At BR, we always strive to bring to you some of the finest and compelling stories from the entrepreneurship world. This week we invited Vineet Barnwal for an interview with us to understand more about his journey as an entrepreneur and his advice for the startup community. But first, more about Vineet – He is a successful trainer, consultant, coach, stand up comedian and artist. He spent over a decade in the IT industry before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. Let’s read more!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Vineet:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey, please;
I am Vineet Barnwal and I work as a trainer for soft skills and a stand-up comedian. An alumnus of IIT Delhi and BIT Ranchi, I spent a decade in the IT industry in different specialities like Quality Consulting, Pre-Sales and Sales before taking the plunge as a freelancer.
I liked my work but always felt that it wasn’t my primary love professionally. I missed being on the stage and bring different perspectives using the aspects of psychology and humour.
I had been conducting training and doing comedy performances ever since I was in college. Consequently, I decided to quit my well-established IT job 5 years ago and move to work as a freelance trainer and stand-up comedian
How do you find the industry/niche that you’re in?
I am in two highly different yet strikingly similar industries – Training and Stand Up comedy. Superficially, they are like chalk and cheese, but both require intrinsic knowledge of the human thought process, behaviour and psychology.
Soft Skills Training- The Learning/ Training/ Skill Development industry in India is quite fragmented, unorganized and still developing. One critical aspect missing from the current soft skills training industry is that even for reputed and established organizations, there’s a lack of focus on psychology which renders the training ineffective. Also, most training is monotonous and boring, and participants lose interest after a couple of hours thereby impacting their ability to grasp and learn.
Comedy- Stand-up comedy is an industry which is nascent and taking baby steps. I personally feel that in India, only a few rare comedians come up with scripts which make you think from a different perspective, else the scripts of most are similar and predictable.
My endeavour is to bring in the psychology and intellectual humour angle to training and comedies to ensure they have fun and learn something worthwhile in the process. The feedback has been very encouraging and assures me that I am on the right track
What gets you out of bed in the morning i.e. what’s your source of motivation?
I struggle to get in the bed daily and not otherwise. There’s always a desire for so much more to do and create new ideas and perspectives that being self-motivated has never been an issue for me.
The feedback from people who’ve attended my training programs informing how their learnings have created a positive difference in their lives is a source of external motivation
Feedback from stand up comedy events that they never thought of looking at things from this different a perspective and still laugh when they remember the event pleases me immensely and encourages me to keep going
What challenges/obstacles did you face in your journey so far?
For someone venturing out as a freelancer in domains where I didn’t have any contacts or backing, getting opportunities initially was challenging. It took months and hundreds of meetings to convince my stakeholders to land my first opportunity. Post that, the feedback for my work has made it self-sustaining. But the initial phase was very tough, and I had to hang on to make the breakthrough
The situations I faced during this period helped me come up with a lot of stand-up scripts which the audience finds rib-tickling and entertaining
What comes first for you – money or emotions?
As a professional, I don’t see life as an either-or question. Both emotions and money are critical to succeed, grow and create impact for our stakeholders. You can grow and succeed in your work only if you’re emotionally invested. Recognition and good financial returns act as a motivation and pushing you to further stretch your limits of perfection. Both emotions and money are components which feed each other professionally
How do you handle the pressure and manage stress?
What pressure/stress? I remember when I wanted to ask a girl out for coffee the first time in my life and ended up asking her for Chemistry notes. The perplexed look on her face was hilarious as I was the school topper in Chemistry, and everyone used to borrow mine. Now, that was some pressure and stress. There is no pressure/stress when you get to do what you love and are skilled at
What is one strategy that you believe has helped you grow as a person
Observing, listening to and understanding people. Whether it’s my professional or personal sphere, having this attitude has always helped me know my stakeholders better, connect with them well and learn immensely. This subsequently has helped me grow as a person and professional too
In your opinion what are the keys to success?
1) Self-Assessment: Knowing yourself in depth and doing an honest assessment of what you seek and want to do. Being able to laugh at things which don’t go well and move on is important too
2) Discipline: Discipline is non-negotiable for success. You need to put in the effort, adhere to self-imposed or committed timelines every single day – whether you’re a working professional, an entrepreneur or a freelancer
3) People: Remain connected with the key people (friends, family, colleagues) in your life. Ensure that you interact with positive and happy people as much as you can. Keep your mind open for different perspectives to help unlearn and learn every single day
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
The first step is to know yourself- what do you really enjoy doing.
For every single thing that you want and love to do, you’ll have to do a hundred things which you don’t like. The key to long term happiness and growth is to do the things you don’t like well so that you get the chance to do things you like and excel in them. Discipline is a key ingredient in your work and goals.
Secondly, when you’re starting out on your own, you need tonnes of dedication and patience. You need to think you’re making a biryani, which will take hours and not fast food. A great biryani needs multiple ingredients at different times and must be cooked for hours for the flavours to come out. Similarly, success might get a bit delayed, but you shouldn’t lose your focus