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Lovable and scalable pepper square

When I look back on the 11-year journey of pepper square, many people and events flash back in my mind. There were days that were gloomy, days of laughter and anxious moments spread in between.


Anand serving chaat

Before the 5 star gatherings and the business flights became affordable, there were many years of mooli parathas and bhelpuri on the streets. Not that I have anything against these tasty snacks, but it’s a question of choice and affordability. It’s one thing when you stop in your air conditioned car and have a chaat by the roadside and quite another story when you have to eat only chaat for lunch, sprinkled with heat and dust.

The truth is, dreams have nothing to do with the food you take in but with the choice of ingredients you feed the mind. Here’s a list of how I stayed hungry and foolish and how that hunger nurtured my dreams:

patience-eagle

Patience

Patience is dreams on pause. It’s not a passive act but a strenuous wait that tests your character — whether you are an eagle gathering courage under your wings before the flight, or just any bird that falters on the way. Patience is gathering all the information and the resources for preparing the birth of your dream. It needs more moral strength than muscle. Muscle power can be manufactured, but the fibers of patience are yet to come out of the most advanced labs.

numbers

Numbers

Numbers and preferential treatments have played an important role in my life. They have shaped me, saddened me and also saved me from becoming a slave to my job. Being the third child in the family, I was always competing for attention with my brother who was academically brilliant. I felt that he was the preferred child with centum (100%) scores on his report card, while I came home with zeros. I am sure many of you have experienced something similar in your life.

I remember my lovable and great math teacher P Ramaswamy (affectionately called PR) teaching me a math formula 32 times and finally giving up in exasperation saying, “kanna, unnaku enna pannalum kanaku varadhu” (my dear, whatever you do, you will never learn math).

It took me a number of years to figure out that there is no point in trying to do something just to please others when your heart is not in it. You might get temporary attention, but it fizzles out mostly because you cannot sustain the other’s interest. I accepted that I would never be as good as my brother in math because I simply hated studying. I love to study people instead. And I definitely scored better in the people department.

Passion

In business as in life, I follow the same principle: devote myself to what I love. I am in the Digital Agency business not because I want to please others, but because I love what I do everyday. Since I discovered this truth, I have charted my own destiny. But just when I thought I left numbers far behind, I find that they keep following me.

11 years, 550 projects, 250 clients, and 14 entrepreneurs born out of pepper square. We still don’t have a sales team. All our clients come to us through good references of our work and from our website. It seems that if you love what you do, the numbers will keep following you. People and numbers, are all that there is to make your dreams come true. Love people, you have a lovable organization; love numbers and you have a scalable organization.

passion

people

People

I find people and their behavior most intriguing. I notice the extent of risks people take to fulfill their parents’, wife’s, husband’s and kids’ wishes. I watch, with fascination, the daily automation of life that circles around our so-called wants. I can sense how people are treated based on the sum of their wealth, and also how power and arrogance result from it.

People’s wants continue to grow irrespective of how much money they have. There is no end to human want. But as an entrepreneur it is important to differentiate between NEED and WANT. Having a strong cash flow is a need in business, and the need to multiply fast is a want. If we understand this fundamental well enough, we will be able to make better decisions. After all, your decisions define your destiny.

freedom
12 years old Santro, still going strong

Freedom

I notice people becoming slaves to their wants, see them losing freedom and the time to enjoy simple pleasures in their pursuit of bigger dreams. In short, people have become automated while THINGS have begun to command more respect; the big car in the driveway is a symbol that you have arrived in life. It’s not that I don’t want it in my life, just that I want to be in control and not to be controlled by it. I would not buy a fancy car that I have to slave all my life to pay off; I would rather buy an affordable car. Because, deep in my heart, I know that there is peace of mind in frugal discipline and that lasts longer than the short-lived high of extravagance.

Hence, I decided I wouldn’t take loans or mortgage my house to fund my dreams but rather earn my way to them. Destiny does not change with a quick makeover; it’s built brick by brick on so many decisions, each affecting a change in lifestyle. Come what may, I am not the kind to mortgage my house, because it’s not just walls that I pledge with it, but the dreams and the lives of those living in it. I wouldn’t crush my home for a dream I keep chasing. I would rather bury the business, because I can always start another.

control

Control

I have witnessed the so-called struggle to make it big that takes away people’s health and happiness. But having become slaves to their habits, people don’t change, at least not until an external catastrophe leaves them with no choice. People indulge too much until the body says, ENOUGH, I have had it. If you are not in control of your own health, how can you ever take charge of anything else in life? Your heart’s been beating from even before you were born and continues to beat nonstop 24 hours each day, and you say you can’t spare 20 minutes in a day to take care of it?

