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Vidyadhar Prabhudesai, opens up of exciting part of the journey – LeadCap

I had no birth penalty, so I didn't have to struggle to meet ends. I was born lucky. I have wonderful parents who gave me all freedom to pursue what I want to do; they never demanded or put any pressure on me. Like any other parent, they wanted me to be well educated, work in a good organization, progress well, marry, and settle for life.

Vidyadhar Prabhudesai in conversation with Prittle Prattle News

I had no birth penalty, so I didn’t have to struggle to meet ends. I was born lucky. I have wonderful parents who gave me all freedom to pursue what I want to do; they never demanded or put any pressure on me. Like any other parent, they wanted me to be well educated, work in a good organization, progress well, marry, and settle for life. I had other plans. During my school or college days, I was an average student. An average student is somebody who always feels that toppers or rankers left him out in his class, teachers ignore them, and he cannot join the backbenchers because he feels he is superior to them. I belong to this average class. But while growing up, some instances in my life changed my perceptions and approach to life.


After my graduation, I immediately started working and got stuck to the so-called corporate world. When you work for a large corporate, you are just a small part having a nut bolt value and form part of a large machine. Usually, your work is just like routine mundane without any challenge. My life was just another routine. And whatever said and done, at the year-end, you have to prove your worth each time and get annual hike or promotions, which is always unfair.


There were some exceptions in my case, where I screwed up and even got kicked out a couple of instances from the early days in my career. I was absolutely a newbie on the corporate ladder. My mistakes had cost these organizations few hundred thousand dollars –the monetary losses and other collateral damages, and I soon realized I am a misfit into this type of work culture, I thought it is better to part away rather than damaging it more. One beautiful day while I was enjoying my annual leave at home. I saw my younger brother working on his college project. He was doing some posters for his college project. I asked him why he is putting in so much effort when there is an easy way out. I told him he could search the internet, download stuff and cut paste the whole stuff and get away with your work. He patiently listened to my argument and said, “If I am doing the same stuff like all other students, what is the difference between them and me” This shook me entirely, and I could not answer him. This was my first defining moment when I started thinking about how I could be different and create differences. One of the early moves I took is that I enrolled in the community development program of
the company I was working with and started teaching basic computers to the students who were hailed from deprived families.


As I progressed in my career, I started getting frustrated in my corporate life. It is not that working in corporate is terrible, please don’t this that way I was employed in most people caring companies, but I failed to live up what it was needed. Frustrated one beautiful afternoon, I remember it was my mother’s birthday; I was flying back home – Before take off, I got forcefully down out of a flight – I was stopped at the airport and could fly the next morning. I realized that I wasted five years of my life, and while I was in flight to Mumbai, I texted my boss – “I am not coming back. Good luck”, that was a final goodbye
to the corporate world. I did not have any plan at all about what to do next. I knew I had committed corporate suicide. I had already resigned from my well paid corporate job that too, after getting promoted every year…my boss said to me I had
gone mad, it will be difficult to survive outside. I had no idea what I was getting into. But I was continuously made aware of what I was loosing by giving up a well-paying job. A house a car, maybe nobody would even dare to marry me. These are the trade-offs, and I thought it was better to compromise than carrying them as baggage for the rest of your life.

As I ended my corporate journey, I relocated back to Mumbai. There I started my first company. It was an HR recruitment consulting cum placement agency. Wrong time and wrong business. With my contacts, I could strike initial breakthroughs, which helped to survive for 3-4 months. It was 2007-08, and recession just started showing its moves. With nothing back up and to avoid the embarrassment of failure, I took an education loan and enrolled in a management program, thinking I would get placed somewhere and get back to sluggy corporate life. I got a job in one of the renowned business houses at that
time. But the entrepreneur streak in me didn’t let me live there for a long.


I declined the job offer, and then my most exciting part of the journey started – LeadCap. Started with a million leader mandate – transform the lives of people who had battle everyday chores to the next generation of leaders who could be role models like you have heard today. The inspiration came to me when I was working, and I realized that youth who live in tier 2,3 districts of India, have immense potential and can even challenge anybody from up-class cities to be it Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. It is just that they do not have access or are given the right opportunities to prove their potential. We decided to build India’s first Leadership Village in a small village of Waynad district in Kerala.


LeadCap is built on this belief that leadership is a decision, and hence anyone bold enough to take that decision could transform himself into a leader. The movement believes that if we can encourage more Indians to make this decision, then many of these transformed individuals, with their newfound potential, would drive those things that could change our nation to another level. We run several programs that impacted more than 10 million youth across the country. Early days of LeadCap were not carefree. I remember those days when we slogged for 16-18 hours a day, skipped meals, had no weekend, and even slept in the office. To sustain, we started consulting practice; we were new. We struggled to get clients, convince others, prove credibility, etc. I also learned that to sustain, we need to develop multiple sources of revenue – started exploring international markets. Slowly our work received recognition, and I was nominated in 2011 by world Economic Forum as Global Shaper. World Bank recognized further LeadCap model, I was inducted into one of the advisory committees on Youth Employability, received fellowships from UN and Ford Foundation.


These names now have become an integral part of my life, and I carry them everywhere. While I was on my first trip to Europe last year, where these biggest are housed, I started looking back on my journey. I had heard about WEF or the UN for the first time when I was in the second year of college. I had even asked my economics professor if he knew anybody there and could refer me since I was curious about getting a job there – it was my dream job. Though I never got a chance to work there, I am happy that I am associated with these organizations.

An exciting thing that has happened to me while I was returning to India. I and a fellow co-traveler struck a fascinating conversation. He asked a question, who am I? For anybody, it would mean his identity or his job. I told him as anybody would say. I am so, so I am a co-founder, entrepreneur, UN, WEF, etc. He disagreed with all I said and told me that these were just peripherals and would fade away with time and what stays with you for a lifetime; is your real identity. I thought about this throughout the journey, and when the flight landed in Mumbai, I said, “I am the son of Anand and Sulabha. I inherited chromosomes from my mother and father, which would be the only thing that would not change. Whatever I do or get recognized for now or in the future, my parents will be credited. My wife Mansi recently pledged half of our wealth towards philanthropic causes and joined the Living My Promise movement. My nephew Chinmay now challenges me to think more differently in his way, and I now try to live up to his pace.

Facebook: facebook.com/vidyadharp
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/vidyadhar
Twitter: vaprabhudesai
Instagram: prabhudesaividyadhar

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