- Session type
- Technical level
We live in an age of munificence.
A long wave of progress has enabled the Goa Project and thousands of other celebrations of human potential. Yet, too often, we are chained by this progress, to narrow definitions of who we are, what we do, and what we consume.
“I am an accountant”. What a narrow account of a life – a life which is full of potential, creativity, colour, and, above all joy! When we define ourselves by what we have done in the past, we become trapped in that definition.
What is the nature of these traps? How do we liberate ourselves to explore the many things we are capable of doing, that are capable of bringing deep satisfaction to ourselves?
The idea of this talk is to explore what I learned as I became increasingly free of the confines of definition and occupation, becoming happier, and yes, wealthier.
Buckminster Fuller wrote that, given the arc of technological progress, there would be a time when we humans would have to work only a fraction of our adult lives to produce enough to support the world. That time may not have arrived for all of the globe, but for most of it has.
Yet, I find too many of us are stuck to professions we don't enjoy, organisations we despise, and work habits that are ridiculously unhealthy. By the time we reach our 50s, we have surrounded ourselves with objects that demonstrate our material achievement. Inside of us, the most measurable marker of this wealth is the cholesterol deposited onto our arteries.
Why have so many allowed themselves to become slaves in a system which can make princes of us all? How do we marshal our resources -emotional, intellectual, physical and material - to enjoy more of the potential that lies within us? How do we find the time and the courage to reach out and embrace the richness of the world?
In my limited way, I have taken a few bricks out of a few walls, clambered over a few low fences, and learned a few things about managing my time, my health, and my money.
Yes, money - that wonderful abstract that captures the unspent energy of past effort and can become a springboard into new efforts and increased compassion; it can also cushion the impact of false starts. Beginning with a focus on building up F*** You Money, over time I learned that handling wealth well can become a strategic component of managing life. Today, I help a fair number of people manage their money - family, friends, and clients.
In this talk, I hope to be able to find ways of sharing some of my learning with you.
An open mind, and lots of questions
Of course I am not the best person to deliver this session. In fact, I cringe at the egotistical presumption it implies. But, since some people do talk to me about these issues, I guess I have something to share about time, money, and joy.
I began my career as a management trainee with Hindustan Lever, then went on to start-up India’s first successful packaged snack-food brand, Crax – now a 250 cr business, which I still advise.
The documentary film business I then co-founded morphed into a pioneering TV production house.The company assimilated my voluntary platform for Delhi musicians, called Friends of Music. The now twice-morphed company, Teamwork, creates and produces festivals of Indian performing arts here and overseas, including the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Through the 80s, I acted with Barry John’s Theater Action Group (TAG), managed its technology and its finances. Now, I work with 2 young and extremely talented theatre groups, Tadpole, and Wide Aisle, variously as actor and advisor.
In the mid-80s, I also began a program with street and working children around Delhi’s railway station. A few years later, we joined forces with the trust set up by film-maker, Mira Nair, Salaam Baalak Trust. Today, the effort runs 7 centers across the NCR, houses 500 children, and works with 50,000 children a year.
In 1996, at 40, I got married, retired, and moved to a stone cottage I had built in the Himalayan foothills. I watched the peaches grow, reared my infant son, and explored the village paths and high trails of the Kumaon, occasionally leading trekking groups into the wilderness.
We returned to the city in 2003. Around that time, I co-founded a business that runs language teaching centers in the NCR. I sit on the board of that business and several others; chair a policy think-tank, and run an independent investment advisory service. I began running half-marathons at age 55, scuba-dive, and still lust after the high passes.
And, I laugh a lot.