“What is “L” in NEXEL?” I was asked during a talk (many times). And I can’t tell you how excited and relieved I feel every time I hear this question. In a world full of sheep, seeing people pausing and asking questions itself is a positive sign. It tells me we are still there, alive and thinking. It tells me there is still hope.

Before you start wondering what this is all about, let me put things into perspective first. It’s no small achievement to get into IITs and IIMs of this country (India). You have to go through grueling and highly competitive tests. You have to spend countless nights awake studying and preparing. And of course you need to have right parents and teachers around to inspire, guide and support you for the ambition. No doubt you have to be smart, intelligent, hard working and lucky. 

So you are smart, hard working and extremely lucky. You get into the top-notch institutions of the country. Govt. spends tons of tax-payer’s money on these institutions to provide best of the infrastructure and support. You get best faculty and guidance. You get environment, support and inspiration. You work hard and learn the best with the best. In a country where 1/3 of the population sleeps empty stomach and innocent girl being raped every second; what you have is nothing short of a miracle.

Now you decide to become an entrepreneur and have your own startup. That’s a bold move I must say. Instead of following the herd and getting a steady income job, you decide to do something bigger and follow your passion. And you use your time, talents, energy and every skill that you acquired so far in building this app, which will deliver cheaper potatoes to people. And your model to deliver cheaper potatoes is by giving discount (not from your pocket). 

For that you need investor’s money. And your reasoning and logic behind that is because everybody else is doing the same; and you quote examples. Building an app – getting funding and then spending all that money; that’s how it goes. All the hustle and sweat just to get an article published in some startup magazine. The article says “a 20 something brilliant young visionary entrepreneur raised so many millions in funding”. Your whole achievement is that somebody greedy enough played a bet on their ability to market your app good enough to dupe other greedy investors and encash their money. While you become the poster boy getting all the “paid” media; they make money.

And you start living in a bubble thinking Story of sheep who thought they were lions and what the world needs todayyou are changing the world. 

I wouldn’t mind. There is nothing wrong in that for some (or most) people. I only think that you were the most talented, smart, hard working and lucky kid of the town.

You got everything that millions can not even dream of.

You burned the mid night oil to get all this. And you could’ve chosen to use all that to solve some of the most critical problems this country and humanity faces today. You could use your skills, talents and energy in solving problems like poverty, hunger, war, terrorism, injustice, environment, society and many more.

Why did or could you not think about that and dedicate all your resources on that? Wouldn’t that be a better use of all that you got? What happened along the way that you became so small in your ambition? Is it the people and environment around you that restricted the flight of your thoughts; or something else? I wonder whether and if questions like this haunt you during the night when are you away from all the false sense of achievement.

Do you also think about these questions or your life has become just a football responding to investors, employees, media and customers kicks?

When there are many problems in front of us; choosing what problems to solve and what to not is the most critical decision. We have one life, and its precious. Resources and time are limited. We are smarter, talented and luckier than others for a reason. There is much bigger purpose behind all that; much bigger than selling cheaper potatoes.

Trust me we were meant for bigger and better things.

And that thought; these questions separate ordinary and average from the legends. This is what leadership is all about. This is what the country and humanity needs. This is what each one of us needs. We need Leaders. And that’s what the “L” in NEXEL stands for.


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