Life Lessons 01 — Main Kaun hoon (Who Am I?)
The year was 2002. I was looking for a job. My ex-employers had gone bankrupt because of the poor choices they made after 9/11. I was shocked, was in agony and the depression was unfathomable.
Like any other normal aspirant, I toured the entire city and dropped my CV to all head hunters possible. One good samaritan managed an interview for me at a place, which some years back employed one of my relatives. The organization was great, had solid numbers, the owner was larger than life and boasts of fancy cars and bunglows.
The day of my interview I arrived on time and I was made to sit at the reception. I figured that if I go through 2 rounds of interview my last round will be with this owner. I waited for my turn. I arrived at early morning and because of almost no money left had a biscuit and tea for breakfast. My interview was scheduled at 11:00 AM. However after 2 PM I was still waiting for my first round. I can see people walking in like me and were escorted inside for interview and can see varied emotions when they walked out. I was clueless and enquired many a times at the reception about my interview and every time I was told to wait.
Around 3 PM I was called inside and was escorted to the owners big chamber. I was told that this is the only round I will go through. The owner asked for my CV, glanced it once and started asking me about the whereabouts of my relative. I answered all his questions politely. After few minutes he asked me to leave. Perplexed I walked out dejected and was completely at loss with what just happened after hours of wait. Walking through the corridor I bumped in to this gentleman who was the Vice President for the organization. I knew his name but have never met before. He looked at me and asked politely, you are still here? I just narrated the ordeal I went through. He asked me to wait outside so that he can check what happened.
After few minutes he walked back and said that the owner is not interested in my candidature and he is sorry for what I went through since morning. I asked for the reason as I felt I had all the relevant experiences that this particular job demands! The man just shook his head and said sorry, I don’t know! But I knew and I realized that it must be because of my relative he was not interested and this treatment meted to me was just to get even with this particular gentleman. I was just a pawn.
I have had faced humiliation, rejection, dejection, depression and at time almost near obliteration, but this was much bigger than that. I still believe today this was the most gross experiences I ever had. When leaving I suddenly felt that the entire office is looking at me, taking in hush tones and I was nothing but a butt of Joke.
Next day I did my bit of research needless to say after a long night of agony to figure what makes this man so great that he can just mock any one! Well he was touted as the next big thing in technology. Digging further I found that he was nothing but a distributor of big technology companies and was an over hyped integrator of these solutions, which none were his. Its the number and the clientele list that makes him, you know who I am?
Second day I managed the number of this gentleman who was the Vice President and called him up from a PCO. I re-introduced myself and told him, will he be interested in joining a company, which will sit at the top of the kind of company he works for and will decide on behalf of the clients whether they should buy anything from them or from some one else! He was surprised to the hilt, with my tone but may be I had conviction in my voice and he gave in. He said that after years in IBM and Xerox what he is doing now is difficult for him to digest.
In a weeks time we met at Ullas the iconic restaurant of Shankar Nag Chitra Mandira at MG Road, Bengalore. I spoke to him at length, explained about the concept of Vendor Neutral Information Lifecycle Management Solution Provider, a concept unheard of in India that time and convinced him to join the party contingent of me finding an Investor.
I called up few PR agency guys I knew (and they are always resourceful) and one of them gave me an introduction to this outgoing CEO of a technology major (Who is now a A list Venture Capitalist). I scheduled the appointment and walked in to his office at Richmond Road. He spoke to me for a while, Understood what we were trying to do and gave me a presentation date in front of the then head of engineering of Exodus, part of Cable and Wireless’s Internet Business (Read more about Exodus from this Wikipedia Link Read More about Cable and Wireless from this Wikipedia Link). This guy was the epitome of engineering and networks and he managed to baffle me few times, but I was confident about what I was trying to do.
2 hours later I walked out of that office with a termsheet and an incubation contract (Probably first in India). And within a month we were set to go.
15 years down the line this is what actually happened:
- I was angry and I had vengeance in my mind but I looked it from a business angle
- I managed to overturn few shady deals of this company with some great Fortune 500 Companies
- We built a brand which has evolved as an IOT company now. The brand we created stayed even after this many number of years and after the exit of the original founders
- I got many emails and phone calls from this Owner asking for a meeting in my 3 years journey with this startup and every time I politely turned him down
- Well that company, the next big thing in technology doesn’t exist any more and last heard the owner was caught in personal and professional legal battles
- I exist and my brand exist and both of us have evolved with time and have stayed relevant
He might have evolved and probably have taken a new Avatar. But his brand got annihilated and mine is still working and have evolved with time.
- Don’t get pushed. And never allow some one to bully you just because they have the leverage
- Give back, but sensibly
- Never lose your cool. Be a like steel.
- And never say never. Never Give Up.
Please leave your feedback. Will write more in days to come.