The Flat-Family-Marriage blog raises societal issues and is NOT sexist: Here’s Why

If you’ve landed straight on this post, then I must mention, this is a reply to all the women (and men too) who got offended by an earlier blog post of mine and some of them even termed it sexist. While on and off quite some people have thought that, this particular comment yesterday forced me to write a reply.

Here’s the comment I received few days back:

The incredible sexism in this article made it very hard for me to agree with some of the valid issues that were brought up. Maybe you could broaden your very narrow mindset and consider that women do have dreams and aspirations beyond having another child? Many women would like to be entrepreneurs, but they need to overcome a huge amount of societal pressure to get married and settle down by as early as 20, pressure that is far more than that faced by their male counterparts.

The entire tone of your article is one that stereotypes women into the category of nagging annoyances that are hindering Indian men and their entrepreneurial dreams. I don’t know what women you’ve been dating but maybe you only seem to connect with very traditional women because you, yourself, have a very traditional mindset towards gender. I cannot see a motivated, driven young woman being attracted to someone like you, who doesn’t even acknowledge the possibility of female entrepreneurs in India, in an article titled “Reasons why young Indians don’t turn entrepreneurs”.

I also found your use of phrases like “my girl”, “your girl” and “I hope my ex-girlfriend is reading this” demeaning and bitter.

FYI there are a lot of female entrepreneurs in India. Some at a smaller scale, running beauty parlors, and many at a larger scale, starting NGOs etc.

Hi Anu,

First of all sorry if you got offended. Secondly, thanks a ton for your comment. While I have received a lot of good feedback on the blog from women and men alike, some have written in to express concerns you have raised and your reply really pushed me to answer you. In fact honestly speaking, I got offended by you terming the article or me ‘sexist’. I wasn’t okay with it so I thought to reply to you. Since the reply was long, I converted it to a blog post itself. Here it goes:

Let me apologise first to all you who got offended by it, in any manner. While writing, that was never the intention. Since it was a rant, the language didn’t turn out to be flowery and some of you felt bad. Apologies again.

Secondly, Anu, this is a personal blog, my version of the experiences i have had. I do not pretend to be writing articles that are rooted in surveys, or has interviewed people in similar situations. After reading my blog, someone actually did that, The Week magazine to be precise – see point 3 below.

Coming to the answer, let me share a few incidences, post that article, they should answer it.

1. One of the very first things that happened was that a female entrepreneur SMSed me, “Dude the sentiment that you’ve expressed in that blog, is the same how I feel everyday. People asking me about when do I plan to have kids and all…” She went on for sometime expressing how she could relate to every bit of that article. [I wish I had taken screenshots of that sms and stored, would have helped today.]

2. Another successful female entrepreneur (now in her 40s) said, “that’s exactly how I felt when I was young like you, why don’t boys want to get married to a female entrepreneur?”

3. In Sep 2013, The Week magazine did a story on “How young entrepreneurs in India are facing a problem in getting married” – A lady journalist did that story. Along with me she covered 4 other (single) entrepreneurs, 2 out of whom were women, again. The crux of that story was same as that of my blog. The problem is ancient Indian mindset/society. And not what you think I am saying, “women”. Couple of more points I must also mention here. First, when this story was being written, the journo asked me to connect to more single entrepreneurs. I asked a couple of “women” entrepreneurs and they refused to say anything in public about this. Obviously, no one will ever complain about them. Since I raise and talk about a norm which I feel is an issue, people are bound to get upset. Second thing is, when this story got published online, it did not get good feedback, for obvious reasons. And was eventually pulled down from their portal! Well, I have a copy of the print issue, can share it if you want.

4. In Nov 2013, a “women” entrepreneur got in touch in with me and honoured me since the post made it to the most read post ever on her community portal.

5. The second most important point, another women entrepreneur asked me to join hands in building the biggest portal for women in India (and possibly the world). Yes, she knew about the post. I can say that with certainty because we had this conversation at the event mentioned in point 4 above. Again, she could have thought the same and could have never initiated this. Today, we are working together.

