To the crazy ones

I always wondered what was it like to quit a lucrative, much-coveted, jazzy corporate job for some moronic infatuation of following your dream and go on to become a destitute with the meekest prospects of being able to manage your basic needs in foreseeable future. Hmm Now I Know.

That’s right. I’ve quit my job (once again) and this time I’m not heading for a new one (Well, but I’m not becoming a destitute anytime soon). So what do I plan to do? Well, for starters, I’m going to savor the sweet sweet taste of freedom (It doesn’t last long, since its just an illusion). I always wondered if I could ever break out of  a life whose routine was written as a set of commandments by Moses and handed over to me directly. It was like finding yourself in a place you hardly remember how you landed up into. But you don’t question such things. You’re only allowed to shrug. I think standing in the pantry several times, I imagined myself breaking the glass, jumping out of the window, running across the street, tearing my clothes apart, screaming my throat out. I’m not sure what does that psychological fantasy signify but I’m sure even that act would give immense sense of freedom….maybe later.

Meanwhile, there are some ideas rusting on my shelf, I’ve always wanted to test out so I’m gonna finally give them a shot. Give more time to myself for thinking (not that I gave less before). Indulge in lots of reading. Putting my physique in shape will finally take preference over my work.

I can attest that quitting your job to become unemployed is not something to be attempted by the faint-hearted. Many think of doing it everyday but courage fails. Compromises made, dreams rest in peace, life goes on. But a lot of factors need be in your favor before you even think of something like that. Although age is not always a barrier but your chances of doing something crazy and outlandish diminish with your age. More so when you’re earning fat paycheck, are used to a particular lifestyle and have EMI clinging on your back. You can afford to be a little more whimsical when you’re young. In India, there exists a complex correlation between your perceived social stature and your job. So it doesn’t matter if you’re doing fine working as a part of a music band, but since you don’t have a proper ‘naukri’, probably your parents consider you  useless. You carry a stamp of  ‘berozgar’ and no parents, in their sane minds are going to offer ‘apni beti ka haath’ to you. Ahh.. the humanity!

More often people are not confident enough of doing something on their own. I think if only, people tried to push their limits and tested themselves on the edge, they’d be surprised to find what they’re capable of. I believe if I am not confident of my capability to earn my bread, then I ought to starve. If I can’t garner the skill of making money, I ought to go broke. Let the fittest survive.

If you’re one of those who has the odds in his favor and waiting for the right time, this  might help you. After all, you have only one life and you can be forgiven for wanting to do something crazy. As Isabel Allende tells, nice people with common-sense do not make interesting characters.

What I learnt from my corporate experience

My relatively small stint with the corporate world has been long enough to learn a lot about almost every aspect of how corporations work.

  • Working so far for large corporations, I have missed and yearned the opportunity to work at a startup. Although you learn well established industry practices, big corporations, by definition, have some inherent weaknesses.  The larger the company, the slower it becomes – both in adapting technology and organisation. Since, a small change in one part affects hundred others due to complex dependencies. Don’t miss an opportunity to work at a startup. You’ll enjoy it.
  • Although this is a personal choice, for me, its important to be passionate about whatever I am doing and the people around me are motivated all the same. If you’re are not excited about what you’re doing, you should probably reconsider what you’re doing.
  • People come first. Everything else is second. Learn to smile and talk nicely and you’ll find you can get things done faster. (Disclaimer: I am not good at this either)
  • Its important to have friends at work, whose company you enjoy. Its a must.
  • Changing long held practices/processes is difficult. If you see some things around you that need to be set right, get up and get working. Convince people. Fight, if you have to. Do not shrug and sit down.
  • Despite being a geek, I’ve surprisingly come to acknowledge the fact that technology never dictates the market, its always vice-versa. I cannot elaborate it here but this fact helps you big-time when you sit down to design solutions and products.

A few other things I’v learnt, Alex Gaynor  nails in his  post,-

Never be threatened: When people are threatened or scared, it affects their decision making. My solution to this has been to try to make myself unthreatenable. For example, I got through school by knowing that I was good enough at what I did that I could get a job without it, I avoid being threatened financially by saving effectively. I’ve found that this is more or less a necessary condition to being happy.

Be willing to walk away: This is probably an extension of the first one, but if you’re anything like me you make mistakes, a lot of them, with varying degrees of badness. The only way not to get bogged down by them is to be willing to walk away from them. This is not to advocate abandoning something or someone, but rather that there is no hole too deep, no sunk cost too great, to not be worth leaving.

The people are all that matter: I remember after a school trip a friend once told me that that he’d really loved where we’d been, and that he couldn’t wait to go back. And I remember telling him, “No, this place was boring as hell, but we went with our entire class, all our really good friends, of course it was awesome”. Just about everything worth doing is defined by the people you do it with, pick good ones.

The future

This is tricky. Being foolhardy doesn’t automatically guarantee success. But losers are not those who fought and lost but those who never fought for the fear of losing. I will continue to experiment. Keep throwing away things I built and start from scratch just to test that I am still capable of building something. If I had fun trying to solve interesting problems, worked with awesomest people, travelled the world and did everything I wanted to, I will consider myself successful even if I end up broke.

That was really long. Lets end this rant with one of my favourites -Raga Tilak Kamod


23 thoughts on “To the crazy ones

  1. Welcome to the awesome club.. Beautifully written. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted and discovering that you are not is the first step towards it.. ‘The psalm of life’, by HW Longfellow… what a poem.. whatttaaa poem.. 🙂

  2. Word-smith you are! No doubt about that!

    Aroused the curiosity in me. 🙂

    Shall keep checking your blog, from now on!

  3. The hardest thing for any group is managing the collaborations and collisions between the humans. This dynamic is non-linear, similar to the effective neutron multiplication factor that governs nuclear reactions, whereby adding N humans increases activity by factor 2^N. However, not only does the quantity increase, but the ratio changes, with more collisions produced than collaborations depending upon the magnitude of N. Adding 5 people to a 20-person increases the chaos, but it usually increases productivity by even more. Adding 5 people to a 12,000-person company simply increases the chaos, with productivity reduced to a zero-sum game (i.e. if those new-5 manage to be more-productive, it is only because 5 or more elsewhere are suddenly less productive).
    This is why startups ALWAYS have an advantage over incumbents. A 20-person company is invariably obsessed with its customers, and its customers love them. A 12,000-person company is invariably obsessed with itself, and its customers hate them for being impossibly tone-deaf. I think Swapnil understands this dynamic, and that is why he has the confidence to follow his dreams.
    Your dreams are my dreams too Swapnil, I wish you all the best luck in the world. Carpe Diem!

  4. Hey Swapnil, how appropriate is your homepage title – To the Crazy Ones
    I have this old Apple t shirt that starts off with
    To the craze ones
    Here is to the crazy ones – the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…..(follow by many musings)…. because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

    Have a great journey in your new venture.

  5. Fantastic blog Swapnil.. All the very best.. I hope your idea is as crazy and terribly cool as the blog is 🙂

  6. Good one dude… As usual.. it was perfectly crafted and written in a bit of a style of the author of an English novel for instance, IMO. The quality of English written here probably may not even be matched by some of the IIM grads I would say. Nevertheless, the blog was written ‘goodily’. I hope that in the near future you write about some of your ‘shelved’ ideas that you would have worked on… Best of luck 🙂
    — Sumeet

  7. Hey hi swapnil…..
    Good luck for the brave step you have taken…. not everybody have the guts to follow the dreams… are special.And bro it was very good written article i suggest you start writing on bigger canvas. :):)

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