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Ode To My Wife – The Entrepreneur Behind the Man September 25, 2012

I am nearing the 3 year mark of when I quit my day-job to pursue Keyhubs full-time. I still remember the fateful day I gave notice and the pivotal events that followed in the days after.

During the six months up to that point I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with work. My peers were getting laid off left and right due to the economic downturn. Morale was tanking and we had more work to do with less resources.

Then came the “straw that broke the camel’s back”. My boss and I had an intense disagreement at the height of a major project that was about to launch. The conversation got heated and he said some things that made my skin crawl. With everything else that had built up over the months, I just wanted to tell him to take my job and shove it.

I came home steaming. I cannot remember being so ticked off in all my life.

My wife tried to talk me off the cliff, but she too knew that I was not in a healthy place. She knew I needed a change.

Luckily, we still had a small pile of cash from a recent refinance of our home, which we were originally going to use to pay down some debt. But, with everything going down we decided to “re-purpose” it. The extra capital, which would give me about an 8 month runway to find another job, helped us muster up the courage to do something drastic.

[My wife, Priya Narula, and I at our “Monsoon” wedding in 1997.  We were married in New Delhi.]

After talking it over, she told me to quit. “We’ll figure something out, honey”, she said. Keep in mind, my wife was (is) a stay-at-home mom and we had (have) two young kids and a mortgage. I was so grateful and relieved to have her full support.

I crafted my resignation email on Halloween (Saturday) night and sent it the following day. It felt incredibly awesome to tell my boss how I really felt. To not be afraid. To tell him it was over.

Trick or Treat?

On Monday, the weight of the world was off my shoulders. All I felt was euphoria, elation and liberation as I walked around the office telling people I resigned.

But then Tuesday hit. The feeling of freedom and relief was quickly replaced by panic and confusion. What did I do?? We’re in the worst recession since the Great Depression. What if I don’t find another job? Holy buckets! I am the only earner in this family!

I sat on my bed Tuesday evening, by myself, in a contemplative funk, pale in the face, wondering what to do next.

And then something amazing happened.

My wife walked in. She saw the distress on my face and knew I was freaked out. In a rhetorical, up-beat (unexpected) tone she asked: “Why are you so distraught? What are you so worried about?” She continued, “I’ve been thinking. You have this Keyhubs thing. People seem to like it and you have a few small customers. Why don’t you just focus all your attention on getting that venture off the ground?”

What? Could I really be hearing what I was hearing? My wife wanted me to bet all my eggs on a pet-project that, at the time, was bringing in about $3,000 in annual revenue?

But, she had a point. If we could make that much money with relatively little effort and attention, maybe, with a lot of attention and concerted effort, we could turn this “Keyhubs thing” into a full fledged business.

“Are you serious?”, I replied, in a kind of timid astonishment.

Then my wife looked straight into my eyes and, with a quiet confidence, said something I will never forget:

“I believe in you.”

She believed in me. I knew this. But I never had these words said to me in that way, at the most important crossroads of my professional life. Those four words altered the course of my life and career forever and it was one of the most defining moments of our marriage.

Deep down Keyhubs is what I wanted to do. I just needed a nudge, a boost, a confirmation from a trusted confidant. My wife saw the path to opportunity before I did and she reinforced my faith in a way I could not have done on my own.

My distress quickly turned into excitement, hope and possibilities.

Fast forward three unpredictable and arduous years and we are beginning to see the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of start-up mode. We can feel the upward momentum.

[Priya and I – 2012. This picture captures the feeling we had when we both decided to become entrepreneurs – so key to see eye-to-eye.]

As we look back at the “valley of death” from a slightly elevated plain of optimism and potential, I remind myself that I would not be here if it were not for my dear and foresightful wife. She took a huge risk when many others would not. She believed in me when many others did not. Each step of the way, my wife was with me. She cheered me on and lifted my spirits through the darkest of times.

They say that bad leadership spurs entrepreneurship – so does good spousal support. In my case, the latter was a more potent lever.

In this sense, my wife is the “secret” entrepreneur behind the man and has been an indispensable agent in my success.

And, my story is not unique. So many entrepreneurs out there are backed by a strong, intuitive and thoughtful partner. These “partners” typically do not seek public glory or personal credit, yet they move us forward like no other.

This is an ode to them and an ode to my wife.

Vikas Narula (@NarulaTweets) is Creator and Co-Founder of Keyhubs (@Keyhubs) – a software and services company specializing in workplace social analytics. He is also Founder of Neighborhood Forest – a social venture dedicated to giving free trees to kids every Earth Day.




 

30 Responses

  1. Vikas, beautiful post! So true that we can’t do it alone! Cheers to you & to Priya!

  2. I really appreciate this, Vikas–for the vulnerability in the way you share your story, the way you honor your wife, and the sense of adventure and trust that is in your work.