6. The most important point. Six months after that post, I merged my company with another company, that was run by, not one but two women entrepreneurs. Needless to say, they had read that post as well.

I could go on with more stories but I think these are enough to tell you that my mindset is broad enough to get me the chance to interact with many phenomenal people, women and men, both professionally as well as personally.

Just to make it clear, the problem statement I focussed on was “Indian Society” and not “women”, as you think. Hope this helps.

I’ll even take this opportunity to mention that I strongly support women rights and entrepreneurship. I am a supporter of the #VAW (Violence Against Women) community and have participated in events earlier. And I do read (books like Lean In) to address and understand such problems and how to eradicate them.

Obviously everybody has their own opinion, so some of you chose to disagree while others agree. It’s your opinion and I respect that. If you are still offended, apologies once again.

Getting out of my comfort zone

I’ve realised, half our lives we live in fear. Various forms of fear:

  • The fear of communicating: “What will happen if I tell him the truth?”, “What if she rejects me?”
  • The fear of doing things, esp when for the first time: “I can’t do that, I’ve never done it before”
  • The fear of taking risks: “I can’t quit my job and start a venture, its way too risky”
  • The fear of losing (things): “What if I lose everything that I have?”
  • Many more …

Have you ever thought what if you did the thing that you feared and then came out…

  • With the love of your life
  • A mentally stronger person
  • Accomplishing tasks that you thought were almost impossible
  • With the experience of a lifetime
  • Successful!

I think most of us know all these things that how it will – might feel but still we don’t take that extra step.

Let me share an experience I recently had.

I have a huge liking for organized trips. I should know which bus/train I am boarding, where to get down, where to go after I get down, where am I staying, etc etc. This time I chose to do it differently. All I knew was that I wanted to travel out of Delhi and to an unseen place. At first, a random trip, alone, far away, seemed too difficult. But then I chose to do it as it pushed me “out of my comfort zone”.

Googled around, found some portals/blogs and made a decision to head to Dalhousie. Google (and some blogs) mentioned that it takes about 2 hours from Pathankot to Dalhousie. <insert pic> They are/were all wrong. It took me 4 hours. You can discount 1 hour that I spent at 2 places waiting for buses, still, 3 hours. That’s a 50-75 % deviation! Anyways.

Pathankot to Dalhousie distance

Pathankot to Dalhousie distance

By the time I reached Dalhousie, I was already uncomfortable with the fact that it had taken me much longer (it 3 PM instead of 9 AM) to reach the destination. More discomfort with the hotel I choose. I imagined to stay in a place that would be warm, cozy, silent where I could work/meditate/write peacefully. Argh! It was none of those. The heater seemed ineffective, the doors had enough space between them that allowed breeze flowing through and in fact the room had wonderful cross ventilation, so all the more breezy, with temperature hovering around zero degrees! I had to make a choice out of:

  1. whether to stay and not work or
  2. move out and find a hotel which gave me the comfort to work

I chose none of the options. I chose to stay and do what I had planned. Initially it was a struggle but then I managed and then in a days time, I accepted the conditions and did whatever I had thought of. I now realise, after I accepted, I got comfortable! And eventually, accomplished my objectives and tasks with which I went!

I am not comfortable writing when I have company, I prefer solace. Being new year time, there were celebrations all around and I barely found peace during the nights in my hotel room. I wanted to write but just couldn’t. So I tried something different, plugged into light music which cut down some of the noise and then wrote. After successfully finishing my writeup, what I realised was that I was uncomfortable with the fact that there are people around or there is noise. In the end they were also playing music (which I myself did to cut them off)! I guess writing in solace is a comfort factor for me but not a necessary condition. It was just about pushing myself out of that zone. I often don’t write when I am at home because I don’t find solace but maybe from now on, I can. Isn’t that a win in itself? For me, it definitely is!

