I have been super silent here for many weeks now. Sorry about that. I truly did not know what to write that could add immense value to you. Life was happening. This time it was around work and existential crisis around which path to choose. This is the biggest confusion I have ever faced in life so far. I kept my writing on in social media but just did not want to confuse you with topics that don't make sense here. Thanks for all the concern and lovely emails some of you sent me. Touched 🙏
Somehow our hearts know what is right and what we must pursue. It is our mind that overthinks stuff. The battle between heart-mind is what I went through in the past few weeks.
The right path was risky and scary.
The medicore path was boring.
The wrong path was shiny but worrisome in a long run.
It took me a few months to figure things out and design our careers the way we want it to be. That is the key. After months of work, finally the direction is clear and this update is to keep you all posted.
I am stepping down as the founder and CEO of Xperian 🤩 (and yes I am very happy about it).
That doesn’t mean someone is replacing me in that role either. We are on to a whole new way of conducting our life and work. A big bold step indeed.
There is no Founder or CEO or core team anymore. We are creating a whole new way of operating a business with truly zero hierarchy. We are a lean and a flat team already but they still need my approvals for budgets, signatures in the chequebooks and ROC filings currently.
We want to eliminate even that dependency from people like me and go all the way to run an org that is functioning only on ownership. True freedom is that. Isn't that what we all want in our careers?
A little backstory...
Xperian is my quest to create a maker's ecosystem. We started it on 2 Apr 2018.
In the first month of Xperian itself, we realised the vision is beyond this lifetime and we knew very early we will die undone (this lifetime). It was hard to gulp that realisation. But we geared up our maker spirit and allowed the vision be a true North Star for us (as it is meant to be) and continued with the mission.
Slowly we started working with the mission of a maker's ecosystem and realised even mission needs an army. Just a small bunch can’t do it. Not this lifetime atleast. To realise this part, it took us three years.
At this juncture we had an option to pivot. We could have settled with 4-5 crore/year revenue by running two/three cohort courses, a bunch of consulting assignments, a vibrant community and a little coaching here and there. That is cheating. We could have done that in Oghma itself (my previous consulting stint). We don’t need a vision of Maker's Ecosystem to run a edupreneurship business.
This tug of war was bugging us.
By now you may wonder, are we nuts to say no to a great business? A few crores for a 3 member team is mind blowing and what is wrong with me?
Let me explain
In my view, a maker's ecosystem transforms the way makers function. In a simple consulting or education business we don't get to transform all makers. It needs a big think.
The true potential of Makers ecosystem is like a banyan tree. A tree that allows so many parts of it to grow on its own but stay together and keep the integrity. That is how an organic an ecosystem should be. Not just bits and pieces of education here, community there and so on.
We wanted that banyan tree to become true for Xperian. Currently the intent-action gap is high. While I was super happy doing it, it is not a true maker's ecosystem in all honesty. I could live a lie but it will haunt me in a long term.
So we decided to solve this problem once and for all. Hence we took some time to figure things out.
Here are the 3 changes we are bringing in:
1. Xperian will have a bunch of owners who will run their projects end to end. A project by project ownership including separate P&L is unheard of.
In other words, we will run Xperian in project by project mode and support every maker who wants to run the projects under the hood.
We were super nervous to take a decision like this. Literally we could not find one org which runs the way we are envisioning. That is scary. Anyone with a sane business mind will not want this. However our conviction says this will be the best way forward for all the freedom freaks out there who want to work on their own terms, do things they love to do, have absolute autonomy and mastery, paid fairly for the work they do and conduct all the above in the most meritocratic fashion. It took us longer to develop this business model but we are absolutely convinced that this is the way forward for all knowledge workers who strive for freedom in their life.
2. The only title we want to encourage is the Project Owner. The ownership is in a true sense. That person calls all the shots and has veto power for all things that project. No hierarchy and titles. They can hire whoever they want to for the project and dismantle the team after the project is done. In other words no distraction whatsoever.
3. Xperian is a makers ecosystem which will aim at bringing all things makers, making, make under one umbrella. It is equal opportunity for every maker out there. There will be no rules, no hierarchy, no limitations to unleash max potential.
The only limitation probably is the limitation inside the makers and that is all.
A model that is high on agency, accountability, autonomy and mastery is put in place.
We are super excited to launch the all new Xperian to the world shortly. In the meantime we want to eat our own dog food and check out the project based model for ourselves and in our inner circle before we open it up to the vast world.
While others in the team are figuring out their projects, I have high clarity on what my next decade should look like. As a person, I love designing systems, teaching design, coaching and transforming makers. This is both pleasurable and purposeful for me. It is very rare to find this combo in a career. Now that I have found it, I am going to spend most of my time in this area.It will be rolled out as projects as needed. In addition to product design and business design, life design has been my heart throb for over half a decade now. This is the time to bring Design U to life as a project.
My heart is bubbling with passion and excitement. I can't wait to kickstart the projects at my end.
Choice is a priviledge. Gratitude towards an ability to say no to things at will.
How are you designing your next decade? This shit is hard my friends. Start thinking in this direction and meanwhile I will share more specifics regularly as we have a direction now.
🥂 to choices!