Now since am chugging along the path of becoming an entrepreneur (successful or not, only time will tell), I have decided to map my journey by sharing articles on how I feel about this whole process of transition of transformation.
I’d like to start by talking about how hard it was for me – to pull the plug from my daily routine and just get into starting-up.
Am sure a lot of us have thought about starting up at some point of time in their lives. Some have already crossed the line, some maybe in the process and some decided not to (prudent call perhaps).
I’ve been through this process of maybe/ maybe not, quite a lot of times myself. Have had countless of ideas that I’ve myself drained down for numerous reasons. Reasons sometimes as silly as – aah, this idea may not be liked by many, I don’t have a team yet, why get into the hassle when am getting a decent pay-check, what will my parents think about me becoming a gardener, no one will marry me.. etc.! Each time I did so, I only grew regret and discontent within me. More so when I realised others tapping into those ideas and turning them into million-dollar businesses of their own.
One that I regret killing the most is that of ‘campus-hustle’. It was to be an ERP tool for colleges that’d allow interaction of college admin, students and teachers on one common platform. Here’s a snapshot of what I was about to create with my small team of 3 people some 6 years back.
I killed it only because I felt that there were many small players doing this back then and no one would be interested. But we all recently heard Charan (Stumagz) talk about Richard Branson being interested in such a platform (of course with bit more sophistication of blockchain thrown into it). There are many other bigger and more established players now in India, only because they saw the gap and went deeper.
I took all of this is a life-lesson and realised that:
But you just got to do it at some point.
Hence, I did decide to pull the plug for my own sake. To begin with I first explained by idea to my wife and parents and they were all extremely supportive of me pursuing this on a full-time basis (to my surprise). I felt really good and confident about myself with all of them by my side. Next, I found an excellent co-founder in one of my own class-mates (Amit) who too is willing to take this up full-time, has the go-getter attitude, relevant background and skillsets complimentary to mine.
In order to remain steady in my head, I also decided to tell about this to all my friends and family – this not only helps with the marketing but also creates that social pressure of ‘you got no other option – if you quit, way too many people would think that you are a quitter” – learnings from Management of Organisation course – declaring socially.
So this time, I just have to do it.
Some may say that it is a risky call to have left my job before this reached a certain stage but my take was that the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” had made me highly risk-averse and all the analysis that I had done for my past start-up ideas had resulted in a situation of paralysis. I’d just like to follow my instincts this time.
Needless to say that am pretty anxious and scared of my call – this better work! 😀
Let me start with a small, quirky (true) story. In the times of all play and no shoes, probably aged 10 and bouncing around aimlessly, came across a challenge I was most unprepared for. I surprised a dog by stepping on his tail and he didn’t like it one bit. So off we raced, the dog at my heel and I running on the road like no one crazier existed. I ran, he chased, and chased some more, and finally, Four Wheels gave up. Yes, I outran a dog (am proud of it) but what this experience did afterward is the key. If ever there comes another uncalled race with a teeth baring and mouth frothing canine, I feel I can beat it fair and square in a race. An unexpected challenge draws more than your best, it teaches us something for life.
I think someone just said, what in the world does this have to do with anything? Now that we all are on our toes balancing everything under the sun at ISB, taking on Goliath with the ease of a David, the fear of an unknown is diminished. But what may happen next? This level of intellectual curiosity is not satiated soon (kind of like feeling hungry just 2 hours after Chinese food) and may be only some of it comes from the next professional position we get to. The road we are on can lead to places we never really planned on visiting, precisely because once the unexpected was tackled, rest becomes easier. Wanted to learn guitar, run a marathon, understand astronomy, or whatever were the dreams can all be given a second life (don’t know if the neighbours agree with the guitar part, check ahead please).
The end of PGPPro, although there still is a year to go, is the most exciting part to me since there is something more to learn and more to give as societal due. All this from outrunning a dog…
I am for one, a person who needs to have a plan. I need to know what is going to happen exactly next. I play out all the multiple possible scenarios that could come out and I prepare myself for the worst and anything better than that is always good to have. If you are my friend then I must have already understood your pattern of thinking and I mostly know what you are going to say next. I map out exactly what I will be doing at which point of time in a day. It is so much a routine that I funnily say to my friends incase you need to kill me you exactly know where I will be.