Truly, the health of a business can be learned from your body. If you keep pushing things in life without exercising every day, your body will initially absorb the shocks, but one day it will collapse, and on that day it would mostly be too late to fix it. The best way to love yourself, is to take care of yourself, and similarly for your business, to take care of it everyday.

perfection

Perfection

Before we change anything, we need to change within. I learned perfection from several sources: the chiseled symmetry of Indian temples, emotions weaved into technicalities from Kamal Hassan and the precision in carpentry from my dad. I travelled abroad and learnt what it means to do things professionally. In India we often use culture as an excuse to deliver substandard stuff, but that needn’t be so. Quality has no boundaries. We just have to commit ourselves to perfection no matter what we do and where we are; it is a way of life, expect nothing lesser.

Often, people say, “The customer is paying only so much. If I have to make it perfect, then I need to charge extra.” I don’t buy this at all. Building a lovable brand is not about delivering what customers want, but delivering it pixel perfect and certified by your heart.

no-exit

Picture taken in a Mumbai taxi

No exit

Once you have discovered your passion, stick with it. I don’t believe in starting companies with an EXIT STRATEGY in my mind. In 2009 when a large Venture Capitalist in the U.S. asked me what my exit strategy was, I smiled, pointing my finger towards the sky. He didn’t understand. Then I told him that going up is the only exit strategy, but it has already been defined and I have no control over it.

Clients, employees and partners

I love to take people along and strive to make the journey worthwhile by providing a beautiful and meaningful environment to balance work and life. pepper square success in the last 11 years belongs to every single person who’s walked into our life, starting from my clients. I still remember my first client. Long before the office, the chairs and the employees, my visiting card or even the URL peppersquare.com a client gave me a check for Rs.10,500 ($200) as an advance to design a form. Indeed, without respecting and valuing clients we don’t go anywhere.

attitude-india-link

Attitude

I see opportunities everyday, everywhere and every time. But why are there so few entrepreneurs in India?

I come across two kinds of people who have the spark in them, but something is stopping them from making the next move. The first group is always wondering what others will think if they fail, how to pay their bills, and whether they have to sacrifice their lifestyle. The second one says their problems are bigger than yours. Neither can make it happen in life or in business, because the first one is driven by the society and cannot pursue their aspiration while the latter is imprisoned in a script of self-sympathy failing to see the world around them.

Lessons from my mistakes

Of course there will be obstacles and mistakes in every entrepreneur’s journey. But the one who shines is the one who can face challenges with a smile.
responsibility

1. Responsibility

I remember in 2005, when we had very little work, a prospect who was visiting India pressurized me to visit Mumbai so that he could understand pepper square service offering. I asked him to look up our website for the same, but he was hell-bent and threatened that if I didn’t visit him in Mumbai he wouldn’t consider doing business. I was thinking whether I should fly to Mumbai and spend on my stay or pay my employees? It was tempting to go get some work; some work was better than none.

I went to Mumbai and met him. But I discovered that it was a bad move as the work I was supposed to take up was not in my line of interest. It seemed such a waste of time and money. There will always be uncertainties, but the truth is you cannot escape from the certainties you are responsible for. Business is a two-way street. It’s important that vendors understand that they are on an equal professional footing, regardless of who is paying the bill. Learn to say NO.

no-desperate-acts

2. No desperate acts

Since then I decided never to accept work when I am desperate. I apply the same principle for hiring as well. We hire people when we don’t need them. Desperation clouds decision-making and we end up losing more than intended. That was also the time I made up my mind never to begin work without receiving an advance payment from the client. After all, I am responsible for paying my employees and partners on time. An advance also indicates whether the client’s commitment to the project is genuine or just some trend catching their fancy.

Temptations and transparency

3. Temptations and transparency

Just as the path to success is laden with obstacles, there are also many temptations that come your way. I am not for taking short cuts to success. I like to keep my transactions clean and transparent. I will not sign my soul away in exchange of a quick, lavish lifestyle. I have learnt to say NO to clients with whom I am not comfortable doing business. Choose your clients well like the way you select your life partner.

hype

4. Hype

It’s easy to get carried away after the initial dose of success when you start getting invites to events and speaking gigs. But you have to bounce back to reality else you will get sucked into the media hype. You tend to become an image of yourself and start living up to it, eventually losing your true identity.

I therefore visit my hometown Mayiladuthurai every now and then. Going back to my roots makes me happy because people there don’t care how much money I have or don’t have. They are just happy to be with me. Happiness is in sharing the little things that give you joy and spending time with the people you love. It’s not being in the numbers game or being seen in the so-called happening parties. I would rather go home to the people I love than to a bunch of currency notes I want to hide somewhere.

A few weeks back a group of young entrepreneurs visited pepper square from Mumbai for an event called Startup on Wheels organized by TiE Mumbai. I told them that I have achieved everything I dreamed of in my life and have no regrets. I asked them what they understood from that. The answers were “You are razor sharp focused”, “Goal oriented”, “Followed all the to-dos in your life”, “Risk taker”, etc.

I patiently listened to them and told them that none of their answers were correct. They were shocked, surprised and waiting to hear what I had to say. I said the reason I achieved everything in my life was because “My dreams were not BIG.” What I meant was that my dreams were small and achievable.

lovable-scalable

The REAL entrepreneur’s dream is to create a lovable and a scalable organization. Having created a lovable organization, I am now focusing on scaling pepper square.