Using cold water: It was snowing in Dalhousie, temperature was below freezing point. Even touching the water seemed a daunting task, so wherever possible I would initially avoid ;) But then I said to myself, why I am not touching it? Just because its cold? Okay, really cold and I my hands would go numb for sometime. But that’s it no? Nothing more. With that thought I started using it and then got comfortable, so much so that I bathed without heating the water eventually. When I came out of the bathroom, I felt so gooood, I JUST CANNOT EXPLAIN. Its then I remembered, till 2-3 years back, I had never used hot/warm water. And was comfortable. I wouldn’t skip bathing even during winters and that too with cold water, always. So then what changed? I believe its once I started using warm water, I got ‘comfortable’ with it. And then going back to cold water pushed me out of my comfort zone.

I had one of the most wonderful moments when I experienced snowfall for the first time

Snowfall in Dalhousie

Snowfall in Dalhousie

I loved the view next morning, little did I know what was going to come. It kept snowing/raining the entire day and as a result of which, all roads were blocked for the next 2 days. No buses were plying, only people who had their own vehicles, risked their lives to drive out from Dalhousie. I was stuck. I had a return ticket from Pathankot but there was no way I could reach there. Again, things going off plan, initially I got frustrated but then said yeah, lets accept and plan for the next 2 days :) And spent the rest of my stay in peace and made them productive. Needless to say, once I accepted, I got comfortable.

In fact even 2 days after the snowfall I asked a taxi drive if he could drop me to the nearest bus stop. He asked for Rs.500 – for barely a 6 KM drive. I was like, really? He responded, “sirjee itna risk leke jaenge, 100-200 rupees k liye thodi karenge“. (Sir, I will not take so much risk for just 100-200 bucks!) Now I understood the side effects of snowfall :P I thought let it be, I chose to walk! Yes, I actually grabbed my baggage and started the 6 KM walk. It was too slippery and on the way I found quite a few vehicles stuck as well. I thought to myself, glad I didn’t take that cab! On the way I found boards that said, “Beware of Trespassers” and had the image of a bear. Honestly, that scared me a little and I became more cautious now but didn’t stop and kept walking. Luckily after 4 KMs, when the snow on the road was barely there anymore, I found a bus :) I heaved a sigh of relief and hopped in!

Now when the trip is over, I feel I am much stronger mentally. I can write even when not in solace, I can get stuck at an unknown place and do something productive instead of cribbing, I obviously am more comfortable traveling alone now and the best part is I got back to Delhi’s cold and bathed with cold water :D

Why I like traveling alone (and maybe you should try it too)

Pardon me for the excessive use of “I” but I guess writing this in first person will make more sense.

I like to work really hard and get exhausted and then take an off. So for 6 months or so I would work my ass off, mostly on weekends too and then get exhausted and take a break! I took a break about 6 months back where I was on a no-laptop, no-phone trip and had truly enjoyed every bit of that 7 day off.

This time around I am traveling alone – yes, all alone. I had decided about a week back that I will take a break and put a leave notice to the company immediately. I needed time for myself. In fact all of us do but most of us never realize it.

In the daily rut of life: clients, partners, colleagues, bosses, friends, parents, siblings, GF/BF, spouses, kids and some other stuff (like Facebook, Twitter) we don’t find time for ourselves. I have an identity of my own and if I am not spending time with myself, I am not nurturing that identity. I feel, in this fast daily life, if I don’t stop and take care of myself, after a few days I feel lost. Completely lost. So much so that for every task that I do I would ask myself, why am I doing this? And before I could even find the answer, I would have another task lined up and would rush to that without putting in much thought or answering it. We normally kill that voice and move on. After a certain time, either we will stop and say “wait, let me answer that first” – which is what I do or we say “aah, let that question be there. It keeps coming back, “we will answer it later or not answer it at all” – and the voice – gets a slow death.

