Bangalorean in Ohio— How I Stay Hungry and Stay Curious
“As a mere person, you look up to other people, when others look up to you, you’ve become a personality”. To ensure that transition from a person to personality, I wanted to pursue higher studies to reinforce my skill sets and technical + business acumen. With that aim in mind, I moved to Cleveland with much alacrity to pursue Master of Engineering and Management degree at Case Western Reserve University. Took a few days to find the right place , to get to know the neighborhood, to make new friends, and settle down.
What do you do when you are a stranger in a foreign land? What kind of people do you connect with? With an insatiable appetite for information I Zomatoed for the best restaurants, Googled all the nearby must-visit sites, went though the statistics for overall safety (Cleveland does not really rank high on this front), and the poverty rate (ranked 9th in the nation) which indirectly indicates the unemployment rate. From what I gathered, it is almost Detroit 2.0 — but falls short only slightly.
Yes, there is an unbridled spirit to interact with a diverse group of students, make new friends and talk about a gamut of topics from birth of Rock n’ Roll to why this city is called “Mistake by the Lake”. When you meet fellow CWRUites, they tell you, “In life never look back unless you are under the bridge beyond East 118th street” — because that’s the regional headquarters of “Shit Happens., Inc”.
I represented Case Western Reserve University as an Entrepreneurial Lead for a Bio Medical Analytics project for the I — Corps at Ohio Program. I — Corps used the Business Model Canvas to help teams fine tune their Business Model. The rigorous boot camp consisting of 100 customer interviews lasted 6 weeks — it drove home the point of “getting out of the building” to get customer feedback for entrepreneurs who embrace the lean startup methodology.
What did i get out of this program?
Hands-on Field Experience
As part of the I — Corps program, I , as an Entrepreneurial Lead drove the initial customer discovery interviews, prepared slides for weekly presentations and took part in discussions with faculty, and ultimately helped develop the Business Model using the Business Model Canvas. 6 weeks of laborious work helped me get better at : Time Management which is a sign of productivity — had to conduct 100 customer interviews within 6 weeks to validate/invalidate any hypotheses like “Is X an end-user?” , “Is Y a payer”. Learned a great deal about Patience, which is a virtue — oddly though I can no longer use “Patience” as a weakness in my interviews, Communication Skills — which are critical to one’s success irrespective of the geographical location. Critical thinking skills while developing business model certainly will come a long way in shaping my business acumen.
What are the odds of bumping into a Kannada speaking Veterinary Professor at Ohio State University I — Corps Meeting? Least expected! When I asked him if he knew Kannada folks in Cleveland, he put me in touch with the President of Kasturi Kannada Sangha of Cleveland. I have attended a few events organized by the Sangha — which gave me a platform to connect with Kannadigas with diverse backgrounds. No matter how cliched it may sound — it really is fantastic when somebody speaks to you in your native tongue in a foreign land. One of the articles in the recent past that has led me to embrace networking is Michael Simmons’ beautiful piece about how being part of an Open Network can make you successful. Apart from the folks at Kannada Sangha, I did make fruitful connections with the doctors and medical professionals in and around Cleveland all thanks to I — Corps.
To stay on top of the game, I read everyday. As a result I’ve often fallen prey to Scope/ Time creep which is beautifully summed up by Parkinson as “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. I believe by reading, one improves one’s knowledge. This can help you start a conversation effortlessly at the next networking event or even help you answer basic questions in everyday conversation. Impressed by your passion and knowledge somebody might be interested in having you as part of a Unicorn start-up, who knows, it’s a world of opportunities out there. The thought of becoming an Expert-Generalist helps me stay hungry and embrace curiosity. What motivates me to read is the simple fact that when I go to sleep every night, I ask myself one question — Have I learned anything useful today that will make me more valuable tomorrow? Nobody would like to be the person who would make things fall, you would want to be that person who will make things fall into the right place. Irrespective of what happens, if you can Smile and Stay optimistic — you can make the most out of any situation!
Recognizing what you are (A)is the key to being able to transform yourself into something better (B). Today’s world is all about differentiation. By having a strategy to get you from (A) to (B) helps you to gain structure by drawing up a framework for change which helps you to stay on course and measure change. Finally , I just want to reiterate that joining the MEM program at Case is the first step I’ve taken to earnestly understand and implement the P2Pality (Person to Personality) transition. It goes without saying that I’m eagerly awaiting the next step of this transition.