This is an article by Aayush Srivastava, who talks about his revulsion for mediocrity and why his life has always pushed him towards working at a startup eventually. iPleaders is lucky to have him around. Over to Aayush.
While most of my posts are usually analytical in nature which seeks to heavily rely on data, in this particular post I am likely to be more introspective. Therefore, it isn’t a prescriptive guide for those who want to make a life decision, but instead a peek into the process undertaken by me to determine if I am cut out for start-up generally, and for my chosen start-up specifically. My decision cannot help you, unless you know why I feel a certain way about a certain thing. Unless you walk a mile in my shoe you cannot evaluate the decisions I make. Therefore, this post is about me and the journey through teenage and college, and how it changed my outlook about life.
My desire to create something goes back to 6th Grade when I was part of a Science Exhibition Competition, and my father had gifted me a wireless remote controlled car. My imagination took flight and after reverse engineering the car several times, I became obsessed with the idea of making a wireless. Several cars and aluminum cans later, I realized the adrenaline rush of creation. My entry into the competition was a Flood Control Mechanism which operated on the Archimedes principle, resulting in the boy triggering an alarm and water suction mechanism. All this at a time without the internet was a big a deal for an 11 year old kid.
Fast forward to the High School and the butchering of my scientific temperament at the alter of the halo-ed board exams. I was left with an extreme disgust of the system, where science was reduced to answering questions, the answers to which already existed. The revered spot for those who topped and cracked Olympiads was the illustrious seat at the IITs. I was put on the assembly line of coaching institutes, as back as 9th grade. The seeds for the hatred towards the mundane grew.
I kept on creating though, the second impetus was by the much scorned Ayn Rand. The fountainhead and atlas shrugged was all a rebellious teenager needs to complete his hatred for the establishment. My desire to become a Roarkian architect was great and I found my catharsis when I enrolled in a City design competition, and had to fight with the others just like Roark defending form over aesthetics, efficiency over design. Fighting with no less than my School Principal about how buildings shaped in an aerodynamic design leads to less need for air-conditioning even though, it “may look too modernistic for Delhi’s architecture”. I did have to change my design and it cost me my Head Boy’s position, citing my lack of a friendly attitude towards people in general. But, Ayn Rands philosophy of creative destruction couldn’t do more than create apathy within me and completely destroying any social skills in me. We won the competition right up to being National Finalists and it taught me to believe in myself.
But life had different plans for me I was exposed to the glamorous lives of Model United Nations. Where the problems were real, the questions unsolved and the girls pretty. For the next several years I remained disillusioned with academia and plunged deep down in the world of conference rooms, foreign trips to MUN conferences and pleasures that come with talking and not having to do anything. However, it taught me the pleasure of knowledge, of being right and how being the smartest guy in the room trumps social skills any day.
The decision to do law was surprisingly less random, and more to do with my disposition towards argumentation. The feeling of being on a stage and winning an argument and thrill of hearing the thunder of clapping hands, appealed to me. As it turns out, law school is a lot less about critical thinking and a lot more about memorizing and being good at writing exams. The establishment had failed me yet again. Of course, I don’t complain about the half a dozen foreign trips that the establishment bestowed upon via this beautiful thing called mooting- the only avenue which made me feel at home. I never learnt law better than I did while arguing a case based on it. Of course, the law firms don’t care about your argumentative skills, all they want are dedicated kids to do their grunt work. Who is better suited for this than someone who has always confirmed to the directions of authorities and society, ergo the toppers. And come on it’s not the law firms fault, someone has got to DD those thousand page contracts that allow creative people to carry on their innovation and organize capital for that purpose! Well the Bar of course, sounds very attractive with all the excitement of actually practicing the law. But of course, the establishment has yet again decided to allow thousands of juniors to survive hand to mouth while they drive around in Bentleys.
Now as I said earlier, the above experiences and opinions say a lot about me, a lot about my utter revulsion to dogmatic values. Traditions that are established to maintain the status quo, to constrain growth, critical thinking, all for the single cause of strangling the dissenting voice. The new generation of entrepreneurs seeks to do exactly opposite. They establish horizontal working structures, challenge existing management techniques and allow you to create something new and or do something in a way that is unique and increases productivity. All of this allows for independent thinkers like me to flourish and be exposed to the risk and experiences that a cushy job can never give you.