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The Story of Human Circle and #DoWhatYouLove by Kamal Seth

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Kamal Seth, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer, Human Circle

The idea for the #DoWhatYouLove movement took some shape in my head during my college years in 2005-08 at Delhi University. I noticed that a lot of my friends were studying what they were not because they were passionate about those subjects but mainly because they cleared the cut-off for those subjects. This also meant that after their graduation, they did a job or a MBA to get a good salary and not because they would truly enjoy what they would do. Before founding Human Circle, I worked as a recruiter for large organisations like Nestle, Philips, Mindvalley, AIESEC etc and ended up doing 2000+ interviews in aprox. 8-10 years. The pattern was very disturbing for me to interact with people from across different age groups and realise that they were doing something that they didn’t love. In many cases, they were unproductive, unhappy and not content with their career and life in general. In 2014, we founded Human Circle to ‘connect enlightened minds’ and drive the #DoWhatYouLove movement.

In 2014, when we opened applications for the first YIC at IIT Delhi, we surprisingly got 700+ applications within 2 months for just 100 delegate positions. Even we were curious to know what made so many people apply. When we asked them the same during the interviews, they shared with us that, YIC’s theme of #DoWhatYouLove connected with them at a deeper level. They wanted to experience something that no other event was offering in Delhi at that point of time. The biggest challenge we faced during the event is that, the room which we had booked to start the first session, was occupied by a Professor, who apparently was not informed about YIC. We gathered the 100 delegates of the first ever YIC in the lawns and started the first workshop ‘Turn Your Passion into a Career’ there itself. After 3 hours, we finally got another room to continue the event. This experience made us even more determined to never give up. But the support from the delegates was amazing. They did not complaint at all and fully participated in the session, even though it was done without any projector, mikes etc. Since then we have never looked back.

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Kamal at the 8th Young India Challenge

So far, close to 1500 people have attended the 8 YICs that we have organised. 7 in Delhi and 1 in Mumbai. We are self-funded and therefore have limited resources to invest in building a sophisticated online system to connect people. It is a challenge to keep a track of each and everyone’s experience but many of them stay connected through our online group on Facebook and Whatsapp and physical meet-ups that we have started organising recently. The YIC alumni often share with us how YIC was kind of a push they needed to finally do something about what they love doing. Many have started new societies in their colleges, start-ups, clubs, and projects or went back to a passion area that they had left behind due to academic, parental or other pressures. Many alumni also continue to get guidance by us, our mentors and life coaches. Many pursue their career in the organisation of our mentors, speakers and eco-system partners. We offer recommendation letters to the most deserving candidates and this helps them in receiving admissions and/or scholarships to pursue their higher studies/jobs. More than 150 individuals have also gone through the ‘Happiness Team’ program of Human Circle, where they work as interns and volunteers for the #DoWhatYouLove movement.

It is true that we don’t focus on big brands and names for our programs and events. We believe that people should engage with the #DoWhatYouLove movement not because some big shot is telling them but because they connect with the idea at a personal level. We want the experience of YIC to be unique for every individual. Everyone has their own needs and expectations. We believe that not everyone is ready to follow their passion for different reasons. Generally they do not get selected for YICs. Our target audience comprises of people who are action oriented, early adopters of a new idea and are willing to take risks at an early stage of their life.  Very often we see that if big sponsors are involved with an event, they inevitably influence the focus of the agenda and it becomes very commercial in a wrong way. It’s not that we have a policy to not work with big brands, but we are selective in our choice. For example, in the past, we have invited speakers and mentors from companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Hindustan Unilever, KPMG, Techstars etc. but they came in an individual capacity. YIC is a not for profit, self-sustainable initiative and we want to keep it this way to stay focused on our mission of engaging the young people of India with the #DoWhatYouLove movement. Delegates pay a basic fee which helps us to keep it going. Any surplus that we make gets invested in building our organisational capacity and investing in new cities where YIC should be organised.