128 Responses

  1. April 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Hello Muki,

    Wonderful reading to refresh myself. Failed once but going to bounce back. Thanks for all this. Keep posting such wonderful write up.
    Will love to meet you once..

    Thanks,
    Bhushan

  2. Tanushree Gawande
    November 18, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    beautiful blog muki sir…
    lots to learn from it..from u :)
    the thing i’ve learn is ” Life is not just to spend n move..Life is to live to enjoy to do what u love to do :) setting big goals n running behind it without interest make no meaning . doing small things you always want to do gives value to your existance in the world. :)

  3. Arun Kailasam
    September 25, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Muki Anna,

    Lovely post. Keep sharing your experiences and continue to inspire us.

    Thanks,
    Arun

  4. Kumar Saurabh
    May 22, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Hi Muki,
    Till now I was believing that Life is a full circle but after reading your blog I am wondering what if Life is Square with big dreams with simple basics.

  5. Victor Amartey Laryea
    May 22, 2015 at 1:00 am

    Hello Muki what are the chances of internship for someone from Ghana.
    Thanks
    Victor

  6. Naina Jude
    May 18, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey on the road to success; it’s helpful knowing that even a company as flourishing as pepper square had to go through these hurdles. I really like what you’ve written about staying grounded amidst all the success and staying true to your identity and your roots. I also agree with the idea that your goals need to be achievable in order to succeed and avoid a ‘crash-and-burn’ scenario.

  7. Venkatesh Babu
    May 7, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Muki,

    I would like to expose a truth which drives success is “Belief” insense in believing what your will be will make to so. which secret i got to know from a book “The Secret”.
    Please keep appreciating starter!!!

  8. May 4, 2015 at 8:34 am

    MUKI,
    May 04,2015at 2pm

    I like the whole story & you have proved that you have a great PMA(POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE )

  9. Udhaya Kumar
    April 26, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Hey Muki,, It’s really nice thing you shared here what to do’s and don’t s to achieve your dream and it’s encouraging thing for young buddy’s!!! Thanks!!!

  10. Ranu Katiyar
    March 11, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Indeed an amazing blog and an inspiring story of yours.. for all age. All the attributes of life, mentioned in the blog plays a major role in defining one’s character. Reinventing our capabilities is the key to succeed in life. Fresh and new approach to existing opportunities also leads to great achievements. Reminds me of a Great Inventor; “Thomas Edison”, who is known for inventing the light bulb, however he was not. He made it perfect and affordable for people to use it. Even more important he figured it out how to turn it into a Business. That’s what you did on your 8th time, Spreading Light…. (Great Success)… Straight, Stable and FAMOUS… Best wishes to you.

  11. Deepti
    February 19, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Muki,

    This is brilliant. I was noticing the picture of your Math teacher Mr PR, while you described him telling you “kanna, unnaku enna pannalum kanaku varadhu”. With all due respect to him, little did he know in the pic that this young student would grow up to be so inspiring and praise worthy. My take away from this part of your article is : Do not judge people on the basis of what interests YOU, judge them on what interests THEM”.

    I so agree with you on “people become slaves to their wants”. After being a slave to my wants for all these years, I decided to take the plunge to stop this. Better late than never.

    My favorite and most important point of all is “Choose your clients well like the way you select your life partner”. I have seen very few companies do this, atleast not consistently and fall prey to the desperate act of signing up for quick money and then try to build a game plan to fix the irreparable.
    You have beautifully put together important and certainly executable points that a company should follow, not just to become successful, but to remain successful.

  12. rahul
    December 29, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Hey muki hope you doing great.

    Like all your talks this article is inspiring.There is always some positive energy in your talks.Keep sharing them, waiting for your talks at great lakes chennai and NIE mysore.

  13. Manoj Surya
    November 14, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Loved the whole story Muki. Especially the exit strategy and the dream of a real entrepreneur.
    keeping in my pocketapp

  14. Raghunath
    October 3, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Dear Muki,

    This was truly fascinating man!. Simple things very nicely written and I loved reading it the second time!!

    Raghu.

  15. August 2, 2014 at 4:43 am

    What a surprise and honor to wake up and see your mail this morning. Thank you so much for sharing me your story.
    What you do for others is inspiring and I’m sure it brings you lots of joy, and helps people greatly. Making a difference in the world must be very satisfying to you.
    First time when I was looking for investors for my idea in 2012, I found a video on YouTube that was: Art of failing 7 Times.
    I learned 2 things from the Video:
    Real investors invest in people; they can’t put money on the idea. And 2nd thing: you can run your company when you don’t have a single rupee, pay in installments.
    “Being a farmer’s son”: It was really very difficult to convince my parents that I want to open my company; I want to be an entrepreneur, but your video was enough to convince my parents, my sister translate it in Hindi to my Mammi & Papa and after watching (more than 10 times) this video, they said: Beta, iske jaise ban sakta h tu.
    I said: PAPA car launga car, Gaon(village) mein hero bnke nikalna.
    That was the wonderful & emotional day, I started working on my Idea and now people are ready to invest on me because I have proved myself with my enterprise.
    I just spent a very enjoyable half an hour and I am sending this to my friends also.
    Thank you again, and have a wonderful day,

  16. Akash K
    July 30, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Hi Mukhi thank you for this amazing blog which has truly inspired me. You have provided even the most negligible aspects of what to do and what not to do for people aspiring to become entrepreneurs. This blog helped me realize no matter what may come never stop chasing your dream as chasing your dream is nothing but chasing success itself!!

