I left my first post-college job in investment banking after six years because I desperately wanted to see the world. Four months and seven countries later – including two weeks in Mongolia – I parlayed my knowledge into a financial consulting business working with start-up and emerging growth companies. Being my own boss, I could accept assignments that meshed with my millennial-like, i.e., prioritized-without-guilt, travel schedule.
After 12 years, however, my consulting career met its demise due to my love and longing for a country that could not be any more different from the one in which I was raised. I don’t view this particular transition as a “Reset”…more like the point when a tadpole grows its hind legs. The short version is that I now operate a niche travel company in India.
I knew nothing about the travel industry when I agreed to partner with a small tour operator in Calcutta. I certainly had no idea how insane it would be to launch a business focused solely on India, where my rigid finance training would be sucker-punched daily by a completely different set of cultural norms and business practices.
Every other day is a holiday that people actually take time off from work to enjoy. Weddings last for weeks. An entire city might go on strike to protest a new law or tax. A cyclone could knock the power out in your office for the fifth time this week (thank goodness for the giant truck battery we keep on hand for such emergencies). Your tour van might get commandeered by the local police because they have a party to attend. Let’s not even mention the black magic.
Serving affluent travelers about to take a luxury vacation is very different from serving entrepreneurs who are struggling to launch a new business. When I get frustrated with certain personalities or repetitive tasks, I think about the kind people I have met in India who have supported the growth of my business and have generously shared their country with me. In many respects, they are the people that I ultimately serve.