Don’t Live with your Ex, Live in the Present for the Future!

Don’t Live with your Ex, Live in the Present for the Future!

I have been observing that many folks on Linkedin has been using their past organisations’ names in their heading as Ex-This and Ex-That. What’s more I am now seeing resumes of some senior executives who are exploring with me also using hashtags # and stating Ex-Designation, Ex-Organisation in their summary. I wonder why these folks are still living in the past and their past organisations, past positions halo? Are they unhappy with their present position and organisations? If living in the past, how will these individuals live up to their future positions and organisations that they aspire? Makes me wonder. Are these co-horts of individuals really have the experience and skills or they are the living legends of their past designations and past companies where they were employed and nothing substantive demonstrate in their present circumstances?

Why this increasing trend of Ex’s as your Headline Defining You?

I spoke with a couple of experts and also conducted my podcast in the past on topics such as the Employee Josh, The Great Resignation, Workplace Happiness. Here are my views why this trend:

  1. During the Covid lockdowns, may lost their jobs due to unforeseen circumstances and had to struggle to find jobs or work multiple part-time jobs as a makeshift
  2. There was the Great Resignation also led to individuals rethinking and making some career shifts and reworking their career aspirations
  3. The Gig Economy Workers and the Controversial Moonlighters who did not have something specific to write about themselves as headlines that defines them
  4. Returning to work individuals who were just to lazy to update their headlines
  5. The present is not better than the past syndrome sufferers

In any case, this is not a very healthy and happy trend. I have pre ordered the book Blindspot by Gallup CEO Jon Clifton which I have yet to receive and read and I will be inviting Jon on my podcast show QuoteUnquote with KK QuoteUnQuote With KK | Kapil Khandelwal KK  for his comment on this issue of living in the Ex’s. From the current trend and talking to many individuals I believe that many of these people living with their Ex’s are afraid and uncertain about shaping their future and hence this trend.

Getting out of the Ex’s Syndrome: My Way or High Way!

I had a vision that by age of 40, it would start off on my own. The Lehman Crisis, like the Covid Crisis led my employers to go in a defensive mode and hence I believed it was going to be now or never if I have to shape myself and my future in the future. After I quit Cisco as Managing Director of Healthcare, I used to be ticked off when the media would quote me as Ex-Cisco, Ex-Wipro, Ex-this, Ex-that. I quit my jobs either because it was not challenging or the next job added more dimensions to my experience that I lacked. I kept objecting to the media folks for titling me in such a way and wondered, don’t I have a personal identity? Where was this going? Here are a few tips I used to get out of this Ex’s syndrome.

Take a Break and Think

I took a 15-day detox break to reflect back and think about who am I and why am I what am I? This break not only detoxed my body but made me think in isolation

What defines you and the World in the Future

Assuming that I retired at the age of 70 years, what is the impact I would deliver to the world shaping myself into it. Given my sector experience, I envisioned that Food, Health, Education are the sectors that will continue to grow whether there is Lehman or any other Global crisis till the end of this world and hence focused on these sectors. Next was the issues that these sectors would face and the solutions that I would like to work on. Lo and behold, I had parts of my headline

Promoting Myself and not My-Ex’s

Armed with what I want to shape myself to be. I worked on rebranding myself as me and not on the identity of what I was and what I did with my past employers. I started writing my own columns in the newspaper, mentoring start ups and doing my research on focused industry issues in the focused sectors that I had zeroed in. Very soon, my Ex’s faded out of my profile and I had my own standing and my own position in the industry.

Accepting YoYo

Unlike my Ex-employers who provided the ecosystem and support to grow, I realized that I have this lone battle and I am the last samurai in my own fight to redefine myself. I quickly accepted that You are on Your own (YoYo) and started creating my own organization, associates, partners, collaborators, mentors who would become my backbone of the ecosystem and support to grow which large corporates offered their employees. I accepted YoYo and worked YoYo.

Be the First

The work I did from then on were the firsts in the relevant industry, reshaping and redefining not only your identity in the industry, but leading the industry into it. Mind you it is not easy facing a bullet train in an head-on collision. You need balls. But by then, my experience and courage was enough to face these head on situations with the industry. First Day-Care Surgery, First Offshore Hedge Fund, First Healthcare REIT, First Non-Equity Dilutive Healthcare Growth Fund, First Multi-Platform Podcast, First Holistic Healing Resort in the World are some of the Firsts.

Fail Fast

There is no harm in failure, but you need to fail fast to conserve your resources and personal energy. Also when I did quit, I made it a point to document in my mind the lessons learnt so that I do not repeat in the future.