By the time we realize that voice again, its too late. In some cases, these turn into what this nurse disclosed as the Top 5 regrets by people while on their deathbed

So I took a lone break, primarily for three reasons:

  1. To think about my own identity. Whom am I? Am I doing what I really want to do in life? Why do I do what I do? If something needs to be stopped? Whether something needs a course correction? Whether I am fulfilling all my roles and responsibilities (being a son, brother, boss, partner, colleague, friend etc) or being just myself? Where am I lagging? What am I overdoing? So I answer these and a few more of these questions. And more importantly, I take decisions - some of them tough ones.
  2. To actually take a break from work. Being in a client servicing business, there’s barely a moment when I don’t worry about a client deliverable, irrespective of whether its on track or not. Being an entrepreneur and not thinking about getting more business all the time, I feel, is a sin. To be a manager and not think about the growth of your team is another impossible task. So a few days off without worrying about answering calls, replying mails, sending texts, discussing new opportunities, making proposals, getting more business, conducting more internal trainings – is a blissful time. You forget all this and focus on other things in life. It could be anything. Even a small cup of tea (without worrying about the things I mentioned above) seems W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L.
  3. Its about getting out of your comfort zone. This is a complete complete blog post in itself and I’ll write about that in the next few days. [Update: Wrote Getting out of my comfort zone]

So then what I do on these lonely trips?

First and most importantly, I switch off my phone. And keep it that ways until I return back to base. How else would I avoid those calls, texts, mails? I’ll be honest, this time I had to switch it on midway because it was new year time and I had to make a few calls, and was expecting a few too. So 31st eve, I switched it on and got back connected to the world. But during my previous trip, I kept if off for an entire week!

Secondly, keep minimum gadgets with yourself. You may or may not agree here. Last trip I didn’t carry my laptop either. This time I did, will explain below why.

So now that I was disconnected to the world, here’s what I did:

  1. Explore the place, obviously. I purposely chose a place which I hadn’t visited earlier. I strongly feel the best way to explore a place/thing is to visit/do it alone. You just have to do what your mind says and if there is any element of curiosity in you, you’ll end up exploring a lot more than with anyone else. Alone, I can keep walking and exploring stuff and not be dependent on the people who are accompanying me. I am a great lover for long walks, especially when on unknown paths. And often I’ve found myself in a position where I have not been able to do this when I am with others. It becomes difficult as I/we have to take care of everyone’s wishes. Not everyone can walk long distances, or is inquisitive enough and in a group it becomes difficult that ways. Please don’t be offended if you have been with me on a trip and are reading this. Its not that I always want to travel alone or that I don’t enjoy the company your company, but sometimes, I do need a lone journey too, as it gives me “freedom”. I walked almost 5-6 km daily (on days I could step out) and stopped at random places, noticing weird things, clicking (un)interesting pics and doing foolish stuff. When with others, you can’t do all of that, believe me.IMG_0904
  2. Made some plans for the next year – no these are not new year resolutions before you think that. I have a long list of things that I want to accomplish during my lifetime, so this time of the year, each year, I take calls on what needs to be done next. Not that I achieve all of them, but at least I know what my destination is. Helps me reach somewhere instead of being nowhere. And it keeps me aligned to my life goals as well. Just had a look at my last years’ list, I’ve achieved 50% of that – which I feel is not bad I feel. It kept me focused and has shown me my path for the next 12-18 months actually. Some of them turned unimportant during the course of the year and now I can strike them off, easily and not be guilty or regretful about it either. Knowing what you want to do is important but I feel its equally important to know what you don’t want to do! So I worked on my goals, hope I accomplish more than 50% this time. [This is the reason, I carried my laptop]

Important thing to note here is that, like in the previous case, where wandering alone helps me explore more, in this case where I need to plan, I need to be alone too. Disconnected from the world. Its because all these answers come after a lot of time, when you’ve been thinking uninterrupted. So often I would see that I would start thinking something, then move out of hotel for anything, then carry on to explore the city and during this city exploration I would see something or something would happen that would give me the answer to my original question with which I started from the hotel. Amazing! Isn’t it?

And this cannot happen when you are in your own city, even if on a leave. Distractions would keep occurring and you would never get that “me time” or “mind space” to think all this.

Obviously, these are things that I chose to do. And I chose them because I wanted to nurture my identity. You may find your own reasons and find a lot more other things that can/should be done. Meditation is another thing you should must try.

By the way, guess what? I am not the only one who travels alone:

Oh and one more thing, I heard (and learnt) from Freeman Murray – traveling alone allows you to meet more new people and make more friends, because when you are in the group – you talk to only that limited set of people :)

View outside my hotel room in Dalhousie

View outside my hotel room in Dalhousie

If you are a lone traveler too, do share your thoughts, would like to learn more from your experiences.

