I’m Vivek Khandelwal, founder of the technology startup iZooto. iZooto is my second venture. The first one was Applied Mobile Labs in 2009 and lasted for 7 years. At iZooto, we just crossed the 4 year mark. A startup’s survival says a lot about the founding team (not just founders) and their resilience. I have been fortunate to be a part of the team that has not only survived but is now thriving.
Serendipity and YourDOST
We have been a part of the Upekkha tribe right from 2017. And the Upekkha team goes out of the way to ensure that the founders in the tribe are always prepared. Founder’s sanity and health has always been the first question that is discussed in our weekly calls. I remember that the YourDost was invited at a Quarterly Peer Review last year in June and they had done a brief session for the tribe. I remember not attending that session. It took 2 emails and one “what the heck” for me to ask myself,
What’s the harm in giving it a try?
The answer to that was “Nothing” and so I decided to give the program a shot.
I had walked into the program with 0 expectations. This always helps. Because when I first connected with my assigned coach, Puroitree, there was no agenda that had to be discussed. It was a free flowing conversation. I do remember that back then I was struggling to get my personal discipline back on track. I remember, Puroitree would ask me, “So how was your week?”
I would end up drawing a blank, and for the next 2 or 3 mins, I would find myself struggling for an answer.
If you are struggling to answer that question or are searching for words or have to try really hard to think what all happened in the week that went by – when asked how your day or week was, there’s something wrong.
For me, it was a clear signal that I was in the midst of excessive chaos and that you need to put a structure to your day.
I have been engaging with YourDOST for over a year now. The program has given me the help I need to make simple commitments to myself and then have Puroitree as a Commitment Accountant. And this has helped – not just me but my team as well.
My degree of self-awareness has improved a lot.
I am now able to think more clearly about all the challenges, problems, bottlenecks, and limitations in my life thoroughly. Every now and then, we go over these bottlenecks and decide which ones we’re going to tackle next.
Our process is simple. Together we’re able to give some structure to my life in terms of things that we want to tackle immediately for both short term and long term benefits. We then decide which bottleneck to focus on for say the upcoming week or month. Then you work with the coach to develop a week by week plan, or a day by day plan, to tackle these things better. This eventually gives you leverage in both your personal and professional lives.
Right from the very beginning, I was clear in my head that personal fitness is going to be extremely important in this long run – both physical and mental.
I started working on the physical fitness problem very decently.
Not sure if I have lost enough kgs to put up a before-vs-after photo but a consistent fitness regime has helped me tremendously. I now have able to carve out time for family which makes a ton of difference. I am far from being perfect but I am excited about the progress that I have made. Patience is the key here. Given the nature of our job, lifestyle, most of us end up accumulating a lot of debt – physical, and emotional. Problems that have existed for a decade cannot be solved overnight. Two things that helped be – Being reminded time and again to be patient and not going hard on yourself.
All of this of course cannot be achieved in a single session.
The program has been specifically structured for founders. And the engagement style doesn’t come across a process. Rather, it feels very natural. The coach’s empathy reflects very clearly when she’s engaging and helping me decode my problems or helping me identify my bottlenecks.
When the Coronavirus pandemic struck and the nationwide lockdown was announced, we at iZooto were quite worried about the emotional wellness of our team, particularly those who live alone. So we decided to do a wider roll out of the YourDOST program and opened it to all our team members to opt-in for.
As a 2X entrepreneur, one thing I can confidently say, something a wise man too once said – Early stage founders do not have the permission to fall sick.
Even if they manage to, they will attempt to operate with the same vigour. A lesson learnt I have learnt the hard way is,
If you want to truly build, sustain and grow a business, at some point, you would need to prioritise your sanity and fitness over everything else. You have to be 100% fit to give your 200%
Founders always acknowledge their health – physical and mental as important but not as urgent. This is when it starts becoming a massive emotional debt which then starts taking a toll. It also impacts those around you. The exact people you’re building the business for or building the business with will get impacted when you don’t prioritise your physical, mental, emotional fitness and this is mission critical. Start investing in yourself first. Seek professional guidance. It will make you more capable, potent, competent and resilient enough to invest in others as well equally strongly.
Are you a startup founder, incubator or VC looking to boost your and team’s growth? YourDOST’s Founders Program will help you do just that. Click here to learn more.