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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!

Nehha Bhatnagar

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.

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In Conversation With Aashish Beergi, Co-Founder & CEO, MASH Global

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Aashish is a youth activist and a pasionate social entrepreneur based out of New Delhi, India. He has been a British Council’s Global Changemaker and founded MASH Global. A graduate from Jamia Millia Islamia, he represented India at the International Youth Forum 2011 in Seliger, Russia and the Global Youth Summit in the UK, 2009. Recently, he was invited at a high-level Experts Meeting on Youth Mobile initiative by UNESCO in Paris, France.

Aashish also consults businesses in Media and Waste Management. He has also been a part of Young India Challenge since it’s inception in 2014, first as a Happiness Team member and also as a mentor.

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. What drove you to come up with the idea for MASH Project?
Ans. I had been volunteering with various youth organisation during my school and college time. During this period, I realised that many of my friends also wanted to volunteer and work with various cause based organisations but, due to time constraints and challenge of travelling from one-point to another, it would be difficult for them along with their ongoing studies and other extra-curricular.

On the other hand, I saw many grassroots development organisations facing major challenge with basic tech-based requirements like a decent website, good quality content for blog and active social media engagement. Many of them also required a mobile-app based intervention to scale their impact.

MASH Project started as an idea while I was attending UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris in 2013 where one of the workshops focused on how young people can use the mobile apps as a platform to make a social impact. This got me excited and I started thinking about various ways how young people can remotely/virtually volunteer to create mobile apps which requires not only tech-based expertise but also other areas like research, designing, content writing and social media marketing among others.

Q2. Being a Social Entrepreneur is tough and a lot of struggle is involved. How difficult was it for you to convince yourself and your family that this is what you want to do?
Ans. I believe anything that you do which is not a conventional or a mainstream career choice, it’s difficult to convince your family & friends when you start. Most important thing in this journey is yourself belief. I’ve had many challenges during this course and it’s the self confidence which has kept me going! I think once you’re confident about what you want to do and do it regardless of all the challenges, people around you, and start believing in you. One must know that it will take time, and you need to have strong perseverance.

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Q3. You were a part of the 1st Happiness Team at the 1st Young India Challenge and have been associated with Human Circle and YIC since then. How has your experience been being associated with the #DoWhatYouLove Movement?

Ans. It has been a real pleasure working with Human Circle since its early days, the energy and zeal Kamal, Wioleta and the whole team brings together is amazing! I have learnt a lot while working with Human Circle and it has also been a great partnership with MASH Project.

I have some great memories as a member of the Happiness Team during the first Young India Challenge. I made some very good friends and really happy to see the community and #DoWhatYouLove movement getting bigger! 🙂

Q4.  What was your first thought when you heard about #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans. I was like Wow! We really needed something like this. In a country of a billion, with over trillion dreams, we need passionate young people who are committed to turn their dreams into realities. We need platforms where these young people can come together, meet like-minded people, get inspired and work together to create a community that continues to empower many more. I draw a lot of inspiration from #DoWhatYouLove movement and very excited to see it growing and touching lives of so many people.

Q5. What inspires you to be a part of #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans. I think the biggest inspiration to be a part of #DoWhatYouLove has been the cause and intent behind it. I personally have gone through an experience where I felt the need to be a part of community which believes in you and supports in your journey to follow your dreams and turn your passion into profession! Another reason is the people behind the movement and people you meet during this movement, I have personally learnt so much being part of the various programmes and look ahead of greater involvement with it.

A version of this article appeared here

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I obviously didn’t have everything figured out

Nikhil Kamath

Back in school I was one of those intelligently cool kids who know how to get all the work done and are kind of indispensible. Everyone looked up to me and thought, “This guy has everything figured out”, and I thought so too. I graduated from school in 2014 and joined India’s Top College for Hotel Management. But by 2015, I was turning into a mess, I was writing a food blog that had 0 hits, I didn’t have a proper friend circle and everything was going from coloured to black and white. I was not happy with whatever was going  on, so one fine day before joining training at a prestigious hotel I decided to  drop out of Hotel Management to do CA (I obviously didn’t have everything figured out). At this point, I didn’t want to do multiple things; I just wanted to do only one thing that would make me happy. Then in 2016, after a year of trying to figure out what my passion was, YIC happened.  I met some amazing and like minded people, I figured out that writing is my passion and I wanted to write and tell stories.

After YIC, I started working towards following my passion for writing and within 2 months my work had featured on Little Black Book Delhi, Food and Wine India, Fagnum.com and my blog was appreciated by many people. I finished writing a novel for which I’m currently doing publisher hunting and I hope I’ll be able to publish it by the end of this year. Also I realised that apart from writing in English, I could write well in Hindi too.  Over the past 6 months since September 2016, I can see the transformation in me. I’m happier, more confident, more willing to take risks and mentally stronger. YIC and #DoWhatYouLove has changed my life for good.

Nikhil Kamath
(YIC SRCC 2016)

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I don’t care if people say that I didn’t achieve anything

Shalini Shikha

Hello I’m Shalini Shikha from Madhubani Bihar. I studied in Banasthali Vidyapith Rajasthan and now I’m pursuing my bachelor’s degree from Satyawati College, University of Delhi. I have always been passionate about doing something different, something unique, something that goes to those who need my work. For me it is not about earning million bucks, it is about changing million lives.

So, I started “SAAKARSHAILI” for the women living in slums of Delhi who will now get a platform to showcase their skills of creativity and greater exposure to markets. This is an initiative where women will be taught “MITHILA PAINTING”. The handmade work will then be sold to traders. All the cost of materials will be borne by the initiators and 60% of return will be given to the women for their hard-work. This social cause is to be first implemented in LAL-BAGH slum which later will be taken on a large scale. It comes with a vision to eradicate unemployment and to educate them. It comes with a vision of learning while earning. It is an initiative to explore.

Now you might be thinking what is so special in what I did. Yes so here is my story. I’m from a society where one out of 50 girls get a chance to study. I’m from a society where girls of my age have 2-3 babies. I’m from a society in which girl in jeans, girl talking to a boy, girls who hangout and uploads pictures while hanging-out, going to areas like slums are considered to have questionable character. Maximum permission that my society can grant me is to have a so called “respectable job” till the age of 23, later to which I am supposed to get married. But I am lucky to have a father like mine. Irrespective of the fact that he is one of the most respectable man in the society my father took this step to send me out for studies, to provide me what is best for me. I know he never shows but he fights a lot for me. He allowed me to study but he also dreamt of me doing a respectable job according to my society. But even after completing my intermediate by PCM I took step to pursue ECONOMICS and follow my passion. I know I worked against the person who did a lot for me, in direct sentences I betrayed my father who always supported me. But I know one day he will be proud of me and I will change the meaning of society and respectable job. I know if I fail it will be because I didn’t performed 100% not because I choose something wrong. I do not care if people say that I didn’t achieve anything big but I care about my father I never want that people will make him regret his decisions. I can accept defeat but I never want to see my father defeated. It might sound like a very small problem, but to me it is a big risk. The only thing inside my head and heart is to stand for what I believe in and transform the lives of others through my action.

Let people say what they want to say. Work vehemently and passionately to fulfill purpose of your life.
“Kuch to log kahengey , logon ka kaam hai Jenna”.
And last but not least :- zindagi ki asli udaan abhi baki hai, humare iradon ka emtahaan abhi baki hai, abhi to naapi hai muthi bhar zameen pura asamaan abhi baki hai.

Shalini Shikha
(YIC IIT Delhi 2017)