I have always been fascinated by the idea of basic priorities, habits, capabilities we subconsciously build as children, lasting into our later lives, and in many cases serving as core reasons for our differentiation in the world. Obvious examples are Steve Jobs’ acquiring an early interest in ‘building’ things from his father, Paul Jobs who instilled in him the discipline of labor as well as the aesthetic of the inside being in sync with the outside, a core element of Jobs’ spiritual as well as professional philosophy. Warren Buffet, famously visited his father’s brokerage since the age of 11, and started his first venture selling horseracing tip sheets at the age of 13, as well as investing in a stock that eventually delivered him a 55% return. But you don’t need to be a child prodigy to make a difference.
I believe you just need to be your own kind of child. Some children love to play, some love to think, some are born smart, some take time to bloom. But whatever it is we have dealt with, seen, internalized or become good at navigating as children- I believe makes a difference to who or what we become later in life. Subtly.
I have seen this trend not only around me in my family but also in the students I work with. When I see an early propensity for leadership either as a sibling or in school or a local community, I generally, and I stress, generally, see a greater emphasis on leadership, independence and what I will call a ‘driver’s seat-orientation’ in adult life. Sometimes I see complex qualities in a person, driven by bullying at school, poor academic performance, social awkwardness, or even significant events such as financial loss or the loss of a parent. There is something precious about these conflicts and childhood dealings.
A person, who has been bullied, will often have great empathy for those all around. Or will appreciate the value of key influences or moments in their life, that have restored their self-confidence. Or a child with several years of poor academic performance often has that one inflection point. A child with a stutter, suddenly wakes up and says, that’s it. I’m going to fight it. These are real stories that I listen to every day. Small moments in a person’s life. Where everything changes. And I have seen remarkable stories of young children dealing with the loss of a parent, or a separation, in spiritual, creative and subconscious ways, which has matured them beyond their years. This maturity is inherent, and years later helps them make the most impact at the workplace.
What are these turning points in our lives that change everything? That change the way we look at ourselves at our worlds? And how important is confidence, really? Very. And this change need not be restricted only to childhood. People change.
A struggling professional comes across that one boss that believes in her. An investment banker who just cant get work on time, shows his real prowess lies in the in-depth quality of his primary research in an entirely untapped market. A young engineer builds a machine at a very low cost, and realizes accessibility can change the world. Lives are a collection of precious moments. That change us as people, professionals and leaders forever.
And this trend is something that entirely disrupts my thinking on the linearity of childhood and later life. I believe everything can change. And that’s why coaching is complex. It is retaining key influences in the past, while realizing the future could go anywhere.
And that’s what I love about Seven Hats. The Seven Hats process changes people. Permanently. It is real, serious and intensive, personal and professional. I have seen people change entirely. People trapped in their own resumes, realize that billion dollar deal should actually be seen with a different pair of lenses to see its real impact. People trapped in their own monotony, realize why their work matters. People whose vision ends at the next school, job or step-function progression, stop and ask. Wait. What have I really done? And how will I make it count? I have seen people answer these questions slowly. Not just for an essay. But for the next chapter of their lives. And I believe this is what will set them apart many years down the line.
I started Seven Hats after a career in Investment Banking, Consulting, Development and Private Equity. I started Seven Hats to instill mentorship in the too often angular world of professionalism and education in the country. And as it has grown from one student to now nearly 70, and from Mumbai to the rest of the world (New York, Singapore, London, Dubai etc.,), I realize that with every Seven Hatter, we are changing the way we think about education, careers and personal disruption, ever so slightly. Focus on the next job. But mindfully. Not just to do. But to do it in the best way it can be done, so other things can happen, other people can be impacted, so things can change, because you did it. We send our students to some of the best schools in the world. But, not simply with a great application package. But with a renewed vision. And a hunger to make a difference.
The past matters. But change is constant. Moments come ever so suddenly. And when they do, make it count. Seven Hats will never be mass. We believe in the small, precious moments and the vagaries that make your life, education and your careers. And we will help you carve successful, meaningful futures. Mindfully. Dream Big.
– Neha Sundesha