Mother’s Day: Here’s the best advice these 12 startup founders received from their mums
Mothers. Even before we are born, they become our roots and foundation stone. What would we do without them?
As the world navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses are upended, the love and support of family and friends are among the things that are keeping most of us afloat.
This Mother’s Day, YourStory reached out to leading founders from the Indian startup ecosystem to know more about the best piece of advice they ever received from their mothers, and how it has helped them navigate through the good times and the bad.
I am fortunate to have a very independent, professionally committed yet extremely loving and caring mother. She was a producer at Doordarshan and her commitment to family and work instilled in me my very first lessons of ‘management skills’.
She is my biggest inspiration and has played a key role in my overall growth and development. From introducing me to the importance of reading, playing multiple games like basketball, swimming, running, and pursuing hobbies like singing to teaching me about finances and decision-making ability, she has been a powerful influence in my life.
She has taught me not to be afraid of dreaming big and taking risks. Giving 100 percent to everything I do, whether it is the business or managing home, has been another piece of her advice that I have been sincerely following. I have carried and implemented all these lessons with me till this very day and they have translated into sound business decisions.
My mother has had a significant influence on me personally and on the business. She played an instrumental role in seed-funding Nazara along with my father and was always encouraging me through the early years when the going got tough. She always told me when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
She also came up with the name Nazara for our company, which is what we are known today as. Being a bhajan singer trained by Bhajan maestro Purshottam Jalota, she helped seed an interest in music for me, which has led me to pick up the saxophone as a hobby, which is a great destressor for me.
The best advice I received from my mother helped me take the biggest plunge in my life: opening Digit Insurance. When I was deliberating about what to do next, my mother gave me a nice analogy. She said you keep investing in the stock market and in companies you do not even know about. Then, why are you afraid to put money on yourself? That was a turning point for me as my mother showed me that confidence; her support encouraged me to start Digit Insurance.
She also tells me success is not a personal outcome. It is teamwork. This piece of advice has been extremely valuable to me as I have always been fortunate enough to have a great team. My mother’s advice has been a guiding principle for all the milestones that I have been able to achieve.
My mother has taught me lessons of true grit and resilience. I once asked her where she got her strength from; her answer was very simple yet the principle I practise to this day. "Love has all the strength we ever need. Love for our family, for our work, for humanity, and for the possibilities this life presents.”
When something is not going the way we would want it to, I make it a point to sit back and meditate on all the reasons I wanted it in the first place, how close it is to my heart, and the difference it makes to people's life - it keeps me going through thick and thin.
My mother said strength also comes from knowing that bad times are impermanent and if we stand together as a team - there is no situation that lasts longer than we do. Those words have kept me strong and patient for my team in these hard times we are going through.
It's a proven fact that we get our intelligence from our mothers. It's a less talked about fact that we also get our strength from our mothers.
One of the best pieces of advice I got from my mother was to always be happy with the resources you have and work extremely hard towards achieving your goals. To this day, I believe this to be my mantra for happiness and contentment.
When your mother tells you something as a child, you believe it without questioning. From very early on, she taught us that nothing is impossible and I work with this attitude towards all my objectives.
If I connect the dots backwards, I am what I am, because of her words that directed me. In my childhood, she once mentioned, “Your eyes only see what your mind knows.” That simple thought had a profound impact on me on how I look at learning things, and pushed me into experimenting with what I have learnt.
Years ago, when I told her about my startup, I expected ‘why do you want to start’? But she shocked me with, ‘what do you want now to make it better?’ That’s the kind of support she gave me when I started up.
Just like every computer has an operating system, my mother has been responsible for programming my operating system. And, along with my father, she set up a strong foundation for me and my brother. Some of her advice, which I cherish to this day:
Always save Whenever my dad or I were in need of money for anything unplanned such as a gift for someone or money to help some relative, she always seemed to have Rs 50,000 tucked inside her almari, “saved for a rainy day”.
Treasure memories Her Godrej almari was a treasure chest; it had many of our old gifts and items that she preserved for ages.
Don’t run away from your problems You are capable of finding a solution. Believe in yourself and take everything head-on, If you are right, fight; if you are wrong, apologise and retreat.
I have always shared a very special bond with my mother. She is my first coach, teacher, friend, and a mentor. From the time I was a child, my mother has encouraged me to work hard but embrace my failures with pride and learn from them.
She has taught me to celebrate my successes and seek perfection. This learning from her I place close to my heart while running my company.
As an entrepreneur and a mentor to my employees, I encourage them to celebrate our wins, learn from our mistakes, and seek to grow, together. This piece of advice from my mother is something I have and will always continue to follow.
As they say, mothers are your first learning institute. All her advice and learnings made me what I am today. But I will not forget one bit advice she gave me when I raised my biggest funding couple of years back.
She said, “People have trusted you with their hard-earned money and with this, comes responsibility. You may grow multifold from here and I will always wish that for you. But I think you have to remember to never forget the people, colleagues, friends, and customers who helped you in your journey of growth, because you never know what's in store tomorrow.
You may come down the ladder and may again need them Always be kind, honest, and be a job creator.
It was June 2005. I had just graduated from Harvard Business School and was in a dilemma. I had an offer to join Mckinsey’s New York office. Or I could come back to India, and launch Travelguru, an online travel startup.
While the idea of becoming a first-generation entrepreneur was exciting, I was deterred by the risk of failure. I had a student loan of more than Rs 1 crore. I had no startup experience, no travel experience, no fundraising experience. I was a startup rookie. Joining Mckinsey for a few years and paying off the student loan seemed the rational choice. But the startup opportunity was here and now.
As I have done, many times in my life, when I have had tough decisions to make, I turned to my mother for advice. She gave me the best piece of advice I have ever received. She said: “Failure is if you don’t even try. If you try and don’t succeed, that is learning.” Her advice and support gave me the confidence to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur.
And just as she predicted, my first startup was a great learning experience. It laid the foundation for my second start up’s (www.eruditus.com) huge success.
I can’t imagine where I would have been if I had not conquered my fear of failure. Where would I have been if not for my mother’s advice. Thank you, Mom!
The best advice my mom gave me was not her words, but the way she has always lived her life and her actions. My mother gives her heart and soul to everything she does. She would always figure out creative ways for even ordinary moments with me, our family, her friends, and every other interaction. One thing I have imbibed from her is the capability of finding a solution in difficult circumstances. She always made us believe that “tough times don’t last, but tough people do”.
We are a well-to-do business family and have had our share of highs and lows, and my mother has been our rock - believing that if one does not try, they cannot succeed.
She said you must put yourself out there and try your level best. It is important not to run away from problems or difficult situations, but to stick it out, no matter what, and find solutions. I consider this as one of the major reasons for my success today.
My mother started as a stay-at-home mom and then proceeded to navigate a long and successful career working in non-profits. I grew up watching her constantly punch above her weight to ensure the best outcomes for herself and all of us! She completed a PhD and got her doctorate while in her 50s. She started her own company at age 58. Just last week, she published her first academic book!
Seeing her commitment to learning and growth has truly inspired me to always strive to become a better version of myself. She taught me to follow my dreams and be independent, that life has no fixed timeline, and it's never too late. I've definitely inherited her entrepreneurial spirit.
When I was considering giving up a day job and starting up, she told me to take as much time as I needed - a striking contrast to my father, whose views on the subject were much more conservative!
My mother has always had amazing business intuition and led by example. She taught me that nothing can replace the value of sincere hard work. Where I am today is without a doubt due to her unwavering support of my ambitions.
Edited by Teja Lele