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How Running Marathons Helped this Entrepreneur Build his Fighting Spirit 'Stop fighting the hill' is one of the best advice he has got so far

By Ajay Kelkar

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Who knew that the metaphors close to a marathon runner's heart, who fought many "internal walls' before being successful, would also mirror my entrepreneurial journey. Running makes
you mentally strong; you learn to stay on the course.

Roads have taught me many of my life's greatest lessons. I still remember my first half marathon in Mumbai, many years ago, when I was pushing myself to get to a "sub two hour timing'. I reached Peddar road in good time, However, I was behind my target timing. As I was struggling to finish my climb in Peddar Road, another contender running beside me told me something that I remember till date. He looked at me and said, "Stop fighting the hill." He wanted to make a point that marathon runners should go easy on the uphill and he can compensate the lapse while he is moving downhill. What a metaphor it was for me and not just while completing the marathon but for life itself! Be kind to yourself, don't fight the hill and yet you can make it happen. I completed my first "sub two hour run' in that race and today whenever I am in a tough spot, I remind myself to not fight the hill.

Ten years ago, I had decided to leave the safe haven of the corporate world and take a plunge at creating something new. Was I scared? I most definitely was. I think what really drove me was the passion for what I believed in. This was at a time before analytics became sexy and the word "big data' became wildly popular. For some strange reason, I was besotted by the ability of effective data usage for marketing. I think it was this blind passion that kept me going right from when I had started out to this day.

My entire entrepreneurial journey reminded me of a cycling expedition that I had undertaken in college. We took on an audacious challenge of cycling across the Himalayas, a distance of 4500 kms crossing the Jalori pass at a height of 10,300 feet. Recenty, I completed the 30th anniversary of this treasured experience and I cannot help but marvel at the similarities of it with my entrepreneurial decisions in the last decade. Anyone who starts a company has to have a bit of madness in him or her! I learnt that sometimes we stop ourselves from being audacious. This expedition reminded me of not thinking about limits. Life is beautiful when you don't let constraints imprison your imagination. Can this be taught? I don't know but it sure can be learnt. After this expedition, the Himalayas have always reminded me to honor this madness in me.

So the only way to change it for the next decade would be to again create some insurgency. "Insurgency" - so you remain at war against your industry on behalf of underserved customers. But not at war, we entrepreneurs need to be kinder to ourselves: Don't fight the hills!

Well known dancer Martha Graham had said that it takes about ten years to make a mature dancer. I guess the same applies to entrepreneurship.

Ajay Kelkar

Co-founder & COO, Hansa Cequity

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