I have always wanted to be my own boss. In Oct 2000, 4 years after my graduation and 1 year after joining Microsoft in US, I left to start my own company in India. It all seemed perfect: I was a ‘smart’ developer working in a ‘cutting-edge technology’ area, I had a ‘network’, and most importantly, I had the ‘energy and enthusiasm’ of a 27 year old who thinks the world is his playground!
Six months later, the boom turned into bust, and so did our hopes of starting a new company. I found a job as a consultant in my old company and life continued, but it left a scar. I have been reflecting on that little experience over the years and I realize something important: it was a good failure. I didn’t know anything about creating and running a company – building teams, execute on a vague idea to build products, sell an idea or product or service, or handling big successes and failures. This failure provided me a strong motivation to embark on a journey through the corporate world to gain diverse experiences and learn. In my next attempt at entrepreneurship, I wanted to be able to succeed even when riding against the wave. I wanted to make that scar count.
After 12 years, I am leaving Microsoft in US, again, to start my own company in India, again. As planned, I have gained many experiences in these 12 years: building a team from scratch, conceptualize and deliver amazing products, running team across multiple disciplines (development, test, and program management), and working in 3 big economies of the world (China, US, India). I also have a much more humble opinion of myself and more confidence in my ability to build and run a company. Of course, I am much older now, but I take comfort from the writings of Vivek Wadhwa who presents The Case for Old Entrepreneurs!
My career choices for last 12 years have been shaped by a few simple rules:
- Be clear about what I love, what I am passionate about, and what I am strong in.
- Make sure my learning is aligned to what I love AND what my goals are
- Stay in the role as long as my learning is more than the time I am spending to learn
- Believe that it is more fruitful to invest and focus on the process (which I control) rather than outcome (which I don’t)
- Plan my career, but be open for opportunities and serendipity
I plan to apply them as I embark on this new journey. I love working with and people and helping them succeed in their career and life beyond their own imagination. I am passionate about helping students and working professionals choose right career paths that align with their own strengths and passions. So while I need to figure out the best way to provide value through my organization, my explorations over next 6-9 months will be around the area of career management for students, working professionals; individually as well as in the context of organizations.
I am going to live my dream and use the definition Coach Wooden gave for success:
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable”.
Are you living your dream?