Startups: What lies beyond, within and in between your passion for work?


One of the earliest jobs of man was to just eat, sleep and make babies. An enviable lifestyle that most of us would pay with our lives to live it at least once. On the other hand, I am sure all of us have lived this life in many of our previous births (As much as I claim to be an Atheist, I do believe in rebirth). But with no TV, video games or mobile phones he just got bored and started discovering and inventing stuff (what an idiot!!).Today our lives are engrossed with multiple tasks that are really meant to make our lives easier. Instead they manage to do just opposite. Apart from the mundane chores that take up most of our lives, some enthusiast chase history – “let’s create something that leaves our traces behind”. And that’s how we have the Ambanis, the Tatas, the Gates and of course you guys … But does it really matter at the end of the day? Or is it the only thing that matters?

It was in 2002 when I asked my finance professor on the return expectation in the long run. His reply was curt to say the least, “In the long run all of us are dead”. By the time the class recovered from the shock of his answer he had already moved on to the next topic.

I am a firm believer that life comes first. Little moments are lost in pursuit of larger goals. An investor meeting on your anniversary – we all know who gets the priority. Your son’s birthday on the date of signing of the shareholder’s agreement of your first private equity investment. Consciously we decide to fall prey to our practical choices rather than the emotional ones. These are not events that I am

conjuring up in my head. Many of my friends running exciting businesses or working at high profile jobs do this very regularly. It’s sad to say the least. They crib about having missed those moments but what is the point?

Building businesses especially from a scratch is hard work that requires a lot of sacrifice. It’s definitely a pleasure watching your Startup achieve one milestone after another but at times it comes at a cost. It does not reflect in the balance sheet or the profit & loss. It’s not even in the notes to accounts or the contingent liability section. It’s an expense that is constantly adding up without your realization.

As much as you are excited about running your business and ensuring its success, I believe it’s critical to take out time and tend to these small moments with absolute earnestness. In US and Europe people are extremely strict about not being disturbed during holidays. And look at us – laptops on and fiddling with our blackberrys – “Koi mail miss to nahi ho gaya?” (I hope I have not missed any mails).

Unwinding is a difficult process. It takes practice to split your life into well defined compartments of personal and professional. Some of our emotions always percolate from one life to the other. Again, I am not an expert on these things. Like most of my articles it’s a food for thought. I can only give you the type of dish, you have to decide what you want to cook.

On 31st December, I was merrily typing away a document that required my urgent attention. Suddenly, the phone rang, “Deepak, some day I am going to shoot you …”. It was my fiancé on the line. I was not with her on the New year’s eve because of the above reasons. I missed the moment of spending that one important night with her that is never going to come back.

So, build businesses, make truck loads of money but remember that’s not what life is all about!! Wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year!!