Footprints from Formative Years:
We grew up with a lot of books around us at home and in an environment that stimulated and encouraged intellectual debate. The strongest driving force and the earliest influence which helped me become the person I am today was ‘curiosity’. My natural curiosity to know about how the world works, how people live in different parts of the world, about travel, and essentially about all aspects of life - helped me become the person I am today. I am blessed to have had a childhood where this natural drive of curiosity was not stifled, either by my parents or by my school. This enabled me to develop a broad, mature, and balanced worldview that went far beyond a purely academic perspective.
Beyond the Barricades:
When being asked about my hardship, I am reminded of two difficult decisions in my life. The first one was leaving my job in the US with Marriott International, which was my first job after graduating from The Hotel School in Sydney. I left my job and moved back to India, to look after my father who had just six more months to live because he was suffering from cancer. It was one of the toughest and most emotional decisions I have ever had to take. I was just 21, but I am glad that I decided to do the right thing; to be with my father in his last days and take care of the family after we lost him in February 2002.
My second difficult decision was leaving a safe and comfortable career in the hospitality industry in the UK and relocating back to India in 2007. This time, to be an entrepreneur, and to follow my calling of serving my fellow citizens. It was tough because I had no prior business experience and I knew the outcome in businesses is unpredictable. Yet, it has been a rewarding journey. Over the last 14 years, it has enabled me to reach millions of people in the farthest corners of this country whether in person or via digital mediums and share my knowledge, ideas and inspiration with them.
Embarking onto the Entrepreneurial Journey:
Eight years in five different countries, working with more than 50 nationalities has taught me more than any university could ever have. That is why I am hugely indebted to the hospitality industry. It taught me hospitality - to work with a smile even when you are under stress. Even when a lot of demands are being placed on you, to still keep your patience and to work with a smile, to be hospitable to those around you. I learned some very powerful lessons in customer service, like- interpersonal skills, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, negotiation skills, working in a multicultural environment, and more. I can say that the hospitality industry has nourished the entrepreneurial drive in me. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if I wouldn’t have had the opportunity of working in different parts of the world with some of the leading hotel companies in some very challenging yet rewarding environments.
Importance of Right Mindset:
Leaders already know what’s right and what’s wrong. What they do need is an opportunity to reflect.
Some of my strongest strategies are aimed at giving leaders the space and a medium to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. Then they take help of the tools to pivot into the direction of how to make it work well and the mindset to sustain the change. Without a mindset change, everything else becomes temporary. When leaders do this inner work on themselves, they lay the foundation of a strong productive culture, which is bound to achieve superior business performance. A better culture starts with better leaders with the right mindset.
Sources of Powerful Lessons:
The teachings of the ten Sikh Gurus and the teachings in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib have been my strongest source of inspiration. My spiritual practice and Gurubani have been my strongest mentors. The most valuable lesson I have learned from my spiritual practices is, to “believe in yourself”. Be humble and grateful, even during difficult times. Be thankful to the Almighty for all that you still have and finally, to serve fellow human beings, to live your life with a service mindset. Sikhism is based on three principles - kirat karo (work hard), naam japo (meditate on the Lord’s name) and wand chakho (share / distribute what you have). So these are the guiding principles that have helped me bounce back during difficult times.
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