Longish post: 1500 words. Takes approx 10 mins to read. Thank you for your attention and time 🙏
Back to base after 45 days of unplugging from the rut. I am super grateful for the time and space I had that allowed me to process everything that is happening in me and around me. In this period, I took some big and bold decisions to help reorganize my life that suits the current context better.
One of them being, after 11 years of amazing, fulfilling and successful entrepreneurship, I am heading back to workforce. I am joining the Design leadership team @ Microsoft ✨ I am super excited about the opportunity to touch billions of lives (NBU) positively through a portfolio of products in the coming decade.
At one end, I am super excited about the future but on the other, it is freaking hard to let go of something I built from scratch with blood, sweat and bile salts.
In the past decade I have contributed to 200+ products, built 12 brands, made multi-millions, taught design & product to 3000+ students, got an opportunity to work with some amazing brands like Amazon, Philips, Vodafone (now Vi), Novartis, Apple, Meta and more. In this period, I had an opportunity to touch millions of lives by solving diverse problem statements and not to mention, I met some incredible human beings on the path ❤️
Looking back at my entrepreneurial journey, I have nothing but gratitude for everything 🙏 I have no words to express the beauty of the journey.
In a lifetime, we play many roles. A designer, daughter, spouse, mother, friend, an entrepreneur, coach/coachee, teacher/student, mentor/mentee and more. In the dynamic context of life, one role takes more prominence in a certain period over the other. It is a balancing art to juggle with priorities.
The current period of my life demands the entrepreneur in me to take a backseat and the mother in me take the front seat. It is just adusting priorities based on the context. Right now and for next decade, my child needs me the most (incase you are not following the story, here it is). The chronic digestive disorder in him needs healing and it is a long term process. I am going to do my best to support him with right nutrition, sleep, movement and a lot of quality time. To make time for all the above, the workaholic in me needs to be kept in check.
I really tried balancing things at work and home for the past 4 months but I couldn't stop thinking about clients, projects, GST, TDS, cohorts etc. When 12 brands are active and impacting lives, it is hard to stop thinking about it. I gave it a good shot and I failed.
While I was struggling with decision making as an entrepreneur and as a mother, my co-founders and partners, Arjun and Madhuri, literally set me free and made letting go so much easier than what it is. They reminded me of the glass balls and the rubber balls of my life (you can read about it here)
They brought in phenomenal empathy and compassion to my context to not only let me go but also step up to build Silva the way we envisioned. They made sure, I had enough time to think, reflect, rest and do my best for my family when they need me the most. My co-founders took up the entire business in hand with absolute ownership and accountability in no time. They didn't wait for my hand-over 🙈
A few words from them are forever ingrained in my heart: "Vidhur (my son) needs you more of you now than us, so time to take care of him fully. In the meantime we will try and fill your big shoes in our way and stay true to the idea at the center. You have trained us enough to be independent, committed and focused. We will bug you for coffees and ice-creams every weekend. Deal 👍 "
They added, "Karthi, No one can take away the bond and friendship we share this lifetime 🤗 So just go and do what is most needed now."
Tears rolled down and I couldn't stop it! My eyes were moist most of the days in this period and it still is occassionaly. This is just one end of the story.
On the other end, I was contemplating a sabbatical or authorship or advisory etc.
My life coach advised me to take up a full-time role that is challenging and at the same time gives me a little work-life balance unlike (my) entrepreneurship. He felt I should work for a boss and that will keep me more sane than otherwise. That was a pivotal discussion, I must say.
Now I was contemplating who should I work for 🙈 I didn't know how to apply for a job. I didn't know where to start, whom to ask, what to do etc. I never had a portfolio or a resume ever. I never needed one all these years. Even my role at Hewlett Packard was pushed by my classmates in the grad school. So I never made a resume ever.
I geared up all my guts and called couple of my friends and asked, how should I go about it? They laughed at me and said they are happy to put a word in their networks. They also warned me that I may get a job in less than a week 🙈 That sentence was scary, so I didn't pursue the network route at all.
At that time I was down with Covid. Those 15 days gave me enough time to think. Post Covid recovery, I just made one phone call to an old friend and a design leader at Microsoft. I discussed my context authentically and my desire to get back to workforce as a recovering workaholic 😅 He listened to me intently and with absolute empathy. In just two weeks, everything moved fast. Microsoft did not have a role that suits me at that time so they went ahead and created a position just for me 🙏 Interviews happened.
In less than 3 weeks, I had my offer letter. I took sometime to accept the offer, as it was way too emotional for me to sign on the dotted lines. Arjun and Madhuri, saw everything from the sidelines and they took me out for a lovely dinner. That night they flooded me with cocktails and gave me enough support to sign the acceptance letter (ofcourse I signed it when I was sober next day 😁).
We all cried a little, laughed a little, talked very little that night. The rubber was hitting the road really fast and it hit us hard. We mustered our courage to focus on the higher purpose and our responsibilities.
We slowly started putting together a transition plan for the variety of projects/products/programs. We ruthlessly cut down our portfolio and just focused on the team's strengths without me. All things based on my strengths (community, cohorts, platforms and more) got deprioritized. Our focus got more intense and monomaniacal. 80% consulting and 20% teaching is how we decided to handle the next decade. My team has made a decision to release all my previous lectures (that is freaking 600 hours) as multiple self paced courses to keep the legacy on. I was so touched by how everything was handled so smoothly. I cannot ask for more 🙏
In all this, we decided to take a break, spend some time far away from the hustle-bustle and discuss all the nuances of the succession. This took us almost 30 days as a team.
My family was gently shocked and overwhelmed with everything that was going on. Our yearly ritual is to take a summer-break. This year we decided to take a longish break as a family. I got to spend more time with Vidhur and Vibhav this summer far away from home. We talked, laughed, cried and hugged. The distance from everything, helped me to reprioritize some aspects and deprioritize many aspects of my life. I realised there are some reversible decisions and there are some irreversible decisions. Career is reversible. It is a rubber ball and it can bounce back. Health is a glass ball and it may break if not handled properly and on-time.
It is time to slow down (comparatively) and deal with less chaos. Time to bring in more predictability and certainity to my life so that it gets easier to focus on what is most important.
Finally the big day has come. I am stepping into a new role, a new environment and a new life in many ways. I am super grateful for all the support, love and compassion I have received all along the journey 🙏 Time to make the best out of the new universe I am stepping in.
No big shift happens in a blink. It feels like it but it is not. If you are struggling with such big shifts in your lives, feel free to write to me. I will share whatever I learnt by doing many such big shifts in this lifetime. As always I will share my learnings and reflections here as life goes on ✨
Thank you for your continued encouragement, love and support all along, my friends 🙏
🥂 to shifts!