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For the record, Human Circle is a community of people driving the #DoWhatYouLove movement. Students, artists, freelancers, entrepreneurs, young professionals, authors, speakers, trainers, coaches, mentors and everybody else who believes that the only way to be truly successful, rich and happy in life is by doing what we love. This simple wisdom is translated by our ‘happiness team’ into experiential physical/virtual platforms and programs like hangouts, seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, masterminds and festivals.

By the end of 2017, we would have connected atleast 2 million people with the #DoWhatYouLove movement one way or another.

 

A version of this article first appeared here.

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In Conversation with Onkar K Khullar a.k.a Digital Gandhi

 

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Onkar K Khullar popularly know as ‘Digital Gandhi’ started his first company, I Impact India Partners at the age of 21 and later Presentation Ink, creating a niche for himself as the youngest consultant in the ‘Cause Branding  & Marketing’ industry internationally. He is a 3 time drop-out and has recently spoken at a couple of TEDx events in Delhi.

His core areas of expertise and passion are – social impact, branding, marketing and social innovation. He is well renowned for introducing a new way of life called 5-year-old Philosophy through his book ‘5 Year Old Billionaire’. He is a Blogger with Cause Artist. In 2016, he has pledged to spearhead India’s Social Entrepreneurship Movement among the youth called ‘Gandhi with a Laptop’ through his workshops across the nation.

We got a chance to interact with him recently and he happily answered a few questions for us.

Here’s a snippet of our conversation:

Q1. You’re a social entrepreneur, author, blogger, philosopher, have 3 companies, written 3 books and you’re not even 30. How have you managed to do so many things and be successful in them?
Ans. When you start living each day as your last suddenly you start doing more of things you wanted instead of things others want. You have this tight bubble focus on what you wish to achieve.

Q2. You’ve been driving the Digital Gandhi movement for a while now. How have the people responded to it?
Ans. I wanted to make changing the world or should I say the act of doing good cool for the youth. Why should people line up just for a Beiber concert? Why can’t social work get the same response?
It has been more than a year and Corporates, Schools & Colleges are now taking this movement seriously.

Q3. How has your experience been being associated with the #DoWhatYouLove Movement?
Ans. It has been so amazing that the next event I will be standing there with a Flag which has a heart on it.

Q4.  What was your first thought when you heard about #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans. I so wanted to be a participant.

Q5. What inspires you to be a part of #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans.  I live by this motto every single day now. I believe this motto fits perfectly in every scenario of life.

Listen to Onkar’s Talk at the 8th Young India Challenge Here

Subscribe to Digital Gandhi: Life Changing Ideas on Youtube

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In Conversation With Nehha Bhatnagar, Founder – Sarvam Foundation

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Nehha Bhatnagar has been a force for change in Performing Arts in India. A renowned Bharatanatyam exponent, Nehha performs in festivals in India and abroad. She is the youngest Arts Impresario in India, and runs her foundation, Sarvam Foundation. It organizes unique classical arts festivals and collaborations including international exhibitions, international calendars, residencies and other endeavours. It also runs free classes for the underprivileged girls in Delhi, who then perform frequently in India and abroad.

Nehha is also a frequent speaker in the TEDx circuit and is the Licensee and Curator of one of India’s largest TEDx events – TEDx TughlaqRd. She is a mentor for arts and a speaker on creativity and entrepreneurship.

We got a chance to interact with her recently and she happily answered a few questions for us.

Here’s a snippet of our conversation:

Q1. With Sarvam Foundation, you scout for talent at the grassroot level in the slums of Delhi and your main focus is the underprivileged girl child. What significant change do you see in the lives of these girls who are associated with you?
Ans. Changes – where do I even begin!!! From their overall health improving to their confidence levels, their self empowerment to empower their siblings, the respect for the girl child by the male members in their community; it has been one amazing journey of ripple effects. They are not just learning a skill, but an entire personality development course- leadership and empowerment course.

