Geetika Saigal talks about the ups and downs in her career as a sales professional, entrepreneur and author and the life lessons she has gathered over the years in her debut book.
Geetika Saigal, entrepreneur and author of Finding Your G Spot in Life, her debut book, quit her job as a sales professional to set up India’s first designer-wear portal called SimplySizzl for the fashion community in 2012. Later, she had to shut down the business and walk away with some much cherished memories and learnings.
Here are edited excerpts from the interview.
YS: Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial journey?
GS: It was like bungee jumping – a mix of guts, glory, potential heart failure, breathtaking in more than one way, seemingly crazy but oh-so-invigorating. Armed with a Masters in Economics, and an MBA, I started my career as a management trainee and, thereafter, a sales professional. A sales guy’s job is one of the most humbling ones in the corporate sphere, I feel! It’s physically challenging (and shocking for a girl who moved from South Delhi to Mumbai suburbs!), emotionally draining (what with the fluctuations in winning and losing deals) and mentally challenging (contrary to what many think!).
Suddenly I was travelling in the Mumbai local, working six days a week (though it was a five-day work week). I had no friends outside of office and not much of life outside of meetings. But I was charged up and driven, and hence felt fulfilled. In less than a decade, I was the Business Development Director for Cable & Wireless’ Global Markets Channel working from the headquarters in London. Soon after, I was made the youngest sales director worldwide.
But I decided to give up a promising corporate career for the entrepreneurial bug. I launched SimplySizzl and I was soon housing many of the big names in the fashion industry and introducing them to the power of new-age technology. It closed down some years later, after which I began my journey as an author.
YS: What is the main theme of your book?
GS: It is all about finding the real you, behind all the roles, responsibilities and hats you wear, reconnecting with your dreams and aspirations, getting your head in the right frame of mind to acknowledge reality and, in short, stop drifting and start living a meaningful life.
YS: Which part of the advice in your book has been very relevant in your own life?
GS: The most important lesson I have learnt is ‘being you’. If there is one thing I have always been clear about throughout my life, it’s that it’s better to be your flawed self than a perfect someone else. When you want to do what someone else is doing, you’re saying you don’t know what you want to do. I’ve always been me, true to myself.
YS: In the chapter I Tried … I failed, you talk about the importance of failure. Can you tell us about any personal challenges that inspired you to write this chapter?
GS: I lost all of my life savings to my startup. I failed at making it ‘successful’. I couldn’t be the next Jack Ma or Steve Jobs, but I never ever shirk from talking about it or thinking about it.
The experiences I went through were unique, the lessons I learnt invaluable. You see, losing money doesn’t make you a failure. Not trying, does. If you try you may lose. If you don’t, you’ve already lost.
YS: How can a person revamp his or her life?
GS: Begin by rediscovering yourself and getting in touch with what makes you, ‘you’. Secondly, you need to let go of negativity, sort out things that bother you and drain you of all the energy that could have been put to better use. Thirdly, you need to face up to your fears and break free from living a life of fulfilling other people’s expectations. Finally, you need to get up and do something. Take baby steps and finally take charge of your life as you are the CEO of your own life.
YS: How important is it for a person to find their passion?
GS: Well, passion is not something to be found, but to discover. It’s not found in a box, it’s not found in a pub or even that beach we were convinced we’d unwind and find it upon. Passion comes from action. It comes from trying out a zillion things. If you don’t find your passion, simply live your life passionately.
YS: You have written about challenging the mind daily. How do you do this?
GS: Our minds are cages wired cages tuned to think a certain way, programmed to react in specific patterns. In order to discover more about yourself, introduce your mind to new stimuli. You need to teach your mind to learn, create new situations, new environments to explore, stimuli to discover and learnings to master. Read, meet and talk to new people, see new places, try new activities and experience new situations. Learn an art form and eat what you’ve never eaten before.
YS: What are your plans for the future?
GS: Readers, readers and readers. That’s the core of my plan. I may have written this book for me, but it’s published for others to read. Hence, everything I do around the book is, and will be, centered on getting it to more potential readers and engaging with the ones who do read it. It’s a good time for me to be me. If not now, then when?