Mirror Craftsmanship: The Common Threads between Moroccan Mosaics and Entrepreneurship

by Jeremy Tang

Imagine trying to put together a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle, blindfolded.

That’s pretty much what it looked like watching artisans in the Moroccan city of Fes assemble highly intricate mosaics called Zellij. This traditional craft involves hand-cutting coloured tiles into various geometrical shapes and carefully placing them colour-side down into a frame.

What makes this process fascinating is that the artisan cannot see the colour of the pieces already placed. Many of these pieces share the same shape, requiring the artisan to rely heavily on memory and a clear vision of the end design (which is never written down) to ensure the correct colors are placed in the right spots.

They only know if it’s all done correctly at the end.

Watching this artisan at work felt alot like my own entrepreneurial journey which I believe shares some common traits with others.

Over the last 15 years I’ve encountered alot of skepticism, often people thinking that I’m driving blind, making decisions that on the surface seem reckless or simply don’t make sense.

I realize those are fair assessments given that often the entrepreneurial vision is almost impossible to fully communicate given there’s so many pieces that need to be put together that only become clear when you see the aggregate of those decisions.

Like assembling a mosaic without seeing its colors, entrepreneurs work with pieces of their vision, trusting that in the end, the aggregate of these decisions will reveal a coherent, impactful outcome.

The crucial lesson here is that many entrepreneurs give up too soon, not because their vision is flawed, but because they are swayed by the skepticism of others who simply cannot envision what they see.

Hence the importance of conviction in one’s path, despite the invisible progress, knowing that the most significant breakthroughs often occur when one pushes past the point where others might stop.

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