Tag: Inspiring Stories


A week ago I was stuck in traffic and my mind was doing what minds do best, wandering. I started analysing the chain of events that led me to where I am in my life today.

The only reason I am where I am today is because my father did not need to charge his phone on a particular night.
With a line like that, a back story is required so I will have to go into some detail about my personal life. But not too many details because… you know… Mark Zuckerberg.
Every year, Indian Oil conducts an awareness campaign about conservation of oil and natural Gases. Our family business is associated with Indian Oil so we are very much a part of organising and participating in the awareness campaign. We make it a point to have at least one person from the family attend the various activities and events that are organised. One of these events is a mini-marathon. Ever the sportsman, my father was to attend the marathon on this particular occasion, but on the night before, he got a message at around 11.30pm, informing him of an important meeting the following morning. Guess who was informed that he was required to go to the marathon instead of him? (answer at end of blog)

I am a night owl by nature. I usually stay awake till 3 to 4 am, working on whatever project I am obsessed with at that moment. I find that those hours give me adequate peace and tranquillity to do my thinking and execution (not literal executions). The obvious fallout of this is that usually I wake up by 10 or 11 am. But I need my 7 to 8 hours of sleep otherwise I spend the following day looking like a zombie having a bad Hair Day.

So naturally having to wake up at 5:30 A.M for any reason is usually a kicking and screaming affair.  The cherry on the cake was that if my father had followed his nightly routine of charging his phone in the other room, he wouldn’t have received the message at all and all this could have been avoided.

So I turn up reluctantly for the marathon and begrudgingly run the race, throwing dirty looks round indiscriminately. Immediately after the race, Indian Oil had also organised a drawing competition for children below the age of 12. Since the competition had to have a theme, (oil and natural gas conservation) there was a certain amount of explaining to do to the children. Indian Oil had hired a qualified and competent emcee to handle this. Qualified and competent though he may have been, reliable and punctual he was not. He did not turn up. In disaster management mode, an official from Indian Oil suddenly says “Rick, why don’t you do it. You are an artist so…”
I personally really look up to this gentleman and didn’t want to let him down, so I agreed. The begrudging, dirty looks throwing, bad Hair Day having, zombie resembling emcee suddenly has a microphone in his hand and finds himself explaining the apocalypse to a bunch of disinterested children.

As luck would have it, one of the participants happened to be the daughter of a program director from All India Radio. After the event, she came up to me and said she really liked how my voice sounded on the amplifier and asked me to apply for a job as a radio jockey on the spot. To be fair, I thought she should have offered the job to the amplifier instead, but hey, we take what we can get, right?

I started work at All India Radio and over the course of the next few months, I got the opportunity to cover various events happening in and around Shillong and to conduct interviews with some very interesting people.

One of the events I covered happened to be a film festival in Shillong. The producers had booked a slot to interview an actor and had chosen me to do it. It should be noted that there is a pool of some 20 other talented broadcasters, so the chances of me covering that event were 20 to 1, at best.
On the appointed date and time, I arrived with the producer and the technical team. But as it turns out, the actor was stuck in traffic and would be arriving late. So I found myself sitting around, engaging in small talk with random strangers (I was saving my big talk for the interview).

One of these random strangers happened to be an artist. I am an Aspiring artist myself so we instantly bonded and developed a casual, easy friendship. As we got to know each other and began to swap stories and share ideas, I told him about my entrepreneurial enterprise of starting a makerspace and how I have been working towards the concept with almost every fibre of my being. At that point I had been working towards the concept for the last 3 years. I had worked to learn and understand the various skills and improve my knowledge base and I was at the funding stage. Here’s how that conversation went.

Me: … and thing’s are getting pretty frustrating. I don’t know how much I don’t know and I don’t even know where to start.
Him: Ya, Bro. And bro, i have experienced that most people are very unhelpful.
Me: I know. Jealousy is a mental cancer. (at this point, i smiled smugly at my philosophical kung fu.)
Him: Bro, i read that quote too. B. C. Forbes, right?
Me: … yes.
Him: Well bro, I am attending a workshop next week sometime. Its about business, or getting investment or something. Bro, you should come…
Me: I’m probably busy, but I’ll think about it..

