Acknowledgments and Your Invisible Team

I am re-re-re-reading The Lean Startup as I am preparing a workshop on business growth. I noticed the Acknowledgments section which I had of course seen before, but haven’t read read it. Then I took out my pen and listed the people Eric Ries acknowledges.


About 5 institutions are mentioned and another three groups are thanked and a whopping 70 people are named in the acknowledgments. Seventy! As you can see above, I ran out of paper writing them down. I didn’t expect so many names. From writers to mentors to publishers to agents to parents to siblings to co-workers.

I loved reading through it and I noticed I got tired just writing them down. Why? Writing up so many names is an exercise in itself, but Eric Ries goes a few steps further: he actually writes a note for many of the people mentioned. How they helped and why he is grateful.

Recalling 70 names and then writing down the help they gave is no small task indeed. A lot of writers would – acceptably so – write down names in list form, and even mention that the names are in “no particular order”. But Eric Ries writes the acknowledgment section like a chapter of the book it seems.


The reason I bring this up is because so often we think that “we can do this on our own”. Reading the book, feeling the weight of its paper in my hand, I somehow feel the simple gratitude that is expressed in the last few pages. The book is written by Eric Ries, but it is not written by Eric Ries. It wouldn’t have been possible if his team hadn’t showed up. And so it is with life.

You always have a team, people helping you. They may be your parents, your siblings, your spouse, your friends, your coworkers, the shopkeeper who smiles whenever you fumble your wallet, the pizza delivery guy who complements your tip…all the people who make it a tad bit easier for you to get along. God’s help, the universe conspiring or the good of people showing through, call it what you may.

I realized this personally when I showed up in a foreign country to run my first triathlon in March last year. Travelling with a cycle for the first time, it was a logistical nightmare (thanks to the FIA official at Lahore’s airport in a bad mood). I wouldn’t have been able to sort out the cycle situation, nor would I’ve been able to move around at all, had it not been for an old friend Mansoor. He just showed up and took care of pretty much everything. Then there was my cousin Najeeb, who not only played the perfect host (I stayed at his place while I was there) but helped with an important document that was required. It was me with the finisher’s medal, but it wasn’t me alone who was responsible for it. I didn’t know I had a team till my team showed up.

This is, I can see when I look, a common theme: there is always someone, my Mother, my lovely wife, a few good friends, a stranger leaving a thoughtful comment, a bestselling writer taking the time to reply to my articles… so many people who are present in moments I cherish.

You always have a team. Acknowledge them often.

Thank you for reading this. I wish you the best.

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