This is the 39th story of Our Life Logs.
“The very fact that you have a desire or a dream means that you have the corresponding capacity to realize it.”
—Robin S. Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.
I have lived a blessed life. I was taught from a young age that the best way to find success was through dreaming big. If you can envision yourself clearly doing something, it will happen. Through this way of thinking, I’ve been lucky enough to run a business of my own for 40 years.
I was born in Kolkata, India in the 1950s to my young parents. My mother was only about 17 when she gave birth to me. My grandparents decided that she was too young to care for me on her own, so I was passed off to them a month after I was born. They raised me with just as much love and affection as my parents would have. I spent my entire young life with them, until I was old enough to live on my own. I had a younger brother and a younger sister who stayed with my parents. I was the only one that got cared for by my grandparents. I never found out why my parents never took me back, but as I got older, I stopped caring to know because I had lived a wonderful life with my grandparents.
I never learned to call my mother “mom.” I often referred to her as sister and my grandparents as “mom” and “dad.” I lived away from my immediate family and didn’t get a chance to develop a close relationship with them, but I don’t believe that negatively affected my life. After all, it’s those who are around you that matter the most.
I had a decent education growing up and found an interest in engineering by the time I finished high school in 1971. I continued with my college education majoring in engineering. The school was only a few miles away from my home by bus, so I always stayed close by. After graduating college, I moved to Bokaro Steel City and got a six-month internship there. Following that, I worked for an electric company for another six months or so. I was in my early 20s then, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue working as an employee. I was thirsty for a challenge. I longed for an exciting change. I fostered a new dream and was determined to realize it.
I quit my job to try something new. I made the decision to start my own electrical engineering business. My uncle, who had initiated his own business of a private hospital after being a gynecologist for years, was my inspiration to build a business of my own. He encouraged me to move forward and be brave. Running a business can be hard, but if you have dreamed about it, you should at least give it a try. So, I did.
Soon I realized that starting a company was a lot more work than I had thought. It was not just about engineering, which I was familiar with and good at. It was also about marketing, finance, managing accounts, staffing…I never knew it was so much! Unlike today when most of the information you need is readily available on the Internet, at that time in India, there were limited resources that I could leverage to learn and broaden my business knowledge. I had to self-teach a lot through reading books.
With very little capital to start with and my lack of industrial experience, I was faced with a load of hardships during the first few years of my business. However, the idea of quitting never crossed my mind. Although it seemed unattainable, I knew that setting up this business would be possible because I was able to see myself doing it. I was determined to reach the success I had dreamed of. I spent four to five years building it up to finally get it off the ground.
During this time, I got married. I had an arranged marriage set up by my family and my bride’s family. We exchanged photos back and forth, but only met one time before our wedding day. This was common at the time, so I didn’t feel any anger or discomfort for being forced into a marriage with someone I didn’t know well. She had a good family, and I knew we would be able to build a happy life together. We wedded in 1981. As I got to know her during our marriage, I came to know her as a very cooperative, wonderful person. She was very supportive and encouraging of me when I was working to get my business off the ground. Today she is my biggest inspiration to work hard and be a good person.
The business was going well for most of the 1980s and early 1990s. Things were steady, and I was happy with my marriage. My son was born in 1982 which brought a lot of responsibility onto my shoulders, but I welcomed it. I wanted to pass my wisdom onto him. As he grew up, there was a bigger sense of pressure to provide for him. My wife and I wanted him to get educated and grow to be successful. This was difficult to achieve where we were settled. By 1994, things got a little rocky. We decided to move back to Kolkata to be closer to family, so they could help if we needed them to. It was a stressful time for me because we had to buy a new house, which was difficult since by that point the business was falling flat and not making much money.
Nevertheless, I continued the business and got over the difficult hump after settling back home. I held onto my dream relentlessly even during the most challenging times. I made investment to expand the business even when it looked the most unrealistic at the time. But I was sure. I knew if I could dream it, I could make it.
Over time, my business has grown with substantial success. It’s still running and prospering to this day. Meanwhile, I began searching for a way that I could give back to society. I started hiring fresh high school and college graduates, so that I could provide them with on-job training to prepare them for their future. Through this sort of apprenticeship, I’m able to mentor the next generation to become successful workers. I love doing this because it gives me a chance to pass on my own knowledge and experience to them through day to day work activities. Our relationship is closer than a regular employer-employee relationship. I like for them to see me more as a mentor or a friend.
From keeping my business running for 40 years now, I’ve come to see that anything is possible if you work hard toward the goals you set for yourself. I feel that if you dream it, you will become it. I taught my son this lesson and he has gone on to live a fulfilling life. I teach the young boys I hire the same lesson and hope they will find success as well.
I feel, at 62, I am at a great place in my life. My son is now married and established living in the United States, my business is running smoothly, and I have my wife by my side supporting me. Although it was not always easy, I never let my dream go. To live my dream is the biggest fulfillment I have ever had.
March 6, 2018
-This is the story of Subrato Sarkar-
Subrato currently resides in Kolkata, India with his wife. He is still running his electrical engineering service business that he started back in the 1970s. He had a unique upbringing, but through his childhood, he was taught the important lessons about life that led him to successfully starting his own business. Subrato likes to help mentor the youth of his city and create software in his free time. He also enjoys gardening because he likes watching the plants start from nothing and grow into something magnificent.
This story first touched our hearts on March 6, 2018.
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editors: Manqing Jin|