Where Am I today?

Who the f**k cares I was Ex-This or E-That. I am Kapil Khandelwal KK!

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Suits – My Secret Success Slogan

Suits – My Secret Success Slogan

Harvey, err Hurray! I finally completed watching all the nine seasons, 134 episode series of suits, last weekend. This was one of my wish list for 2021. In the past, I had watched some of the episodes but could not watch the full series. Over 2021 and first quarter of 2022, as I watched through all the episodes of Suits, I realized and learnt a lot about myself not that I am interested in legal stuff, but as a person, how I could relate to Harvey Spectre, the key character in the series. Here are some of my learnings from Suits.

Deal Your Deals Face to Face

Sometimes our deal closures get delayed as the lawyers go behind the veil of emails exchanging different rainbow-coloured lined versions. Harvey and the team closed the issues and deals confronting the counter party face to face. Saves time and money.

Workplace is Your Second Family

Workplace colleagues become you second family if you accept them as your own when you spend a big part of your day with them.

Don’t Poker Odds, Play the Opponent

If you need to have a winning streak and attitude, then you cannot play the odds. It about playing hard on the person’s mind against you on the table. Most deals of cards or corporate deals are won playing on the opponent.

Suit Up to Power Up

The immaculate dress sense gives you presence and swag. This leaves an ever lasting impression and your power on the other people. Therefore the best dress is the first step to success.

Fake it Till You Make It

It does not matter what your pedigree is. You got to own your work and fake it with confidence and act cool. Mike and Harvey could pull this off verry easily. It does not come easily to all and needs to be mentally astute to pull this off.

Josh, Junoon and Jigar

Like Harvey who picked up a rookie who did not even have a graduate degree, I have picked up rookies from coffee shops. All I looked at in the person was if he had the Josh, Junoon and Jigar. For even senior level executives, the acid test for them to make it in is these traits.

If you Don’t Learn to Swim at the Deep End of the Pool, You Never Will

When I was a rookie, I ventured forward to accept assignments to be worked directly under my mentor and consulting partners at Coopers and Lybrand. Like Mike, taking on full charge of the assignment with no experience helped me develop my problem solving capabilities and grow.

Work Hard Till Your Name Speaks for You

Harvey’s reputation as the best in New York did not come easily. It was enough hard work put in to create a reputation for himself. These days many people believe that just personal branding and PR will get them the name. Let’s remember that it can only take you there, but it will not keep you there. So buckle up and work hard to achieve whatever your name stands for.

Don’t Externalise the Blame for Your Failure – Take Responsibility

Ask not what your organization can do for you, ask what you can do for your organization. I have interviewed many senior executives who have been exploring a position with us. Many of them have been a rolling stone and delivered no tangible results. Moreover, they blamed their bosses, their organizations or situations for not been able to deliver results. In other words, externalizing the blame for their shortcomings. Mike and Harvey took the responsibility for the failure and made the attempts to fix the situation right.

Cover the Backs of Your Own People

To Err is Human. However if you have your bosses who are covering up for you, you will be fearless in coming out with innovative solutions to the problem even though you may make mistakes as these were never done before and bound to have gaps and not be perfectly foolproof. Harvey covered up for Mike and he in the end would win it with some innovative legal solution even though it backfired initially.

Superiority and Oneupmanship Cannot be Proven Viable, Collaboration Will Be

Louis’ cravings of proving he is better than Harvey always proved fatal. However, he was proven successful when he collaborated with the team. Therefore jealously-directed behavior is always going to be counter productive.

Be a Finisher

Our HR experts have divided people into different profiles using the MBTI framework. However to for every team to be successful, you need a finisher to see through the process till the end.

Positions Cannot be Demanded but Accepted

Harvey and Louis both demanded to be a junior partner role but Louis won it hands down inspite Harvey being the better of the two. However, Louis’ acceptance rating was lower than Harvey’s. Sometime you may not be ready to be elevated to the position as you may not be ready. Accept the feedback and work on it rather than try to demand and jump.

Between Black and White are the Shades of Grey

There is always some grey matter between what is put in writing in black and white. That’s why you have courts and lawyers to go to. Playing into the grey is not breaking the law. Its redefining and reinterpreting the law to your advantage.

RRR is the Way

Research, Reinvestigate, Repose is the best way to win a dire hard situation and come out with a winning solution when you back is against the wall.

Music is a Therapy

Harvey had a vinyl record collection, may be because his father was a musician. But whenever required he played music to calm down. Music is therapeutic.

