Saturday, October 28, 2017

Venture out ... NOW !

Chennai Speakers Forum Newsletter Article Oct 2017

How many times have you taken a risk in your life and failed?! Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social media company Facebook says “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changes really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks”.

Let me admit it. I had never taken a huge risk until I finished my college. In fact, I had never ventured out to try something new, until I joined my first job at HCL technologies. I always signed up for something only when I can see the end result clearly. The year 2002 put an end to my risk- free life. That was the year after the 9/11 attacks and the dotcom crash. US President Bush’s administration was planning to launch a war against Iraq any time. US economy was at an all-time low and going through a recession. I was in a well paid job in HCL Technologies. But, I decided to quit HCL and look for opportunities in US because of not getting promoted at HCL. My family members asked me “Why do you want to go to US when the condition there is very uncertain?”. My friends were asking me “Saro! You are in a well paid job and in a good position. If you leave now, and come back later, you may not have the same respect and influence here. Why do you want to take an unnecessary risk?”. I was in a very confused state and asked myself “Should I leave the golden goose? Should I leave my comfort zone? Should I move out of my cheese factory?”. After some serious thought, I decided to take the plunge. I got an offer from a start up in US. But, the unfortunate part was, the startup company had hardly 6 months of funding left-over. My friends warned me “Saro! You are looking at the light at the end of the tunnel. But what we see is a train coming in the opposite direction”.

Despite the warnings, I took the risk. I booked my tickets and flew to US. When Kannagi and Kovalan tried to enter the famous Temple City Madurai, the flags on the fort waved their hands fast alerting them not to enter the city. But, despite the alert they boldly stepped into the city. I had the same feeling when I landed in US. I heard horror stories of people leaving their home, car and belongings and moving out of the country due to the economic situation. The commercial buildings were empty and the IT corridor in silicon valley looked like a ghost town. When all the inmates of a burning house were running out, the fireman boldly walks into the house. I imagined myself as the fireman.

I joined the start-up in US and worked hard for nearly 6 months. Like my friends rightly predicted, the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be a train coming fast in the opposite direction. The company that I joined shut its doors in 6 months. One fine morning, our CEO called for an all- hands meeting and gave pink slips to nearly 60+ employees working for that startup. I was in the job market with just 6 months US experience. I hardly received any calls from potential employers. Thankfully, the founders of my old startup formed another new startup and I was among the first few employees to onboard the team. I spent a solid 3 years in that startup, learning a multitude of skills such as full products development, handling customers and doing product demonstrations/trainings. I also completed my part time MBA in the mean time. Around the same time I joined a well established company Redback Networks, which got acquired by Ericsson. After spending 4 years in US, I decided to get ready for my return to India. I took the opportunity to travel to nearly 32 states in US over a 2 years period. Those travels opened up the doors for many more new learnings and experiences. After meeting all of my monetary goals, I finally decided to return to India in 2009... almost overnight. Now, I am happily settled in India with my family.

[Also read: Returning back to India ...]

Lucius, a famous roman philosopher once said “It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult”. If I hadn’t ventured out to US in 2002, I wouldn’t have had the exposure that I have currently. Living in US for 6 years not only filled my pockets, but also brought-in a number of good things into my life. For example, I got introduced to a wonderful group of people called Toastmasters in US. Joining Toastmasters helped me to develop book reading and blogging habits. Today, I strongly believe that “If you have a dream, pursue that. If you have a passion, give it a try. If you want to venture out, venture out now!
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