Next thing I know, I find myself sitting for a workshop by Dhriiti. It gradually became apparent that they were focussed on helping the participants. And that help was extended on a very deep and personal level. They wanted to get us to go where we wanted to go. Not where they thought we should go, as is usually the case with “experts” and “consultants”.
For someone who has had to hustle for information from those who mistrusted my motives, learn things the hard, slow way, ask for guidance only to be ignored, and discouraged from the happiness that comes from the pursuit of happiness, I could not believe the goodwill and sense of belonging I found within a room of strangers. We were united by one thing. Faith. Faith that the path we chose was beneficial and would help us grow. Faith that we could and would learn whatever was required of us. Faith that even though being pro-active is fraught with failure and ridicule, it is far nobler to try and fail.
At the same time, I was blown away by the randomness and blind luck in the face of astronomical odds that has now put me in touch with this organisation.

So what am I trying to say?
The world works in mysterious ways and an insignificant event can trigger a chain reaction that could be the difference between a life you choose to live and a life that you are compelled to live. If my father’s cell phone was charging in the other room, which is usually the case, he would not have gotten the message about his engagement and I would not have been forced to show up for that marathon.
If the emcee was on time I would not have been forced to speak on the microphone.
If the program director from All India Radio did not happen to be there or for any reason, did not come up and speak to me, I would not have become an RJ.
If the film festival was assigned to a different broadcaster or if the actor had been on time I would not have gained a new friend.
If for any reason that conversation between us would not have happened, I would not have associated myself with Dhriiti.
If I have not met dhriiti, I would not be on this concrete path where is leading me to my goal.
Make no mistake, person reading this. This is not a veiled promo for Dhriiti. There is no guarantee that anything will come true or that success is about finding smart/successful/influential people and copy pasting their formula. In fact, failure is likely and success is more of an exception to the rule. But failing with the right people is preferable to succeeding with the wrong ones..

Moral of the story- Be open to the world, participate, speak to strangers and don’t make assumptions. Be specific in your vision but flexible in your path.
Burying yourself in your cell phone, being half present in the real world is not very different from actually and literally burying yourself. The chain of causation is impossible to predict and our world is chaotic and difficult because of this. Embrace the chaos, bro.
(Answer: Me.)

About the Author: Chancharick Choudhury is a sculptor, radio jockey, event management consultant and aspiring entrepreneur from the hills of Shillong. His mission in life is to bring current technology into the service of each and every member of society. His cheese omletes are legendary.

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Experiential learning via nature Based activity

A lot has been written on what is entrepreneurship? How do you become a successful entrepreneur and various success mantras on it..

Every one has his or her side of the story to write or tell on what it takes to be an entrepreneur… So do I! It might be reinventing the wheel but well there is one thing which I have realized that has made me stay put in my journey of an entrepreneur… I have believed in one statement “Do your work, don’t worry about the results” as stated in Bhagwad Gita. That’s the fact of life… If one makes this statement as his/ her foundation of life, it becomes quite easy to overcome every challenge that comes our way…
Well what this statement really means, is enjoy the process/ steps/ journey… results or your destination will be reached depending on the steps one took during the journey. Entrepreneurship is also the same.
When one decides to become an entrepreneur one needs to have a few things clear in his/her mind in the following order-

Question1. Why am I taking this journey?
Be really honest with yourself. This is your journey nobody else’s. Challenges and problems coming in your own path have been created for you and only you can solve them… No one will be able to give you the right answers. You need to be super clear in your head if you are ready to face these questions all by yourself. After all everyone will be there to tell you, either sugar coated or as a bitter statement, ” It  was your decision, now face it… we cant do much about it, because we have not gone on that forbidden path…” So remember its not for weak hearts and dishonest people. (dishonesty with oneself)

