Hang On To Your Childhood Dreams !

Hang On To Your Childhood Dreams !

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Mainak Dhar

Had the opportunity to speak to some great kids at a school in Mumbai a couple of days ago. Here’s what I told them.

Good afternoon and thank you inviting me here to be with you today. I always enjoy interacting with young people like you. On the one hand, it reminds me of just how much the world has changed since I was in your shoes. Though I hardly think of myself as ‘old’, when I was in school, there was no Internet, no smartphones, no Facebook or Twitter. On the other hand, I suspect some things have not changed that much. After a nice lunch, when you’re made to sit down to listen to a guest speaker, the questions in your mind are perhaps the same ones I had when I was in your shoes.

How long will this guy speak?

How boring will he be?

When can I go and play?

Will they actually expect me to pay attention to the wisdom he claims to impart?

I have good news for you. I have little wisdom to offer and will take only a little bit of your time. What I will do is tell you a story- a story that starts when I was in school like you. I had a pretty nomadic childhood. With my Dad in the government, we moved around a lot. I was born in Nagaland in the North-East, then lived in Sikkim- both then relatively remote areas. Then we moved to Delhi, lived in Canada for close to five years and then back to India. By the time I finished my education, I had been to nine different schools or colleges. Moving around so much meant few stable friends, and I began to rely on my imagination a lot. I loved reading, and I began to love making up stories. For all of Grade 7 and 8, I had an imaginary friend called Freddy who would sit next to me in French class. I would write his exams for him and also tell the teacher when he was absent because he was sick. I once wrote down an account of how the world ended (a combination of a meteor strike, nuclear war and virus outbreak, in case you’re interested) and buried it in our front yard, hoping to mess with the minds of future historians who might find it- my own twelve-year-old equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. At school, I would put an intricate cover page on every report with an illustration and my name. When teachers asked me why I was going through all the trouble, I’d say I was pretending I had written a book. My mother was a big supporter of these childhood dreams and when I did write my first book when I was in college, she was my literary agent before I knew such a thing existed. She would go with me to meet publishers, and then hound them to ensure they paid royalties on time.

Then, something changed. I went to Business School, got an MBA, began working, and suddenly different things became important. Meeting sales targets, when I got promoted, how much my salary increased. Don’t get me wrong- these are not unimportant things, but in ‘growing up’, what had been my childhood dreams were now something I had begun to leave behind in the pursuit of all the things I thought ‘grown ups’ needed to do. I was reconnected to them by the person who had helped nurture and support them in the first place- my Mom. I lost my Mom to Cancer in 2001. In one of my last conversations with her, she told me I could be anything I wanted; I would have big jobs, earn a lot of money, see many countries, but there was one thing she wished for me to do. She said that she would love for me to not lose that dream I had as a little boy. She wanted me to have that joy she had seen on my face when I had been making up stories. I promised her I would, and that I would write a book a year.

Today, when people ask me how I find the time to write and how I manage to balance a full time corporate job with my writing, they’ll realize that things fall into place when you’re driven by a promise like the one I made my Mom. I still thank my Mom for reconnecting me to my childhood dreams, and it has made my life so much richer. Today my storytelling is inspired by my own little family- my wife, Puja and our son, Aaditya. I make up stories, share with them, involve them in my stories (in my latest novel, the hero is called Aaditya). In connecting back to the dreams I once had, I realize I am able to bring my full, authentic self to my day job as well- and do better at it. My business card may call me all sorts of things, but somewhere, deep down, I’m still just that boy who loves making up stories.

Why am I telling you all this?

You are growing up in a world which is much more connected and you have access to many more ideas and opportunities. Literally, the world is your oyster. Some of you will be doctors, some engineers, some work in the corporate sector, some begin your own start-ups. You will go to colleges that people dream of going to, earn great degrees and work in big organizations. But don’t let those titles, degrees and jobs be the only things that end up defining you. Think of what brings you joy today- what your own childhood dreams are. Some of you love dancing, others are great singers, some paint well, yet others are great at sports, and perhaps some love making up stuff like I did. Whatever it is, hang onto those dreams and don’t lose them, because they are probably the purest part of who you are. They are the things that inspire you and bring you joy. You will do big things, have big jobs and big degrees, but if you keep those small childhood dreams alive in some way, you will find that they have a disproportionate impact in making you happy, and in keeping you grounded in who you really are beyond the labels the world will stick on you.

