I got an unexpected #LinkedIn message the other day from an ex-colleague with whom communication had tapered off years ago. What was unusual about the message was her reason to reconnect. “You have chosen a path very different than most of us and I am very curious to hear about your journey”. Needless to say, I was slightly taken aback. And then we spoke and it felt very revitalizing and rejuvenating as I recounted my journey from #PAC to #PAC (more on that in a minute). And that was the trigger to write this short blog capturing the essence of my journey and the missteps (lots of it) and the learnings that may provide value to you.

I was caught up in the quicksand of #PAC for the longest time. I knew I wanted to try something different but #PAC held me back. #PAC being Permission, Approval, and Centricity.

#Permission – I wasted years awaiting permission from the world to try something different. Permission from my family to say go ahead. (Family support is essential but permission needs to be sought and granted from within). Permission from my then boss that it was OK to write about technical topics to trade magazines without touting my company’s product. Permission from my colleagues and friends that it was OK to write about life topics without being judged as a pontificator without credibility.

#Approval – The next mental hurdle right at the heels of permission was approval. Will I be accorded respect as a writer when I write for the first time using everyday analogies to convey complex technical topics? What audacity do I have to start a cohort called #iPoP – In Pursuit of Purpose – presumably to coach fellow mates in the same mid-life self-examination boat (crisis?) using my own journey as an example – will it be met with skepticism?

And finally, #Centricity – Will I succeed? How will I get back to a traditional role if this does not work out? Is my network strong enough to support me and get me the leads I need to test my ideas and grow my business? It was all centered around me. I, me, mine.

And then something changed.

An impromptu sign-up for the Recognized Experts Course hosted by (as I found out during and after the course super awesome) Dorie Clark. A break with my first magazine article that fueled me to write using my life analogies recipe. A supportive group of ex-colleagues who tolerated me weekly through our #iPoP discovery meetings. And I realized that my formula had changed to #PAC. Except for this time, the #PAC stood for something different.#PAC being Plunge, Adapt and Community

#Plunge – Taking a chance on a course that had nothing to do with my job except it felt right. Deciding to leave my well-paying corporate job without a life vest. Diving headlong into an experimental coaching experiment with #iPoP. Flying cross-country to be in a 2-day experimental class with folks I had never met in my life. Saying yes to a chance to become a podcast host. Flying to Vancouverto meet a first time acquaintance, driving four hours in the night and addressing a group of solopreneurs in the small town of Kamloops, BC on the topic of finding one’s Why and getting so much love and inspiration from it. And on and on.

#Adapt – Much like a startup every day was experimentation. Adapting to not having colleagues to chat with on a lunch break. Adapt to creating a to-do list on a daily basis to maintain a sliver of structure on meeting free days.  Adapt to working with a personal branding coach to discover my Why. Adapt to accepting that my dream of commercializing #iPoP had to be a dream for now. Adapt to the fact that the resonance for #TechEthics was growing and I needed to double down on what was a passion (with no action) to developing a cohesive and convincing point of view and be vocal about it.

#Community – This was perhaps the one thing I am most grateful for. The comfort and support of having discovered a community far beyond my Silicon Valley myopic centered orbit up until that point. Coaches, speakers, consultants, authors – all in the same boat as me of putting it all out there and constantly experimenting. And sharing one thing in common – the compelling motivation to help each other and give back more than they took.

That, in a nutshell, was how my conversation with my ex-colleague went. I think she got a thing or two from that conversation. I hope you do too from. If not, let me know and I will #adapt and hopefully next time write more meaningful stuff or at least try to #Suckless.



    Empathy, Education, Empowerment

    Mine is a typical Indian immigrant story: an Engineer who became an Engineering Manager, who grew antsy and segued into Product Management then rose to VP and SVP. During those years I fancied I was innovating and experimenting, but in reality I was wearing a corporate straitjacket. Constrained by my industry’s insular mindset, I became a slave to the definition of my job. Inevitably, I ended up dissatisfied. So, I did something unusual for a man in my position: I stopped to reflect. I searched my life and talents for what was fulfilling and had purpose. I discovered I enjoyed storytelling to promote understanding. I loved mentoring and helping people become the best version of themselves. Importantly, I realized I was still passionate about the tech industry, particularly the issues surrounding privacy and ethics. Today, I’m pursuing my passions. I like to think of myself as an accelerator of technology and positivity. I’m the COO of UberKnowledge, bringing cybersecurity awareness and training to demographics that are underrepresented in the industry. I speak at conferences highlighting the need for a sharper focus on the ethics surrounding the technology industry.  I write articles and blog posts using analogy to simplify technology trends and complex topics like AI and IoT. I host podcasts with CISOs and other industry experts. The purpose of these is not to sell snake oil or products but to bridge the chasm between security vendors and customers so that the real problems can be solved to make the world a safer place. Underpinning all of these efforts is my belief that life’s purpose for us all is simply to connect. And the best way to do that is through generous and positive gestures.