Purpose of life, or the lack of it?

Yesterday we were having a goals discussion at Niswey and I raised the point of a “purposeful life

Later in the day I was discussing this with a friend and he told me how most of his friends are now lost in life and do not know what to do. Read the write up he sent, you will know what I mean. BTW, he’s aged 40+

There’s a trend that I have noticed this year. I probably have seen signs of it over the past years, but this year the trend is sharper.

A whole lot of my friends are dealing with emptiness or boredom or depression. Some of them are touching 40, or have crossed 40.

All of them are financially well off. They have lovely spouses, and lovely kids. They have lovely homes and lovelier vacations. They party a lot. But once in a while they come across this feeling that they don’t know what to do about.

All of them are great at what they do….great teachers, business development ninjas, even a couple of entrepreneurs.

‘I am bored, I swear I am going to quit my job and work for an NGO,’ says my super saleswoman friend.

‘I am so unhappy man…feel like going and having an affair,’ says a one-woman man. ‘Money and family isn’t everything, is it?’ he wonders.

‘I don’t know, I have been thinking of meaning a lot these past few days. What does this all mean?,’ says a super smart guy that others would gladly exchange places with.

‘I like my life, I have nothing to complain about. My students adore me. I am the life of every party. My son thinks I am the best mom in the world. But there are days like today, when I am so low, I don’t know what hit me,’ one 43-year whatsapps me.

One close friend group has been having discussions on anti-depressants, and people in the group have run up research on ‘not having a purpose in life’ as a cause of depression.

Call it mid-life crisis, call it boredom, call it what you will.

But I really think, all these wonderful, happy, competent, brilliant friends of mine didn’t spend much time to think how would they live their meaningfully. They got excellent at their careers, made money, married the right people, and so on. But they stare at emptiness, maybe not all the time. But I suspect the frequency of it is more than before.

Which is why I hear of it from them, a lot more now.

Upto you to decide whether you want to do what you love or tell your friends at 40 that you are depressed. Your call!

Waking up to death

5.15 AM: I get a call from one of my best friend. “He’s dead” is all he says before he burst out crying.

All I could manage to respond was “Shit” and then heard him cry for the next 2 minutes.

My friends’ childhood friend and current roommate was no more. All he lived was 28 years!

So what happened? Did he meet an accident? Not sure. Was he suffering from some disease? Nobody knows. But wait a minute, does that matter now? Whatever be the cause, its immaterial now.

So if it doesn’t matter then why am I writing? I don’t know. Maybe I got moved? But then I barely knew this person. 4-5 meetings during some group celebrations should not move me, no?

But there is something in my mind ever since I returned home after seeing his body being sent to his family (from the hospital to his hometown). That ‘something’ which rose from the statement my friend made, “he wanted to live, he really wanted”. I was wondering, ‘why?’

No, I have no clue about how his life was. But there must be ‘something’ which is why he wanted to live.

I woke up to his death. He left and the question is remains unanswered – why? What if you woke up to death tomorrow morning – To your own death! ‘Why do you want to live?’ Ask yourself….

This is what makes your day!

We were leaving office today, at around 8.30 PM and were waiting for one of the guys to join in. All of a sudden one of our colleague said,

Arre sala, sade aath ho gya! Pata hee nahi chala aaj ekdum time. Aisa lag rha hai abhi ek ghante pehle hi to aaya tha office! Abhi bhi ekdum fresh feel kar rha hu

If you are or have been a manager/leader/captain of your team or are an entrepreneur – this is something that will definitely give you a kick!

Do you feel this for your job?

Off and on I have come across various people in life who’ve told me (or someone known) that they don’t want to do the same things everyday at office. Okay, fair thing to say. We all want variety in our life, don’t we? But the question is how do you define variety?
Let me share a couple of real life stories.

