Family Foundation: Beginning of Accidental Entrepreneur
Welcome to my 2nd weekly article on Family.
As the youngest kid in the family, I have learned so many invaluable lessons over the years from both my parents and older siblings.
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Beginning: Accidental Entrepreneur (Family)
“தோன்றின் புகழொடு தோன்றுக அஃதிலார்
தோன்றலின் தோன்றாமை நன்று”. -திருக்குறள் (236)
“If you are born (in this world), be born with qualities conducive to fame. From those who are destitute of them it will be better not to be born.” — Thirukkural (236)
“The harder you work, the luckier you get”
After completing my last post, I sat down to think about all the factors that contributed to my life choices and how those choices/experiences shaped my life. First and foremost the factor is my family and how we were brought up. For those who don’t know me very well, I was born in a small village called Puloly in Northern Sri Lanka. It is a beautiful village with everything anyone could ask for. I will write more about my young life there in my next post as that is where everything began.
Foundation: Come to think about it, my father was a multitalented village elder with many qualities. He was postmaster of the village and adjacent to that, he ran a general store selling anything from groceries to building materials. He was also a farmer and had many different fields with different plants. Even with all this, he had time to be a philanthropist and leader for the largest religious temple in our region.
Environment: I think my business mindset comes from both of my grandfathers. My mother’s father travelled to a southern city to open a store. My father took over his father’s (my paternal grandfather’s) general store after leaving his government job elsewhere. All of them worked long hours each day of the week, except for when they went to the temple. This was where I observed what dedication and hard work looked like. I started going to stores when I was 9 years old and I still fondly remember my grandfather teaching me how to make changes to count money at the cash register at that young age. I had no calculator or computer then so everything was done by pen and paper.
Love and dedication: I was the last child of seven kids. We are a close knit family and were brought closer when we lost our father to a heart attack when I was at the tender age of 12 years old. My mother, who was a housewife, stayed in the shadows of my dad until then, took hold of family and navigated through so many challenges to give us all a chance at success in life. She was just 52 when she lost her husband, my father. I learned even more dedication and unconditional love from her. Being the last child, it was even sweeter and I still brag to my siblings as well as cousins + nephews that I am her favorite. My mother just celebrated her 90th birthday this year.
Support system: Having six other siblings and many more cousins is a blessing. I learned so many things from each and every one of them. My eldest sister is like my second mother to me. She was eighteen years older than me and got married when I was just eight years old. Her and my brother in law spoiled me and took care of me like their own child. My eldest brother is a visionary. He was in his twenties when our father passed away and he set all of us down a good path before he settled down. My journey out of Sri Lanka started with him taking me to Botswana and sending me to the US for a better education. My second brother is a very kind hearted and hard working person. He helped me through many situations by being there to talk about everything. My third brother is an interesting person. He was one of the best sportsmen the region had seen. He is a very generous person who took over the store when our father passed away. He was just 22 at that time. My last brother is a very smart and content person. You wouldn’t believe by talking to him that he was ranked number one in Sri Lanka (including Tamil and Sinhalese) for his high school standard exam (GCE A/L). He is a great listener and advisor without directly advising you. My last sister has always been my best friend and great supporter with constant encouragement. We were only three years apart and we understand each other really well with a strong connection. Now you can see where my support system and “I can do it” attitude comes from. To be a leader or trailblazer, you need a vision, compassion, good advisors, unconditional care, and a hardworking + disciplined mindset.
Transition: As I mentioned, my parents were business people and my three oldest brothers ended up following in their footsteps of accounting as well as finance. The brother just before me, who was challenged by one of his high school teachers, went ahead and scored number one in Sri Lanka in the Math/Engineering stream. That success directed me to follow the engineering path even though I always had interest in doing something with business.
After reading the description above of my early life experiences, I am not sure Accidental Entrepreneur is the correct title😀 I learned about hard work and dedication from my father, vision, compassion and other characters from my family and finally I got to the right place, the great country of USA and right place, Silicon Valley. Yes, I got very lucky, by working harder and from real life learnings from my family.
You are nothing without a strong family foundation.