  17. sharad dhingra
    July 17, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Nice blog sir.And yes i loved your session today at Great Lakes.Inspired!!You truly are an extra-ordinary guy :)

  18. Mahendra
    July 4, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Hi Muki,

    This is really inspirational blog. I have learned lot of things from you muki. You are inspiration to employees, still so many things need to learn:).

  19. July 1, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Muki, I still remember the moment we met for the first time at our university campus, I remember every second of it. As, for the whole day I was mesmerized with the energetic aura around you.
    The imprints of your experience on our minds, thoughts we shared for the whole day, thousands of stories and the passion you spread was irresistible.
    Last few months at pepper square reminds me of Herzberg’s Two factor theory taught as a part of our design management course. And happy faces around says that both factors of the theory are getting fulfilled excellently at pepper square.

  20. Chaitra Kumar
    June 16, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Hi Muki,
    I live right behind the Pepper Square office in Jayanagar and have always wanted to know more about the company. Today I was reading a blog on an accelerator program that referenced muHive and in turn peppersquare which eventually led me to the blogs. Very honest/open and clutter free thoughts! It would be great to catch up in the neighborhood sometime ! All the very best & Cheers!

  21. June 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Scalability can be compared to coordinate geometry where we have x , y and z. A company must scale in all the three dimensions and grow like a pyramid to be stable.

  22. May 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Really inspirational blog, shared your 11 years of experience from an ordinary person who had chat for lunch to a person who felt freedom is not become our self as slaves for our needs. It is not that much easy for a person to be so simple and able to easily overcome all pitfall in life. “My dreams were not BIG.”-real fact shows that your thrust for success is high.

  23. May 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Muki,
    That was really inspiring. Failing 7 times and not giving up is what passion is all about.
    I also saw your video on chaiwithlaxmi.
    “Life is too short to make mistakes other have already made”
    Going by the above quote i am definitely learning from your failure.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  24. Ranjith
    April 15, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Hi Muki,

    Thanks for the blog. It was inspiring as well as refreshing. You have touched upon many vital aspects not only of a business but life in its entirety.

    Every individual that go through this blog will have one or the other key point that they could relate to. For me the one I could relate more was on “Passion”. I’ve always stick to this rule “To do what I Love”, because when you do that, it make not only you but others too, who are related to it, happy.
    I had a chance to experience the passion you had for people and digital when I was at pepper square.

  25. Rekha
    April 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Inspiring blog…. Prashanth introduced me to you…. I am one of your fan now. Bookmarked the blog….hope I can share with friends and we can learn and take inspiration from you

    1. Muki Regunathan
      April 6, 2014 at 3:31 am

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog Rekha. I believe inspiration is external and motivation is internal. Think big and create wealth.

  26. Rangaraj
    April 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Patience and learning from the failures are the very important characteristics for an entrepreneur. and modesty towards success must needed one to get more success. inspirational one THANKS!

  27. Prashanth
    April 3, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Simple, straight from the heart and inspiring!

    Muki- Loved your comment on Frugal Discipline.

    1. Muki Regunathan
      April 6, 2014 at 3:29 am

      Thanks Prashanth. Frugal discipline helped me to provide more to people who are connected with me.

  28. Vivek
    March 9, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Whenever I have to recharge myself,I always go through this page and it places me back on my track.

    Thanks

  29. Sharon Gana
    February 11, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Thanks for sharing and it helps me on my struggle on my own start up.
    BTW I am Malaysia and I love your post, sharing and guide.

    Thank you

  30. Subhash
    January 31, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing every moment of your life.. Thoughts experience you share with every person is really fantastic. personally i feel you are a school of education…There is lots of things which we can learn..

    Thanks Muki..

  31. Rakesh Gupta
    January 27, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Muki, respect your efforts and insights you described. I know you as a different entrepreneur now. Keep going. I have bookmarked this page already.

  32. January 26, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    As usual man – candid and insightful! Deja vu to your Unpluggd 2012 speech.

  33. Madhur
    January 16, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Muki,
    Fantastic read!!! I certainly feel the urge to share it with some of my friends. How very straight and from the heart!!!
    Cheers

  34. Wade Wilson
    January 14, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Muki,

    Your insights are fantastic and relevant. One of the things that I have noticed throughout your insights is your ability to related it to others. I am sure that you could have filled several pages with things that you realized in life but picked the ones that may be the most relevant to others searching for themselves.

    As an aspiring executive coach, I look forward to seeing more of this from you in the future!!

    Thanks again for your insight!!

