Onwards and upwards…
(this blog is about my journey in the last six months)
Last summer I decided to return from Chicago in the winter of 2013 (the plan was to spend two years in the USA and the resolve was to stick to the plan). I was to work full time on weekdays with the Gurgaon office of my employer and volunteer on the weekend (for 25 weekends) with a political party, in the run up to the elections. The first part of the plan did not work out because my Indian handlers dropped the ball miserably in terms of role, location and compensation. The second part of the plan was proposed because of my passion for politics and the possibility of me getting full time in either political strategy or electoral politics in the near future.
I began the new journey I had set out for by taking up a three month assignment as a consultant with a PR firm which was a frontrunner to work with a political party. I refused the overtures from another PR firm who turned out to be the underdog in the race for the same mandate. By then I had met Rahul Gandhi accidentally and was utterly disappointed with his style and approach. A meeting thereafter with a senior party strategist shocked me further, as I realised how ill prepared and chaotic they were. The situation was grim and the writing was on the wall. With that disillusionment I took the call to observe few individuals who I thought were promising Parliamentarians and learn grassroots campaigning and community outreach first hand.
In the meanwhile a friend of a friend got me in touch with Arvind Kejriwal himself to work on AAP’s content and communication. This was the second disappointment as the man is an awesome human being but a novice in politics who himself is learning the ropes. I got connected with a bunch of interesting men including Dilip Pandey and Yogendra Yadav but they were finding a method in the madness and I was impatient. So with no influence whatsoever, through twitter and email I decided to reach out to a few candidates and requesting them to let me be on their campaign trail for a few days. And thus began a journey of watching these candidates up, close and searching for signals of what the future had in store. I saw a Modi wave emerging and was not sure if I was overestimating what I was hearing on the ground. Or maybe I was in denial.
But the time I spent in these few constituencies watching how these young celebrity women candidates handled crowds, fans, voters was fascinating. I could sense they were not in a comfortable position in terms of winning but I could see their ardent desire to fight a system of patriarchy that was staring at them. I’m glad I decided to follow my heart and take the road less travelled. As this was happening a bunch of PR firm head honchos were beginning conversations with me to join their companies at the end of the election season and I had made up my mind that I certainly did not want to be employed as the entrepreneurial bug had bitten me. I knew that I wanted to start out on my own. And I had two ideas I was willing to experiment with. I will share these ideas in detail in a separate blog but one of them is to start a specialised communications firm exclusively for Members of Parliament.
In the last six months I met several of my old connections and at least 50 new people who support the idea of working out a hybrid model. With that advice I am taking up a consulting assignment where I’m offering my time, two days a week to a leading PR firm to be the advisor to its leadership on strategy and insights. And the rest of the time is mine, to build my ideas into commercially viable entities. Thus starting Monday, the 19th May 2014 I embark on a journey into the unknown but with a clear roadmap and Plan B that gets activated if my ideas fail which I will evaluate at the end of the year. For now, I am excited about the new contours my professional journey is taking. And I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my life. Onwards and upwards!