LESSONS IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP: FROM BLADES TO VIOLIN BOWS

Submitted by admin on Mon, 08/14/2017 - 09:56

Projjol Banerjea, Founder & CPO, zeotap tells us how his exposure to different hobbies and activities has guided him in his professional career.


BY PROJJOL BANERJEA

Founder & CPO, zeotap

Since childhood, I’ve been fortunate to have been exposed to a gamut of hobbies and activities. Each has imparted valuable lessons that have helped guide my professional career, most recently as co-founder of a two-and-a-half-year-old data analytics company with operations in India and abroad.

ROWING: Rowing, initially during my school years in Kolkata and later as part of the lightweight programme at Oxford, has taught me the significance of consummate team-work. While team-work in sport is certainly not exclusive to rowing, I believe it assumes a whole new dimension in the synchronicity of four to eight members of a crew not just pulling, but even breathing in unison. This harmony is fundamental to the delicate balance of the vessel and its velocity. A single incongruent move can change the outcome of a race entirely. Indeed, the rowers, as athletically dominant as they might be individually, are entirely reliant on each other for collective victory.

Learning: Team-work in entrepreneurship is a multifaceted theme that emerges as a leitmotif across every aspect of organizational development, from hiring the right talent to emphasising individual strengths to aligning on a common vision. Just as on a racing shell, where there is little margin for dissonance and no accommodation for back-ups/ redundancy, fledgling companies are dependent on individual members toiling together for mutual success.

JOURNALISM: As an undergraduate student in the US, I was actively involved with the college newspaper, a publication with editorial sovereignty thanks to access to an independent endowment. Over four years, I assumed multiple roles ranging from Design Editor to News Editor to Managing Editor, each with its own set of responsibilities and challenges. A recurrent theme in every case was the importance of precision, from fastidious copy editing to the accurate representation of events/opinions to the adoption of a non-partisan (political/economic) perspective when presenting an independent editorial voice.

Learning: Details make or break a business. While eliminating typos, incorrect statistics and improper references in presentations for clients can be pivotal to clinching a new deal, carefully studying and understanding (and even asking ostensibly silly questions, if necessary) the various clauses in investor/supplier/customer contracts is critical to obviating future complications.

VIOLIN: My brother and I both took up the violin at an early age. Our parents’ tenacity is commendable, as the first few years were a concerted (pun intended) assault on their auditory senses. Also, after we struggled to arrive at a certain degree of proficiency, it dawned on us that this was much more easily forfeited than attained. An adage about playing the violin, which I imagine also extends to other instruments, goes thus: “When you don’t practise one day, your fingers know. Two days and you know. Three days and the world knows.”

Learning: Establishing and running a company demands unremitting ambition and persistence. Especially as a founder, this indefatigable drive needs to not only power you through trying circumstances (of which there are many) but also invigorate a larger team that looks to you for inspiration and direction. Over the years, my brother and I also developed distinctly different styles of playing – mine more clinical and focussed on acoustic accuracy, while his more replete with emotion and sonorous. I often scored higher in examinations, but my brother’s stage performances met with greater approval both from accompanying musicians as well as audiences.
 

Learning: Skill is crucial, but there’s no substitute for passion. The former can be acquired, but the latter needs to be inherent. Modern Greeks use the word ‘meraki’ (translation: labour of love) to describe what happens when you leave a piece of yourself in your work. I can’t think of a more apt depiction.

Finally, entrepreneurship, though uniquely rewarding in myriad ways, can be equally exhausting both mentally and physically, giving rise to exacting sentiments ranging from dépaysement to dejection. What’s been a lifeline for me personally are my family and friends – those who’ve provided a shoulder to step on when I’ve needed a boost, rest my head on when I’ve been weary, and even cry on when I’ve been down. Behind every entrepreneur is an unseen and under-appreciated support network.
 

@ FEEDBACK
projjol.banerjea@zeotap.com

Category: 
Volume No: 
14
Issue No: 
10