The Obituary Question
Many years ago, I read a column about writing one’s obituary – and then living that life. I was in my 40s then. I decided to do just that. It was one of the best mental exercises I ever did. It gave me immense clarity on what I wanted to do in life. And it is an exercise I repeat every few years.
We all have one life. The question before us is: how can we live our best life? What should such a life be? Early in one’s life one doesn’t think deeply about such questions. Take each day, each year as it comes. After early struggles as an entrepreneur, I got a big success when I sold IndiaWorld at age 32. It was beyond what I had expected. I then dabbled in politics for a decade, which was a mixed bag. But it opened my eyes to the world beyond technology. It made me address a question on impact. I asked the obituary question which made me think of the long future.
And as I looked far ahead, I also surveyed the long past. School and college in Mumbai, engineering at IIT and then Columbia University. The growing up years were all about academics and trying to excel in India’s competitive environment. In IIT, I went in as a studious kid who knew little else and emerged as a well-rounded adult who loved to learn and organise. Seeing my father in the early years instilled in me the spirit of entrepreneurship – and the resilience to withstand and rise from failure. The years after I returned from the US with a chip on my shoulder and the belief that I was God’s gift to India – only to be brought back to earth with failure after failure. And then the IndiaWorld success. Followed by more struggles until Netcore reached the right milestones and started its growth journey. My foray to do better for India brought me into the world of politics with mixed results.
All along, I learnt, for there is so much I did not know. The year at home during the coronavirus era was a period of self-renewal. I rediscovered blogging and started off on many different tracks. Starting new projects (Velvet Rope Marketing, MyToday and Microns, Prashnam) Web shows (hippoBrain and MartechBrain), diverse reading, more thoughts about the future, and writing books. Doing things I had never done before – it was amazing what one can accomplish if one puts the fear of failure away!
And so here I am. Doing what I have done for the past three decades. Ideating, creating, improving, shutting down, starting up. I hope to continue doing that for the next three decades. Hopefully, this time with an eye on the future beyond me.