Question 2. If you have the answer to the above question then its time to probe further- What am I gonna do? What is it that will keep me hooked on even when things are not working for me… Trust me it might take years before you really get cracking…. So be very clear and again do that heart to heart talk with yourself what is that you really love or are passionate and are willing to fight for  against all odds to get it right.  Trust me entrepreneurship is not about money… If you think you will make more money by becoming an entrepreneur, then my dear don’t take this path.
Entrepreneurship is about freedom to do what you think is right! Its freedom from the mundane life! Its freedom from taking orders! Its all about creating new paths which world is yet to see.

Question 3. Last question to answer- How do you plan to take this journey?
You have a job! People are dependent on you, how will you sustain yourself and others? This is the toughest question to answer… But trust me if you have answered the above two questions honestly, you will manage your way out.
When you begin the journey of being a true entrepreneur you will be required to continuously ask yourself these questions as challenges will keep cropping every day in some way or the other… its these questions  and their honest answers which will help you move forward in your journey, it might be slow or fast, but you will move forward. You have to constantly keep asking these questions in the same order for any kind of challenge you come across in this beautiful journey to help you reach your destination.If you are asking why, then answer to that is also simple, you are the only one who knows the destination, everyone else are just following you… so they are dependent you and are ready to follow the path you are going to take… After all entrepreneurs are the real innovators and find a way for the rest of the world.

Original content of the above blog can be read at:  http://explearningvianature.blogspot.in/2017/11/decoding-entreprenurship.html

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Paper Works !!!

In a candid chat with Pooja Sriram, owner, Orange Peel, she tells us how social networking and word of mouth are some simple yet creative promotional strategies for business ventures.

Pooja, a 26 year old entrepreneur always had an eye for things unique and creative! “Orange Peel, is one of those creative ideas that actually progressed from an idea to a product and now a business.” Orange Peel is like her in-house creative incubator where, she with her mother and sister, creates beautiful jewellery mostly earrings for now, made from paper in vibrant colours.

“Orange Peel was born in March 2013, just like a hobby. With more people appreciating our work, we decided to name our brand. Before we knew it, we had a logo, a full-fledged Facebook page and several ‘likes’ pouring in! Orange Peel is that little nut-shell that has integrated my love for colour, creativity and social networking.”

Orange Peel also offers Pooja a canvas to bring forth her photography skills as well as marketing tactics. Her large network of friends and acquaintances are now her customers and sure her teachers are proud to see her put the knowledge imparted to use.

What inspired you?

The idea was a pure result of a visit to the many Santes and flea markets that are held in Bangalore. The idea of making paper jewellery is not new; but our products are 100% handmade and the efforts put in to come up with new designs, unique colour schemes, and attention to detail, make us different from the rest. And for the sourcing of material, I am thankful for Mom’s bargaining skills that make the procurement of materials an easy task!

Who are your target customers?

As of now Orange Peel only has paper jewellery which makes women our target customers. We have girls as young as 4 to women as old as 60 buying our products. However, we also have some adorable men buying these as gifts for their wives, girlfriends, daughters and moms! We have plans of expanding our portfolio with hair accessories, key chains, magnets, home décor products, etc and hope to have a more diverse group of customers.

What is the marketing model that you follow?

Orange Peel started just 3 months ago and all our marketing is through word of mouth and the god of all social networking sites – Facebook. Using our own PR skills and Social network Orange Peel has had more than 200 likes in 2 months and the page had more than 3000 views! One strategy that worked for us was to get single boys to buy or promote Orange Peel products with all the girls at their workplace.

How do your customers get the products since these are small goods purchased online?

I like meeting my customers. I either get them to pick it up from my homes, we work from both my Mom’s and Mother in Law’s place, or I meet them and deliver it to them. In case of orders overseas, I have got relatives and friends travelling to deliver my little packets. With our orders increasing, we will soon start couriering them.

