Like most others, at the start of 2015 I was inspired to challenge myself further, embrace new ideas, work on being a better leader and get out of my comfort zone. Those who know me personally have been reaching out to me since months now, sharing how entrepreneurship changed my personality not just for the better. Over the last 4 years I had invested every dollar and minute of my life into starting and building my company. I haven’t seen my family in 3 years and missed out on some special moments in my friends’ lives as well. I have knowingly been sucked into a state where I was burnt out.

Mid-2015, I decided to change this, to slow down and get things done right than done a little faster, and to protect my energy. I also embraced certain activities and philosophies, which may not have a direct association to the work I do, but ended up shaping my leadership mindset.

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What I embraced

  • Public speaking: My biggest challenge going into 2015, was my fear of public speaking and feeling paralyzed when I was to speak on a podium, evident from this article Entrepreneur Magazine wrote about my pitch in January 2015. I enrolled in a public speaking class, but didn’t go beyond the first two sessions, as this really wasn’t how I wanted to learn. After a lot of internal conflict, I managed to gather the courage to take up speaking opportunities that came my way and face my fears head-on! I have improvised substantially and this is work in progress, but I am no longer running away from what was once my worst nightmare! 
  • Reading: Growing up, I was an avid reader. I lost hold of this excellent hobby when life hit me. Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s public challenge, I was motivated to pick up from where I had left off. In 2015 I ended up reading almost two-dozen books, mostly during the summers where I was able to build into my routine, the discipline of sitting by the waterfront every evening, reading. I was fortunate to read about 20 books this year, with the most influential being – “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” and “It’s All Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson. 
  • Thought leadership: Over the last 24 months I have tried relentlessly to get access to some of the top publications, as a contributor. That vision was realized this year as I was recognized as a “Thought Leader” and got the opportunity to contribute to Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post and more.
  • Spirituality: I completed a five-day workshop with yoga and meditation experts. During the workshop, I learned that my success as an entrepreneur hinged on finding my internal emotional balance. My takeaways were around controlling passion, expressing gratitude, focusing on my best work and getting beyond my comfort zone!
  • Paying it forward: No entrepreneur has succeeded without a little help along the way. Entrepreneurs have the responsibility to support other entrepreneurs; in the form of donations or equity investments to champion the growth of new ideas. In summer 2015, I made a decision to pay it forward by investing in budding entrepreneurs.
  • Corporate governance: My biggest learning this year came in the form of understanding corporate governance. As a first-time entrepreneur, I was focused on starting and growing a business, building a team and implementing scalable processes. 2015 was the year when I had my brush with corporate governance, I learned what it meant to be a board member, the responsibilities that come along with and fiduciary obligations! Doing all these, is not something you can learn by reading about, you must learn it by making mistakes and by putting yourself out there. It is only the fortunate who get can ever experience this learning. And that is when you truly “graduate entrepreneurship!”
  • Entrepreneurship: I joined communities that further broadened my perception of being an entrepreneur. Organizations such as TiE and YEC are invite-only communities of successful entrepreneurs. They help by finding ways to help each other with personal and professional development. I am fortunate to have been accepted into these communities, increasing my network net worth!

Since I want to go into 2016 with an open mind, I hope I can embrace ideas and activities that can allow me to:

  • Travel: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine. I didn’t want to wait for the New Year, so I started from the moment I realized that travelling was crucial to broadening my horizon, taking time to reflect and getting inspired.
  • Meditate: I am still trying to understand what meditation truly consists of. Some people say it is chanting, it is a breathing exercise, and some others it comprises of reflecting on your life. Hopefully 2016 will enlighten me with this wisdom.
  • Make the world a better place: Most importantly, I am ready to jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon, once again, wiser than before! There are many unresolved opportunities that exist in our world today, and I hope to identify one that inspires me to be dedicated to.