Story 1: Life of a lift-man: My office is in a building which has 12 floors. This building has 2 lifts in working condition. Unlike modern day offices, these lifts are operated by lift-mans who press floor keys what people ask them to. They do this in and out the entire day. One day my colleague had a small conversation with one of them:

Colleague: “don’t you get bored doing the same thing for 12 hours a day every single day?”
Lift man: “I have been doing this for the past 20 years”
Colleague: how can you do the same thing for tt-twenty years?
Lift man: Why can’t I? Sachin Tendulkar has been playing cricket for more than 20 years, has he got bored?
Colleague: *astonished* *a minute’s silence*
Lift man: One single day if I am not there, there’s complete chaos in the building and the lift is in complete mess!

I was really happy to hear this conversation, primarily for 2 reasons.

  1. He took so much pride in his job that he compared himself to someone like Sachin Tendulkar!
  2. Even though you might think that its a simple job and anyone can do it, he doesn’t think so. In fact he displays his importance in a manner that one is bound to agree how important his job for the organisation (he works with) and that he is a valuable asset

Simple question, Do you feel this for your job?

Story 2: Life of a soldier: A few days back i was in Kashmir and trekked to a mountain top at an  height from where I could see the last Indian army post, a few metres ahead, Pakistan border started. I met an Indian Army soldier there. I got into a conversation with him.

Me: sir do you have to stand here the entire day? What about night and what is the temperature like?
Soldier: Yes. During night its pretty cold, 6-7 degree celsius and so we take some shelter but still do our duty.
Me: what about in winters?
Soldier: its about -35 degrees!
Me: so then you would be leaving this post that time?
Soldier: ? Why? Its our job (and duty) to stay here. And we do it!
Me: but isn’t it obvious that nobody would at that hour?
Soldier: that doesn’t matter and we don’t think that. We do what we do.

After a few minutes a few more trekkers came along and started asking the soldier whether they’ve seen militants? How do they respond? Where’s the border? Etc. After some more time, a few more people came and asked the same questions about militants etc. in a short while I noticed that the soldier was being pestered with the same set of questions and each time he was responding with full enthusiasm. I realized, apart from doing the same boring job all day, just staring at the fields and mountains, he has another boring job, answering the same questions every single day!

While most people (including myself) get frustrated answering the same questions again and again, this brave army man did it with the same enthusiasm each and every single day of his life. All this while wearing a 9.5KG heavy jacket and holding a 3.5KG gun all the time!

Forget the physical labour, can you even think of how much pride this gentleman has for his job? The amount of enthusiasm he carries to work EVERY SINGLE DAY in his life?

I repeat my question, Do you feel this for your job?

Conversation with a stream of water

My no work/ no gadget trip gave me quite a few experiences. Here’s one:

We were on our way back when we noticed a strong stream of rapid flowing water. As we all sat there I sat alone and kept staring at the water until I noticed i was talking to the water and water was reciprocating. Let me share a small snippet from our conversation.

Image: Conversation with Water

Conversation with Water: Image shot in Sonamarg, Jammu & Kashmir

Me: Dude, what makes you go so fast, it seems you are always in a hurry?
Water: Yes, i am in a hurry. I have to serve millions and millions of humans and there is not enough time. So i’d rather hurry.

Me: You are hitting so many rocks every now and then, doesn’t that deter your confidence? Or slow you down maybe?
Water: Nah! Didn’t you notice, for every rock there’s an alternate path originating somewhere next to it?
Me: <goes in deep thought>

Me: What keeps you going? I mean you could just be calm and enjoy nature, no?
Water: I could but that’s not why God created me. Like all you humans, even I am here with a purpose. Until I fulfil that purpose, i will keep on moving.

Me: That all is fine, what do YOU as an individual achieve in fulfilling that purpose?
Water: I get SATISFACTION. Satisfaction of quenching someone’s thirst, someone gets fresh energy by splashing me on their face, someone feels relaxed by drowning their feet in this stream, someone some mother will cook food for her children when i reach their place, hence satisfying their hunger. Similarly there are a lot of reasons which give me a sense of satisfaction. I feel happy when i see all this. All this give me satisfaction and that’s my achievement.