About the Author: Pooja Sriram pursued her MBA in Advertising & Marketing Communication from the Manipal Institute of Media and Entertainment (MIME) and is currently an Associate Manager- Product Marketing at a Global Mobile VAS organisation- Onmobile Global Ltd. Orange Peel products range from Rs.29-Rs.149. Check them out at www.facebook.com/orangepeelswirlart

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The Cashmere Touch of the Pashmina

Most of us who are able to look beyond the insurgency in Kashmir view it as a place with immense natural beauty – a land of stunning lakes and mountains! Nothing epitomizes the glorious history of the Himalayan craftsmanship, as warmly and beautifully as does the Pashmina. Pashmina, prized by kings and nobles and the pride of a bride’s trousseau even now, is often referred to as the ‘diamond’ of all fibres. The artisans of Srinagar narrate the stories of their forefathers who served the Mughals and made a single shawl in a 6-12 month period. Even today their fine art exists and some shawls take months to be completed.

The splendid craftsmanship

Pashmina mainly comes from the Himalayan region and is known for its warmth and long life. The uniquely soft fleece is hand-combed every spring from the soft wool from the neck and chest of the Capra Hircus, the Himalayan mountain goat. These goats are reared in herds at altitudes over 14000 feet in the arid plateaux of Ladakh, Tibet and Mongolia. The thermo conductivity of the wool is one of the best in the world as it survives the animal at -40 degree centigrade in virgin pollution-free climates of the world. Pashmina fibre is 12.5 – 19 microns in thickness (1/6th the size of human hair which is 75 microns thick) making it supremely soft.

 Spinning the yarn

The production of Pashmina shawls in Kashmir is more or less concentrated in Srinagar. Even the raw material traders, small and big manufacturers are situated in Srinagar. The hand spun Pashmina yarn goes through various stages of dyeing, sizing, warp preparation and finally the actual weaving before the wondrous transformation from the unruly mass of fibre to a textile of unique softness, warmth and beauty can be seen. Even after weaving the unique process of tweezing, clipping and washing in the waters of Jhelum gives the Pashmina shawl its royal touch. Due to the requirement of high quality skills in each process the production involves many artisans. Thus the production process is fragmented into various sub-processes. Each type of artisan does their work and then the material is passed on to the next category. The production is controlled by the manufacturers who invest their capital. Earlier the raw material-end till the manufacturing of yarn was controlled by Poiwanis (Raw material dealer) and the finished product-end was controlled by the big manufacturers. But this division has become blurred today as many Poiwanis are into complete manufacturing and the big manufacturers also deal in raw material.

Amongst the artisans the spinners are the largest group, constituting 65-75% of the total number of artisans. The spinning is done completely by women and is one of the most difficult tasks in the value chain. The cleaning and de-hairing of raw pashmina was also earlier done by the spinners but today it has been fully mechanised. The weavers are the next largest in numbers and represent 15-20% of the artisans. The weavers are generally more knowledgeable and enterprising than the other kinds of artisans. Thus many of them graduate from weavers to small manufacturers. Embroiderers are the third in hierarchy of artisans. The present structure of production is described through the diagram below:

The weave

All hand-woven Pashmina fabrics are traditionally woven in the twill weave, with different permutations of it. This can be classified into three categories:

  1.  Saadi – a simple and un-patterned hand-woven fabric employing a four shaft twill weave and various combinations
  2. Kani- a highly decorative brocade textile, made on exactly the same loom as the one used for plain Pashmina fabric, but with woven patterns
  3. Amlikar- usually a plain Pashmina, embroidered upon with very fine Kashmir mulberry silk, Pashmina or cotton thread

It takes the wool from four and over 200 man-hours (spinning, weaving, dying and decorating, finishing) to make just one pashmina shawl. Hand cleaning and spinning the wool for a single Pashmina takes 15 days, so naturally the labour-intensive production is reflected in the price. An original Kashmiri handmade Pashmina may cost between Rs.5,000 and Rs.1,00,000 depending on the level of craftsmanship. Though the craft is under threat from various spurious shawls in market which are sold in the name of Pashmina at cheap prices, the thousands of artisans have maintained their tradition since ages and should be able to protect it even in this globalised world. The artisans in Kashmir say that Pashmina is Pashmina not because of the material but because of the process. Thus one has to visit the bye-lanes of Srinagar to experience the magic of Pashmina.

