Being Alone

Last month, I wondered how to make my 50th birthday special. And after a lot of thought and back and forth, I decided to do a solo trip. I have never done it. A couple of months ago, it may have even been unthinkable for me. I still ended up choosing the safest places to be, but I did it.

So from the outside it looks like I took a holiday. Umm…I was working on most days, even on a Sunday for an hour or two. But there was no expectation from anyone that I had to. But I was just doing the bare minimum to keep things going, so it wasn’t stalling anything. So yeah, it was a holiday.

From the inside, was it a holiday? Yes, sure. But it was more than that.

Holidays are for the privileged, right? Yes. But as soon as I reached Goa, I realized that there is a whole new level of privilege, holidays or not.

That is the privilege of being alone. Because most Indian women can’t possibly get their head around this. We are so defined by our families and extended families, so stepping out of the city by yourself is met with a lot of questions: We can do a family trip, can’t we? Why don’t you ask our friends to join you? Are you going for work? Won’t you get bored?

I went alone. I sat in restaurants and watched the people on the other tables. A North Indian family, out on a holiday, but it sounded like they carried their morning breakfast table conversation to Goa: how bad the tea is, how thick the alu paranthas, and so on. I could talk about the whiny attitude, but that’s not what this post is about. It is about them not knowing that we carry our group dynamics wherever we go, so we will never get to see ourselves, truly. What we could be if we had no one around. And it’s not a sorry state at all. It’s of exuberance and pause and gentleness and joy for no reason. And also your ups and downs, and the space to have them.

What a privilege.

And why women? I saw men who looked like they didn’t want to be on this holiday. I saw men giving their wives the break they needed from the kids. Wouldn’t they like to have this privilege too? I have a few guy friends who know this: some go for their yearly solo trips, some gave up after they got married, some have restarted after their divorce. But they know the thing about being alone. For that time, to not be defined by their work or wives or kids or parents.

What a privilege. To know that you are all that, and more. Or less, as the layers peel off, even if temporarily.

What a privilege, to sit quietly and have a drink and a bite of your choice. That doesn’t need to be dependent on what the others are having.

What a privilege, to not have to do anything, and just be. To not be caught up in chores or see if everyone is comfortable. Or if the meal is balanced and to everyone’s liking. Or that the clothes are washed and everyone has clothes for the week. Or that you have to leave the phone on at night, because your elderly parents might need help (mine are gone, so I can now switch it off at night). Or that there is no shrieking dementia person or post-chemo patient in the other room who needs your attention. Or not feel guilty about not putting in your volunteering hours.

What a privilege that you have a team that can step in to do your work. Or that you don’t have to be in the day-to-day things that keep the revenue coming in.

Do I sound uncaring? As if being alone means running away from responsibilities. It could but it isn’t. That’s one’s choice really. 

The point is to give yourself the space to be yourself. I do that all the time at home as well. But it’s still a physical space that needs attention. It’s an emotional space where others need attention. 

Consider taking this privilege, of being alone. Because you need your own attention.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Get the Jab

Yesterday I was speaking to my friend who lives abroad. He described how he was just waiting for his turn to get his jab. I asked about the options his country was offering him by way of Covid jabs. He said, “There’s the Oxford one, the Pfizer one, the one by AstraZeneca, and now we will be getting Covishield from India.”

I was taken aback by my friend’s lack of knowledge about this: three of the four jabs he named are the same, and he obviously hadn’t bothered to do any research of his own. Then when he said they were debating which one was a better va$$ine, he only sounded vacuous. No research, no idea of his options, but he was debating which was a better jab?

I shook my head in disbelief. He had been a close friend of mine, and how did he devalue himself to this?

A month and a half ago, I had a similar discussion with a group of media friends. We all had spent some time on copydesks of magazines and understood the value of research before jumping to conclusions.

I am the only one in that group unva$$inated. The group outright rejected any alternative options of treatment, saying that there is no data to support it. And that they were basing their decision to get jabbed on what reputable, knowledgeable doctors were saying.

Since then, one of the friends in the group has had a long and harrowing case of Covid, and her mother, also jabbed, had to spend a long time at a hospital, even undergoing plasma treatment. At the same time, my jabbed friend in Bangalore also spent over 10 days in the hospital and her SpO2 levels still fall off to mid 80s, two weeks post hospitalization.