    Wade

  35. Ananthakrishnan Vijaikumar
    January 13, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Anna..loved every bit of the blog..this one is definitely a keeper..! Would like to take some motivation out of it to start thinking about my business plans seriously..
    “Because, deep in my heart, I know that there is peace of mind in frugal discipline and that lasts longer than the short-lived high of extravagance.” – Loved these lines especially, this motto is something all of us should irrespective of being a business man or working with a reasonably good salary..!
    Wish you and ur family a very happy pongal..tnx for this piece..
    cheers!!

  36. Rohit
    January 13, 2014 at 5:03 am

    muki….experential and sincere…”dreams have nothing to do with the food you take in but with the choice of ingredients you feed the mind”….keep walking !!!

  37. Anu
    January 9, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Thank you Muki for Sharing your success story. Its always inspiring to see the “Pay it forward” attitude that you carry along with you..

  38. Sundararaman Ramasamy
    January 8, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing this Muki. I really liked what you said about health, desperate acts, employees and visit to hometown. Congrats for successfully creating a lovable organization and good luck for scaling it.

  39. Neel
    January 8, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Muki man: you are our very own Osho! :)

    It was my pleasure to read through your words and would like to thank you for sharing this.

    The author’s hat sure suits you. You should write more.

    Wishing you and peppersquare the very best always,

    Neel

  40. January 7, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Dear Sir,
    I have started my career under Vishy sir and after understanding your challenges and solutions I find similarities between you and Vishy sir. Well I didn’t work for you but I guess the learning would have been same. Thanks for sharing. I would use this practically one day.

  41. Ashish Didwania
    January 4, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Said Gibran talking on work and love,”….You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary. And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge, And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge, And all knowledge is vain save when there is work, And all work is empty save when there is love; And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.”
    Probably this was a similar philosophy or the loop mechanism followed towards the building of your organisation. Ultimately you have the results you dreamt of and inching towards the next point.

  42. December 31, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Hi Muki, I have similar mirror image of presently going through , what you have gone through, You have just shown me a mirror to look at myself and our company and our lives, a wonderful insight into the brave world of entrepreneurs and the challenges thereof. very very open and honest, Thank you for making us look at our self.

  43. Abirami Ganesh
    December 27, 2013 at 3:39 am

    The talk on scable organisation was simply awesome.. you have been such an inspiration to me. I realised being simple and down to earth is the key to success.. Thank you Muki!!!

  44. December 24, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Hi Muki,

    Thanks for sharing your Life Experiences in a nutshell. It gives us a lot of valuable insights. Especially I personally learnt divide your big dreams into very small achievable dreams and pursue your dreams continuously.

    Regards
    Ravi Chandra

  45. Ackhil
    December 23, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Hello Muki,

    I see ‘The little prince’ throughout the blog. A global connect, profound philosophy and yet so light to digest if one has an open mind.

    A major spice in pepper square is definitely the devotion that you have towards your work, which is helping it scale to new heights.

    Glad that there are successful people like you, ready to share their early failures and lessons, so others learn from it and succeed as well.

    Warm regards,
    One of your admirer

  46. December 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Good Writeup. Especially like the first lesson on Responsibility. I’ve made that mistake myself before.

  47. Pankaj
    December 22, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Hi Sir,

    “Present is unsustainable, future is difficult. Where do you want to work it’s up to you”. Life is a roller-costar ride where you face up and down with some thrilling twists. This blog is showcasing every aspect of it.

    Thank you so much for sharing this awesome life story with us. The way this story was craft everyone is connected somewhere with it. I am connected with the mathematics, affordability and sustainability. I started my career with pepper square and thought this is the best choice I have ever made.

    Another aspect of this story is, if you are living your life on your own terms, you have to pay more to the life than the person who is living a average life. I am not saying that those people having low self esteem but, there perception is clouded.

    I am very happy that I am a part of this organization and growing with this remarkable journey in both professional and personal ways.

    1. Ackhil
      December 23, 2013 at 6:59 am

      Impressive thoughts Pankaj.

      1. Pankaj
        December 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm

        Thanks Ackhil.

  48. Neelamohan
    December 21, 2013 at 7:54 am

    pepper square’s 11 year journey is a remarkable achievement. It happened because of the Passion and Perfection everyone brings to deliver every single project. The lessons learned from muki’s mistakes are very useful not only for the entrepreneurs but also the people who wants to improve their life. Thanks Muki for Sharing this.

  49. Rahul
    December 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Muki,

    It’s a very well written piece of work, (a little too heavy for my weak mind at places) but powerful at all the right place.

    I connected with this one line in this blog on a more personal note : “It took me a number of years to figure out that there is no point in trying to do something just to please others when your heart is not in it.”

    Regards.

  50. Nirbhay
    December 20, 2013 at 4:47 am

    of late I have realized that, it is essential for every individual to have confidence/faith in oneself. I have seen that in your post. Once you have build that you start respecting yourself, and indulge in work which you love, as you know that you are confident in completing the task efficiently. As always, this is a good read.