Don’t lose the years I did and don’t wait to be reconnected to those childhood dreams as I needed to be. Go on, sing that song, paint that portrait, dance the night away, play football in the rain, and indeed, invent your own Freddy. And keep doing it even when the world tells you that you’re supposed to have ‘grown up’.


*World’s Youngest Watson Programmer
Tanmay Bakshi
At an age when most kids have fun and play on their mind, Tanmay Bakshi, 12, is busy developing apps. Tanmay who is being home-schooled in Ontario, Canada is the world’s youngest app developer and has been programming since he was just five. *

On the lighter side, Tanmay loves to play table tennis and coding is like a fun activity for the 12 year old genius.

My journey of being one of the youngest app developers began when I was 5 years old. At this age, like most other kids, I did not have much to do. I used to see my dad programming, and I was intrigued by a computer’s power to display something on screen, or even add 2 numbers. My dad introduced me to a little bit of Batch and FoxPro programming, and after that, I started using the internet as a learning resource; I learned more languages like C/C++/Objective-C and VB, and when I was 9 years old, my first iOS App, tTables, was accepted into the iOS App Store. Also, nowadays, I like to program in languages like Swift, Java and Python. In fact, I’ve also authored a book called “Hello, Swift! – iOS App Programming for Kids and Other Beginners”; the early release is currently available here: https://www.manning.com/books/hello...ft In fact, I truly wish to get my book signed by Amitabh Bachchan.
Tanmay’s Talk
tSOMA (Tanmay’s Social Media Analyzer)



Quitting a job in a ‘never-give-up’ culture

“Oh hey, you’re officially jobless now, right? Congratulations!” said a friend on Saturday, two days after my last day at my first company, after four years.

I’ve been offered a lot of congratulations since I quit my job, both from those who knew I was unhappy and those oblivious. “Thanks,” I say, unsure of how else to respond. Unsure if the congrats are sincere – does the other person truly appreciate what it took to quit a well-paying job to pursue my happiness, without something firm lined up in the interim? Are they secretly envious? Or is it a reflex – person makes job change → offer congrats.

Or do they know something I don’t? From my perspective, this could be a big mistake.

Personally, I’m not so sure I deserve congratulations.

Was it gutsy? Or was it a cop-out? On one hand, quitting feels like a defeat. “I’m not a quitter,” 15-year-old me told my mom with arms over my chest and my lips trembling, biting back tears as I faced the oh-so-dramatic trials of AP Physics. “Don’t quit,” quips the Nike bro-tank that whizzes past me adorning an ultra-marathoner on the bike path. “Never give up,” chimed the women at the inspiring and empowering Women of Influence luncheon in Milwaukee last month. But in the same breath, “Follow your dreams!” they shout.

What if following one dream means giving up on another? The message of “stay the course” bombards me from every angle. But what about a strategic pivot? Is there a difference between retreating to regroup versus running away from challenges?

Some of my friends ask a follow-up question: “Are you scared?”

YES. In fact, I’m terrified. I’m straying from the path. I’m leaving a job that grants me instant credibility with the backing of a community institution – when you say you’re a reporter with the Milwaukee Business Journal, people adjust to give your ego some elbow room with a respectful nod. Say you’re a freelancer, and that nod shifts imperceptibly to the side as the respect turns to doubt.

This is probably what it feels like to make a living as an artist. Mad props, artists, and my infinite apologies for all of the times my appreciative nod was tinged with doubt.

One major surprise is the reaction from my senior mentors. Without exception, they express support. This from the generation who valued toughing it out, staying loyal, slogging through to the end goal of a comfortable retirement. They’re the ones who criticize millennials for chasing pipe dreams of finding instant fulfillment in our first jobs. And yet, when I tell them I’m thinking about a career change, and quitting my job to freelance and devote my attention to discovering my true passion, they say, “Go for it.”