And then Covid came home. My jabbed husband got it first and then my daughter and I got it, though we tested negative. Three weeks later, we are all recovered. He went through 14 days of high fever along with taking paracetamol, steroids and a host of allopathic drugs, had his SpO2 levels drop to 85, while my daughter and I had fever for 2-3 days, and we went without any medication. We all have some lingering cough and fatigue.

You know, it takes all kinds to make a pandemic.

It is very hard to find information that is not propaganda or agenda driven anymore. Have you come across any media report that doesn’t call RTPCR a gold standard test? When in reality, the inventor of the test, Kary Mullis, said the test couldn’t be used to detect any meaningful presence of a virus?

All the information out there presupposes that injections and jabs are the answer to this pandemic, and that RTPCR is the test to prove the existence of the virus (which according to many doctors, hasn’t even been properly isolated yet!). So if you are continuously bombarded with information that has pre-concluded that everyone must get jabbed, one has to stop and ask, “What’s going on?”

I watched a Brut India video of Dr Rajesh Parikh, who has co-authored a book on Covid va$$ines (that was fast), speaking eloquently about how va$$ines are required, and jabbed people will only get mild cases of Covid, and how effective they are against variants (he didn’t mention any data to support this, when worldwide there is skepticism about jabs not being able to handle new variants. But you know he wrote a book, so he must be an expert!)

When the first news about jabs started coming out last year, I was among the minority that was questioning the safety of bringing out these products in under three months of trials. But the frenzy to have a va$$ine out, drowned out all debates on this. Anyway, what was there to debate, when there was no data out there to work with? But the historic data did show that all efforts to make va$$ines against other versions of coronaviruses had spectacularly failed, always failing at the animal stage trials.  

But by now millions are jabbed, and they haven’t all died. But is it just coincidence that the second wave and immunization ramp up are very closely aligned? 

Thousands have died, going by VAERS data. EudraVigilance reports over 200,000 adverse effects instances after AstraZeneca vaccine administration. India reported 180 deaths till March 31, post vaccinations.

We still don’t know the long-term effects of the jabs, or the drugs that have been rampantly prescribed. And now black fungus has made a solid emergence, and what are we to do with that? Perhaps another jab would help?

My point in writing this is to ask you to take a pause and wonder if this va$$ine story hasn’t been blown out of proportion? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But have you stopped and questioned any aspect of it? Or did you outsource your questioning to the media, your friends, family or doctor? Do you have informed consent? Or do you just believe you do?

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you take the jab. And if you don’t know the answers, look for it in medical journals and from doctors who are sharing information that is being actively censored online. I have left some links here, but use them only to start off your research. Go deep and find your own answers.

  1. Are you aware that all Covid jabs are under emergency use authorisation? Do you have a complete understanding of what that means
  2. Are you fully aware of what the jab will do once inside your body? How long will it stay? And what will it continue to do? And how does one know that it will continue to behave as it is supposed to?
  3. Do you know the contents/ingredients of the va$$ine?
  4. Are you aware that you can still get Covid-19, as well as infect others even after getting the jab?
  5. Do you believe when doctors say that after va$$ination even if you do get Covid, it will be a mild case? Do you have anecdotal evidence that suggests otherwise?
  6. Have you reviewed any or all of the AEFI (adverse effects following immunization) data being shared in the media? Are you satisfied with the process followed for AEFI?
  7. Have you looked at the adverse effects being reported across Europe for AstraZeneca’s va$$ine? 
    1. There are over 200,000 instances of people reporting adverse effects (https://www.adrreports.eu/en/search_subst.html#)
    2. From 4th Jan to 12th May 2021:

8 deaths from Blood disorders

100 deaths from cardiac disorders

11 deaths from GI disorders

277 deaths from General disorders

7 deaths from hepatic disorders

67 deaths from infections

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987644/AstraZeneca_analysis_print_12052021.pdf

  1. What are the long-term effects of the jab? Can you get cancer? Or become impotent? Or have issues with periods?
  2. In more than 1 year, we still don’t have clarity on the pandemic or the second and third waves. Do you believe that we are so technologically backward that we haven’t been able to solve this yet? Why have we not solved this yet?
  3. There is no real treatment for Covid, we have been told. Yet millions of people have stayed home and recovered with major, minor or no medication. There are treatments in homeopathy, ayurveda, traditional chinese medicine, that I personally know of, by which people have recovered. Do you find that normal, abnormal, irrelevant? Why?

