Whoa! I feel good. I knew that I would, now!

I feel old. Nah, I think I feel good. It’s exactly 20 years since I started working. I’d be wrong if I started by saying – “it feels like yesterday…” No. It has been two decades, and it’s been fantastic.

Straight out of college, I had no idea what I really wanted to do in life. Even before the results for my final year were out, I landed a job at a web hosting company as a web designer. First salary – a handsome INR 4000. I felt liberated, I felt rich, I could smell the freedom from waiting for the pocket money from achan (dad) and ettan (brother). The gadget addiction started from month 3 itself. Saved up and bought a Casio Palm Pilot – my first ever gadget.

About three months into my “work-life”, the directors of the company felt my communication skills will be handy for customer support as well. Increased my salary to INR 6000 and gave me a mobile phone. Hell yeah! This, when mobile phones were as rare as the Coppersmith Barbets (Ooooh! The bird reference).

Worked there for about a year, which included a horrendous phase of two weeks where I was putting in 20 hours a day.

Moved to a coaching center with a similar job description. I worked there for about 2 years before deciding I didn’t want to work for anyone. It may be worth mentioning that I have had only two bosses. Thanks to them, I knew exactly what I shouldn’t do, if I were ever a “Boss”.

Met Mr V, an amazing human being in 2003, who helped me set up my first agency – CBEYOND Design Pvt Ltd. Had the most fulfilling and possibly the best learning experience building this small firm. The people I met, the work we did, the everlasting relationships I built, you cannot put a price to it.

6 years later, I felt the need to move on. Started a consulting firm – Lucid Sense. And, writeclick was actually a brand under that company. Two years later, I felt the need to spin off writeclick as a separate entity and never looked back from there. Half of my 2 decades of work-life was spent under this brand. So yeah, I finally found my space.

What did I learn? Thought you’d never ask. I could actually write a book on this, but for now, I will stick to five of my biggest lessons so far.

1. Customer doesn’t have to be the king.

There, I said it. A relationship works when both parties involved treat each other as equals. This has been my biggest take away all along. I’ve walked out of client meetings and exited from projects when I saw high-handedness or unreasonable behavior. It was loss of business. But it also gave me a sense of changing the status quo. On the other hand, I have gone beyond the brief to help clients who’ve treated us well. Today, the “client headaches” are at the bare minimum, thanks to this belief.

2. Treat your people like how you want to be treated.

But, not easy to execute. I was never a “boss”. I didn’t even know how to react when my colleagues at CBEYOND introduced me to their friends as one. Folks I have had the pleasure of working with, will agree with me on this. I treated them like how my previous bosses didn’t treat me. I still do simple things like paying people on time, irrespective of whether or not clients have paid me. I have the most amazing support team right now, and I want to believe that some of it is because I’ve treated them well.

3. Stop chasing the buck.

When we, Vidya and I, wanted to spin off writeclick as a separate entity, we asked ourselves, what is our biggest motivator? Money wasn’t. And we weren’t sitting on a gold mine. Not even close. But, the moment we decided to get out of the rat race, we were blessed with the most awesome “work-life” balance. We don’t kill ourselves with work, we don’t worry about numbers, we don’t even discuss “year on year growth”. The result, we get to do a lot of what we always wanted to do. I didn’t want to wait till retirement (or get even close to it) to do more with my life. Today, I play multiple sports, pursue different hobbies, and learn things I never thought I would – like chasing the Coppersmith Barbets (How’s the callback?).

4. You cannot connect the dots forward. (Thank you, Steve!)

Life cannot be planned or careers envisioned when you are 20 something. Very few, brilliant people can do this. So, stop planning your life for 20 years from now. Don’t get me wrong. All I am saying here is that think of blocks of say 5 years and readjust your goals based on where you reach and what you want at that point. What you thought you wanted to do at 25 will most likely change by the time you are 35.

5. Have fun.

Have fun. If you aren’t having fun, you aren’t doing it right. And this applies across the board. Work, life, ‘me-time’, friends, family, your every goddamn waking minute. Life will throw interesting challenges at you, pick it up and write a story. The lockdown of Covid-19 was one such story for me – the social butterfly I am, I should have been depressed at the thought of staying at home. But, no. I picked up a new hobby with the additional free time and cannot, just CAN NOT tell you how fantastic an experience it was.

One more thing… (Thank you, Steve, again)

Time is Time. Not Money.

There’s nothing in the world that’s more precious than time. And, no, money can’t buy it nor can it be equated to it.

If you are reading this, you were/are part of my last 20 years (at least). Thank you, for the memories, for the stories, for the experiences that have made me who I am today.
Here’s to the next 20.
Cheers!

Nanu

About Nanu

Communication specialist, wannabe stand-up comedian, sports maniac, music freak, gadget aficionado, movie enthusiast, biriyani addict (If it wasn’t for this 5 letter domain, mostly would've gone with deathbybiriyani.com).

