It was a late summer evening in April this year, when I was heading to the Mumbai international airport for my first business trip as an entrepreneur and founder of Optic Bridge Technologies. On the way I followed my usual routine: caught up with my three sisters on the phone, exchanged a few SMSes with friends, made some small talk with the driver to understand what’s a day like in his life, and ended up with a quick lovey-dovey call with my wife and kid.
Typically after doing all this, I am usually just about to reach the airport, but this time to my surprise we had covered only three-fourth of the way. We had taken the normal route, the traffic seemed usual for that time of the day, the driver was driving at max permissible speed, and it still felt that it was taking way too long. What had changed, I wondered?
It soon dawned on me that the only variable that changed in my typical journey to the airport, was that this time around I was traveling in a rickshaw and not a Mercedes. I soon WhatsApp’ed a close group of family, and wrote the exact title of this blog “From Mercedes Pick Ups to Rickshaw Drop Offs”, and they knew precisely what I meant. What ensued after that was a time that I had to myself to reflect on how I got here. Thankfully, they still serve unlimited alcohol in the Economy class, which made the arduous two stop 34 hours flight from Mumbai to San Francisco a little easy 🙂
As you read through the rest of the blog, the question that you want to ask yourself is “How many times in your personal and professional lives, have you dealt with significant Change – whether forced upon you or self-initiated?”
So let me step back a little and share with you a list of key changes that I’ve gone through:
- Change 1 – Forced – Planning to become a doctor, ended up becoming an architect: Like most of us, my dad too had some big plans for me. He wanted all four of his kids to be doctors and even built a decent size hospital for us in anticipation that one day I would take it over. Two of my elder sisters became doctors, third sister became a lawyer, and here I was the black sheep of the family. So after scoring relatively poor in 12th standard, I had to pick some professional course that kept me in town, and helped me avoid paying huge donations for an out-of-state medical or engineering seat. I was lucky to get through an architecture free seat, and spent the next five years enjoying college life. Needless to say, my dad sold the hospital soon after that decision.
- Change 2 – Self-initiated – From a degree in Architecture to one in Information Systems: As with anyone, by the end of my degree course there was a lot of pressure on me to do something real, something that paid me, something that had a potential (something that’ll get me married). I tried doing a couple of internships with local architects, but by then both my dad and I knew that I was not cut out for it. The day I stepped out of my degree college, was the day that I decided that I needed to do something different. Something that I liked and was passionate about. The answer was – “I want to do something in computers”. Not knowing what that decision would lead to, I took a lot of mentoring and guidance from both professionals and close family members, and decided to enroll myself in a Master of Science in Information Systems course in a good US university.
- Change 3 – Self-initiated – From six years of enjoying worldly materialistic pleasures in US to the six years of being where you belonged: As a result of doing what I loved, it wasn’t long before that I started tasting success. I was kinda late bloomer…went from being a dud to finishing top of class with a 3.91/4.0 GPA. Spent the next six years in the US, working for some great companies, traveling 25 states and learning a lot. It was then, when I was at the top of my game that I decided to move back to India where I belonged. I did not want to get trapped into the vicious “F1-H1-Green Card-Citizenship” cycle. Not a single person I knew supported that decision, and even my wife was apprehensive of us coming back…but then we did it, and in hindsight it was the best decision ever.
- Not only did we leave before the US recession could set in, but also did really well in our personal and professional lives in India. From then till today, I have been fortunate to be associated with some great leaders, working environments and getting opportunities to travel and work across 12 countries from the remotest location in Chattisgarh, India to the dangerous ones in Lagos, Nigeria to the most beautiful ones in Zurich, Switzerland. It is here, where I make the reference to being spoilt, staying with 5-star hotels, traveling business class and airlines sending their Mercedes to pick me up from home (Sorry, if I misled you into thinking that I owned a Mercedes 🙂 Not yet, that is).
- Change 4 – Self-initiated – From being a corporate guy to an entrepreneur – What’s Next?: If I was to go by this recent article titled What Type of Job-Hopper Are You?, I would fall under the “The never-satisfied wanderer – someone with an entrepreneurial zeal that’s yet to be tapped”. With just three months under the belt in my new avatar, there’s not much to write here…but I look forward to making the most of this leap of faith, and see what this self-initiated change has in store for me. I know I’ll need to stop taking things for granted, save every penny I can, give it my best shot…all in the pursuit of answering my calling…Be a successful entrepreneur!!
Finally, being the kind of person I am, nothing is complete without a visual summary of what I want to communicate. Here’s one about my journey so far, and where I want to be (this came from my heart in less than 15 mins while waiting at the airport).
So, if you were to chart your journey like the one above (can’t take a long time):
- What date(s) would you pick (days you think were of most significance)?
- What would go on the left (how you got here)?
- What would go on the right (where you want to be)?
- What would the trajectory look like on the right (for me I’m guessing two phases of hockey-stick pattern)?
PS: Here’s a link to my LinkedIn profile if you want a summary of key takeaways from the above, and follow my activities online. Feel free to connect. With this along with my last post, I think you’ve now caught up to where I’m today. I look forward to keep writing on topics that help and inspire the larger community on TRHS.