Q2. These days we can see kinds more inclined towards western dance forms and music. Not many kids are taking up Indian dance forms or music as an extra-curricular activity. Why do you think this is happening and what can be done to engage more people towards Indian performing arts? 
Ans. The influx of cable TV in every household and the massive money spent on Cinema songs dances and reality TV- basically everything to do with instant gratification. Classical takes years of learning patiently before even a single show is showcased. How will it withstand the onslaught of mass consumption? However, the West is generating a huge interest in our ancient arts and practices and so the demand for artistes abroad has grown. Our Indian expatriates abroad as well are bolstering the interest in their roots for their children to be connected to their culture. People who are sort of tired of materialistic bombardment also are increasingly finding solace in the traditional and the spiritual and all of this will lead to the growth of these forms. We can never compete with quicker to learn forms or even Bollywood dancing- but yes we need to keep up with the relative pace of growth. Governments and corporates need to step up their game to help this aspiration–because our true wealth is our ‘soft power.’ India will always be way ahead in that wealth!

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Nehha at the 7th Young India Challenge

Q3. How has your experience been being associated with the #DoWhatYouLove Movement?
Ans. Brilliant!! So inspiring to meet the youth with such passion – I have learnt a lot from the Movement myself.

Q4.  What was your first thought when you heard about #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans. What a great line – why would u do anything you don’t love right?

Q5. What inspires you to be a part of #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans. The feeling that “Hey I too can help people do what they love” – even if not full time then as a part time hobby or passion. Because truly when you do what you love to do – life will not lead you astray. It will give you such fulfilment!

 

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In Conversation With Darius Chinoy, Director-JETRO and Actor, Screenwriter/Director

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Darius Chinoy works as a Director with Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) , New Delhi and manages the ‘Invest Japan’ program and communications for Chief Director General and agency in India with the Government of India. Darius follows an alternate career in Directing/Screenwriting in English and Hindi. He has done a few TV commercials and Print Ads for Adidas, Eicher Trucks, Patanjali etc. He believes in staying healthy and has run a few half marathons over the past decade.

Darius is a Post Graduate in HR from XLRI Jamshedpur and does teach there occasionally as a visiting professor.

We got a chance to interact with him recently and he happily answered a few questions for us.

Here’s a snippet of our conversation:

Q1. You kind of lead a dual life as the Director with Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and a Director/Screenwriter for short-films and TV Commercials. How have you managed to find a balance between these two highly contrasting roles?
Ans. It is a question I get asked a million times. Firstly, not everyone in this world is lucky enough to end up doing what they love. If everyone could do what they love, planet earth would be Utopia. I took up employment and slowly built a sound financial base to fund my desire to pursue my love for writing and later directing. This is an expensive passion and hence it did take time, but the delay, made me study the finer points and hone my skills through learning from others. We should never look at our basic jobs as imprisonment and try to find happiness in doing the simplest things.

Q2. You have run a few half marathons over the past decade. What is your mantra to stay fit and healthy?
Ans. My mantra is simple, prepare and learn like the soldiers of the Indian Army. The tougher challenges you give yourself the stronger you get in overcoming them and the victory is sweeter.

Q3. How has your experience been being associated with the #DoWhatYouLove Movement?
Ans. It’s always better to start early in life and realise ‘I will do what I love’ now rather than later. Today’s generation values experiential learning more than books and hence I personally stopped talking and believed in showing ‘Do what you love’

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Q4.  What was your first thought when you heard about #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans. The Three Idiots is what came to my mind. What a wonderful film with such a strong message. That is why I just thought I should contribute in a small way whichever possible.

Q5. What inspires you to be a part of #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans. I learn from the youth as much as they can hope to learn from me. Many of them come with an illogical belief that ‘The sky is the limit’ and for all us who have reached a certain stage in life, harsh reality has killed that belief. Hence it may be wise for all the experienced ones to learn from the youth to recharge their batteries in self-belief.