Karma will Always Haunt You

Bad karma will always come to haunt you. So always deal right and be on the right side.

Those who Preach Ethics can also be Unethical

Even a Harvard Professor of Ethics can fall for being unethical. So don’t fall for the façade and image of a person.

Degrees Don’t Do Development

Education is never complete. We have to educate continually and grow constantly by being an avid learner. There is not ego in being a learner for life.

Sometimes Smoking Weed Also Gives Success

Weed was the simulant that Harvey and Mike smoked to reimagine a situation to win their case. Also All the Partners of Suits smoked weed the night when their firm was finished to come out with a solution for their firm to survive.

Never Burn Bridges

When you sever the relationship with anyone, don’t ever leave the other party insulted. Hardman was so bruised with insult when he was let gone of his own firm twice, that he always came back viciously to destroy his own firm.

Be Just and Fair and There will be White Knights To Protect You

White Knight are developed by just and fair relationships. These White Knights will come up to get you out of a sticky situation.

Love-Work Relationships

Be honest in your love-work relationships. Everything else is an affair!


Rx: Dr House MD : Bad Madicine?

Rx: Dr House MD : Bad Madicine?

Hurray! I finally completed watching all the Eight Season, 177 Episode Series of Dr. House MD last night. This was one of my wish list for 2021. In the past, I had watched some of the episodes but could not watch the full series. Over the last 350 days of 2021, as I watched through all the episodes of Dr House, I realized and learnt a lot about myself not that I am interested in medicine and healthcare, but as a person. Here are some of my learnings from Dr. House MD.

Statutory Warning

This blog may contain references to sex and nudity, substance abuse, or realistic/non cartoon violence and frequent strong language. Read ahead with extreme caution

Co Dependency

Everybody has co dependencies whether to substances, situations, surreal events, sapiens of human origin, society at large, etc. Not many are able to break this in their life to emerge stronger

True Love is not OTC Medicine

Not everyone has been able to find true love of their life as they has treated their love mate as an episodic medical event. Managing true love is like managing a life-long chronic condition

Hookers Polyescort is not a Relationship Transition Gap Binder

Loneliness and emptiness cannot be filled by hookers. They may relieve pain and the weight of your wallet in the short term but leave behind big hole in your wallet and your heart.

Pain in the Ass does not come only from Butt-Plugs and Suppositories

Some people can be a pain in the ass. But like Dr. House, look at their true intent in ragging you. They want you to succeed and improve. Don’t switch them off completely because you are pissed off with them.

Paternity Tests Still Do not Tell You Who You Are

Finding your genetic father still does not answer why you are who you are!

The Intuition Injectable

Talking of the pain in the butt, there are some who inject great intuition into the situation to solve the issue or guide the direction. Sometime they can be painful and overbearing and may not respect the hours of dedicated work and effort you may have put in with no results

Pediatric Morphism is not a Medical Condition

Being a child is not a medical condition. It’s perfectly fine to be a kid or behave childishly. You will not be diagnosed for a mental medical condition. Many problems are better solved when a kid. Play the pranks, its healthy

Hiring, Firing and ReHiring is not a HR Disorder

Word like talent, hire, fire do not exist for a genuine inspirational people leader. Talent will still flock to them inspite of their unstable and inconsistent people behaviour

Jerking is not always Masturbation

Relationship ejaculation does not always happen by jerking of people due to right reasons. Over mental masturbation will definitely lead to ED of true and sensible solutions and ideas

Dopamine High is not Always Hallucination

Day dreams or nightmares are not medically treatable if controlled on to a problem solving situation. Sometimes you need the dopamine high to break away from the situation to analyse it dispassionately to arrive at a solution

Game People Play is not a Medical Pharmacopeia

There is not prescribed drug list to treat games people play. Either face and challenge it or become depressed to consume anti-depressants to cope with it

A Surgery of Lies does not Cover the Wounds of Truth

People always lie. Sometime for the good. But they always. No drastic surgeries can cover up those lies to truth

Music is a Therapy

Like Dr House who played several musical instruments and also solved many medical cases and saved the lives of many patients, music was therapeutic for him and me. You can also see music when you are on drugs  

True Friendship is like Intensive Care

True friendship can only be nurtured when you take intensive care and measure and watch all the parameters like in the ICU

Walk through Life not using Carrot and Stick

All of us use stick to force our authority to walk ahead in life. Our fear and dependency on the walking stick makes us powerless and sidekick. How can you live a life without the crutches of a carrot and a stick?

house end1

In Quest for Happiness

KK in Quest for Happiness

Background – I want to be Happy

Earlier this year I read an investment analyst’s report on Future of Happiness. The subject was very interesting given the current times in Covid. A lot has changed in the world in these times. Firstly, the pace of digitization and social isolation during extended periods of lockdown and secondly, losing some of our near and dear ones who succumbed to Covid in a tragic event. This crisis of mental and emotional well-being and suffering that me and fellow humans have undergone made me wonder about what happiness is and my quest for happiness alone. My journey was a difficult one but, I did see a sense of happiness and I am sharing this through my blog and my podcast.