From where I see, all those getting jabbed are part of a large worldwide clinical trial, for which they are willingly signing up for, by paying money to buy the doses. And when the trials come to a close in 2023, there’d be enough data to see if this was successful or if it wreaked any kind of devastation, as time went by.

If you did some of this research yourself, and went down some rabbit holes of censored material, “conspiracy theories”, and followed the Disinformation Dozen, you will soon hit the very edges of your belief systems. And that would be very, very uncomfortable. And many of you will simply go back to the mainstream narrative and Netflixing. But a few among you, will step outside your comfort zones and start seeing things for what they are, and not what you have been led to believe. To those ones, I say, welcome home!

The Emergence

I walk a little taller today
As I connect to our mother, Earth
I see roots from my feet 
Going all the way to Her heart
And I see they have always been here.
I can be on this rain-loved grass
Or four floors above
But the roots keep me connected to Her
Like the string of a kite
That lets it soar to any heights
And yet be part of the life below.

I walk a little taller today
As below so above
I see me connected all the way
Up into the heart of the Universe
Up into the no-thingness of Sophia
Holding me erect, reminding me to
Not undermine myself 
And accept that I am confident
And remember that I am of the light

I walk a little taller today
As I go to the park
Rain-drenched greenery and my silent chants
Of Tara, and the Guru
Of the Heart Sutra 
And the Mahamantra
That is when the ladies of the lore
Visit me as if to deliver a message

That while I take the name of Rama and Krishna
The chants ask the ladies to invoke the blessings
So Hare Rama is as much about Sita
And Hare Krishna is as much about Radha
And invoking Jesus is as much about Magdalen

Sita chose to go back home into Mother Earth
When her work here was done
Maybe she remembered that she was of the light
And that light can’t be boxed inside rules

Radha never forgot her light-ness
Even though we think Krishna did
She comes to me playfully 
All sandalwood fragrance
Holds my hand, like a long lost friend
Reminds me I should look up quantum physics.

And what of Magdalen, the much maligned
Perhaps the original victim of fake news
The Goddess of my voice
Mastery and sovereignty
The backbone of Jesus
Perhaps the orginal for couple goals

I walk a little taller today
As above so below
Today they paid me a visit
And enveloped me in their soft embrace
My heart became full
My eyes followed suit
It’s the time of the Goddess
I allow her to emerge.

Good Tidings

The virus brought in good tidings, didn’t it? 

You got to pause for a while. Many of us are still in pause.

You learnt to cook or got back to cooking. Or baking.

And cleaning and gardening. Painting, singing, dancing, or learning a new language.

Perhaps workouts and meditation, even. 

Many of us started having foods, brews and supplements to boost our immunity. 

You donated more than you have ever before. 

You let go of friendships and relationships that don’t matter or those that weigh you down. Or at least you became aware that you must.

When you stepped into hope, you could see the fear in people. 

You also saw how the fear in others triggers fear or anger in you.

You even took a course or two, to spruce up your skills.

Or simply caught up on lost sleep. 

You watched the numbers go up, not just the positives, but the recoveries as well. 

Over time you learned, just because you’re positive doesn’t mean you’ll die. 

You stepped out to the park, and took in deep breaths of fresh air in a city that seldom has fresh air. Or clear skies. 

You looked at your career and saw what was not ok. And decided to find more things that are joyful for you.

You looked at the game you had signed up to play, maybe mindfully or mindlessly. And decided that now you’d play it your way. In a way that makes your soul feel uplifted.

You see the tremendous hit on people’s freedoms across the globe, freedoms being taken away behind the pandemic screens. And while your mind wants to scream, “Injustice!”, deep in your gut you also know that this is working itself out. It is not more injustice, it’s simply more out there for us to see. And isn’t that a good thing? Now, you know. Now more people know.

