To be an entrepreneur is to embark on a journey that is 150,000 years old. Since the dawn of time, we have risked it all to venture forth.
With nothing but the stars as signposts, travellers of the past pioneered past their borders. With nothing but the ceaseless fire that resides in the human soul, our ancient ancestors embraced the unknown. With nothing but the faith that resides in our restless hearts, we set forth and welcomed the tide… not knowing what awaited at the other shore.
I close my eyes and I see it. The mysterious ocean that my ancestors braved as they charted uncharted terrains in the name of commerce.
As a descendant of entrepreneurs, I have fond memories of meeting customers and suppliers from all the Seven Seas. I have roots in: India, Japan, Uganda, the UK, and of course, Singapore, where I was born. I myself have added Israel, Australia and China to that list.
By the time I was born, air travel had replaced sea voyages – but the innate need to explore the world and all its possibilities is something that runs in my blood.
As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut.
The Celestial Beings captivated my imagination. They felt like old friends — far away, yet familiar. There is an indescribable wonderment in gazing up at the night sky, contemplating the big questions and knowing that the answers are somewhere out there... or somewhere within.
The repeating rhythms of day and night, the waxing and waning of the moon, the Morning and Evening star that arose on the horizon… In the recurring patterns of the cosmos, we discovered the concept of time.
The stars were the first to steer human knowledge of life, death and rebirth.
My North Star
In our modern world, the entrepreneurial journey has changed, but the destination has remained the same. Growing up, there were many teachings that my elders passed down to me. There is one story that is firmly imprinted in my mind and comes back to me over and over again.
As the Patriarch and the Head of the Family–my grandfather Ratilal Dada‘s seat was reserved for him and him alone. In a world where everyone is vying for the top position, he had a simple story to illustrate what that position meant.
“This seat,” he said. “Comes with a heavy burden. When you are strong enough to withstand its weight, this seat will belong to you.”
At the age of 32, the seat was passed down to me.
To be born into a family of entrepreneurs is not about preserving what your ancestors did; but about continuously reinventing the family tradition with each succeeding generation. In March 2019, I started Mith Books.
The Business Legacy
All entrepreneurs are potential custodians of the world’s wealth. From ancient history to modern times, capitalists have been depicted as soulless and greedy. But is this truly the case?
Entrepreneurs place their entire well-being at risk to chart uncharted terrains. They are so convinced of their own idea that they’re willing to risk their lives, their savings, and even bid farewell to their families and homelands.
What propels them forward? What pushes them to embrace the unknown at great personal risk? What keeps them going when others throw in the towel?
Entrepreneurs are not born. They are made. With each obstacle one learns to overcome, with each setback one learns to navigate beyond, and with each time one learns to persevere when the terrain is far too tumultuous–entrepreneurs are made.
Entrepreneurs are not perfect. They are all deeply flawed in their own way–the legacy they leave behind a mixture of successes and perceived failures.
And yet, we do not know the outcome of our actions till generations down the line. We do not know the legacy that we leave behind till history looks back and finds the link between the past, the present and the potential futures.
I believe that we neither come into this world empty-handed nor leave the same way. We are all legacies of those that have come before us and those who we leave behind. Each and every single one of us is a continuation of a story that began well before we were born and that will continue to unravel long after we depart.
An entrepreneur is first and foremost an adventurer.
It is this deep sense of adventure that propels us forward to travel to distant lands and venture to the moon. To celebrate the history of commerce is to know that we are all descendants of adventurers who dared to create a world that only existed in the human imagination.
You are me and I am you. Life is a grand gift. Savour it.