The Happiness Movement

Even before Covid, in 2012, the United Nations (UN) declared March 20 to be observed as the International Day of Happiness. The day recognizes that happiness is a fundamental human goal and calls upon countries to approach public policies in ways that improve the well-being of all peoples. Venezuela was the first country to establish a Ministry of Happiness. Several other countries followed suit. Closer home, Madhya Pradesh Government under the BJP rule established a Department of Happiness and organized a week-long Festival of Happiness in 2017. The issue here is inspite creating bureaucratic and governance structures, the citizens and people were unhappy. This let me to believe that there is something fundamentally wrong. Therefore let me first define happiness and then decode how to achieve happiness.

What is Happiness?

A Google search on a formal definition of happiness lead me to the various online dictionaries and no formal definition of happiness. This fuzzy description of what we feel under the wide umbrella of happiness is a wide range of positive human emotions that we go through. However, a definition of happiness is well articulated in the book “The How of Happiness”, by positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” After having defined happiness, it’s now time to understand how we experience happiness?

How do We Experience Happiness?

The Western world scholars have two distinct explanations on Happiness and how to experience it? These are:

  • The “More” Approach: Here happiness is experienced by acquiring material objects that maximize pleasure and minimize displeasure. This approach hinges the fact that  happiness depends on acquiring more things or experiences, depends on factors outside of one’s body.
  • The “Enough” Approach: Here happiness is happiness is experienced by our ability to ride the waves of human experience and cultivate internal wellness, even through turbulent times.

These two approaches however do not yield a perfect sense of emotional and mental well being as an outcome of happiness as it’s a bit alien to my values and personal belief system.

Indian Approach to Experiencing Happiness

Earlier this year, Dr. Devdutt Patnaik, India’s leading mythologist, speaker, illustrator and author, known for his writing on Hindu sacred lore, legends, folklore, fables and parables released a book “Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha – 40 Insights into Happiness” This book resonated very well with me and my values when I read it. In fact, I invited Devdutt to my QuoteUnQuote with KK | Kapil Khandelwal (KK) Podcast. We discussed and dissected many issues around the whole architecture of the 40 insights and the 4 key pillars to experiencing Happiness.

Please read the book and listen to the Podcast “The Mantra for Happiness” to practice and experience Happiness in your life!
Also Listen The Mantra For Happiness

Estranged 2020 : My Song, My Life, My Way

A Day in the Life of KK

Estranged 2020 : My Song, My Life, My Way

2020: Early Warnings of Devastation

I started 2020 with a very positive outlook. Our investment heatmaps were indicating upswing in investment activity, term sheets in progress for investments, strong investment flows on the back of Sino-US trade blockade. By 15 March, it was clear that some Chinese bug has hit Indian shores and I started out moving back our teams to their home bases, talking to the authorities on the situation. On my birthday, just a day before the first 14-hour lockdown, I was working late in office to mitigate the risk that may be arising out of the business disruption. Then there was the forced lockdown preventing me to work from office. The start of the Financial Year 2020-21 was clearing going to be a devastating one for all due to the Covid pandemic. In the first week of April 2020, all the financial and business outlook turned negative and also I suffered huge financial losses never anticipated in my life as a result. It was a very depressing personal situation for me which I had never faced in my life. It was clear I needed to bouceback. Suffering losses is a temporary situation, letting the frame of mind to continue with being mentally ‘broke’ was just not acceptable to me. Clearly there were four key issues that I observed in Q1

  1. the volatility and pace at which the situations changed
  2. all plans and predictions went for a toss
  3. there was utter chaos and no one had a clear head and view to handle the complexity and solutions to solve it
  4. with more bad news, there was no view when things will bottom out

That’s when I started my journey of My Song, My Life, My Mantra, My Way, My Avatar.