The virus is still bringing in good tidings. Keep your eyes open for them.

Pandemic Lessons: Choice and Respect

So here I am, on my 52nd day at home. I haven’t stepped out, at all. Even to fetch milk or groceries or go for a walk. 

I have gone through many phases: starting with optimism, then losing my footing to see things change so fast. Then my body staring to feel fear, which I couldn’t relate to, and I figured I was picking up the collective fear around me and from social media.

After that it has mostly been a blur: between household chores, cooking and work I don’t know where the day vanished.

But then I did go into hopelessnes for a bit and then turned the corner within a few days. 

Today I sit down to write that this is not about having hope or being hopeless. This is about choice. Your choice. My choice. 

  • There are so many versions of truth out there, which one is truer? I can choose, I can also choose not to choose.
  • There are so many predictions on the post-pandemic world. By people you consider as having some influence on your life. You can believe any of them, or none at all.

It is also about respect – Our ability to respect the other’s truth. 

In the past few days, I have been listening to some of my friends saying, Stand in your own truth, often with fair warning that people won’t like it, especially in these polarised times.

So I am consciously spending some time looking at what feels true. Yes, I choose to believe that for me to navigate these times, I have to lean into my feelings, and not just look for more and more data and expert opinions. Because all the data I have looked at and the opinions I have listened to don’t give a full answer. Maybe because there is none. 

I was at a founder’s event last September in Boston. And out of all the leading lights and founders sharing the stage and giving their insights, I found one voice which was very interesting to me. I started following them on social media. And I have gained a lot over these months simply by reading their posts. Yesterday they went live on one of the platforms and spoke about the lockdown, which didn’t ring true at all to me. That was interesting to me, that I could detect that. The same thing happened with an author last week.

But it is their truth. And I choose to respect that. It is simply not mine.

I was at a webinar last week about how to sell in these uncertain times. And all the panelists spoke about bringing more and more empathy into their conversations. The question in my head was, “But, were you not already doing that? Were you selling with less empathy or none at all earlier? Isn’t this simply a new situation that we are all in? How did empathy become a new thing?”

Again, it’s their truth. Not mine. 

I believe this is a time to look for answers, certainly. But they are not out there. They are in me. 

I am on a social media group of entrepreneurs, mostly male. Usually they are a bunch of positive people encouraging each other. Now they are simply wringing their hands and sharing their fear. They are looking at each other for answers, and that’s not happening! 

You know what time it is (lockdown has a way of screwing up with the sense of time, doesn’t it)? It’s time to see for myself what do I believe in. What do I stand for? And operate from that place. 

Let me go in.

I am a beautiful being, full of light and love. I love to give, enable others. I am only limited by the restrictions my beliefs put on myself, or the beliefs the society has planted on me, some unknowingly, some in a designed manner. So, theoretically, I am unlimited. 

And I believe that is the truth for not just me, but all of humanity.

So I don’t think we are meant to be limited in this way, being in lockdown for the 50th day and counting! 

Yes we need to give our healthcare systems the time to cope up with the pandemic. And we are getting there. Equally important is that we focus on building our immunity (yes, I know it’s a privileged thing to say, but I am in a place of privilege, and if you’re reading this, you are too. And we can do a lot from this place for those not equally privileged). Sunlight, clean air, nutritious food, supplements, exercise, meditation – whatever it takes. We have one pandemic at hand, who knows what else could come up?

If we are meant to be unlimited, then I am going to question anything that sounds like it’s striking at the heart of that. I am not an activist. But I can make small dents in my universe, my way. I have been seeing people being deplatformed from Youtube and Facebook, for saying things that are their truth, often backed by credible data. I think they have a right to say their opinions, however uncomfortable it might be for me, however inconvenient it might be for certain businesses or ideologies. So I donated money to fund a digital platform that lets them say their stuff. Small dent, maybe no dent even. But I choose to be on the side of being unlimited.

I see my friends sharing posts that sound like priming us to think limited: “just focus on not dying, ok?” No, not okay with me. I am here to live, be ALIVE, not spend my time trying to just beat death for a few years. And any close friend who shared that with me heard my opinion about it. Usually I ignore posts like these. But now I think I have to stand up for limitlessness. I respect their choice to share, and I respect my choice to counter it with what I know to be true for me. 