23 Comments

  • Meena J says:

    You were very supportive to all of us at CBEYOND. There are so many incidents at CBEYOND that I still remember sometimes and they bring a smile on my face. THANK YOU for all that you did for all of us 😊

  • Mary Varghese says:

    This was an interesting read Nanu !

    I so wish I can do what you did .. to do what you love doing !

    I am caught up in this rat race 😑 !!

  • AMIT RAY says:

    A great story to follow and draw insights from ! I think you embody point 5 above for me…you shine !!!
    Shine on !
    (please also order ghee roast when ordering biryani)

  • Jharna says:

    You got me to pick up the phone and call you Nanu! That’s how awesome this read is 😀😀

    Loved so many things you say here and having known you for all these years and more I can say that you have lived by this. Keep the passion on and hugs….loads of it 🤗

  • MS Vijayan says:

    Hey, wish you a similar, fulfilling next 20 years and more. I have always admired you for your approach to life, simple habits and amazing relationships.I am happy in a small way we were part of your 20 years of enriching work life.All good wishes and regards!

  • Sriparna Ray says:

    I have always taken your example when I’ve spoken to people about so many of the learnings that you’ve written about because you were my only example and you set the way ahead for yourself and for people around to see and learn.

    I look at your life, from the time that I met you first, to where you are today, and all I can say is, well done my friend! And happiest that I’ve been a part of it, through a lot of ups and downs of our own. Glad that you are a part of my life. And few relationships give me the confidence that ours does.

  • Daya & Anu says:

    Hi,
    Like your attitude to life.
    It’s a continuous flow.
    Enjoy.
    Daya & Anu

  • Shweta Ratnaparkhi says:

    Loved the read ! Some good takeaways for all of us.. 🙂

  • Madhumita Dinesh says:

    Very nice post Sandeep! Thanks for sharing your experience. You have always treated me well as a designer and I respect that a lot. And also I have learnt from you, from your experience while working on design projects. You have been very honest with feedback and also with payment😊🙏🏽

  • Sathish Nanu says:

    Nice, pocket money from me, I remember those very clearly.

  • Anjana says:

    Awesome Sandeep
    Many congratulations
    To you and Vidya
    I loved this piece
    Heartfelt and sincere
    Keep going! All the very best and god bless

  • Aneet says:

    So wonderful this is to read Sandeep! Your words on ‘time, the balance’ echo what I’ve been struggling with the past year. It’s very reinforcing to know I’m not frivolous in wanting to make simpler, happier choices! Thank you for sharing this 🙂

  • Sunitha Prakash says:

    Nicely written. congrats for all good things u have done.. wishing more beautiful memories for the next 20 something 😍

  • Geetha Nayak says:

    I am totally spellbound by your article. So much wisdom! I have not across anything like this. My fav is point 1 and time is time, not money. Thank you very much for posting.

  • Ashok says:

    Sandy, know u closely for the last 7 years+, first as a cricket opponent and later as a team mate 😀 and a beer buddy! I have seen you living each of the principles below and i quote you as an example. Keep up the zest for life!

  • Chinmay says:

    Very nicely put. I am a part of it since last 20+ years and I can say that these are not just well written words, but your way of life. Always admired your enthusiasm, ability, openness and understanding. You have been a valuable friend and inspiration for many.

  • Kavita says:

    So true ‘There’s nothing in the world that’s more precious than time. And, no, money can’t buy it nor can it be equated to it.’

  • Sumedha Choudhury says:

    Congratulations! Here’s hoping the next twenty bring you more joy, wisdom and success 🙂

  • Rohini says:

    Oh Oh! 2 decades of working?? That means we know each other for 20+ years now! Never imagined in college that you would get into this field of consulting! But, I must honestly say that from all the people I know, you are probably the only one who has a PERFECT work and personal life balance! You manage to find time to do all the things that you always want to do! Congratulations on celebrating life this happy way! Your gadget collection shocks me most of the time and now your latest association with the Coppersmith Barbet and his friends is so damn cool! Enjoying your journey and eager to see upcoming interesting episodes! Cheers!

  • Vishal Talreja says:

    Beautiful. Loved it. And It has been a joy to share these last few years with you.

  • Divya says:

    Superb, Sandeep! You’re living life 100% and not a lot of people can say they do that! 🍻 big cheers!

  • Renee Choudhury says:

    Congratulations Sandu !

    Cheers to the amazing 20 that went by and Hello to the next 20.

    Your enthusiasm, joy for living and clarity of mind will make the next 20 even more amazing. Ride on.

    Best wishes , always.

  • Doing ding says:

    Awesome Nano :)…..very well written, enjoyed reading every bit of it, you truly manage your hobbies and work life very well. Probably spent 2 months at college, but been great keeping in touch over calls since then ;)…..time to meet up in person post Covid bud

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