  51. T K VENKATASUBRAMANIAM
    December 18, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    My dear Mukhi,

    I love reading your pen picture again and again. What best can be said “Slow & Steady wins the race” and one has to attain “Self contentment in life”. May god bless u with all your desired goals. Venkat.

  52. Ashish Didwania
    December 17, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Excellent read ‘again’. Your post inspires to believe in oneself. It shatters away a lot of false beliefs we are surrounded by. In fact, this post prompts to evaluate priorities in life and ask yourself “Is it really what I want to do in life”?

  53. Barath
    December 16, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Muki,

    U are brutally honest , which is a very rare trait to be seen around in anybody these days. I admire it. Great work and congrats for your 11 Years. You Rock Sire!!!!

  54. Nemish
    December 16, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I like the way you have described and summarize the memoir of your life @ Pepper square. I would simply say “Keep Dreaming and Keep Achieving”.

    Loads of Happiness & Success !

    Regards

  55. Lisha
    December 16, 2013 at 4:06 am

    I liked the courage displayed in the blog. Also I feel it has captured many entrepreneurial as well as life lessons.

  56. Vini Gupta
    December 14, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    You are an inspiration and a motivation Muki, each word of yours carries a story with a strong message behind it!

  57. Neoo
    December 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Hello Muki, i enjoyed reading your blog. I liked to read about your experience of life.. No Exit, Attidue, people,control and freedom, I indeed enjoyed all of it..

  58. Amit Mitra
    December 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Hey Muki

    Awesome post … truly inspiring. Loved every bit of it.
    Hope not to do the mistakes :)

    Many many happy returns of the day.

    Warmly,
    Amit

  59. December 13, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Hey Muki,

    This made a great read. Thanks for sharing.
    Your love for life (and hence, for what you do) comes across vividly. I particularly liked the one about taking care of one’s health and responsibility towards our team and partners.

    You are indeed warm as a Pepper and as balanced as a Square.:-)

    Cheers,
    -Manish

  60. anil
    December 13, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Hey Muki … didn’t know it was ur bDay! Definitely party time! … Great article. Hope u dnt mind but not agree with your “small and achievable dreams”. For me every dream is BIG. It matters a lot .. and if it is not big dream for dreamer .. it is a wish. Dreams make things happen .. Keep breathing. Keep dreaming.

  61. Annapoorani
    December 13, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Nice reflections Muki. It shows you as a balanced personality. I liked your views on patience and it is very true to balance action and at times being out of limelight.

  62. December 13, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Muki, Liked the exit strategy very much. But seems more personal goal.

    Nice blog.

  63. December 13, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Hi Muki,

    Amazing read,what really made sense to me ws when u said, “My dreams were not Big”, they were small and achievable ; specially after our meeting, I am focusing on this part.

    Congratulations on your journey of 11 yrs

    Regards

  64. Varun Arya
    December 13, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Muki you are an inspiration

  65. Sweta Mishra
    December 13, 2013 at 5:03 am

    Let me first of all take this opportunity to wish you a very happy birthday to you.
    The articles of yours is really insightful and really felt good that u have achieved what you aspired to ….especially liked the response of exit strategy .hope to see many more feathers added to your cap and maintaining the fine balance in life that u have achieved already.

    With best wishes and warm regards

    Sweta

  66. December 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    11 years of awesomeness!

    Muki, you are an inspiration to me. I definitely look up to you.

    Thanks for capturing your learnings here.

    I love this – “My dreams were not BIG”, especially in the context of what you have achieved.

    Keep writing!

  67. Fakrudin Ahamed
    December 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Muki,

    First of all, I wish you happy birthday (A day after super star Rajini Kanth Birthday). Have a happy and healthy life not only for you, also for pepper square.

    Usually i don’t read big paragraph as i hate it from the school (Only practical no theory) days. But, i read this article fully, as it is not theory instead, this is extreme practical of your journey.

    I like some of your points

    1). “My dreams were not BIG” – Agree with this, Because everyone have (including me) big dreams, but never start. And i realise that to-dos are the ones which helps me to achieve my dreams.

    2). “Patience” – Recently i read an article, across the world around 90% people who are successful because they have enough patience and without that they are doomed. When i was at pepper square, Senthil taught me many things especially “How to be a patient from boss/clients/employees/projects/friends/etc…” His advice is really helping me lot in my entrepreneurial journey.

    3). Learn to say NO – It is very hard to say “No”. But if we started to say “No” then all the “Yes” will follow immediately. I am experiencing now.

    Finally i proudly say that, i had an excellent experience in pepper square as an employee for 42 months before i quit and started my entrepreneurial journey and i am a great follower of you.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Fakrudin Ahamed

  68. Nitin Vishwakarma
    December 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Hi Muki, wonderful to read your post. Are you open to take me as your intern :-)

    It was a pleasure to meet you in the campus.

