After dabbling in several odd jobs between Masters in Statistics from Mumbai University (in 1981) and pursuing an MBA from JBIMS and a course from the Operational Research Society of India, I desperately started searching for a new job.
An idea called M:Ideas
The second defining moment of my life was when I started my own media consulting and training company called M:Ideas in 1992. It gave me a holistic perspective of the industry and taught me that you can't just be an armchair planner and talk to sales people as if you're God!
I also realised that in their own way people working in smaller outfits are more successful than so many CEOs of large MNCs. I learnt both the client perspective as well as the media perspective of things. I learnt to be neutral. In the hindsight, I consider myself very tough mentally to have taken the decision to launch M:Ideas as it required me to leave a cushy job at Contract.
A book that has structured the foundation of my life philosophy is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. Reading it during my M:Ideas days was my third defining moment. It formed my life construct and taught me that there is no end to learning. I also learnt that there is one critical base level that one needs to achieve - after passing this you're on your own and don't need a 'light force' any longer.
Establishing connect with my wife Keerti was another defining moment. She holds a Masters degree in English Literature and is also from the media industry. She is a clear thinker - unlike me - and I've learnt clarity of thought from her. She can read people much better than I can and has taught me how to look at a single situation from different perspectives. Her influence has helped me tremendously in my professional life.
Baptism by fire
Another big defining moment for me happened when I joined Carat Integra as CEO in 2003. It was my baptism by fire in corporate life after 10 years of doing things at my own pace. Besides, I entered Carat when there was panic all around. The previous CEO, Meenakshi Madhvani, had quit and the top two clients had sacked the agency. I was in the throes of a political turmoil, too. This comeback made me stronger and taught me the virtues of patience and perseverance, and now I have learnt how to think straight in an emergency.