So it’s really down to ‘respect’. Respect another’s right to have an opinion, a way of life, choice to wear a mask or not. Don’t cut them down, from your space of being a person, a person of privilege, a person of influence, or even a person working for the government. No need to be fanatic about anything, just let others be. 

What’s the last word here: I believe life has its way. It’s bigger than a virus, it’s bigger than all of us put together. And life will show us a way out, to return to limitlessness.

You can choose to believe it. Or not. I respect your choice. 

To the Men in my Life

You taught me about being honest
With myself
Because I saw the weight of falsehood
Is just too much to carry
Thank you for that!

You taught me to get up and walk
Not let the fear
Get the better of me and keep me down
So I got up and walked
Thank you for that!

You taught me to forgive
The people who gave you
The wrong end of the deal
Because they were your very own
Thank you for that!

You taught me to be of high integrity
Because you were too scared
To have any
And I swore I wouldnt be like that
Thank you for that!

You taught me to stand up for myself
When I saw you wouldnt
I found reserves that 
Every woman taps into within herself
Thank you for that!

You taught me to love
Passionately, fiercely, madly
And that it means nothing
Without integrity
Thank you for that!

You taught me to 
Celebrate myself more
And cut off the chains 
I put on myself
I thank you for that!

You taught me to look within
And see how i stopped myself
The thousands of ways
I held myself back from my possibilities
Thank you for that!

You taught me the power of words
To take one into breathtaking views
The power of the written and
That of the deleted
I cant thank you enough for that!

You taught me to be fiercely me
And reminded me
Of things long forgotten
So I could dream again 
I thank you for that!

You taught me to step into new realms
And showed me the fears 
And doubts that come up
“Lean back into yourself”
I thank you for reminding me that!

You taught me about change
When you called me a Healer
Years have gone by but
Every milestone, you share with me
I thank you for that!

You taught me about fierceness
Of the need for change and what you can do
Once you let go of the stories
And decide to write your own
Thank you for that!

You taught me about music
And how you can be friends
With little else
And yet see each other across time
Thank you for that!

You taught me
I thank you for that!

Happy 2020!

Maybe it’s time to have 20/20 vision.

Normally, I would tell you how my 2019 was, the strides I made, the times I failed, the times I grieved, and so on. But are these normal times?

2019 was the year that brought up so many things that deeply challenged our closely held beliefs. Worse, for many of us, they challenged basic tenets of humanity.

Every day we heard about inhuman atrocities, raging rainforest fires, gross misuse of platforms and outright injustice. Everyday many of us indulged in name calling, got frustrated with friends and family for holding a different point of view. 

Tiring!

But everyday we also heard of large scale protests going further large scale and questioning governments. Everyday we heard of people coming together to help the unjustly targeted. Everyday we heard of small and large acts of philanthropy.

Inspiring!

These are times of great change. I, for one, think that the only way I can ride these waves of change is by being me. 

  • When I think I have to build and run a business the “tried and tested” way, I give in to the cacophony. 
  • When I think I have to buy far far more than I need, I give in to the greed. 
  • When I think I should always go by data, and never use my intuition, I walk away from me. 
  • When I give in to the anger over the atrocities, the scheming behavior, or the blatant disregard for nature, I add to the swirling negativity. 
  • When I feel sad about a thriving community left without the Internet, rights and dignity, I give my power away, the power that I could have used to change things.

So, 2020 is about being me. That means questioning long held beliefs, double checking on all information around us, being skeptical of all knowledge that takes me away from myself and forces me to focus only on the external.

Being me puts me in touch with my true self that is joyful and empathetic, lively and compassionate. When I am in touch with me, I don’t have to numb the pain with a drink, or a Netflix binge. When I am angry, I don’t have to lash out. When I am me, I allow all feelings to come and go, so they get their place in the sun, and not live under my skin maneuvering my reactions.

The more I am me, the less angst I contribute to the world. And the world can do with a lot less of that, to be the powerful, joyful organism it is.

Happy 2020!