But the doubts still chant in the back of my mind:

Don’t quit. You won’t make it on your own. Make the smart move. You’re just not trying hard enough.

As a kid, I never dreamed about being a journalist. I dreamed about being a novelist. I started a half dozen novels, and spent weeks daydreaming complex relationships and plot twists. Somewhere along the line in high school, reality hit – 5-year-olds could have written these plots – and I set that dream aside. I decided to try my hand at journalism because, in the words of my 17-year-old self: “In journalism someone tells you what to write.” Little did I know. Later on I would tell people that I stuck with journalism because of the people I got to meet, and the fact that I could ask them things like “What is your deepest insecurity?” within five minutes of meeting them.

In this past year, while continuing to work as a journalist, I’ve actually begun to identify as a writer for the first time – mostly because of the success I’ve had writing on LinkedIn. And simultaneously, it’s also the first time since college that I’ve seriously considered making a living doing something other than writing, as I realized that I don’t have to make a living writing to continue to write.

But now it’s real. Olivia Barrow, writer for hire.

It’s a big step out into the unknown, away from the security of a salary. It may be a foolish move. It’s probably foolish. I may run screaming from self-employment in a few months back into the welcoming arms of an employer.

The good news is, the only person I have to answer to now is me. The bad news is, the only person I have to answer to now is me, and I’m my toughest critic.

Here goes.

I am a journalist by trade, a blogger by accident and opinionated by nature,

This essay originally appeared on www.oliviabarr...om.


Your Story
‘Building a company is larger than just raising money and cashing out’ – 20 quotes from Indian startup journeys

From start to scale, witness the memorable journey of Indian entrepreneurship in these excerpts and stories! StoryBites is a weekly feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our articles of this past week (see the previous post here). Share these 20 gems and insights from the week of July 24-30 with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights!
There are no greater assets to your company than your employees. – Bhavin Turakhia, Directi

A doctor’s education never ends with a degree. – Hitesh Ganjoo, Buzz4Health

It is much easier to put existing resources to better use than to develop resources where they do not exist. – George Soros

A city such as New York has so much branding while Bengaluru has none. – Priyank Kharge, Karnataka Tourism Minister

India is now one of our fastest growing markets. – Tim Cook, Apple
India, today, looks like what China was 10 years back. – Gen Isayama, WiL

Indian network carriers need to mature. They are like Chinese carriers 10 years ago. – Ric Zhou, Kika
At nearly two million, India has the second-highest number of software developers in the world. – Sridhar Vembu, Zoho

The future is in platforms. – Sanchit Vir Gogia, Greyhound Research

One thing most founders usually give least priority to is sales. – Abhishek Sanyal, Structural Engineers
E-commerce, like any other business, has to be done on fundamentals. – Arvind Singhal, Technopak

Building a company is larger than just raising money and cashing out. – Kavin Bharti Mittal, Hike
Supported by progressive regulatory policy, the digital payments industry is at an inflection point and is set to grow 10 times by 2020. – Rajan Anandan, Google

Technology isn’t constrained by geographical boundaries. – Lovepreet Mann, Infurnia

You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right. – Aung San Suu Kyi
It is confidence in our bodies, minds, and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures. – Oprah Winfrey

Women are not weak; they can do everything. – Mithila Palkar, ‘Girl in the City’

I let my work speak for me. – Veronica Cornelio, Mysore Sandal

To be a seller, be a storyteller. – Mohit Mamoria, Horntell

I have always believed that the real history is made by ordinary people. – Mahashweta Devi
To know that you saved a life is an overwhelming feeling. – Sushant Ajnikar, Paws of India

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).


Madanmohan Rao
Madanmohan Rao is research director at YourStory Media and editor of five book series (http://amzn.to/...oE). His interests include creativity, innovation, knowledge management, and digital media. Madan is also a DJ and writer on world music and jazz.