Akash Gautam has arrived on the motivational speaker scene. I recently attended one of his sessions and was thoroughly impressed with the rapport he created with the audience. I requested him for an email interview and guess what – he agreed.
So, here is the transcript of our discussion for your reading and learning pleasure:
What made you move away from a normal nine to five job to what you are doing now?
Two things: – 1) Normal & 2) Nine to Five.
I post graduated in fashion from India’s best fashion school; NIFT, New Delhi. But soon I realized that my passion was not in fashion. My first two jobs in the fashion industry did not let the full energy within me to get expressed.
There was no point trying to become a smart, rich rat in the rat race.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Trust me; I do not remember. I just wanted to be someone who my school time crush will like to date. She was an Army officer’s daughter. In class 8th – I even day dreamed of killing 100 enemy soldiers & then proposing her. You see – there was passion even then 🙂
Why & how did you become a Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer?
It is funny but I was sacked from my second job in the fashion industry for ‘demotivating colleagues’. Life is strange na! I was a naughty, quite a useless guy by the world standards then.
But I always had one thing with me- ‘my confidence’. I really do not know how it happened, when it happened. But God did a U-turn to my life & I became a ‘solution provider’ to people from an ‘issues provider’ guy. I kept on changing as I kept on working.
What have you achieved with your initiatives?
God is gracious! I had dreamed of huge auditoriums, dreamful audience, powerful mikes & then ‘Me’ extending myself onto all this. My dreams came true. Now it is thanks giving time.
I have delivered sessions right across India in (300 +) colleges like IIMs, IITs, IIITs, NITs, Xaviers, St. Stephens, reputed B-Schools and many more. Top Indian & multinational brands like Google, Vodafone, Maruti Udyog, Glaxo, HDFC etc regularly engage me for some critically impacting corporate training work.
From training Miss India beauty pageant contestants to rural women of Haryana and Tihar Jail inmates, I have cherished working with & contributing to some very interesting set of people.
More than 150,000+ friends / fans on (across) my social media put an onus on me to deliver nothing but the best. I have lots on the agenda next.
I want to run more, meditate & pray more, read more, laugh more, travel more & more than all – Inspire more & more people to live 100%. And I believe the best is yet to come!
You talk about being a full time seeker of God – what role does spirituality play in your role as a motivator?
He does everything and I get famous. I am in love with ‘HIM’. I do not ask for anything and he opens so many ways for me. He sends those people in my life, who I need to meet at that point of time in my life. Those people then do everything needed for me.
He keeps me in joy most of the times. I believe in today’s world one needs to be as luckier as one should be ‘Capable’. God creates destiny stories which are the true best sellers.
We find people in the corporate world highly stressed. What do you think is the reason for this? Why people are just not happy despite having money & qualifications? What is happening & why?
My work gets me a chance to meet many genres of people. ‘We just do not want to be happy. We want to be moving’– is my strangest observation about my fellow voyagers. Whether they are IIT / IIM working in a corporate or IAS officers or top doctors or students or housewives – I have found my observation to be true with majority junta.
We are like a train which just wants to move keep on passing through the important stations in its journey. It does stop for a while at those stations (your goals in life). But it does not have the ability to remain rested there for a while and celebrate the arrival with a 100% moment. It remains just so worried about the next stop.
One reason for that is that we see so many other trains moving around us. We see them reaching faster. So we just zip up. Luckily for our ego massage purpose, we feel very comforted at seeing trains which are slower than us. We pretend that we are happy at the faster speeds of our friend trains but we are actually never.
If we do not find a reason to be worried we invent the reason. We secretly have come to believe that worry is the fuel of progress.
The ethic of bigger, faster and better precipitates our mind to expend far more energy than we adequately renew. The demands relentlessly keep on rising.
Then we over eat, have extra cups of teas, coffees, cigarettes and sometimes alcohol too. These are nothing but our misguided efforts to calm and comfort ourselves. The TV numbs us out instead of renewing.
The discos, the parties, the hip hop of the world hardly make us happy. Our vacations are more fatiguing than renewing.
We sleep with our laptops, ipads, mobile phones, Whatsapps, FB. These technologies and apps have overwhelmed us.
Then when we try to fall asleep – we begin worrying about today’s mistakes and the tomorrow’s demands. We wake up the next morning too tired & then get sucked up into the same incessant routine.
Let me ask you a question. When did you last switch off, disengaged fully & took 100% rest?
Have not we lost our ability to feel rested? And somewhere the ability to be genuinely happy too.
We want to impress the people around with the speed of our movement. We move from relationships which are not stylish, successful and sexy to those that appear to be so. We love finding faults with people. We just so love it when we are proved superior to someone else.
We are so obsessed with our emotions especially the ‘how you made me feel’ syndrome. Those who make us feel good / praise us, agree with us, ‘gift us’ or ‘do our works’ are called good by us. Those who don’t are not.
Our looks are more important to us than what is inside us. The inside is fatigued and is always living in a state of perpetual anxiety. Unfortunately we are living in a world where unnecessary things have become our biggest necessities.
What else will it lead to, if not stress!
How does one handle stress at a personal and professional level?
I do not know. You have to find the answer for yourself. Even if I talk about ‘What is helping me in this chaos and noise’; you will only read and forget. Even if you remember – you might not follow because our habits make us so predictable. These confirmed habits of ours shall only bring us back to ‘how we are becoming’.