14 Years of Entrepreneurship

A few days ago I completed 14 years of being an entrepreneur. I did a Twitter thread on it. Replicating here. I am grateful for all the attention it got, and the great responses I received. There are more people like me, going through the exact same struggles. And there are people who thought it was an inspiring story, and that of grit.

So here goes:

I complete 14 years of entrepreneurship today. Lots of feelings – from being joyously inspired to dredging the depths of despair- often on the same day! Here’s looking back at each year to identify the key state of business, and the state of my mind! 1/n

2005: Start up | Excitement

Co-founding Knowiz as a content services company. Co-founder is the brain behind it. I have no idea what’ll happen, or how. I trust her to figure it out. Each proposal is a high, each small deal evidence to a biz model. 2/n

2006: Hard work | Fun

More work comes in, and we deliver working late nights and super early mornings. We hire an office space and our first employees. Every project is challenging, but we overcome them. 3/n

2007: Hard work | More fun

More clients, more work. The team is growing. More challenges. And to keep the cash flow going, we still don’t take salaries. But we are still enjoying building the company. 4/n

2008: Not enough money | Worry

There are not enough projects to keep us afloat. Plenty of competition out there: from big wig mag companies to freelancers. We take on projects that are not core to our skills, but we still deliver. 5/n

2009: Recession hits | Stress 24×7

Clients back out from retainers, projects dry up. Media and IT, our focus industries, are badly hit. And so are we. One by one, people leave. From a team of 12, we are back to just the two of us. 6/n

2010: Co-founder quits | Fear

Co-founder quits, I pay her off with money I don’t have. Why? No real reason, but a voice in me that says, Keep going. Shouldn’t listen to voices, but I did. Start building a team again. 7/n

2011: Learning the ropes | Courage

I sign up for an entrepreneurship program that makes me see my blind spots. Also start exploring meditation and spirituality. Somehow find the courage to keep learning, keep going. “Just show up, dammit.”  8/n

2012: In debt | More fear

Not enough cash in the business, but I continue to find new projects. Hard to get retainers, but keep trying. Team puts up with delayed salaries, rallies behind me. I hide myself in the loo and cry. Often. 9/n

2013: Merger | Panic

Meet a spirited, high-integrity person who set up his agency in 2011. We eventually merge to become a digital marketing agency. I am in panic. Company financials are a mess, but he bravely takes it on. He believes in the merger, our values, vision. 10/n

2014: Inefficiencies | Stress

Business starts picking up, deals are now larger. Little tolerance for inefficiencies and incompetence, thanks to new partner. Working style clashes, client issues, cash flow: stress aplenty. Meditation keeps me sane. 11/n

2015: Another partner | Excitement

We set up a product company, with a new partner. Decline funding, decide to do it ourselves. We grow the service company, with new offerings, bigger team. Tough, but mostly fun. Joyful. 12/n

2016: US focus begins| Hope

Services stay stable, product development is slow. A client goes bankrupt, wiping off lakhs from receivables. Yet we persist. Shift focus to US market. New highly competent team change the pace and game! 13/n

2017: Heartbreak | Stoic

Year of heartbreaks. More inefficiencies. Fights. Partners say they quit. I hold them back. We plod through depression, lose key team people, deal with bad clients. US market improves cash flows. Ease, in sight. 14/n

2018: Ease | Free

Finally, with more clients across the world and a highly competent team, we hit ease in biz. Lots of projects, delivered well, continuous cash flow. I have phases when I don’t even know new client names: yeah, that good. New product idea. 15/n

2019: Measured growth | Detached

There is more ease in doing business. Cash! Team is growing. New product is out; could be a big one for us. Two more products taking shape. Tech team looks real good. Services growing well. But I am detached. Just keep doing. 16/n

Mine is not a story of success by regular standards; it’s simply a story of persistence. You can only persist when you know your Why. What’s ours: We are here to build a culture that enables people to be themselves and get better at that, and find joy in work. 17/n

You can only persist when there are people to support you: business partners, spouse, kid, team, clients, random strangers who help. And angels. And be grateful for that. 18/n

You can only persist when you have it in you to believe in light when it’s all dark around you. And get others to believe that there is light, we just don’t see it yet. 19/n

But you know my story is a story of success by my standards: we have clients who rave about us. We have super success stories of people who have found themselves at Niswey, and we know we are making many more. 20/n

We are focused on profitability, believe in measured growth, and in integrity and joy at work. We know our way of doing business is not the normal way, but we believe this is the new normal. We are successful, in those terms. To more success! n/n 

Liking the Company You Built

Yesterday I saw a person who looked quite like the founder of a much respected public company walking down the road. Something about the way they walked made me think for them: What if you don’t like the company you have built anymore?

