Yours socially ambivalently,

My journey to becoming a not-so-socially-networked Co-founder

Around 4ish in the evening, when I would likely have started reading the creative brief that was handed to me in the morning, some close colleagues walked up to me one-by-one. This was back in 2008 or thereabouts, inside the swanky, industrial-style interiors of a leading agency in central Mumbai. Yeah, that one.

Ho gaya yaar (It’s done)…” I said to each, even before they took the final step to reach me.

Of course, I wasn’t referring to the brief, that wouldn’t happen until at least two distasteful exchanges with the servicing department. No, this was regarding something else entirely — a pass for a party at one of the popular clubs that evening. And I held that pass by virtue of one reason only and that was handling the account of a newly launched beer — the brand doesn’t matter as it no longer exists but rest assured it isn’t because I started working on its brief few hours too late.

In a semi-dark market and cultural police state such as India, introducing a new alcoholic beverage was no mean feat, especially when you consider this was even before Whatsapp, let alone Tik Tok and Instagram. The point being, the brand had zeroed in on weekly parties at the hottest clubs as a means of seeping into the city’s cultural zeitgeist — and I, thanks to my talented copywriting of the branded menu and tent cards, was invited to them all. Only I wasn’t going. I never did. I preferred instead to stay back in the office until late, sipping a beer all by myself while watching the multi-part documentary on the Balkan war or read a blog post on how to make the perfect injera bread, an Ethiopian staple. In case you are wondering, yes, I was single. However, the happy accident as a result of all of this was that my pass was always up for grabs — i.e. on sale to the highest bidder. Its price ranged from a writer friend finishing my 5-page, asterisk-ridden life insurance brochure, to the servicing guy holding back a mind-numbing brief for another week. A few years later, by virtue of another account, I ended up with invites for Lakme-India-fashion-week, which I received with similar enthusiasm.

However, herein lies my socially schizophrenic other side. When we meet for the first time, you are likely to feel the near opposite of everything you have imagined thus far about me. I am perfectly at ease talking on most subjects, most times, animatedly. I do not fear public speaking, in fact, I used to actively perform on stage and that too before a crowd. I am not even camera-shy, most of our company’s present educational videos is me going eye to eye with our ZV1’s 20MP, 4K-ready lens.

But if possible, I prefer not to. And when it comes to social networking online, I just don’t. I did open a Facebook account once after my creative partner convinced me that he would friend me. He did but I still deleted it soon after. I also had a Twitter account, tweeting an incredible 12 meaningless times before disengaging for good. And I am on the ‘Gram for the past year, racking up a grand total of ‘0’ posts.

Again, I’m deep in the game when it comes to marketing on them. I’m all clued in on what people are clued into, and why. But I simply can’t be bothered to do any of it myself.

This paradoxical behaviour and I led a harmonious co-existence, until now that is. As my partners and I got ready to launch our company earlier this year, the lack of my social glue became all too apparent to me. I was comparable in my work and life experience to them, but I didn’t have much to show for it by way of connections or network. Friends I worked with, got on with like a house on fire, ones who without hesitation would vouch for me and my abilities, who by now are in important senior management positions everywhere, have long lost touch with me. Or, to put it truthfully, I lost touch with them. I’ve run into some of them by sheer happenstance, and each time it was easy to strike back the same rapport as before in no time. But each time I again blew the chance to stay connected. I’ve got some of them back on the only social network I hadn’t gotten around to deleting – LinkedIn. On the other hand, if any of the many others read this, I just want them to know it wasn’t intentional. I didn’t mean anything by it, I’m just bad at staying in touch.

So, as I begin a new chapter in my career, one where my role has to be much more than just my role, I decided to start in the only way I felt was right. And that is by first acknowledging and then by documenting my journey as a co-founder who is differently-abled when it comes to socializing and networking.

I hope to rise above it, but without changing who I am.

For starters, I’ll keep you guys posted.

Lover of stories. Follower of curiosity