2020: My Song

During my long walks during the first week April, I would listen to Bon Jovi’s hit Estranged, the lyrics of which went like this and my responses (in brackets)…

When you’re talkin’ to yourself (about your situation)

And nobody’s home (although at home with family in the lockdown)

You can fool yourself (that All is Well)

You came in this world alone (I am all alone fending for myself)

So nobody ever told you baby (nobody had a clue)

How it was gonna be (the lockdown and beyond)

So what’ll happen to you baby (rather be strong than helpless)

Guess we’ll have to wait and see (no way)

One, two

The nine minutes song played out the remaining nine months of 2020 of my life.

2020: My Life, My Nine Mantra

There 9 minutes of the song inspired me to write my nine mantras to bounced back and come out a winner in 2020. These were:

1.    Love Thy Self: No Self Empathy

Every one in my circle of networks was very scared and required empathy. How would you empathise if you are yourself shallow and lack self-love? The toxic energy in the environment that was flowing around just was not doing good to me. I need not be a victim of this toxicity. That’s when I decided to manifest myself with a new energy and to fight the situation, I need to be stronger physically, mentally, spiritually. I started out with a healthy diet and high-end nutraceuticals, doubled up on my daily walks, increased my heart points by 3 times and started drawing on positive energy. As a result, I was over 10 kgs down in weight, much fitter and well energized positively to empathise with the people

2.    Renewed Vision for My Future Avatar

My mission in life has always been how to make healthcare cheaper, better, faster. Healthcare for All | Kapil Khandelwal (KK). With my interactions and calls with our investors, there was confidence in what we were doing. In fact, we raised even more funds during May-June 2020 for healthcare investments. The critical issue at hand was what investment strategies worked in the past would work in the post-Covid era. It was time to rework and restrategise the vision for my future avatar. With the positive energies, I set fearlessly out my renewed vision with Josh, Jonoon and Jigar. My best is yet to come!  

3.    Focus, Focus, Focus

With the my Avatar 2.0, it was time to focus. I clearly had 24-hours in a day and many unfinished business and agendas. It was with the renewed focus, that I cut down that was not required through a VED analysis of my work load. Clearly three key agendas for focus emerged out of this which I set forth in my work, declining, regretting and pre-closing many ongoing commitments as a result. This helped me put my time to get the maximum impact and the outcomes that my new Avatar was to emerge out.

4.    Build the Safety Net and Resilience

My primary responsibilities during the lockdown was to ensure that my people and their families are not adversely affected. To build confidence in my people, I build a safety net and emergency response for any eventuality due to Covid. At the cost of selling off my personal investments at a loss, I ensured that my people had food on their table and committed to my renewed vision with confidence.

5.    Create Impactful Behavior and Environment

To rebuild the economy and our healthcare systems for the future, it was clear that capital and investments would be with empathy and impact along with positive investor returns. One of the unfinished business was to ensure that there was a holistic and inclusive regulatory framework for the Social Stock Exchange (SSE) in India. I had been part of the journey with SEBI from its inception and worked with our team to produce a white paper with several recommendations which is now being on the table for the final regulation.

Social Stock Exchange | Kapil Khandelwal (KK)

6.    Network like never before

Other than the usual networking activity virtually during lockdown, being an investor allows you access to world politicians, thought leaders, think tanks, industry bodies, academia and opinion makers across the diaspora. My time was well spent speaking with them and gathering their take on various issues emerging out of this world crisis. Over the last 9 months, I had 1×1 with over 200 folks. I really thank them for taking their time to talk to me.

7.    Guides and Mentors

I renergised my circle of guides and mentors and opened up communications where we discussed may of my fears and issues heart to heart. This provided me the inspiration for being a better leader for the emerging new world order.

8.    Inspirational Leadership

With the current crisis, the model of leadership that I demonstrated is lead from the front and demonstrating everything is possible with less to do more. The constraints-based parochial leadership was passe for my people whether they were in front of me or virtually.

9.    Communication and Feedback with the World

In order to guide my peers and folks in the industry, I launched a podcast series QuoteUnQuote With KK which quickly emerged as India’s leading business podcast globally. QuoteUnquote with KK | Kapil Khandelwal (KK). This platform allowed me a means to communicate to the wider diaspora and also gain feedback from the world on what they were thinking on the issues.

2020: My Way, My Avatar

When I look back what I started alone in 2010 leaving Cisco as the top-200 Executive and compare what I have emerged out of 2020, I see that my way for the last 10 years could have only taken me so far. 2020 pandemic and situation, forced me to estrange my previous avatar and reincarnate into a new avatar that will be strong and durable for the 2020s decade.

The strong motive and motivations for my new avatar will drive me forward in the new normal for the world. I thank all those who have been part of this journey in 2020 to make it possible for me.

Here’s wishing you all a healthy, wealthy 2021!