It is time.

7 12 2014

The thought that lead to ‘Mindful Ventures’. – Note from my diary.

From the earliest memories of my life, I dreamt of outer space, and wanted to be an astronomer. As I grew up listening to religious fables, the seed of idealism found its way in me. Further, as an adolescent, I loved reading stories, and dreamt of writing my own one day. Just like any enchanted teenager, I thought I would make a film one day. Also, I wrote plots in my diary.

In the undergraduate years, I read philosophy, and fancied myself a philosopher, giving sermons to society.  After my post-graduation, I thought a teacher dwelt within me. At one point, I thought I could be a singer. Well, I could not help daydreaming! Over time, my love for literature, arts and music kept growing.

As an entrepreneur, I understood the need for responsibility, so I aspired for responsibility as an entrepreneur. I truly aspired to become an agent of change. As I started graying, I found I could package my thoughts as a speech, and I thought I should be a speaker. My saga continues.

Until this time, I pursued none of these dreams, nor have I made efforts to achieve those aspirations. I hesitated.  I have always waited for the right time.

As a citizen, as a unit of the society I inhabit, I see a lot of pressing issues that are preventing the society to be just. Individually and collectively we all have gotten in us ingrained, the art of procrastination. ‘It’s ok to delay; the time shall come’ – has become the societal norm.

It took one third of my life to realize every moment is the right time and hesitation equals death. Now, I realize it is time to kill the hesitation. It is time to live all the dreams; it is time to be all I never tried to be. It is time.

It is time.

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‘hgang in dharamshala’ the film – now on Youtube!

5 08 2014

Director’s note.

Can you trek your way to Nirvana?

The above question is the result of an experience that we, as a lot, had during our trip to Dharamshala. Twelve friends, twelve entrepreneurs who set out for a petite get-together in this hilly town, returned as if they were reborn. And I am not exaggerating. It’s been almost 6 months since, and each one is showing a sustained attitudinal shift in their lives. What made this possible?

It all started with a letter we sent to His Holiness Dalai Lama’s office requesting a private audience with him. We shared the dilemmas bothering us and wished he sheds some light on it. Unfortunately(or fortunately!!) the meeting did not happen as HHDL was traveling during that period. But the fact of the matter is, we did get those answers without seeing HHDL; the events of the trip made us realize the answers to those dilemmas!!

The entire lot, each one of us, while returning, felt as if we were called to this place. We all believed,until this point, that the trip is our plan, but in the end we realized that we are all a part of a bigger plan.

This was felt in particular, at the trek of Triund. The trek that we took up just for kicks, made us sweat and battle like never before. With scarce resources as we ventured into the un-chartered, it took us to some mind-altering discoveries. Lasting for 9 hours, the trek tested our individual capacities and brought us face-to-face with values of togetherness and kinship along with courage and conviction. From being entrepreneurs fixated to the word ‘achievement’, we came back discovering a powerful agent called ‘letting go’.

As I came back home, I felt in me an uncontrollable desire to attempt to articulate this experience of ours in a visual medium. What I had with me were some thousand images and couple of hours of random video footage. I tried to put them all together in a manner that it makes some sense to the one who engages. I used voice over technique to narrate our mind state and have relied extensively on the songs to convey what we had felt. There is not much footage of the Triund trek which is of greater significance, but than that’s fine.

It may not make any sense to an unknown viewer, maybe. But anyone who knows this lot or any one from this lot, will definitely see some value in this effort. The discerning viewer will enjoy some breathtaking panoramic shots of the magnificent Dhauladhar range, taken right from the top of Triund.

Having said this I put forth the following disclaimer :
‘hgang in dharamshala’ is not a narrative film, nor it claims to be a document of a certain trip. It is a visual memoir of what we friends felt, experienced and realized during this 4 day period. To put it humbly it is just a home video, albeit with a difference.

The film is already shared with family and friends, but we have received lot of requests from many other friends, relatives and well-wishers who wished to engage themselves with this effort.