  3. Great post!.

  4. Vikas,
    This is a beautiful post. And rather timely for me. My husband reminded me yesterday of the hills and valleys of being an entrepreneur. The highs and lows come with the territory, as your post indicates, and we are grateful you chose this path. My deepest heartfelt gratitude to Priya for her wisdom.

    • Hi Patty,

      Thank you. Yes, the entrepreneurial journey is not for the faint hearted! The highs and lows have a way of teaching us about the value of equanimity and the importance of taking everything in stride. You’re doing great and I look forward to hearing your stories along the way.

      Best,
      Vikas

  5. Elisa Maria Argiro says:

    Dear Priya and Vikas,

    I am so moved to read this tender and brave story, set forth in clear declarative style. How wonderful for you both, and for your children, who will, I believe, come to know this as the time in their family history when their parents became their heroes.

    Your story resonates for me in this way, I suppose because of an event in my own family history. My father had been working for a New York design firm, and after the first six months he came home to my mother one day and said: “Honey, do you trust me?” She replied: “Of course I trust you, Nicky.” Dad: “That’s good, because I just quit my job.”

    He and his best friend began to do what they really loved- inventing toys. One of the early toys my Dad invented was the Sno-Cone. That one little toy was so successful that it totally supported us, put my brothers and I through the best colleges.

    I love sharing this with young people starting out in life, and with anyone who wants to be inspired and encouraged that “doing what you love” can actually work!

    • Hi Elisa,

      Wow, what a great story about your Dad! Thank you for sharing. Now, I see where Vincent gets his risk-taking flair! It is very inspiring – when you take a leap of faith, amazing stuff tends to happen.

      Thanks again for your feedback and support.

      Warmest Regards,
      Vikas

  6. Congratulations Vikas and Priya. So happy for you. May your belief in each other only grow stronger with the passage of time. You have weathered your storm – for the time being…but there will be more – and, since you’ve found in each other the perfect way to beat each storm… they too shall pass.
    Bless you and may you always be happy and forward looking!
    Lalit-Monica (from Fairfield, IA)

    • Hi Monica,

      Thank you for the note – yes, many more storms ahead, I’m sure!

      Thank you for the support and encouragement!

      Warmest Regards,
      Vikas

  7. Vikas, David told me I had to read the nicest article and he brought me here, he said he feels the same way about me. I read it and was really touched by your story, you and your wife are wonderful people. I wish all the best to you and your family.

    • Hello Elizabeth,

      Yes, David is lucky to have you by his side. Hang in there – I know you are both on the cusp of a breakthrough!

      Thank you for your kind wishes.

      Warmest Regards,
      Vikas

  8. Vikas, you are so right! Many greetings from Vienna to you and your wife

  9. Raisa Moumne says:

    V.

    This is amazing, and she is sooo lucky to have you. Many men would never knowledge the support and sacrifice of a wife. Your mom did so well with both you and Vivek.
    I send you all my blessings and wish you all the love of the universe. My regards to Priya.

  10. Keith Setterholm says:

    Vikas, what a great post! What a beautiful tribute to Priya and to the power and joy of partnership. She is wise and you are fortunate to have such a trusting and honest relationship.

  11. A great reminder of what I am also fortunate to have – thanks for the reminder, and congratulations to you.

  12. What a wonderful tribute and post. Thanks for reminding me how luck I am too as my husband has supported me through the twists and turns much as Priya has you!

    Am looking forward to reading more of your success stories!

    • Thank you Sarah! Yes, I am sure you can relate – good partnerships are important on the entrepreneurial (or any) journey.

      Best,
      Vikas

  13. I’m learning from this post and listening to you speak about influence in organizations how your data approach with Keyhubs is a passion. Taking the power of influence into organizations to help them transform into something better, so fewer people ever go through the corporate disappoint and frustrations that drove you to quit.

    • Hi Sara,

      Thank you for the comment and inspiration – yes, this is a passion and in some ways a healing journey (for me and the organizations we serve)!

      Great to meet you at the workshop.

      Warmest Regards,
      Vikas

  14. Hi Vikas
    Wow, this is the story of a real hero and the hero being both you and your wife. I would not call it inspiring, though it is, because it looks some thing very special (are you the chosen ones? 😀 . With a financial situation as that, house wife with 2 kids supporting, encouraging you with such inspiring words as she did is amazing. On top of that your hard work, perseverance and the eventual fortunate success that you are seeing, not to forget the spiritual truths you experienced that was least expected, simply amazing.

    Yes, such forbidden situations / storms might come again in life and I am sure you guys will emerge lot more happy beings every time.

    Happy for you all ..
    Satya

  15. Inspiring! I am also blessed to have an intuitive wife. Thanks for sharing!

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