Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interfacing With Youth

About a couple of years back due to health reasons I decided that I cannot continue my management consulting practice in the model in which I had conducted for the last 20+ YEARS requiring extensive travels and eating all types of food available there. At the same time I was caught with a dilemma as to how to spend my sunset years productively for the society.

I remember as a kid I used to attend the Kathakalakshepam's ( Mythical story telling) by various Deekshitar's and swamigal's while accompanying my mother. It was actually a duty to accompany her since these events used to be held in the night at temples after dinner from 8PM onwards and end by 10PM. I was the only son willing to do this duty since my younger brother was too young and and elder brother was too busy and my dad used to hate the idea of accompanying mom anywhere and sister cannot give safe accompaniment. Hence the chore used to fall on my head even though I used to protest that I have to study etc..when my mom will use her emotional blackmail to convince me to come along. I was I think around 10 - 12 years old at that time. While listening to those stories usually embellished with sonorous music and some typical south Indian jokes, I was quite impressed by the Hindu way of life expostulated by these story tellers. The four stages of life being Brahmacharya, Gruhastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa and how every mortal Hindu has to go through these four stages. Subconsciously I think I was greatly influenced by this and tried to live my life conforming to these guidelines as i have understood.

So I realised that I have come to that cross road in life where I must move from Gruhastha stage to Vanaprastha where it was suggested that having completed your duties to your family and society at large during the previous stage you metaphorically move to the edge of the forest (that is why the term Vanaprastha) and be available to the society for your knowledge and wisdom and offer them when sought but do not seek out any material interface with the world outside. And I found the best way to meet my desire to be productively useful and at the same time not seek any material rewards was to take on the role of a Mentor to the youth especially any youngster with a desire to pursue his life through entrepreneurship. Initially I was not sure how I would go about getting this interface happen when I came across two institutions dealing with supporting entrepreneurship development and providing the Eco systems were keen on getting on board people like me to offer Mentoring support and they promptly invited me to join them in this endeavour.

Then the question arose what about the other youth who want to pursue career options outside the self employed business route. Typically I used to get offers to take courses for Management students in many institutions which have come up with shortage of teachers to teach many of the management topics to be covered for writing and passing an exam. I was never excited by those offers but I felt that if the same institutions give me an opportunity to address these students or interact with these students outside the course curriculum then I would share with them my perspectives of learning and knowledge acquisitions and adopting the same for their real life contexts using the very same concepts which they learn by rote for passing an exam!!

I cant say that this idea has taken off in a big way but I do get some invitations from a few institutions where some one who has personal knowledge about me is associated and gets me to talk to their students. Many a time I never make any structured preparations for these sessions, talk from my heart and head literally, words flow and at the end of the sessions it is a pleasant surprise to find animated discussions from those who attend. It is fun to see that many of these students have good knowledge and exposure thanks to internet making easy access to information. But what the present education system lacks is giving them an opportunity to learn to adopt these understanding and I think when I address these students they find some resonance between their knowledge and its applications.

Well the Vanaprastha stage of my life has started making sense to me over the last two years and one consequence of this is that I have no connection with the world with which I had established an active rapport till two years back and hardly any one I knew even bothers to call me up and check if I am around at all and it occurred to me other day that this has not bothered me at all!! In the meanwhile the youth whom I have started interfacing with through my mentoring keep coming back to me with their own issues and I enjoy my role of being their Mentor. I think I have found my path to Nirvana through this role!!

See you till next time...


  1. Hi Srini,

    I guess I am one of the youngsters who has not been active in seeking your advise (much to my own loss!).

    I would to engage more and in a more disciplined way.

    Will get in touch.


  2. Hey Srini

    Could you try and expand on what kind of mentoring you are actually doing? What concepts are the foundation for your hand-holding to take the youth forward? What lessons from your experience seem to appeal to the youth and get them excited?

    If you try to put all this down it would help those who read your blog, either to use the inforamation for themselves or to realise there are young people they know who could benefit from this kind of advice/mentoring.

    So get down to some concrete musings on this if possible!



  3. Chinu, get going. While the generation next is always more intelligent and pragmatic, your experience would help then hone-up their skills and intellect. Cheers!!

  4. well said

    your lucid thoughts go a long way in helping us gain perspective