For them and for any one who ends up here, the film is made available on youtube. FYI the film is uploaded in two parts. Find below the links.

And yeah, watch it till the end the credits roll, it ends with an original poem recital by …

Yours truly,
Mihir Gajrwala





Krishnaverse #2

29 05 2014

Student : Sir, I understand the attitude of ‘giving more’ or ‘keep doing the new’ or ‘keep contributing’, whatever way we may put it. And to an extent these attitudes does open up various faculties of an individual’s persona and help him expand. But I feel, the flip side of this attitude is, sometime, even after doing a lot, if it has not transformed into economies or if the given activity has not yielded any tangible uplift than, one feels frustrated. For example a young dynamic chap who is jumpy in his career direction, may find himself nowhere in spite of putting in years of work experience and in spite of dozens of so called ‘contributing’ efforts. At such a point one feels a loss of direction; one feels ones heading nowhere and so stays dissatisfied?

Sir : Not necessarily! Not necessary that one would become dissatisfied.
What could happen with positively inclined people is – in given settings just see what best you can create, or offer. Sometimes, what happens in industrial lines, or in certain types of actions, that we think we are good at; and therefore we want to be in that only and consider that as direction or focus. But it doesn’t have to be that ways. Responding to the given environment with the potential we are, is important, more important. And that might sometimes deprive us from those lines of expertise or direction. The so called directed movement sometimes you may have to fore go, you might be denied those things because in the given environment those things may not have any place.

Suppose you are a good painter and in given environment there is no scope for expressing your painting skill, but still you are a potential. Can u respond to that environment where there is no scope for painting, painting as we understand? Well, it cud be a simple talk on the surrealist trends, painting can also be talked out, or a painting could simply be lived. It doesn’t have to be necessarily and every time an expression that is known to us only. We know the expression of painting in a certain form, and that only doesn’t have to be a manifestation of our talent. It could be in other ways, sometimes even in ways which we cannot imagine right now. That’s where innovation takes place, that’s where new things come up, creation comes up, that’s how world goes ahead. Whatever technological manifestation we see these days you wouldn’t have imagined that a couple of centuries ago, but than how did it all came into being? That is what the ‘non-wastage’ of potential I am referring to.

Secondly, dissatisfaction with the way we are living and the way we have lived in past so many years or so many seasons, is fine. This is what our restlessness is- You got to be restless about status quo so that you will create new things. Only if you are restless about the status quo about the given things you will be able to create something new, isn’t it?
So to that extent restlessness, yes, it is required. It is at the core of innovation, at the core of creativity. But if restlessness is because of dissatisfaction then it is a tricky issue.

“We are restless not because we are dissatisfied; we are restless because though we are satisfied, at that point of time the potential is not being used. We are satisfied, so we are restless not because of the dissatisfaction or otherwise, we are restless because the potential is lying idle, it’s not being put to use and that’s why we are restless. I can do something more…I can chew a little more….and therefore I do not consider these two as synonyms, dissatisfaction and restlessness.”

Understand the secret of success is satisfaction. You got to be satisfied if you want to take a successful step forward, dissatisfaction would not lead us there. I wouldn’t confuse our thought process by putting them as synonyms. You might have to look at it that way.





Shifting Paradigms of Entrepreneurship Strategy.

26 04 2014

Shifting Paradigms of Entrepreneurship Strategy
(in a new world order driven by the rise of New Media)

© mihir gajrawala
Published on http://www.mihirgajrawala.com on 26.4.14

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New Media : a phenomenon created due to the advent of social media converging with the tremendous spread of mobile technology. The key features (at this point in time), being on-demand access to data, inherent interactive feedback capability and community formation potential.

It has been an age old dictum in our business tradition – ‘it takes 1000 days for an enterprise to set up, after which one may think of driving it to above average profits’.

