Cyril at Mt. Everest, a 14-day hike at minus 20 degrees centigrade.
Cyril was an operations Manager with over 17 years experience in multinational companies. His team loved him because he always considered their welfare and thought of process improvements to cut their overtime work. I worked with him for a very short period as HR People Advisor for his project. He left the organization sometime 2013 (if my recollection serves me right).
Unlike most of us in the corporate world, who after leaving one corporate organization would jump to the next, he chose a different, much less travelled path.
Now fast forward to 2018, he has gone to 30 countries, climbed 50 mountains and especially, solved the lighting problem of one of the indigenous places in Malaysia. Currently he is helping the chilli and other agri farmers with sensors technology and live data from their farm, plus connecting them with their buyers online. Listen to him here for more on the latter, his most recent project.
From corporate life to an entrepreneur passionate in developing green technologies, IoT and Commercialised energy efficiency products. Wow, isn’t that both purposeful and noble?
These all happened because of his inspiring perspective. See how his take on, what others might call “failure,” helped propel him to greater heights.
When asked about the topic of failure or setback and eventual success, here’s what he shared.
“I always believed that it’s only yourself that can take you to a new high or low.
“Most Organizations are too focused on key performance metrics, satisfaction surveys etc., etc., and neglect the innovative and creative part of people. So I was not comfortable in a set up that did not encourage this.
“The organisation I was with during my corporate time was stifling and also although being known for technology had not put in practice innovative technology to help employees achieve their goals. They would just beat the horse dead to achieve these so called targets.
The Big Decision
“I was at a stage of moving out of the corporate world around that time to create and make my own products. A time of transition. One cannot really plan it. If life could be planned then we would be like robots. Life is an experience and I took it in my stride.
Cyril at Pico de Loro, Batangas, Philippines.
“I knew if I travelled around the world I would pick up ideas. Plus, I know that the world had millions of problems to solve. If only I could identify one problem and solve them in a field I was passionate about – green environment, I could make a name for myself and also bring in money.
“I did that by travelling to 30 countries. This was after moving out of typical structured corporate life.
“Even though I am not an Engineer [Cyril holds a masters degree in Business Management from Australia and degree in Law from India], I spent three (3) years learning about energy consumption, meeting people at various green conferences, interacting with entrepreneurs across the world, visiting factories and meeting with businessmen.
“I was open to seeking ideas and knowledge.
“I visited Malaysia as a tourist and I found that my soul was in tune with this country.
“A good social life, a good set of entrepreneurs and a good ecosystem for entrepreneurs and everything I possibly wanted to do in life was here. It was strange that I learnt yoga, kizomba, a Cape Verde dance and climbed 50 mountains across the world, all during my stay in Malaysia. I realised that if you wanted to develop yourself holistically, you can. Also, these various activities put me in touch with people, some even became my business associates.
“I did not define success in terms of money but rather how I could take an idea and build a product over it.
“Success in terms of helping me build a product of my own was much earlier than I anticipated when I won a Malaysia government grant to develop my own energy management cloud based wireless system.
“Recently the Malaysian government gave my Company an award for a project in industrial IOT and to showcase this to Malaysian industry.
“One needs to keep evolving products and technologies to keep pace and that’s what I am currently doing.
“I believe that for one who is seeing this life as a stepping stone for a larger possibility there is no failure.
“This idea of success is not even your idea. It is somebody else’s idea of what success is. Our corporate enterprises, peers and other organisations have given us this idea of success. Don’t become a slave to somebody’s idea; that is the first and foremost success.
“If we define success in terms of material success and positions within organisations then things fall apart. Life is a lot larger than these petty things that happen in large organisations.”
While not all of us can take the same path as Cyril did, and neither should we because we each can and should navigate our very own way, we can learn lessons from his perspective and approach on things. His perspective and approach that we can all apply wherever we are in our career, no matter the kind of career we have.
My three key takeaways from Cyril:
1. Take failure out of my vocabulary and start to see it as stepping stones to bigger, better possibilities.
2. Success is as defined by us for ourselves. Let no one tell you what success looks like.
3. The structured corporate life is just a segment of society. There’s so much more to life than this.
How about you? What are your key takeaways?
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