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.
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.
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.