Being 24, this article inspires a different perspective than anything I’ve written till date. Moreover, I’m currently on a ship out in the middle of nothing with a hungry crew and the bunch of us are getting tad impatient for solid land – the new world. Running a young company for the last three years has not been an easy task but the experience has been priceless nonetheless. Sigh, the things we do for “the disease of the heart that only gold can cure…” 🙂
I am sure there are things I could have done a decade back which might have ensured that I’m either on a bigger ship, or tracking a different route or building a shipyard somewhere. It is funny how our thought processes manifest into emotions and reality right before our eyes. It is funny how reality blows us away every single moment.
Here are the three things I would do differently, if I were to live the past 10 years again.
1. Smiling A Bit More
I would have smiled more, made more friends, gone out with them and would’ve seen the world in a different light than I did. Being with people, I’ve realized, helps you understand yourself better. That’s because you’re conscious of your emotions and track your thoughts. You measure your actions and adjust to situations. Building things needs us to be around people, and what better time than to start young?
Smiling more would have helped me express myself better. Instead of shying away from multiple activities by being the introvert that I prefer to be, a wide grin would have had the charm to help me be more comfortable with myself. This confidence helps us beat Resistance (ref: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield) and I might have joined a painting class or a music class while in college. And oh- it might have helped me choose a riskier course purely by being sure about it!
A wide grin during gatherings- public and family- might have gone a long way in building bridges which were built half a decade later. Your relationships with people around are important no matter what you do later in life, and it is essential for them to be genuine. When you don’t like a tribe, it is crucial to step out and find the one you like. I wish I knew this then. It might have helped me avoid a few silly dates in high school. And I might have learnt how to dance.
Did you know about the ship this young Entrepreneur is busy building these days?
2. Understanding The Bicycle
I believed knowing how to ride the bicycle and understanding how humans think was enough to run a bicycle shop. What I realized on going down the path was the fact that there will be little progress to be made till I understand how a bicycle runs.
We hardly do business with companies, people do business with people. While building Hammer and Mop and an online magazine startup before that, I learned the hard way the basics of running a business. While no books can be thorough enough, experienced explorers (like the one you intend to be) are always happy to share tales of wisdom. If you ask nicely- they will sit down with you, take your little bicycle apart, and fix it up again explaining while in the process of doing it. On a lonely bike ride when the pedal stops working, this is what will save you.
It took me a failed online magazine (6 months) to know the importance of diligence, competencies, focus and clarity. 6 months more to figure out how a company makes money. 6 months after that to get people on board and work for money. A year to stabilize, understand HR processes only to realize that most of the things haven’t been proper and having to start up afresh. Golly, if I knew how the bicycle runs, I’m sure the time could’ve been spent making other mistakes to learn from 🙂
3. Befriending The Pen
A dear friend once told me- “Sushrut, there is nothing like ‘too much love’…” The same logic applies to the skill of writing which can always get better with time and experience. The books you read shape your thoughts yet open your mind. The more you write, the more streamlined your expressions are on paper. While I wrote my first poetry when I was 12, I’m yet to attempt a book. While there have been multiple published peer-reviewed articles in the last few years, there has to be more discipline and consistency from my end. It certainly seems like a quest for the sharpest sword.
Few things are as powerful as clarity. Writing things down, including SOPs, aids in ensuring consistency in every business you run. It is easier to recruit when the company runs on the basis of things that are written down, than intuitions and whims of the people running the show. A written word is open to critical feedback and assessment, quite unlike an impulse born out a human mind. A written word has helped democracies flourish, and has helped victors rewrite history.
Stronger than the sharpest sword, a written word makes you wiser the moment you understand the context and the related circumstances. It helps you imagine and takes us to heights unknown, depths unexplored. It helps pass on a critical message in the time of need, and plays the role of a best friend when you write poetry of the craziest love lived. A written word can brighten one on the gloomiest day, can personify our strongest desires. I would write more, way more, if given a chance.
Looking back, there are a host of things I might want to tweak in the journey till date. Yet, every stumble and every kiss in the ascent has made it beautiful and me- wiser than I was. Holding her hand tighter and grabbing my backpack closer, I look forward to every morning of the climb!
To read the other awesome stories in our special anniversary series “Looking Back”, click here.