I follow the company and know quite a bit about how it works, and how it has grown. I have a lot of respect for the company for the great things it has achieved. Yet, the founder’s body language made me do a ‘What If’ scenario. So this post is just my imagination going down some random rabbit hole. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. With that, let’s see where my imagination went.

What if you don’t like the company you have built anymore?

You began with the idea of a great offering, which became successful after some false starts, perhaps. And then the company grew and suddenly there were a lot of people in the company.

You realized that not everyone was behaving ideally, at least not your idea of ‘ideally’. So you had to figure out to communicate what your ‘ideal’ is. You built out the culture document and communicated it to the team. And it worked for a bit. But tremendous growth took over. Ideal couldn’t keep pace with Growth as it had its own way of dealing with things. A transgression here, a turn-a-blind-eye there…and pretty soon ‘less than ideal’ became a way of life. And the culture. As the company spilled over into other office spaces across cities and continents, the well acclaimed culture document became a relic. A great read, but a damn tough thing to do and practice.

Fifteen or so years later, as you address a company townhall or a partner’s meet, you know you have come a long, long way. So much has been achieved: much wealth creation for thousands, a growing ecosystem that has spawned more businesses and communities, rising stock price… So much! It’s nothing short of spectacular.

Yet, you walk back to your office desk, after the speech and pleasantries are done, a bit slouched, hoping no one notices you as you cross the road.

Did you, in that moment, come to face to face with the fact that you don’t much like the culture anymore? Outwardly, cool and great. Inwardly, cut throat competitive and non-inclusive.

Did you come face to face with the fact that while the communities got built around camaraderie, support and help, they are more competitive than collaborative? And that they are still not as inclusive as you would have liked them to be?

You sigh. Maybe that is the price you pay for growth. Great products…check! Great stock price…check! Great brand…check! Great culture…erm, no… And it feels like it was never possible in the face of growth and competition.

Why sigh? It’s the norm, yeah?

Deep down, something just feels wrong to you. Maybe it was a non-negotiable, to build a company you really, really like. But you didn’t know and hence got out-negotiated by Growth’s win-lose games.

Now you know.

So what now?

The Second Paradigm Business

The Second Paradigm

Author David Hrostoski (and his beloved Miriam Wagoner) used the term first, at least, as far as I am concerned. The term ‘Second Paradigm’ came through in the book, The Ascension Manual for Planet Earth, which is essentially a book by a Sirian (belonging to the star system Sirius) being, Burgiel, channeled by David.

The blurb about the book says, “While The First Paradigm is rooted in fending for oneself, The Second Paradigm recognizes that to take care of the whole is not only for the highest benefit of all life, including oneself, but is actually the only way forward as a species.”

The old paradigm has been all about taking, one that’s driven by the head. Take. Hoard. There’s not enough for everyone, so hoard. Don’t care about what happens to others or the planet, just take. Be cut-throat and competitive.

It hasn’t really worked, has it? Most people live in abject poverty, many don’t even have access to safe drinking water. The planet is crawling with pollutants, species are dying left right and centre. And the rest of us on the Internet, alive with our various health issues, are mindlessly binge-watching the brand new interactive content being served up. All along our hearts feel jammed, constricted. Is this all we are?

No, the old paradigm hasn’t worked.

So we need a new one, one which is about giving, one that’s driven by the soul.

As David and Miriam say, “We’re being asked to step forward as soul-aligned, highly-intuitive, and connected beings with deep trust in divine guidance and truth.”

Asked? Asked by whom?

Remember the unrest you felt after all the movies were watched, all the work was done, all the vacations were taken?

You’re being asked by that very feeling of unrest. When you found yourself utterly bored. When you asked yourself, is this all I am meant to be?

