6 min • 21 December, 2017
Joyeeta Das, CEO and co-founder of Gyana, reflects on the past year and shares her resolutions for 2018.
A new year is a new beginning, a seed that can sprout into a whole new tree. I take this new beginning very seriously, earmark the next year and calibrate what I’ve learned from the last.
Throughout the year, I’m elbow-deep with my eyes fixed on my work, which doesn’t leave me time for personal development. So I take a break in the last week of the year and spend time with my family, my thoughts, and myself. I catch up on new skills, learn new arts or sciences that I need to prepare myself for the next year, catch up on reading, and really reflect on what I did well and what I did not in the last year. This is important to me as well as to Gyana, where we each follow a similar cycle.
At Gyana, we compile the annual report and learn from what was done well and what could have been done better. More importantly, we reflect on growth in the upcoming year and set ambitious targets to challenge and engage ourselves. As these are early days, we focus not just on numbers but also on qualitative aspects. We ask ourselves, “what will make us go all the way to our blazing aim?” and, walking backward, “what should we do next year to get there?”
People are the most important ingredients in Gyana’s success. This year we grew significantly and next year we hope to maintain the same momentum or even accelerate. But we would like to do it without compromising on quality, so we must focus on our foundational practices first. Next year we will focus on this again.
At a start-up, you sometimes have to learn on the go. This year we had struggles with some functions that we were learning to operate, but bringing in necessary skills helped us to have a successful year. In the upcoming year, we plan to double down and ramp up on those things, such as growth marketing and UX philosophy.
This year I’ve learned to delegate and trust more, to take time out for myself and relax so as not to burn out. But above all, I’ve learned to say “no”. In the New Year, I want to focus on better prioritizing time and cutting out things that do not bring much value.
I travel a lot—all across London, the UK, and abroad. Being constantly on the go takes a big toll on one’s health, especially once you are on the other side of 30. No matter how busy it gets, I always keep my 5 am meditation and Kriya Yoga session intact as it fuels me for the rest of the day (and life!) and gives me the mental strength to focus and find clarity throughout cluttered situations. However, next year I wish to focus more on my diet. Travel mostly means I end up starving, as I am avoiding fast food, meat, and lactose, most of the food I eat is salads, smoothies, and simple dishes. Unfortunately while traveling I don’t find many options like these, so I end up not eating at all. I intend to carry my own food, such as dried nuts, quinoa, oats, etc., so I have something in my own bag and no longer depend upon unhealthy conference food. My body is my temple.
One of the most important things I’ve learned this year has been that being gentle with outcomes is as important as being intense with efforts. Yes, one needs to be meticulous when working hard to get the results, but we all know outcomes are complex and are often not proportional to our efforts or intentions. That is why we need to be gentle with the outcome and ourselves. Let it go. Whether it exceeds, meets, or underperforms to our expected standards, we must still be gentle and accept each outcome with respect. This helps to steers clear of bitter feeling afterward and instead makes one dignified, and there is nothing bigger than dignity. This understanding settles one's emotions down and makes acceptance of all situations quite effortless. It also aids clarity—once we leave behind the drama and trauma, we begin to see the truth in all situations and can “adjust our sails according to the wind” instead of reacting and lashing out or making more mistakes in the process.
This fall I attended a lecture by the astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 500 days in space. He spoke about life and love. He reminded me how we often take real people for granted, how we spend so much time in our lives running after relationships, fights, and God knows what else. None of it matters because when one is removed from every atom one is familiar with and sent hurtling into an empty vacuum, the truth remains that there are very few loves that are strong enough to hold our minds in those moments. Just like death, at that moment we wish we had made them work. Our heart aches for those it deeply desires and loves, whether or not we valued them or spent time with them, or told them we love them when they were around. When removed from all the clutter, the heart clearly feels and knows what it wants. Scott Kelly's talk reminded me how lucky we are when we have love in our lives, and that we must make every moment count. Why wait to be removed to feel it?
I want to establish a new practice in Gyana—a brainstorming session with Gyana friends and allies. I don’t get much time to brainstorm from first principles to solve a problem, this is something that I enjoyed all my life in STEM, even until some years ago. The joy of challenging established norms and cracking secret pathways to a solution is absolutely amazing! I would like to earmark some time every 2 months to use this approach in many hard-to-crack areas at Gyana and invite friends from across the industry to participate in these sessions to help Gyana.
Watch this space!