Me: So in the end its about your happiness, isn’t it?
Water: As long as my happiness is a consequence of people being happy, yes, you can say that!

Excel and you will get a mentor

I have been a huge believer in mentorship and finding the ‘right’ mentor. For the same reason, I have always advised friends/colleagues and especially entrepreneurs to find themselves good mentors.

Today also, while I was mentoring or rather helping a startup entrepreneur, I mentioned how important my mentors have been to my startup and how they are helping me build a successful company. She said nobody in her family has ever started a business and hence she has no guidance there. I gave her my example and mentioned my scenario was no different. But, I added, “you need to develop a network”. She then mentioned that she even doesn’t have a network of such people who could provide her mentorship. I told her how I have grown my network and then eventually found some great people who provide me guidance as and when needed. You need to find such people is what I told her.

This reminded me of my last meeting with my mentor when I asked him what motivates him to come out in the Delhi heat on a Saturday afternoon and spend 3-4 hours just to guide me? He said, that’s 1 of his life goals and then he added “It’s also because I like you guys!” I just smiled and the discussion ended. Later on my friend said, we are lucky to have mentors like him. I kind of disagreed. I said its not about luck, probably we are doing something right which is why we have people supporting us.

Interestingly, while reading Lean In today I landed up at the chapter “Are you my mentor?” Sheryl in this chapter talks about how women (and even men) keep looking for mentors. The perception is “Get a mentor and you will succeed“. That’s the wrong approach, the approach should be, “Excel and you will find a mentor“. She’s bang on! That’s what I’ve realized, both as a mentor and as a mentee. Now go excel and let mentors find you!!!

Want to build a great company or just earn some quick money?

Sometime back I wrote about the reasons why you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur. Couple of days back a friend came to meet me to understand the legalities of starting a business. Being my normal self, I started to ask him questions which soon became tough and he became uncomfortable. Obviously, my aim was not to demotivate him but to make him think of scenarios and foresee some of the things that entrepreneurs face during their startup phase. The idea was not to get answers from him but to make him think hard and then later on go back home and find answers to those.

Interestingly, during our conversations it came out that he wanted to do business only because he wanted to make money. To me that sounded a little weird. When I asked him this upfront, he replied, “Of course I want to do business to earn money. Why else would a person run a business?” Honestly speaking, that came as a shock to me. Then I asked him, “What if a similar company offers the same expertise and service at a lower cost, how would you convince your potential client in such a case?” He went blank. He looked at me for an answer. I gave him a hint, “So what is it that you are offering? What is the value you are creating?” He still didn’t have any answers.

Then he asked me “if money is not what you are there for, why are you doing it?” I answered, “Apart from a few other things, creating value for my clients and creating jobs is why I am there. Money is a by product. Its a result of good work that I do.” And for doing good work, the motivation is not money, never. It can be ‘one’ of the reasons but not the ONLY reason is what I believe. That’s not how great companies are built! Great ideas are born out of need, necessity amongst other things and then there’s a vision and value statement that shapes those ideas into organizations. Those who stick by it are able to build organizations that sustain themselves, otherwise, for whatever reasons, they go down.

And those are not just words that I said above. I have a very close friend who shut down his business sometime back. You would be surprised to know, he was doing really good. Had good cash flows, a name in the industry, grown from 6 to 16 people in the last 1 year or so but then all of a sudden shut down. Reason: he realized he wasn’t creating any value for anyone. His aim to earn money had been fulfilled and he wasn’t sure why should he continue? He couldn’t find a reason and eventually shut down. And then… got back to job.

I am no expert in this field but I believe everything that we do in life has to tie up with our life goals. Be it starting a business or doing any job. That’s when everything starts to fall in place and we live a happy and content life. If that’s not happening, probably there’s something wrong somewhere and needs attention, maybe urgently. Figure that out.

Would like to end this with a statement written on the very first page of Jim Collins’s world famous book: Built to Last

We’ve met executives from all over the world who aspire to create something bigger and more lasting than themselves – an ongoing institution rooted in a set of timeless core values, that exists for a purpose beyond just making money, and that stands the test of time by virtue of the ability to continually renew itself from within.