  69. December 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Nice ‘insights’ Muki.
    I’m pleased to read you are enjoying a good work-life balance!
    Your insights reflect my views: mainly if you don’t enjoy what you do, you’ll rarely achieve anything worthwhile for yourself or others.
    Sometimes the results don’t happen, so – depending on financial and social circumstances – there’s always two roads to travel: 1. carry-on with more care. 2, stop, consider carefully, then and make efforts to take a course closer to your heart’s desire(s).
    All the best.
    Simon.

  70. December 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Dear Muki,

    I remember visiting pepper squares office in bangalore, a couple years back, as a college’s industrial visit, and meeting you and a part of pepper square team.
    Things have changed so much after that.
    Its been about 5-6 months since we all have quit our jobs and have passionately dedicated ourself towards our own venture, SudoSaints.
    And, just like you, we do not have any way or means by which we market ourself, and frankly speaking, it isn’t bad actually, we have worked on over 35 projects till now, we get most of our clients through references and our website, just like pepper square does.
    The biggest learning which we’ve got is, saying NO. And yes, it takes a lot of guts to say NO to the client.
    The best part is, we have learnt alot. Everyday, with every client, with every project, we are learning, and I don’t think the learning is EVER going to stop, and we don’t WANT the learning to stop.
    Its fun to learn, and who knows it better than you?

    There are many similarities between us and pepper square (maybe because of the influence of pepper square on our team?).
    And I would like to mention that we really love pepper square’s office and we discuss about pepper square often at our office (As a matter of fact, we were discussing about pepper square today only, before reading this blog post). We really love few of the things we got to learn from you, including, willing to scale and pestering our clients.
    While we are still trying hard to deliver our best and scale, We have successfully implemented “pestering philosophy” (and absolutely loved it too :D ).

    The last time we met, we were a bunch of college boys sitting there, with a little or no idea about what the future is going to bring and what a REAL passion is.
    The next time we will be meeting, and I hope it will be soon, we will be entrepreneurs sitting there, though still without an idea what future’s gonna bring, BUT this time, with a passion and a will to create a future as we desire. :)

    Thank you so much.

    From:
    Entire SudoSaints Team.

  71. December 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Leadership is all about creating leaders. InfocusRx and ZeebraCross is your baby. Thank you pepper square.
    Happy birthday to you Muki:) 13 12 13

    1. December 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Muki’s pepper square produces stellar deliverables for its clients while developing employees into exceptional individuals. Vishy, of InfocusRX and ZeebraCross is one of those individuals, and I’m sure there are and will be many, many more.

  72. Eric Papcun
    December 12, 2013 at 7:37 am

    You have so much to be proud of Muki!

    I read your blog tonight before bedtime thinking I would click on it and review it, make a quick comment and get some rest.

    After seeing the title and first few words, I quickly realized that this blog was something special and I would need to read EVERY SINGLE WORD and ensure that the message you were so passionately delivering was fully captured not only in my head, but more importantly, my heart.

    You see, I’ve been involved with numerous companies during my career and I’ve seen first hand that companies personalities are quite often reflected in their brands. In reality, no matter how hard the CEO or the board will try to manufacture a brand message, it ultimately is the culture that really drives a company. While brands can be manufactured with money, creative thinkers, human capital, market research, etc. (Notice I didn’t mention “great brands” or “respected brands”) a culture is something that is built cell by cell and ultimately becomes the DNA of the business. Pepper Square and the quality and respect of your brand are truly a reflection of you and your team’s DNA and overall culture.

    You see, it is evident that the way you have focused on all of those things that were important to you from the beginning or the “who you are” are still intimate factors that are clearly evident in the current DNA of Pepper Square’s employees.

    I’ve known you for every year of your journey Muki and the one thing that has always been front and center (even prior to starting Pepper Square) is that everything that you take on you do so with passion. It’s not an uncontrolled excitement, it’s a patient passion that allowed you stay the course and remain focused on the brick by brick building of your company. Coupled with your optimistic approach to life and business, nothing was going to stop you from reaching your goals.

    We sure have had some fun and exciting times over the past 15 years together! I remember snowboarding down Mt. Hood, taking road trips together in route to client presentations talking for hours at a time, entertaining potential clients until wee hours of the morning, etc. Fun times indeed, but the times I cherish the most are the ones when you have stayed in my home with my family and we talk future trends, business strategy, healthy lifestyles, customer and employee satisfaction and I could go on and on. The message is that no matter the topic of those discussions, you always focused on and came back to two things: perspective and priorities. You have taught me a great deal about perspective and priorities and highly influenced me to think more like an entrepenuer than a corporate citizen and for that I can’t thank you enough.

    In a nutshell, it’s the old cliche’ about the richest men and women in the world are the ones that have the things that money can’t buy. They have health, family, freedom and peace of mind in knowing they did things their way. They did so with integrity, character and passion, not just for themselves, but for others as well along the way. They never sold their souls…..men just like you my friend.

    Heartfelt congratulations on your success Muki! Not only have your earned it, but you have done so your way. Your positive impact on those around you, including me has been priceless.

