:
The words sung to me like never before as I sat down with my wife Saba to discuss a possible new course of action that the perfect stranger had unwittingly triggered that fateful day.
The timing was not the best, but is it ever?
We had a one-year old daughter and another one on the way:
“Honey, I want to quit and start my own patent attorney firm, but we have no savings, no clients, no revenue, no staff and no office. Do you trust me to take a chance and make this work?”
I will always remember her reply.
“John, go for it. Nothing you do ever feels like taking a chance to me.”
Her belief and certainty in my abilities filled me with indescribable joy and courage. With support like that, how could I fail? When I told Fish & Neave the next day that I was resigning to start a new patent law firm in Florida representing inventors, they were shocked.
“John, this is insane. It’s nuts: You are committing career suicide.”
Not only was I quitting the world’s most famous intellectual property firm for inventors, but I was also electing to NOT side-step into a safe, comfortable role as a patent attorney for a large industry titan like Motorola or General Electric. With my experience and station in life as a Fish & Neave patent lawyer, I could have become a general counsel (or chief patent counsel) inside a huge corporation – complete with a hefty annual paycheck and ancillary benefits.
The general consensus was that I would come crawling back with the tail between my legs.
“Don’t’ worry,” they said, “We’ll hold onto your resume just in case. Your old job will be waiting for you.”
The Golden Age of Inventing
As I walked out their lofty doors on The Avenues of Americas that day, I replayed the stranger’s email in my head and the loving words of support from my wife, Saba.
I felt alive, fearless, and in control of my destiny, ready to dare mighty things. In the ultimate irony, Fish & Neave IP Group no longer exists.
Meanwhile, the patent law firm I started with a friend of mine from college thrives in new era of entrepreneurship I call the Golden Age of Inventing.
What I have found over the last two decades as a practicing patent attorney is that my clients encounter the same self-doubt, fears and roadblocks, I experienced during my time at a Fish & Neave.
Breaking Free From The Past
I now consider it my duty – my mission – to be that irritating stranger to YOU, the small American inventor who yearns to break free from the confines of your present station in life and achieve financial freedom with your patented idea.
John Rizvi, Esq., // National Patent Attorney
The $100 Million Dollar Patent
I vividly recall the ugly surgical prototype dumped on my desk by an ambitious one-time medical school dropout. It did not look like much, but he was convinced it would revolutionize surgical operating rooms across the planet.
Friends, family, co-workers all lovingly conspired to suggest his anti-fogging device for surgical instruments would fail miserably. Again, the phrase “career suicide” was used to describe his desire to patent and commercialize his medical product which he would eventually sell for $100 million to a giant operation.
It’s now used in over one million surgeries each year and saves lives. But, for many years he struggled to overcome financial and technical problems to achieve this stellar success.
Setbacks Are Launchpads For Action
It’s often said that a setback is a setup for a comeback and his story (and mine) reflect the truth of this statement. Other inventors like Sarah Blakely, Marguerite Spagnuolo, Troy Faletra, Giselle Fermin, Donal Inman, Erno Rubick, David Coggswell and Jay Sorenson, are proof that we are living in a world where sometimes you need a swift kick to pursue your dreams.
Even if your invention is small, perhaps TINY, it can still make a giant dent in the universe. There is a patent roadmap for inventors, but you first need to remove the self-doubt that’s chained you to the past. The inventors above all made it from the minor to major leagues by ignoring the naysayers and using this pessimism to fuel a pathway to commercial success for their invention. Usually along the way there is somebody to prod them, motivate them, or spark the next step in their journey.
As I described in the YFS article, innovator after innovator has told me a version of the exact same story I lived: People telling them they couldn’t do it until that thought had become part of their own inner monologue.
We have all been through this: We just need that one email that shouts, “Stop Freaking Email Me,” to kick our butts into action.
If you find yourself at a similar stage in your journey I promise to be that irritating patent attorney that reminds you that you do NOT need to invent a fabled flux capacitor to be successful in the world today.
Your small, innocuous idea can be nurtured for commercial success but it starts by resetting your inner compass and pointing it towards True North. Following your dreams takes courage but you do not need to do it alone.
Remember, you were born to invent something great; I was born to help you protect it.
It’s a magical partnership that I invite YOU to access on The Patent Professor® and my Facebook Group below.
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