Friday, March 13, 2009

Entertainment Speaker (Project 5) - My life in US - A Roller Coaster


AC - Entertaining Speaker (Project V)
Speech after Dinner
March 13, 2009

Introduction

Steep climbs, deep falls, sudden twists & turns ... If I've to put my USA experience in simple terms, "It was a roller coaster". Wow ! What an experience. It was full of excitement, fun, adventures, and entertainment. Today, you are going to get a short peek into what was going on in my life in the last 6 years.

Beginning of the ride

I came to US in Oct, 2002, right after the dot.com bubble burst. I took my seat in the roller coaster, buckled up and got ready for the ride. When many immigrants were packing their things and leaving the country, I entered the country with lots of hopes and dreams. I felt like a firefighter marching into a burning house, when everybody in the house is running out to the doors.

Experience in Mobility Networks

I joined a start-up company in the valley. The company had lots of people, lots of hope - but, very little money in the bank. Our CEO was very optimistic. Every time we had an “All-Hands” meeting he'll tell us "Oh... We are doing extremely well. We are working on the last-mile of the technology and investors are very interested to give us money". This went on for about 6 months.

It was June 2003. We had an all-hands meeting, as usual. The CEO told that we are getting very close to raising funding and we may get a 'funding term sheet' any time. The next day, we didn't get the "funding term sheet" but we all got our "termination letters". Yes. My company couldn't raise funding. They filed for bankruptcy & closed the doors. Most of my co-workers were smart. They were already looking for jobs and they all had offers at hand. I strongly believed in the company and the CEO. I didn't expect the company to go under, this soon. I learned my first lesson about Corporate America - "Never blindly trust the CEOs. They are paid to be optimistic".

I managed to get into another job in a couple of weeks. That was a startup too. I spent my next 3 years with this company. I got a wonderful opportunity to manage a small team. The job also involved traveling to several places in Europe & North America.

MBA & Wedding

The ride got a bit more exciting in 2005. I signed up for 2 major things. I enrolled in a part-time MBA program and I signed-up for a full-time husband program. Yes. I got married. I thought I should prepare myself for a married life. The first thing that I did was I bought the book “Men are from Mars & Women are from Venus”. I read the book page by page, line by line, word after word. After reading the book, I thought I mastered the art of “understanding a women”. I thought I had learned all the tricks to keep my wife happy. Its 4 years since I'm married. Now, I feel, like writing a book. The title would be “Men are from Mars, my wife is not from Venus”.

Toastmasters

My MBA course was very intensive. While doing my MBA, I realized that I've to improve my public speaking skills. A friend of mine introduced me to Toastmasters. I'm glad that I joined toastmasters. I set myself a goal of completing 10 speeches every year. This is my end of 3rd year and I'm completing my 30th speech in Toastmasters. I'm thankful to all the fellow toastmasters for helping me to be a better communicator.

I'm also very grateful to 2 people in Toastmasters. The second person is my “friend”. He introduced me to Toastmasters. If not for him, I wouldn't have had an opportunity to meet wonderful people like you. The first person is “Warren”. I'm proud to say that I'm one of Warren's students. His workshops made a very significant impact in my thinking and communication. I would've spent another 10 years to learn the stuff myself, that I learned in just 1 year, from his work shop. Thank you Sir !

Returning back to India

With all the fun & excitement going around, I didn't realize that my ride is going to come to an end. I have been thinking about going back to India for a while. But, I kept postponing the decision. At first, I thought I should go back in 2 - 3 years, then I thought I should go back before I get married, then I thought I should go back before I get a kid, then I thought I should go back with a 'business' plan, then I thought..., then I thought ... there was no end to the list. Well, finally I had to pull the plug.

The turn of events in my personal life made it easy for me. It took just less than an hour for me to decide. I booked tickets for my wife/daughter in the next 1 hour. I packed and sent them to India in the next 24 hours.

The last part of the roller coaster ride is very exciting. I cleaned up and sold my household items. Things sold pretty fast. Thanks to the recession. People love used items! We spent years and years to accumulate those items. But they all vanished in days. I found a job in India, too. I'm all set to go back. The ride is going to stop soon. I'm ready to unbuckle my belts in a few weeks from now.

Conclusion

Life in US taught me a number of things. I got a wonderful exposure both from a career standpoint and from my personal standpoint. I'm not the same person who entered this country 6 years ago. My dreams became reality and my hopes were fulfilled.

If I had not come to US, I would have been like a tiny little fish in a pond. Today, I feel like a shark, that can swim in a ocean. I know how to go with the tides and against them.

I'm quite excited to return back to India and meet my family & friends. The ride was quite exciting and memorable. I'm definitely going to miss you all. But, change always happens. I strongly believe, “every end is for a new beginning”.
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