42! Do I have all the answers?

As I turn 42, I feel that it is a significant milestone. I feel something unique and different about the number 42. Maybe that’s the reason Deep Thought computed that 42 is the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”.

My life felt like 6 distinct phases of 7 years each. Was that true? So I sat down and recorded my life phases. I was almost right.

  • 00-07 The Forgotten Years
  • 08-15 The Student Life
  • 16-21 The Lost Years
  • 22-25 The Best Years
  • 26-33 The Globe Trotter
  • 34-42 The Guru

The Forgotten Years

I have a handful of memories of this phase. Some from Cuttack where I was born, some from Nagpur where I spent a few years. I am not even sure if those memories are true or just imagination.

The Student Life

This phase started as we moved to Hyderabad and I have my first true memories. Memories of the house I grew up in, the school I went to and of course the friends I made, few of them turned out to be life long friends. The careless years, which in some sense made me what I am today since I got hands on a computer in this period. I also look back with regret, as I made my dad buy a really expensive HCL Beanstalk PC worth about ₹95,000. He was going through a bad patch, yet he bought me the PC. Only when I saw someone take away our car, did the reality sink in.

I could never repay my debt to him. I owe my career to him.

The Lost Years

If there is a do-over, I would like to live this time period differently. I’d like to go to college, make friends and have fun. Instead, I moved to 3 cities helping out my Dad. However, not everything was lost. This period built my character. I learnt from both good things and bad. It instilled honesty, independence and a calculated approach to risk-taking. It also made me an introvert and cautious person.

The Best Years

After freelancing for a year, I joined MBA on my Sis’s advice, to get my career back on track. I am not sure what I learnt there but made life long friends. I also discovered my style of leadership. I co-founded startups with friends - twice. I also worked for other companies, including a startup, whose founder is one person I admire for his perseverance and wish I had even 50% of what he has. I also got placed from campus into tech subsidiary of a large global bank, which defined my career from that day on.

On the personal front, I got married and had my first child. Didn’t I say it was the best time!

The Globe Trotter

I got an opportunity to move to Frankfurt which helped me in several ways. The best is I could explore Europe with my wife and it felt like an extended honeymoon. It helped us understand each other and after some ups and downs brought us really close.

While on a personal level I was exploring Europe and it’s culture, at the professional level I learnt a great deal. I learnt work ethics from the best in the world. I also learnt good and bad processes at a Fortune 50 company. I also got to work on multiple systems working up and down the stack, years before full stack developer or polyglot programmer were trendy. I learnt how to build, manage and support true enterprise-scale applications.

It was a lifetime of learning stuffed into a 7 year period.

The Guru

I write this with great humility and wrestling with imposter syndrome. Only in the last year or so, have I finally accepted that I am expected to be a Guru with all the answers. It makes me realize, this is the phase of life where I consolidate my learnings and pass them on. I don’t think I have done a great job, but I try. I hope I have positively contributed to the lives and careers of the people I have worked with. At the startup I worked at, I made it a point to hire freshers and groom them.

Of course, to be a Guru, I need to constantly learn. This period taught me a whole lot. I learnt to build a product, run startup engineering, create a service line, create and execute go-to-market strategy and so much more. In other words, this Guru is also a disciple in some several areas. I am thankful to my Gurus who taught me so much throughout my life.

Special call out to all my managers. I have been unbelievably lucky to have such great managers throughout my career.

Every one of them has shaped me. At 42, if I have some answers, it’s all because of my Gurus.

Looking forward to what the next seven years hold for me!