To do what you love can sometimes be stressful.
It’s the easiest thing to start making money as soon as you are out of college. Get a 6 figure salary – the Indian dream. What is not easy is living your own dream viz. the Indian dream.
I started very young, without a mentor or a senior in the family who could guide me on things I liked and wanted to do. I come from an extended family of aimless individuals except my parents. They have always had a pretty clear vision of how they wanted to raise both their kids, what they wanted to do for us and themselves and did that, and still going strong. They inspire both me and my sister everyday.
And then, I started learning and whatever I learnt made me want to do a lot of things. A LOT OF THINGS. Starting without a mentor or a guide was a big mistake come to think of it, but helped me lot to grow as an individual I am today.
My first venture was a self made blog forum that used to talk to people interested in making money on the Internet. No one knew how to. Neither did I, but I was a google search power user at that time (back in 2002). I was almost a pro at search and that helped me make a lot of money to support my luxury expenses earlier in college (used to drive a car to college and ate at restaurants every single day) and helped me buy a Kramer guitar. Lack of vision, killed the product towards then end, but being good at convincing people I managed to sell the domain to someone at a huge premium (I own the domain again)
I saw money and I wanted to make more. I started working on events for quick bucks and somehow landed a job to speak on microphone and one such dos. Turned out I was pretty good at it and a lot of money started coming in. Still visionless, but wanting to do my own thing I let go of a Job offer from the amazing (then creative head) Vaibhav Vishal at MTV (big mistake) but he told me to give what you are doing a shot, come back if it fails. That was so re assuring that I invested all the money I had earned during college on my first big venture ADEVENTUREZ. I dreamed of Adeventurez/ADMAWS (www.admaws.com) as an Integrated marketing communications company providing 360 degrees solutions to our clients.
I was extremely lucky to be getting top class client from day 1, with my goodwill and good reputation within the events circle, especially with the clients/brands I used to work for. I got big brands Future Group, Conde Nast, Disney, Mcdonalds, Pogo,Cartoon Network, iDream productions etc. early on but not without a massive blow. My partners quit. I wanted to stop too, but I was too proud to fail. I continued and made enough money to sail through the next month every single time.
My work was helping gain momentum but, there was no growth vision per se, I knew what I wanted but I could never figure out how. What I was good at was delivering what I promise to my clients and doing it well. Which is what I do best till date. I had no idea on how I could scale up. Have no idea still. I could not reach my potential, what sucked was, that I knew it.
Subconsciously though, I always believed in doing the right thing and trusting the universe. I believed if the clients are always happy, you will get opportunities to scale up sometime soon (major fail). You see, the clients are corporate employees, they are not passionate about what you do for them. They are passionate about proving themselves to their bosses and saving money for the company and getting a promotion and getting a better job. In no world or universe can they share you passion. For them you are a vendor with a task at a given budget in set time.
I learnt it long time later, but never learned anything of it per se. I still believe in the universe and the power of Karma. But Karma also needs a vision.
Between all this, to ease the pain of my clients I started helping them in social media campaigns and voila! This was a genius move too. My clients were giving me a job and I was completing it, from setting it up to concluding it. They were saving, I was making some, it was a good live in relationship.
Again though, lack of a long term vision gave me lesser opportunities to grow further. But helps, I am still not a failure. Both events and Social Media marketing are giving me bread and butter and some.
All this while, I was hoping to create something substantial, mere living and enjoying what you do doesn’t change the world. It seemed that I could make the same amount of money in any other job, then why do it. I was not doing this to make money. I loved what I was doing, then why was this so stressful and not leading somewhere with big gates and garlands to welcome? Small success? Is that all I should be satisfied in? NO WAY. I was flourishing in many ways but was never so disappointed in myself. I was becoming disillusioned and losing track. I could not focus on the job that I loved for weeks. Why? What am I doing wrong. Someone please help me.