You owe it to yourself to think about this. One life! You definitely need to create environment to let your biggest ideas flow into your mind.
A tip though:
Life is not about doing those 20 things right. It is about doing some 3-4 things but doing them very right. Trust me the remaining 16-17 are nothing but junk attractions.
The trick is to simplify life and become progressively so discerning that you begin to bunk the junk. The more we scatter our energies; the less powerful we feel to direct them towards our real goals. Hence the need for discipline & extreme will power.
Kill your feverishness for some part of the year & think closely- how you can be more rested to progress more.
One of your favorite comments is “In India, people do engineering and MBA and then decide what to do”. Why this herd mentality & what is the way out?
Yes – we usually pick up trends / road most travelled because – it is safe, tested & gives us an illusory feeling of belonging to the mainland.
In the last few years, during corporate trainings I met not hundreds but thousands of young, apparently very educated professionals who are just enslaved in a cubicle city. A price tag (salary) has almost bought them out. Their free will looks so repressed & spirit almost destroyed. ‘Inspired life’ is totally missing.
Some of these people are very talented but they just are not able to summon the courage to go against the prevailing belief systems. They end up conforming to the normal ways of the society. Our society is such a clever bitch. It encourages & rewards conformism in order to buttress the status quo.
Only a tiny minority of people feel fearless & refuse to get bought out by the false security of an image / money flow. They take the road less travelled & that is what makes all the difference in their lives.
Anybody who has lived meaningfully has separated from the herd & sought the power within. Take the case of animal kingdom where all the powerful ones walk alone but the weaker ones graze together in herds.
For many years I unsuccessfully was trying to be pleasing to others at the cost of my own life & dreams. Some 14 years back the society had kicked me down calling me useless. I had lost two consecutive jobs, was feeling soulless like a corpse within me.
The nauseated feeling was very intense & rebellion was oozing out of my nerves. My dreams were lying buried deep down somewhere under the layers of societal conformance. One day- I decided to exhume them all.
I decided to move out of this herd mentality. I decided to chuck all ‘social burdens’ of what people will think / say about me. I did not have anything but just my belief in self that I could create entertaining events which can help solve the problems in people’s lives. Now I realize – That was all I needed then.
One Life! Ordinary is so Boring. Do something which no one else has done before. Dazzle the world with your unique skill set & brilliance.
How should one decide whether one is more suited to be an entrepreneur or a job?
Your inner voice will tell you this when you will near the time ‘when you need to decide between the two’. In my case, I did not decide. My employers threw me out & I did not have an option but to be an entrepreneur. Thankfully, I chose a road which went through my heart.
You tell people to maintain their work-life balance. How is it possible in today’s world with cut-throat competition from school admission to jobs to getting customers?
It is very much possible by integrating life goals with your goals. Keep on revisiting your goals to remind yourself of them. With a diversified portfolio of goals, the risk hedging becomes easier.
Suppose one category of goals go wrong. Now the confidence accrued because of progress towards other goals (e.g. fitness, personality, family etc) will keep the overall portfolio good. This realization comes with time and as one lives one’s life more and more.
Balance is bigger than passion. Take that! Another idea to reduce competition is to take the roads less travelled. For e.g. Instead of spending so much money on children’s marriages – spend on children’s education. Small clever things will cumulatively make a big difference.
I believe today’s youth has tremendous energy but they do not have a clear sense of direction. What is your key message to today’s youth?
If you are running on a popular road (MBA / MBBS/ Engineering / family business etc.) – then run fast & overtake. Otherwise choose a different direction & the whole world will follow you. There is no point being indecisive. Either do it fully or leave it. Mediocrity is for time passers and time pass = time fail. Get fearless!
Don’t think much about people. Trust me – no one is thinking about you. When you succeed- you’ll make top class friends. Today if your friend has a love life & you do not have- you can chase ‘awesomeness’. And tomorrow thousands might chase you for this.
You have achieved good success with reaching out to the friends and followers through the social media. What is your success mantra?
I believe that alternative, maverick approaches are no longer a novelty. They are all that we are left with. So, I cheat 🙂
How I do that? I just try and change the rules of the game in a way that it leverages my kind of strengths in areas which are attractive to the youth. My talks & videos take examples from their daily lives – relationships, movies, cricket, advertisements and anything that attracts them.
Today’s youth does not change when they are given a better option but are likely to change when
1) Change is the only option left or
2) A better option gets recommended to them in a language which resonates with their minds.
No one likes ‘gyaan’ (boring lectures) from anyone. My work = Motivation minus Gyaan.
I use their language in my talks, blogs, events and social media. Youth buys from a point of emotional contact & I notoriously use this assumption to make them learn, grow, change, become better. This has worked very well.
Anything which is sheer theory will soon become invisible to youth (as there is so much clutter of a similar kind existing around). Most of my events & workshops try to blend the ‘Cool’ / Gen-X factor with the lessons.
Are you coming up with a book sometime soon? Can you tell us something about it?
I am presently authoring a book titled ‘Lag Gayi’- The secret science of ‘How we screw our lives’.
It will be a fun, naughty & sarcastic book which shall try & answer majority of the secret needs of today’s youth especially working professionals. The book should be in the market by Diwali 2014.
If someone wants to hire you for one’s corporate training or an event, how can one go about it?
All details are there at my website: www.akashgautam.com. One can also drop an email at info AT akashgautam.com.