Does this still hold true? Try this…
It took Instagram 730 days to turn itself into an enterprise valued at a humongous $1bn, around ` 5500 crores. Around 24 months back, Facebook came up with an IPO having valuation at a staggering $100 bn; the point is it took the company less than 3000 days to reach here. This social media behemoth went on to acquire a 5 year old start up – Whatsapp-for an unbelievable sum of $19billion dollars. These are not the only events. Let’s take an Indian example. Cisco Systems, the technology behemoth took a 17% stake in a lesser known start up, Qyuki – founded by Shekar Kapur and AR Rahman, at a great pricing of `27 crores. And this was even before the beta version launch.

Just look around in the spectrum of New Media and the concept of time value of money seems to be going through a fundamental change. And if we delve deeper it seems the global consumer behavior is changing dramatically leading to sweeping transformations in the contemporary business environment. Every paradigm that we know is changing, already.

So what are the fresh paradigms shaping up?

Let’s go back in time to put our discussion in a better context.

Powered by the discovery of electricity, entrepreneur/scientists worked on it and some life changing inventions took place during the late 18th till late 19th century. These phenomena carried on in the entire 20th century leading to the invention of computer followed by the Internet. The world has changed. The skill sets existing a century before are not even known now. Who would use Human or bird messengers for communication, you had telegraph and later email. Who would have even imagined that the skill set of making earthen vessels would become redundant before steel and other metals came into being? But nothing could stop human imagination, and with it the world order went through change.

The prime driver of this change was the human craving for ‘convenience’. In today’s scenario, ‘convenience’ & ‘ease’ are being taken over by a totally new set of values, which is – the human craving to express, to share and eventually to INFLUENCE. The change occurring today is potentially far more impactful than what the world has ever seen earlier.

And we are all part of this change. We have changed. Our motives to do ‘something’ are going through a sea change. And the reason I am quoting this change to be more powerful is the speed at which it is occurring. What earlier took centuries to occur, now may just happen in decades or even years.
You don’t take pictures to make an album to show to your kids, you take them to instantly share it with your community. You do not wait for a weekly film review, but you are plugged into the first show tweet review. You do not have to wait for tomorrow’s newspaper to tell you what your favorite sportsman did on his birthday; he would have already shared it with his followers on Twitter. You do not need to have ‘contacts’ to let a film maker notice your story, you connect with an expert on Qyuki. Before we even leveraged ‘networking’, the concept of ‘community’ is taking over. While as a nation, we still haven’t ended bloating about ‘outsourcing’; the early signs and power of ‘crowd sourcing’ is out to behold!

Creative individuals from across the world come together to develop new art or commercial offerings; a phenomenon unthinkable just a few years ago. Entrepreneurs have now an option of crowd funding at their disposal, and thousands of new start ups are coming up just because of the availability of such unique funding. These phenomena are huge, considering they are bringing about a sea change in the existing understanding of the idea of ‘ownership’.

We would be blind if we are not seeing this. The new paradigms have already emerged in the world of Entrepreneurship strategy. And we all know that business has to follow where the ‘community’ is heading.

Let me list down what’s happening:
• Job creation as the prime motivator of entrepreneurship is taken over by ‘potential to co-create’
• The demise of stand-alone firm as the primary unit of competition; linear hierarchic firm structures are giving way to multi polar, decentralized structures – where the skill, power and control is spread widely across individual firms/individuals.
• The demise of nation-state as the principal unit around which international economic activity is organized and conducted.
• The focus of business is shifting from ‘the firm’ to ‘the community’

Based on all of these the over arching trend in front of us is :
‘Shifting focus from consumption economy to influence economy’

As entrepreneurs we cannot over look this trend. Every aspect of enterprise creation is changing in a phenomenal way. We will need to develop ways to identify community based opportunities for developing capabilities and acquiring the specialized resources needed to compete in today’s fluidic market place, and we need to understand our own strategic value in the context of shifting focus from Investment management to Access management.

Driven by need of convenience we created a consumption based economic model and ended up given control and power to Investment houses. This may soon become obsolete. Driven by the desire to ‘express’, an Influence based economic model is emerging leading to hand over control and power to those with ‘Access’.

