Breakfast view, Tehran.

October 4th, 2013, 12pm

It was 30°C with clouds and visibility OK. The breeze was gentle.

I didn’t know what to expect of Iran. In fact, like you probably, I had quite a negative view because I watch CNN and BBC every once in a while. What I found after a week of tech consulting is so completely different than what I expected.

One of my many incorrect assumptions about Iran was that everyone obsesses about politics every day. I assumed people here would be fearful, constantly worrying about the government, discussing topics like nuclear weapons and sanctions, etc. Not so. Instead, what I found is normal people living in a normal city with normal problems (traffic!) and normal social life (food!).

One thing is different though. They’re not waiting. For anything. They’re not waiting for a government handout, they’re not waiting for someone to give them a good job with a good salary, they’re not waiting for education to somehow fall out of the air and hit them on the head. No. They work.

The startup culture is amazing, and the entrepreneurial spirit is strong. They find ways to learn, they find ways to build businesses, and they do it not just because they want to make money. They do it because they understand the power of technology to affect people in a positive way — perhaps more than we in the West do. Their drive doesn’t come from wanting to buy more stuff. Their drive comes from something much stronger: a desire to improve their country, and the firm belief that they have the power to do so.

Everyone I spent time with had a deep sense of urgency to them. They want to learn quickly, they want to make great products, they want the world to change their opinion of them. Their enthusiasm is contagious and inspiring.

I need to go back.

Nina, Cassie, Paul, Craig and 5 others said thanks.

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Rian van der Merwe

Family, design, coffee, and Oxford commas. On Twitter:

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