This post is not about taking you down that rabbit hole where you come of age, no no no. That’s your job, not mine.

I am here to unpack (it’s a word I learnt to use from David, possibly because I listen to every word he puts out by way of book, posts, social media posts, podcasts or videos) what The Second Paradigm means to my business.

When I co-founded Knowiz in 2005, my co-founder, Taru and I knew we wanted to build a culture of positivity and excellence. Times changed, good times turned to bad, we hit all the walls that entrepreneurship presents. Taru left to take up a job, while I chose to continue to run the (nearly non-existent) business.

Why?

Back then my answer was, “I don’t know. Something in me says, I have to keep going!”

A few years later I met my current business partner and he asked me the same thing: I would have shut shop long ago, why didn’t you?

“Because this is a good thing. My people are happy. How we run the business helps people be who they are, and then become better versions of themselves. We stand by each other. Because we put our soul into our work, create good work. Something’s gotta give!”

But it was only in 2018 that I could clearly articulate why I continued despite the push back (there’s a term from David/Burgiel again!) from life. It’s because what I was trying to run was called a Second Paradigm business. It gives, it works from the soul, it creates space for others to be their authentic selves. And I didn’t want to give up building that.

 

What does The Second Paradigm Business look like?

I don’t know. I am still figuring out. But here’s what I know.

For a start, it means that the leaders of the business have to lean more into their soul, their intuition and take decisions based on what they are guided to do. So it’s not always all logic that rules. It will be what the intuition tells you to do, no matter what the logic says. Think back to the perfect person you didn’t hire, because something felt off. Or the perfect prospect you said No to (though it was really good money!). Or the merger that looked really bad on paper, but has panned out beautifully.

It takes a while to learn to trust your intuition, but the leaders will take on that learning, if they have already been answering the pings for a soul-aligned business.

The leaders talk in terms of Universe conspiring. Of mind-blowing coincidences or synchronicities. Even miracles.

Oh how sweet (some may sickeningly so)! In theory, it sounds all things nice. In reality, the leaders are just human beings on their own journeys. So when days are rough, there’s not much talk of a benevolent Universe or coincidences. There’s heartbreak, and anger and fear and hurt to wade through. Or lack.

But if one of the leaders can hold the space for the rest while the wading happens, the business can continue to evolve. Or if the leaders agree that while the spats and fights and disagreements happen, we will stay united in our purpose of building this Second Paradigm business.

And as the leaders align on this paradigm, I am beginning to believe that a compounding of energy happens, which is far more than the sum of the energies of the individuals. This attracts more people with similar energies to join the company. Clients too. And that’s how the proverbial flywheel moves.

 

So do I expect everyone in my company to be intuitive and giving, and all that?

I would sure love that. But for now, the answer is no. My expectation is that they be themselves. Of course, many people are not even aware of who they really are, so that can be tough.

But let’s look at giving. If there are unhelpful people on the team, then I will let them go, no matter how good they are. So that’s a basic criteria, a non-negotiable. Have people around who are helpful. Whether they are giving in terms of volunteering or charity, that’s not my charter, for now. If there are people on the team who want to be better at that kind of giving, the leaders must extend all support. And at Niswey, we do.

How about being intuitive? Some people are, some people don’t want to be seen as intuitive. That’s okay with me. But there are established scientific ways to tap into higher parts of you; or for the non-believers, ways to tap into knowledge within you which is not drawn out through memory or logic. Take flow, or being in the zone, for instance. If we can institute ways to get into flow at will, we would go a really long way into improving quality (and quantity) of work. Which will make any non-believer happy.

At the core of The Second Paradigm business is unity. The sense of oneness with all, the planet, all life. Because once we understand that we are one, we will never think of taking, we will only want to give. No, I don’t understand it yet. (Though we instituted Customer Oneness as one of our values more than five years ago. That was intuitive, don’t you think!)

A tiny little business, in a developing country, with all of 15 people in the team. Trying to be a Second Paradigm business! It may sound stupid to a lot of people (maybe they are the first paradigm-ers).

But as a Second Paradigm business leader, I know, we are enough. We are enough to make a difference, to ourselves, to each other and to the planet.