About the author: Arindam Dasgupta, is the CEO of Tambul Plates Marketing Pvt. Ltd. and is an expert in micro enterprise development. He is currently based out of Barpeta, Assam

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Less Plastic More Life

It isn’t hard to find examples of antagonism between educational qualifications and one’s dream in life. What makes entrepreneurs different is that they face this mismatch with courage and take a less travelled path.

Vinod Lal Heera Eshwer, the man behind the green mass movement, and a polymer engineer by training, explains, “Although, I graduated with a distinction, I swore never to use any of my knowledge to produce any more of the hazardous stuff. I always dreamed of finding a way of recycling plastic to clear the whole plastic mess. But destiny decided I was better off as an advertising copywriter. So I joined the Advertising industry.

Nine years later I found myself as a creative director with the lingering urge to do something about the plastic mess. So I created a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of using plastic bags. This campaign was spread across the internet, outdoor, posters and print. However, it wouldn’t have seen the light of day if not for the support of my colleague Ramesh who art-directed the entire campaign, Dipen Sagar, a tech genius who created the website, Senthil, a photographer who shot the campaign images, Vimalkirti Deshmukh and Priya, two art directors who did the groundwork. Needless to say, all their services were rendered free of cost and voluntarily. My involvement was that I authored the campaign and was persistent enough to get everybody to make this happen!”

 The Journey so far

The main idea was to raise awareness among people who were completely unaware of ‘the blood they were getting on their hands every time they accepted plastic bags for convenience’. He adds, “We wanted them to pause and think. We wanted them to consider making the journey from plastic to fabric. When the campaign went live, we had no idea how many people would actually care enough to let go of the ‘convenience’ of walking into a shop empty handed and walking out with their stuff in plastic bags. Although, the results were slow, the message had many takers. The site tracker shows that people from across the globe visited the website and continue to do so. The traffic to the website is so high that Google offers the word “lessplasticmorelife” as a suggested keyword.  We consider this a huge milestone in our journey to raise awareness.”

Vinod’s work has aroused curiosities among many who sent him queries on how to make the plastic to fabric shift quicker and cheaper, how to involve NGOs in the production of cloth bags, etc. “The press have been most generous towards this initiative and have provided us with media coverage. Obviously, for a cause like this that’s most often conveniently brushed under the carpet, it is most welcome as it helps spread the word.” He smiles and quickly adds a ‘thank you in advance to Dhriiti.

Message to the youth for setting up any green business/social enterprise

“If we wish to truly reach out and make a change, we need to first be that change. Be clear about what you want and why you are doing whatever you’ve chosen.

The second quality is the resilience to face naysayers, critics and pessimists who’ll keep telling you that it’s not worth it. Ignore them. Walk to the beat of the drummer in your own heart. And keep walking. You are bound to succeed.

Another thing I’ve learned from creating communication for lessplasticmorelife, waterforfree.org and treesforfree is that we have to resist the urge to come across as being” holier than thou”. We have to stop sounding preachy. If we wish to make a change we need to connect with the masses in their own lingo but not necessarily on their terms. We have to package our message in a contemporary manner. We have to sound like a friend.

Next, don’t get drowned by information overload. The solutions to the most complex issues are always simple. So learn to identify the simple answers.

Don’t think too much! If you keep second guessing what others will think and so on, you’ll never get around to doing anything.

About the author: Unnati Narang is a graduate from SRCC and a serial entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of www.serenewoods.com and 440 Hertz

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