The one thing that comes to your mind when we say Dalal Street is Bombay Stock Exchange, so you may think that I am going to recommend some stock, wish I could!
How could someone who is not so good in studies stand out? The first time people took a note of me after I joined college was because of SIFE (now Enactus). When I joined SIFE I was so excited and full of enthusiasm because I thought this could help me in my entrepreneurial journey that I will take. And this is what I wrote in the SIFE Team Member Information form (without changing a single word) "I want to become entrepreneur and I want to test myself in a real business world. I have a vision to make this world a better place through my business when I start one and I am just starting my vision with SIFE.” And as days passed and as I got to know more about SIFE, I realized that maybe SIFE could help me stand out in the crowd as it gave me a practical edge over others. Thus begins the period when I started to ask myself the question, "What could I do differently?”
Again I put the same question to myself "What could I do differently?" in my presentations. But it all began with a disaster. In my final year of schooling, I participated in a debate. We had to talk about “Whether 10th std. should have broad exams (CBSE) or should it be made optional?” I favored broad exam but the content I prepared was awful and above all, when my turn came, I forget most of the points on an already awful content. That was my first experience on stage. Even my initial presentations in college didn’t go well, i.e. during SIFE regional completion. So I learnt from my mistakes, also somewhere deep down Steve Jobs’ keynote presentations and the advice that our staff advisor (SIFE) gave me, “keep texts in the presentation to the minimum” when I went to review our presentation for the SIFE regional competition, had an impact on me. Once I learned my lessons the hard way, from then on the question “What could I do differently?” really made my presentation set apart. So my presentation evolved from pictures and few texts, to lots of quotes, funny animations, jokes and videos. So this day, I was asked to do a presentation on my review of a book, so I chose "Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson". Then came the presentation day, I was to present in front of the first years and my biggest challenge was not to bore them. So the only question in my mind was “What could I do differently?” My presentation begin with the “Think Different” video and the animation of Po from Kung Fu Panda (Po was the mascot! Yes, my presentation even had a mascot!) to Gangnam Style, a video of Bloomberg Game Changers introducing Steve Jobs, an intentional goof that made the audience laugh, then there was Macintosh ad and an iPod ad with Mr. Bean in it, lots of pictures and hardly any text. And at the end of my presentation I got applause from everyone and after the presentation someone told me that you are smarter than you look! :P Though my English is not that good, I compensate for it on the strength of the content and visuals i.e. presentation. So at the end of the day, being different made the difference and I consider it one of my best presentation till date. But I couldn’t have done it without learning from the mistakes I committed during my initial presentations.
During my 2nd year, an investment bank came to recruit interns from our college. This could be the first time I would be attending an interview, so I was really excited. So I googled how a resume should be and accordingly prepared a two page resume. When the d-day came, I got through the written exam and HR interview. Next day we had two technical interviews, so I woke up very early to prepare for the technical interviews. I got through the first round of technical interview and also went through the final interview, but I didn’t get selected. I made few mistakes and I had to learn from it. I knew my weaknesses; my marks weren’t as good as others and neither was my English. Again the same company came in my final year, this time for the full-time job. So the same question popped up, “What could I do differently?” My answer for that was to put all my creativity into the resume. So I came up with a 6 pager resume and apart from this, I also learnt and gained so much experience in the previous year since I got rejected. Again history repeating itself, I got through the written exam and HR interview, next day we had two technical interviews. So I woke up very early and I started preparing for the technical interview, I got through the first one and also went through the final interview, but this time I got selected! But the same magic didn’t work with Google, I reached the final 3 but didn’t get selected.
In my third year, when we had to choose a topic for our research, again the one think that came to my mind was, “What could I do differently?” So when I had a chat with my professor, he told me that no one has done a research on stock market, this and the fact that the job offer I got was from a company from the financial sector (I thought, doing this will give me an edge over other students joining the firm but actually it didn’t!), made my mind. So I decided I would do my research on the topic, “Value Investing on Bombay Stock Exchange” but I hardly knew anything about investing. And inspired by what tech companies do, I codenamed by project, “rSheep: The Fool of Dalal Street” named after myself (as my name begins with R) and my mascot, Mr. Bean. It was named so because value investing is not meant for those who follow the crowd. And of course, I tried to make my project report and my presentation as different as possible. It turned out that the price of the stock I recommend in my project report plummeted to the bottom later, though today I know where I made the mistake but back then I was inexperienced and it was my first attempt. So it turned out to be a huge gamble, in this case I was lucky! :P
Even when I entered the corporate world, the only think that was going on in my mind was, “What could I do differently?” that too when it was just my first job. In fact, I did few things differently.
I don’t have a dime of regret that I tried to challenge the status quo, though sometimes my approach has backfired! I would rather prefer to try something different and fail than to follow the herd and succeed. Was I scared while doing these things? Of course, I was sacred but my excitement and enthusiasm outright bullied my fear. One thing is for sure, I’ll never stop asking this question to myself, “What could I do differently?”
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain
So never get satisfied by the things around you, always try to challenge the status quo and think, what you would do differently? And who knows, you may stumble upon the next big thing. So what should be your question to yourself?
And the way all my presentations end, my ending words to you is, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”