Do you wish to wait till suddenly you realize that no one uses earthen pots any more? As evolving entrepreneurs we have to understand the essence of this emerging paradigm and generate keys to long term entrepreneurial existence.

 

Inputs taken from :
1) Shekhar Kapur’s Speech at NASSCOM India Leadership forum 2013
2) “Changing Paradigms of International Entrepreneurship Strategy” Paper published by Richard W. Wright & Leo-Paul Dana in the Journal of International Entrepreneurship in 2003.





Paradox of doing and not doing.

4 12 2013

Letter sent to The Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, seeking a private audience to His Holiness during my visit to Dharamsala with my friends in coming January.

Ahmedabad, December 2nd, 2013.
© mihir gajrawala

It is our misfortune that HHDL is not available in Dharamsala at the time of our visit. The Office of HHDL informed us of his unavailability.
I am sure that many would find a resonance in the thoughts presented in this letter. Hence sharing it here on my blog.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thought Map
A peep into our minds to explain the significance of being an audience to His Holiness

‘Paradox of doing and not doing‘

As entrepreneurship students we are educated to keep ourselves occupied in investing our energy in ‘achievements’. To work towards a better tomorrow, to work towards economic growth ; that you be more tomorrow than what you are today – is the mantra given. Yes our teacher did warn us to not equate this need to achieve with ‘greed’ and ‘short cuts’, but ‘achievement’ remains the fulcrum of our thoughts all through out.

A dozen winters have passed by since we completed our post graduation in entrepreneurship and set out to ‘achieve’. We are a bunch of individuals, separated by culture and geography, but bound by our sense of purpose.

Over these dozen odd winters, we have grown, we have changed in more ways than one; but our understanding still revolves around this word ‘achievement’. As any other individual, we have encountered both wonder and despair during our experiences and it has an impact on our comprehension on life. Over countless chats, numerous discussions, unaccounted hours of introspection, individually and collectively, we all have started to look at this term ‘achievement’ a bit more differently than what it was when we started our journey.

‘Sometimes things go wrong; that’s normal. But we have a saying in Tibetan, ‘Nine times fail, nine times try again’. @dalailama via tweeter

Yes we believe in the above. We exhibit this spirit in our endeavors; we manage to not get bogged down by failures. Having said that, readings of various spiritual masters have resulted in the germination of the belief that ‘any quantum of action if invested in a direction opposite to one’s nature will only generate disillusionment and dissatisfaction’.

At this point we all differ. Each one has a different perception of what this true nature is. But we all agree that none of us has ever experienced that infectious and innocent smile that we always see on the face of His Holiness. What is it that could give such perennial smile? If such a smile is the manifestation of being in ones nature, what direction may lead us there? And this makes us re-look at the concept of achievement. Does ‘achievement’ takes one away from ones true nature, does willful ‘giving up’ brings one closer to his true nature?

Does such a smile needs to be ‘achieved’ or it is an outcome of ‘giving up’ ?

We do not know. At this question we are stuck. We see a dead end. And so worldly speaking, we are in a situation where we have ceased to ‘achieve’; we are not growing any more (in our chosen fields of entrepreneurship). That is the paradox we are living in – the paradox of doing and not doing. The paradox of feeling ‘nothing’ amidst ‘everything’

We are TOTAL neither in doing nor in not-doing. We are neither someone nor are we no-one. We are neither fully Present nor completely Absent.

We do not claim to be seers or seekers. We are absolutely normal anybodies that exist everywhere. With all genuineness we accept the presence of hypocrisy in our expressions.

Who are we then? And why this mail?

Well we are a bunch of friends, 14 to be precise, who got united during our education some 13 years back. Many of us reside in cities quite far away from each other. We embark on this little vacation to discuss, introspect and meditate upon the above paradox, which we all are living in.

