Change Is The Only Constant


Fortune Favours The Brave! I grew up listening to this. There was never a dull moment around my father, who kept telling me inspirational stories. He always maintained that if we expect a change we have to be brave enough to bring about that change ourselves. If we expect to move forward, opportunity will never really come knowing our door looking for us, but we would have to take bold steps and open the doors to our dreams. Though I completely believed in what my father said, sometimes in my private moments I did question myself. Did I have it in me to live the fantasyland life I had made a mental picture of, or would they just remain castles in the air? I knew I would have to work hard for it, for there were no free lunches; but the thought still remained, would I achieve the impossible, for possible feats never thrilled me!

After I completed studies, I started my career working with a big corporate house. An MNC Bank actually. Those days a job in a foreign bank was much sought after, and people kept telling me I was lucky to land up with one. Well, I did have fun, learnt a lot and was soon one of the popular kids on the block. Those days salaries were hilarious. For those times, the money wasn’t bad, but to say I started my career with 4,500 Rupees to someone now would mean to become a laughing stock. But truth be told – I was happy, to be financially independent. I was brought up like the son of the family and financial independence meant a lot to me. I could do so many things for my parents, who had worked so hard all their life, struggled much as they had the burden of getting all my paternal aunts and uncles married (dad being the eldest – it was his responsibility), and had given us a great life, superb education and the upbringing of a royal family.

Life has its ways of making you feel dis-satisfied at various junctures. While I had a lot of battles to be conquered and many feats to be accomplished, there was one which gave me insomnia. The dream of a new house – for my parents! A grand and palatial home that they would be proud of! Boys do a lot for their parents and I knew my brothers would leave no stone unturned in doing everything for our folks. But then, was my role just to be brought up well and be packed off to another man’s home in a few years? How would I repay their kindness and love?! Well, parents don’t bring you up expecting something in return, their love is unconditional; but then how do you deal with the values that they themselves instilled in you – of doing more than expected for the person who does even a small thing for you. This thought made me restless; and I had to figure a better way of making it big.

Some friends and colleagues called it ‘Professional Suicide’ when I moved out of the Bank to take up a Lead Learning & Development position for a new joint venture – a Life Insurance Company. In all honesty it was my dream job, but I had cold feet. I knew nothing about life insurance; I was a snooty banker who had insurance juniors accompany her for all insurance related sales calls. But dad’s constant drilling of “fortune favours the brave, Dolly” kept ringing in my ears. I took the bold step and moved to the new company. It is amazing to be part of a start-up and figure out methods in the madness. The learning curve is literally from 0 – 100 and you are constantly on your toes. It was a joy ride for me, because suddenly I was also being paid for having fun! Yes, it was that cool. Work-wise! Money-wise, it didn’t do much.  As a professional also, I was exasperated. What with my close friends and well-wishers constantly telling me that while I was doing well in my professional life, I was cut out for bigger better things! This made me very edgy.

I gave a great deal of thought to my career and decided that I had to make a big leap, but for that I had to sharpen the saw and make myself worthy. I was lucky that senior leaders in the industry took me very seriously and knew I was ‘senior management’ material. But that wasn’t good enough. I researched about the latest in executive education and decided to get myself a degree from an Ivy League. This was also a long standing dream by the way, and time was up to fulfil this one. I completed a year-long program at INSEAD, ofcourse with the help of my parents and siblings, and that made my anxiety levels hit the roof. Not only was the dream of a palatial house pending, but the burden of repaying the money borrowed for my education was giving me sleepless nights!

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Coming from a business background I knew the business blood would start kicking in someday, but I didn’t really have a grip on the date and time. However, the stint at INSEAD gave rise to the entrepreneurial itch much earlier than I expected. And I did it yet again, thanks to my father’s drill! He was my pillar of strength and backed me in every little decision. So at his behest and with his support; and his favourite quote in my mind … I Quit! I quit my cushy job at one of the Best Global Banks that had been on my aspirational list for a long time. It had been less than a year, but I had to take a audacious step towards my own fantasy land. Besides, I met a few like-minded individuals who were ready to take the big leap with me. Now the stage was set, I had to just decide to ‘act’ (pun intended). So act I did, and started a company of my own along with my friends.

As luck would have it, our plans fell through and there were disputes amongst us, such that they could not be resolved. To me it almost seemed like my world came crumbling down. Here I gave up my well-paying job and my new company crashed! This was too much to handle, a change that the ‘optimist’ me hadn’t exactly expected. Oh well, there are times when things don’t go your way and life becomes challenging. That’s when my father’s words came to my mind again. He always told me that failure is just another opportunity to succeed and sometimes it is imperative to take a step behind so you can move two steps forward. A relentlessly positive person that I am, I brushed aside all the negativity that tried to crawl into my mind. And since that day, there has been no looking back.

We started a new company – a dear friend and I, not only in India but also in the land of the Big Apple. All the goodwill gathered in the past 15 years of corporate experience came in handy; as did the experience of my father. He has always been my guiding light. We stormed the market and made a name for ourselves within the first year of business and that’s when it was time to go back to my fantasy list and start nailing each item one by one. The first was to repay off the monies borrowed for my higher studies and the global trips associated with it! Next came the bigger one – which at that time had become my one-point agenda – THE HOUSE!

Ask anyone who has lived in Mumbai, buying a house is the biggest generational undertaking!  As I had always wanted to gift my parents a house in Mumbai with my earnings, I worked on that as well.  And finally achieved that endearing dream last year!

It’s true; fortune does favour the brave and those who know how to pick the lock when they cannot find the key to success, when the winds of change are at their best! Isn’t it?



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