But, roughly a year ago, I met one of the leaders in my company who said “If you want to grow in your life then Be Uncomfortable“. Don’t get so into a routine that you start to miss out all the fun. That somehow stuck with me. Be Uncomfortable…Obviously simple, isn’t it? All the inventions and discoveries happened just because man was uncomfortable with something. He was uncomfortable to walk and so came the wheel and the journey of the world began, he started inventing things just to make life more comfortable .. the luxury of life.. Being Comfortable. I have been in a same company for last 10 years – I was in my total comfort zone and I was doing the exact same thing every other day. Waking up at the exact time as if waking up a minute later I would see the world end, Get up, cook, get family ready, drop my kid off at school, go to work , have lunch, take a few tea breaks, get back to pick kid up, meetings, cooking, cleaning the mess and putting my kid to bed. And, squeeze in some time to talk to friends who would kill you if you don’t talk to them and yeah my mom knows exactly at what time she could expect my call and If I didn’t call her, she would assume that I am sick, or in a bad mood and have taken leave .. and most likely that would be the case.
But then I decided to make my life a bit uncomfortable. “Let us try and see where it goes and so I started my Journey of ISB”. Pursuing an Executive MBA! I never thought I would plunge into this so instantaneously. I was probably the last person to join the course. I was grateful that they extended the deadline so I could get my application completed at 11:59 pm – just few seconds before the deadline. That was so unlike me!
That was one of the best decisions I have ever taken in my life to date! I came across 52 strangers just in a day. I so felt like a kid in front of them. I still feel a bit overwhelmed with the achievements of my classmates and the extent of knowledge they possess. Sometimes the questions they ask in class make me ponder how on earth do they think to such an extent. I am always in awe of them. It’s so wonderful how close we are now and how much we learn from each other as each day passes. Each one encouraging the other and helping out just like that.
Everyone has a story and everyone is striving to do something more. But this is a special phase of life where we are unlearning and learning and sometimes learning the obvious things that we never formally learnt.
I know it is still an uncomfortable phase of the journey but it is the best journey we embarked on and soon we are going to make it comfortable…achieve what we set ourselves for.
Till then picture abhi baaki hain mere dost 😉
Addressed the ISB PGPpro 2019 Hyderabad Cohort!
I have always been a skeptical optimist. While this sounds like an oxymoron, I have felt the same on many an occasion. To put it simply, one half of me thinks like an optimist while the other half of me looks at the optimist inside me with a sheepish smile and a message that one could equate to “Stop thinking like this you bugger. You ain’t achieving it”. So started my foray into one of the top B-schools in India.
Taking a step back, I was in two minds whether to apply or not. I sought advice from various people to get certain basic things sorted. Armed with the advice and some stupid courage I decided to take the punt and apply for admission. (Note: I haven’t read their application form till that point). The moment I read the application form, I despised myself for the decision to apply. With this thought, a month passed.
I gathered the courage to collate all the necessary documents that were to be part of the application. It was at this point where, my daily digest of Quora was helpful. I would read lots and lots of views and counter views on B-schools and the positives and negatives of enrolling oneself into such a course. Armed with this knowledge, I started writing the most important aspect of the application (damn the essays, I hated precis writing in school).
The enthusiastic me browsed through a lot of videos on how to approach the essay writing. The nerd in me noted down all the important points judiciously from the videos (it helps to be CAs in certain cases) and I started writing/editing my essays on a daily basis till I was satisfied with the content. Somewhere in October, (on an auspicious day you know!!), I submitted my application (finally). While I was awaiting the result of my application the skeptical me was ready for any eventuality.
On a fine rainy, clumsy, Friday morning (the previous night it rained like bonkers) , I received the much awaited Interview call scheduled a couple of days later. I was thrilled to bits and started preparing for my interview seriously by skimming through the application in general and the essays in particular to ensure that I don’t flunk on the D-day. To my surprise, the interview was more like a conversation (sure they asked questions but more importantly they made me comfortable). It lasted for some 30 or so minutes and it was plain sailing. I wrote down certain questions for the panel and managed to ask all of them in the interview (thanking the notes in my iPhone).
The optimist in me started believing more and more as each day passed by. Finally, one fine Wednesday evening, I received the much awaited admission confirmation from the school. While it was a joyous moment, I stumbled for a moment considering the significant investment involved. This made me think again. While I was 50:50 on whether to accept the offer or not, my wife encouraged me to take the punt and accept the offer. So I accepted the offer the next day and everything happened so quickly.
Four months later, here I am taking the time out to write about an important event in my career till date (obviously next to the wedding). Honestly, my belief that there is always one right answer has gone away; and my perspectives about many issues have changed significantly (for the good you know!!). Apart from the knowledge that I am gaining, one of the most important take away that I have had over the last 4 or so months is to be happy for no reason and keep smiling since it costs none.