journeYoung : Your ultimate motivation
To be meaningful, to live a life of purpose. I am not motivated by money or “materialistic success” but it is to be able to make the situation and people around me better. I am often inspired by people that surround me, who ultimately motivate me to become a better individual.
jY : What was the scratch you started with?
No real “scratch.” I was a table tennis athlete whose career came to a sudden end due to an injury. I am the first ever Indian born “Olympic Elite Athlete” (meaning having represented the USA in it’s highest category of competition in any given year.) I was on the National Team (of only 5 and 4 members) in 2001 and 2002, and competed in Osaka Japan in the World Championships for USA. I was a high prospect to also make it onto the Olympic team in 2004 but in summer of 2002 I fractured my ankle in several places and was never able to return to high level of play. A colleague of mine suggested I use my “charm and communication skills” and join the Board of Directors of USA Table Tennis. I was a well known athlete and it was an easy win in the National election. One thing led to another, and each committee I was elected into as a member, I was re-elected the following term into a leadership position.
As far as the furniture business, it was more a need than a want, as parents needed help. By education I have an Engineering Physics degree from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. My degree comes from the Nuclear Engineering department, which was ranked #1 in the USA during my graduation. I worked for only 6 months for Fluor Daniel (Oil and pipeline company) but had to return home to help parents in the furniture business. I had quickly realized that unless if I have advanced degrees or work for many years first, I wouldn’t actually be doing anything interesting in the field of physics or engineering, therefore the transition made sense. This was also shortly after my injury to it just made sense.
jY : Your closest to heart moment/piece of art/ work memory
I grew up with a lot of insecurities, even got bullied a lot. This was the first time I thought, “hey, maybe I’m not so bad!” But otherwise, which came at a big surprise to myself and everyone around me, was when i was selected onto the USA Junior’s National Table Tennis team. I was asked to represent the country to a big tournament in Taiwan, in which I competed very well. This tournament was really the kick-start to my table tennis metier.
jY : When you feel that you are falling, what pulls you up?
I have a belief, that in times of your greatest frustration is the time of maximum learning. I have always taken a down-time or a loss as the greatest lesson. Things don’t generally get me down, but instead I look for the lesson learned and improve from it. For the ones that know me, they know little really gets me down.
jY : When or how you found your thrust, share an incident may be?
I am not sure if I really have any…I’ve been somewhat reactive in life rather than leading my life. I have always been lucky in the sense that when the time was right, the thrust presented itself and I followed the route I was meant to take. But this is part of being reactive, because I haven’t opened my own doors yet. I think I can be a lot better if I live life on my terms which I don’t think I have to date.
jY : What is the big plan?
So jumping ahead and answering #7, the “big plan” is to live life on my terms. There’s an actual new invention I’m working on so hopefully that will be something big and meaningful 🙂 All my governance roles are term based and I will time out of all of them shortly, so I will search for other ways to stay involved in table tennis and the overall Olympic movement.