Still in a big dilemma. Loosing the young age I started up at, looking at my ideas being taken over with so many others, looking at them excel at it. Hurting myself with self hatred, I decided to start thinking.
This was the time I became addicted to journals of rockstar entrepreneurs including therodinhoods.
I started learning what I was doing, and started planning and writing down my goals. Reading every ones stories, I realized there is one common thing. FAILURE.
Despite what was happening, despite some bad debts, some hits and misses. I had never failed or I didn’t realized failure even once.
Whatever happened, I always found a way out and it looked glorious to the world. I was famous, I was well known, had goodwill, great clients, great projects, monthly incoming money in 6 figures average from which I could save in few thousands monthly, a life with satisfactory luxuries too. Where was the failure? Nowehere. I was desperate to find failure, but the pressure of being self reliant won’t let me think that way. I had to make money everyday too. How do I fail? I can’t. I am trying.
One day, a client recommended me to her friend who came to me with a project. A niche e-magazine concept to acknowledge film cinematographers to begin with. I laughed at the idea. I said, you are another me. You are a passion entrepreneur like me. Do you have a vision? There was no answer. We met a lot of times, I somehow had a vision on how to present it. This helped them form a vision on what they want to give the world through my presentation. I had already rejected their money, I said don’t waste it. But our meetings helped us identify a common goal to this product. Hence, www.pandolin.com was born. 2-3 years down the line, it is exactly where the three of us (myself, shweta wadhwa and manav wadhwa) wanted it to be. We still have our doubts, but they are common doubts.
In between all this, while I knew I might be on the right path now, I wanted to explore territories that I had never been into. A JOB. Learn how corporate works. I wasn’t satisfied even though we were discussing pandolin and we were still looking for equilibrium (before we finalized to partner on the project instead of just designing the look and feel of pandolin).
I found an internship in Shanghai, China in a financial research firm. I didn’t know what they did. I didn’t want to know what I will have to do. With so much work done between age 16 and age 25/26 I was so confident of doing work right that I was sure, whatever they ask me to do, I can do it. I just wanted to leave everything and go out and do something, only I didn’t want to do it in India. This job was a sabbatical (wrong choice of sabbatical though, where you have to do a lot of work and work equally long hours). I did well at this and there were so many eureka moments. I was impressed with myself and gaining the self confidence that worked for me, was becoming passionate one more time.
Sometime later the offered me to be a part of their founding team in New Delhi and help them set up. I did well again (though I was miserable and foggy towards the end and I left 2 years later)
The job gave me a direction and lesson in working in teams, for others, being under appreciated. It taught me that jobs are thankless and you don’t want to do them. These are the same corporates your clients live in. You don’t like that they are not passionate, you were working in the job like an entrepreneur but all they want was an employee. This is not your place. Get out. You are ready.
I was so ready. So very ready.
My dad had a heart attack. I was with him in the hospital for a month and a half. I was getting desperate and more ready than ever. So many ideas. So much passion. A vision finally. Discipline finally. Responsibilities increasing but with readiness to not making money everyday, living more for myself.
Adeventurez and Admaws still fill my stomach and let me live how I want to.
Pandolin.com is bringing me so close to my dreams and I am ready to launch products around it and I have never been happier working with partners who share the passion and are ready to rest it with me.
I love fashion, films, technology, advertising and entertainment media as a whole. The universe had brought me in the middle of all this. I believed in it. I planned nothing. I just did what my soul called for so far. I did not fail. I did not succeed. I have been an average student of life, sitting on the back bench, learning from the front row audience as well as the teachers.
I know better now. I am perishable. I have to live accordingly. I am the saint of insane.
I feel ready now. I have always loved what I do. I still do. I stop doing it if I am not in love with it. It is a dirty selfish affair. But it is my dirty affair and I want the world to see how beautiful it is. Like a morning dream, a walk to remember, a sunrise by the ocean, a butterfly breaking the cocoon, a story to tell.
I will end this with a quote by Confucius:
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
Ladies and gentlemen. My story thus begins.