Our request is not to talk or debate. Nor do we have a list of questions. With above described mindset we wish to walk into the room of His Holiness, see His smile and just listen.

Legends say that Mahavira never spoke, He was only heard. We wish to have the blessing of hearing to His Holiness.

Thank You.





‘Happy’ Birthday to me? – not yet!

4 06 2010

“I truly believe that Teaching and Medicine are the noblest of vocations, among all. And they should remain like that. Any institute or individual who takes up these vocations for greed or any other motive other than teaching and curing will only dilute its true delivery. I am a teacher and I would never be my student’s consultant.”

That’s how Dr. KVSM Krishna, my teacher and Course Director responded when I generally queried about his view and interest in associating himself with the ‘so-called’ A-Listed business schools around.

Back in 2000-2001, when I did my PG at Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Dr. Krishna was then the Course Director and our teacher for Economics and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. But for me he turned out to be my Teacher for Life. Innumerable lessons on Life and Self Awareness that were bestowed upon me by him. All of these occurred during those hundreds of hours of class room talks as well as countless after class room discussions that happened in his office. Even after the course completion, till date I have the privilege of being blessed with his teachings through various e-mail and phone conversations; though he has been moving to different geographical locations we managed quite a few meetings over the last decade. Each and every of this interaction, be it a casual 5 minute call, he has never left without giving – giving to his student pearls of wisdom from his vast ocean of knowledge.

I credit all my successes to HIM and I accept all my shortcomings as my inability to understand and/or follow his teachings.

His understanding of things is very in depth and focused. His teachings sound simple but takes a lot to understand and comprehend its true meaning. He comes across as a grumpy ol’ chap; but a true student will see a TEACHER in every cell of him. His dedication and commitment towards his students is unparalleled and he would stretch himself to newer limits to touch and teach his students.

As our course started off, it didn’t take me much time to bond with him. The lessons had started flowing and soon, over a year – an introvert, shy, low on confidence, hyper anxious and clouded youngster who could barely understand his self and the world around, some one who had no drive and no ambition – turned into STUDENT OF THE YEAR, scored maximum in almost all subjects and most importantly gained confidence to embark upon an enterprising journey. All of this happened because of an intervention called Dr. Krishna.

At every point, smallest of issue to biggest of resistances that I would have discussed with him, each and every time he has come across as a Teacher to me; and that has helped survive the student in me. His strongest impact on me has been in making me realize the value of “LEARN TILL YOUR LAST MOMENT”.

He would tell us “I want you all to be LEARNERS and not become LEARNED”

The lessons were just not limited to economics or entrepreneurship. We would have talked and discussed almost every subject on this planet. From human development to spirituality; from inter gender dynamics to family businesses; from poverty alleviation to self development; from marriages to education system every topic was put across in a light so as to understand its significance. Most importantly, over all this years, till date his sole effort through every talk is to make his student know and realize his latent potential.

This belief – a strong and honest belief of my teacher in me forms the seed of my awareness; forms the basis of my understanding of me, it powers my vision of life and energizes my every attempt of developing myself. My thought processes and cognitive mechanisms have evolved from the seed of knowledge that he had sowed.

I attained the form of flesh and blood in 1979, whereas I derived my mind in 2000. My teacher gave me REBIRTH.

I feel that I am no way near in being a worthy student. If his teachings manifest themselves in my doings and I truly embody all that I am learning only then will I feel happy and contended.

Many Birthday’s have since gone by, it really doesn’t matter to me; but it is the ‘Rebirth day’ that holds greater significance to me. And I Endeavour to give myself a HAPPY RE BIRTH DAY – the day I shall be contended, the day I feel a sense of pride, the day I feel worthy, not in anyone else’s eye, but in my own assessment.

That day, I shall wish myself a Happy (re)Birth day!