    Respectfully,
    Eric

  73. December 12, 2013 at 2:33 am

    Reading this I could not help but think how the employees at pepper square are extraordinarily lucky to have such a boss. I owned a very successful business for years doing college text book illustrations. Later I was the head of different departments for different companies in a variety of industries. Looking back over all those positions, I can honestly say that a good boss works for his staff and not the other way around.

    I’ve visited pepper square and know that Muki works hard to have just the right employees working on the jobs that properly suit not only their skill sets but also their level of enthusiasm. That visit proved to me that enthusiasm at pepper square was, and remains, in no short supply. Compound this with sales, client responsibilities, partnering and financial needs and Muki’s personal goals to captain a happy ship have been far greater than most.

    I’d also like to add that the enthusiasm of the crew at pepper square, to a great extent, makes Muki’s job a little bit easier than most bosses. Muki has a requirement for making enthusiasm a major talent factor during hiring. When I visited, several years back, I was overwhelmed with the receptiveness and creative responses from his team members. Consequently, if Muki ever decides to go on sabbatical, I am formally submitting my application today to take over his chair. Why not? Muki’s already done all the heavy lifting.

  74. Rajesh Kumar A S
    December 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Love reading the flash back of events & your insights on your 11 year journey of pepper square. It’s really been inspiring and one of the most memorable for me being a part of pepper square for the last 9 years and I am really proud for that.

    Also I would like to say that, I have been a part of the many experiences you depicted in your article last 9 years and it was really a challenging and exciting journey.

    You have articulated with brilliance how you’ve crafted pepper square making it a lovable and dependable company to its employees, their families and customers.
    Love to know about your math teacher and also nice to see Anand who makes most delicious chaats.

    Now it’s time for us to ‘Dream Big’ and spread more love to the world.

    I could feel your heart-beat when I was reading this article.

    All the best

  75. R Pavan Kumar
    December 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Hello Muki,

    Thoughts are running at lightening speed in my mind after reading the post. In fact it is taking time for me to control their speed and structure them.

    1. Patience – In one of my comments on a blog earlier, I mentioned the concept of “dry leaf”. Just be a like a dry leaf, travel the way wind takes you. Nature knows what to give you and when to give you. What you can do at best is keep trying with determination and never say die spirit.

    2. Numbers – I was known across my school for my extraordinary ability to screw up real bad in Maths. In fact a teacher of mine went to the extent of calling me “shani” of the class. I thought i ran away from numbers for ever when i opted for Bio sciences in my 10+1 and furthur. But as they say, life does take a full turn. In MBA i was surrounded with numbers. I decided to tackle them forever. I started with tables at the age of 23. I stuck huge sheets with tables in my room. Now I can proudly say that i managed a score of 96 percentile in CAT Maths.

    3. Passion – “Seek and you shall get” was the message given to me by a great man. Passion is something for which you pay the price it demands with joy. Passion is something you do unconditionally.

    4. People: I recall watching a video where you were delivering a speech. In that speech you quoted Narayana Murthy as saying that Infosys is worth billions of dollars from 9:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening and once people go home it is worth nothing. I guess this pretty much sums the importance of people.

    5. Freedom – A highly misunderstood concept according to me. People mistake only economic freedom to be absolute freedom. A book written by J. Kriahmurthy on Freedom, though a very complex and difficult to understand, is worth reading to gain a good understanding of the concept of freedom.

    6. Control – I recall a lecture by Harsha Bhogle at IIM Kolkata. He says if you can’t manage your own health how can you manage the health of an enterprise. Bad health is the starting point of all unwanted outcomes in ones life.

    7. Perfection – You dont see many innovations from Apple. They take an already present feature or technology and refine it to make it perfect. What people want is perfection and they are ready to pay a premium for it.

    8. No Exit – There are 2 books written by Rashmi Bansal – Connecting the dots, about enterprises by non MBAs and Stay Hungry Stay Foolish, about enterprises started by MBAs. One pattern is that all the non MBAs first enterprise was a success and all the first enterprises of MBAs was a failure. The explanation to this bizzare pattern was given by a entraprenuer i know. All the MBAs had an exit strategy but for non MBAs it was a do or die situation. At times having no exit strategy is a blessing in disguise.

    9. Attitude – Knowledge, skill and attitude (KSA) together make an individual competent. Attitude is the most important but the most neglected part. A right attitude with no knowledge is much better than an IIT gold medal and bad attitude.

    10. Responsibility – I remember my CRM professor saying not all customers are kings. In a situation where an organizations employees are commiting suicide due to non payment of salaries the group is spending money on calendars. I am not asking organizations to become socialistic, but do not punish employees for your mistakes.

    11. No desparate acts – Lord Buddha says an agitated and desparate mind is like muddy water. Give some time, the mud will settle down and you will see clear water.

  76. December 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    WOW!!This is perhaps the most insightful blog post I’ve ever read. These are like the perfect ingredients to remain unperturbed even in the worst of trying times.
    I really liked your perspective about patience, frugal discipline, responsibility and attitude!! It defines everything about a person especially the line ‘Patience is gathering all the information and the resources for preparing the birth of your dream’. I could so relate to it. A recipe for a consistent consciousness indeed!

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