Q1. From National Defence Academy to journalism to entrepreneurship – it has been quite a ride for you. What are some of the special moments you would like to share with our audience.
RK: I left home when I was 17 to join National Defence Academy. Spent almost 3 years but unfortunately could not become a commissioned officer. However, it drilled-in immense discipline and mental strength inside me. It helped me both in my journalism career and as an entrepreneur. From a near-death experience in NDA to losing first job as a journalist because of take-over by another company, and struggles to establish the marketing communication business was challenging but a good fun ride.
Q2. In the recent past, you have been talking about the ill-impacts of social media and that it is influencing the behavioral patterns of youth. Can you elaborate
RK: The world is going through an epidemic of depression. Look at America – a nation that has more money, educational institutions, power and opportunities than any other nation on the planet is experiencing high levels of depression. Individualism is on the rise thanks to social media. People believe that they are the ‘center of the world’ and seek constant validation through ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on Facebook and Instagram. Research shows that many in the young millennial’s and generation Z value themselves much more than the others value them, based how well they are doing in the world, and when this confrontation happens, there are weird behavioral patterns that one can witness, including depression and violence.
Mobiles are changing societal behavioral patterns. And not only of youth, but almost all of us across age groups. It makes us feel we will always be heard, and that if we have mobile, we can never be alone. This has impacted face-to-face conversations. People prefer texting than talking. And we are constantly texting. Our expectations from each others have reduced. It is acceptable to check mobile while talking to each other. In fact look at parents, and even babysitters who cannot devote undivided attention to kids. There is a ‘new silence’ that we see over meals and playtime. This undivided attention is the differentiator between transnational relationships and meaningful relationships.
The worst-hit are young children who are becoming confused and uncertain about relationships. And this will have dire consequences throughout their life.
Q3. It is interesting how you emphasize on ‘face-to-face conversations’. Why is it so important when we are just a WhatsApp message away?
RK: Let me clarify that I am not ‘anti-technology’. Tech has made our lives easier. Smart phones have disrupted the way we communicate. Efficiencies that were unimaginable even 2 decades back have been brought about by tech.
My message is not to give-up your phone, but be sensitive to its impact on your behaviour. Human beings are social animals. Face-to-face conversations are not an option, but a necessity. When you start accepting that person sitting next to you can look at phone during a conversation, and vice versa, things start rotting. This only goes from bad to worse.
And there are so many important life skills you learn only through face-to-face conversations. Data shows that youngsters are unable to negotiate deals, they give-up easily, break-up at a drop of a hat – why is this happening? Because the they are always on phones. It is a linear way of communicating. How would you learn to read body language, eye movement, assertive listening or for that matter even assertive curiosity when you not are not talking at all.
Q4. So is this the foundation of your startup “what if it’s your last day”? You were doing intensive research for the last 2 years. Can you share what was it all about?
RK: “What if it’s your last day” or wiyld.com took shape after 2 years of research on positive psychology and 300+ interviews across countries over phone, emails and in-person. There is a whole “happiness-economy” which is riding on selfie craze. So happiness over exotic food, virgin beach, adventurous game etc. While they are completely justified as fun and as part of your bucket-list of what to do before you die, they may not really make you happier deeper within over long term. We spend our lives running after objects and materialistic things that may never make us happy ever. And that is why the spirituality in the society is on the rise. People are now searching for deeper meaning to their life. The purpose why they were born.
Q5. Can you elaborate more on what wiyld.com would do?
RK: At wiyld.com we have covered the entire gamut of youth through the mid-age by incorporating – Taking-wings which is focused on youth and young entrepreneurs, ChaturMonkey focused on conscious parenting, Wenus focused on helping women find meaning and purpose to their lives, and Wildlife that is a unique combination of well being, Ayurveda and health – both mental and physical. While all of of them cater to different audience, our group of international experts have come together to design programs that would help you question the “what ifs” in life and arrive at what is key to you and how you are going to achieve your most important dream in life. We stay away from the terminologies like “life transformation” or “life coaching”. We believe each individual is smart enough to know what s/he wants. We do the work of right kind of nudge and tools to achieve the passion/ goals in life.
Q6. You are also writing a book on “real conversations”. What is this about? When will the book be out?
RK: I have been thinking about this for a long time and it took several months of hard-word to decide what to write and what to leave out. The subject is dear to my heart. The book is divided into two parts and takes the route of story-telling to make it an interesting read. First part is context-setting and second is focused on the way-out of this maze. In-person conversations are a necessity and the book talks about instances when we run away from it because we are getting used to hiding behind screens. This is causing marital issues, confused children, separation, break-offs, employees unable to take pressure, senior unaware how a bad news must be passed on to their juniors etc. Be it offices, our homes, elevators, markets, cabs, holidays etc we all are on phone talking through a screen. And that is a scary proposition.
This interview was first published in Newswithchai Here.