PS : I have always debated with Dr. Krishna about attempting to publish his thoughts or atleast to blog so that a large number of ‘students’ be touched. However he remains so involved with the students around him that he hardly thinks of documenting himself. On this birthday of mine I initiate this segment on my blog in which I shall attempt to present the various talks that I had with him. It’s going to be a task to put various chats that I have had with him over varied contexts in the most correct manner. I take it up with a hope of letting more STUDENTS reach to a true TEACHER.





RESPONSIBLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP

24 04 2009

~ When you come to the edge of a cliff, the solution is not to run faster, We have to step back ~

These are tough times. To make it gullible to you guys let me put it differently. These are different times.

The PM is asking for austerity. All that the analysts are able to predict is uncertainty. Economists all across are at their conservative best. Inflation has already over taken growth in the last quarter; and the gap only seems to be widening. Our consumption is growing but we aren’t. Many environmentalists have started the countdown towards dooms day.

These are not the bytes that we are used to in recent times. Doesn’t this seem a bit dodgy; a bit contradictory to you. If we say we are CAPITALIST than uncertainty should excite us and austerity should put us off…but as I told you these are different times. Just a quarter before we believed in consumption fuelled growth. And now we are advised to restrain.

Something’s going wrong. Sample this….

India is self-sufficient in its agricultural production; which means we produce food grains that should suffice 120 crore population. However, 35 crore odd sleep without a meal and other 35 crore odd have only one meal a day!

We consumed the most mobile phones (after china) globaly. Whereas we still do not have a decent school in every taluka!

Its said the developing Organised Retail scenario and booming Mall culture is boosting consumption and thereby fuelling growth. It’s a different story that a single mall consumes energy that can electrify an entire village!

Reports say that Insurance is a booming industry and is doing very well. Though the fact remains 75% of the people who get affected by a calamity (natural or man-made) remain uninsured.

It’s not so difficult to accept the fact that all our collective entrepreneurial energies are not taking us where it should. All that we are doing is either leading us to inflation, disparity, consumerism or environment degradation. As entrepreneurs it should matter to us – because a disturbed environment would never provide sustainable growth. If our progress is not endearing enough, than our efforts are not worth it.

So where are we? So what are we talking about in here. The answer is as simple as it is complex. The effects suggest we have missed an important factor in our viability equation. What is that factor??

And let me make it clear, we are not talking about socialism out here!

The point that is being made is IF WE WISH TO GROW ENTREPRENEURALY and IF WE WISH TO MAKE A MARK GLOBALLY we need to completely change the way we think about business and the way we understand ‘marketing’. Let us understand that profit and return are not the only variables to consider; impact on society at large is the factor that would lead us to economic and environmental stability.

Some have talked about ‘COMPASSIONATE CAPITALISM’ and some have deliberated upon ‘SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP’.

We may like to put it as RESPONSIBLE ENTREPREPRENEURHIP.

WE need to respond. More so as entrepreneurs of an emerging economy we have to respond; We need to create businesses to inspire and realize sustainable enterprise growth and social development. We need to learn to connect our aspirations for global citizenship to opportunities on the ground.

And we are not talking about austerity here. There are tremendous entrepreneurial opportunities that we are completely blinded to.

Fast food chains are exciting but community kitchens aren’t. Cities are lighting up but no ones investing in solar technologies. Instead of bigger-hollow-costlier schools a smaller-better-cheaper version might make more economic sense. Tremendous PPP (public private partnership) opportunities in the field of rural health care, children and adult education, agriculture technology development etc.

All this is not totally alien to us. In bits and parts, in small pockets somewhere some such initiatives are taken. Our task is to add scale to it and design a unique growth for ourselves. It’s about putting the social concerns out there in the market and turning them into entrepreneurial opportunities.

In the ring we have value creation vs consumption and accumulation. MAKE YOUR BETS NOW!

IMPACT MAKING ENTREPRENEURS is not at all a new term for the alumni of this institute. Initiative, Alertness, Adventure and Adaptive-ness is what EDI has taught us. Entrepreneurs as change-agents are what EDI believes in.

To move forward, lets take the first step, back!

– MIHIR GAJRAWALA