How I Got Hired

126. Suneel Gupta: He will help you find that spark again, yes, really, just like he did for himself

February 15, 2024 Suneel Gupta
126. Suneel Gupta: He will help you find that spark again, yes, really, just like he did for himself
How I Got Hired
More Info
How I Got Hired
126. Suneel Gupta: He will help you find that spark again, yes, really, just like he did for himself
Feb 15, 2024
Suneel Gupta

My guest today was once seen as the “face of failure” in the New York Times, so if there’s one thing he understands really well, it’s that the road to success is not always smooth. Suneel Gupta learned from his mistakes and went on to found RISE, a breakthrough wellness company recently bought by Amazon. Suneel is now a successful author and host of a docu series called ‘Business Class’. I loved his first book Backable which is about how to get buy-in from others to move your ideas forward, and his new book called Everyday Dharma has a very relevant premise: our job is the #1 predictor of our mental health. And yet, most of us seem miserable with what we do. Dharma is a timeless answer to the emptiness we feel — and a process for bringing joy back into our life and work.

Brace yourself for an inspiring and insightful episode as speak with this trailblazing entrepreneur and author. Picture this - the ups and downs of working at huge tech companies, an unexpected summer camp transformation, applying basketball recruitment strategies to a business, and the birth of a wellness company that caught Amazon's eye.

The conversation journeys into what it means to turn passion and ambition into your life's work. It involves a 'Game of Now' approach and discovering what truly sets your soul on fire. Oh, and did I mention, he'll also spill secrets on how to go from messy notes to a beautifully written book?
Intrigued much?
Unmissable episode!

Follow Suneel on Social Media:

Get Suneel's books here:

Liked this episode? A few things:

1. Share the podcast with three of your closest friends! And please leave a great review on Apple Podcasts here or Spotify here (tap on the three-dot menu under the cover art of the podcast) , as it would mean a lot to me and hopefully help others discover it.

 2. You will love my emails called Charge-Up! I send them every few weeks, they're no fluff no spam, where I share my favourite career insights from movies, TV shows, news and my own personal experiences, that I don't share anywhere else. Make sure you sign up here!  

3. Come hang out with me LIVE on LinkedIn and Youtube every Friday at 2 pm CET where I answer your questions and often bring in fab guests:



4. Share your favourite takeaways and tag me on your Instagram and LinkedIn

Show Notes Transcript

My guest today was once seen as the “face of failure” in the New York Times, so if there’s one thing he understands really well, it’s that the road to success is not always smooth. Suneel Gupta learned from his mistakes and went on to found RISE, a breakthrough wellness company recently bought by Amazon. Suneel is now a successful author and host of a docu series called ‘Business Class’. I loved his first book Backable which is about how to get buy-in from others to move your ideas forward, and his new book called Everyday Dharma has a very relevant premise: our job is the #1 predictor of our mental health. And yet, most of us seem miserable with what we do. Dharma is a timeless answer to the emptiness we feel — and a process for bringing joy back into our life and work.

Brace yourself for an inspiring and insightful episode as speak with this trailblazing entrepreneur and author. Picture this - the ups and downs of working at huge tech companies, an unexpected summer camp transformation, applying basketball recruitment strategies to a business, and the birth of a wellness company that caught Amazon's eye.

The conversation journeys into what it means to turn passion and ambition into your life's work. It involves a 'Game of Now' approach and discovering what truly sets your soul on fire. Oh, and did I mention, he'll also spill secrets on how to go from messy notes to a beautifully written book?
Intrigued much?
Unmissable episode!

Follow Suneel on Social Media:

Get Suneel's books here:

Liked this episode? A few things:

1. Share the podcast with three of your closest friends! And please leave a great review on Apple Podcasts here or Spotify here (tap on the three-dot menu under the cover art of the podcast) , as it would mean a lot to me and hopefully help others discover it.

 2. You will love my emails called Charge-Up! I send them every few weeks, they're no fluff no spam, where I share my favourite career insights from movies, TV shows, news and my own personal experiences, that I don't share anywhere else. Make sure you sign up here!  

3. Come hang out with me LIVE on LinkedIn and Youtube every Friday at 2 pm CET where I answer your questions and often bring in fab guests:



4. Share your favourite takeaways and tag me on your Instagram and LinkedIn

Introduction to the Podcast and Host

Hey there, welcome to the How I Got Hired podcast. I'm your host Sonal  former HR director and founder of Supercharge. And I have had an insane corporate career that started out in India, then moved to South America and then to Europe. Often working only in Spanish or French, which I had to learn there from scratch.

Now, why do I call my career insane? 

The Host's Career Journey and Mission

Because while I've experienced complete highs, like working across geographies and industries while navigating challenges like needing visa sponsorships,  zero network locally during recessions, and often while being a new mom to one of my two kids. I have seen career heartbreak and multiple layoffs as well. 

As a career strategist, I strongly believe that a fulfilling career is a birthright and not a privilege for the lucky few who have access to prestigious education, capital, and networks. And now I am on a mission to democratize access to high value career advice by designing affordable digital courses with my YouTube channel and this podcast right here, where we learn together from ordinary people like you and me and how they created extraordinary career success. 

I hope this episode reminds you that if they could do it, you can do it too. Now get ready to get supercharged. Let's go. 

Hey there. Welcome back. Welcome back. 

Introducing the Guest: Suneel Gupta

My guest today  was once seen as the face of failure in the New York. times.  So if there's one thing he understands really well,  it is that the road to success is not always smooth.

Hey, listen, dear listener, I'm so happy you decided to press play on today's show. Suneel Gupta learned from his mistakes.  And went on to found RISE, a breakthrough wellness company recently bought by Amazon. Suneel is now a successful author and a host of a docuseries called Business Class, which I personally love.

I also loved his first book, Backable, which is all about how to get buy in from others to move your ideas forward. And his new book is called Everyday Dharma.  It has a very relevant premise. Our job  is the number one predictor of our mental health. Full stop. Punto. Basta.  Yet,  most of us seem miserable with what we do. 

Dharma. I'm Indian. Okay. So I'm, it's cringes a little bit. So I'm going to say Dharam. Dharam is the Sanskrit, right? Dharma. Dharam is the timeless answer to the emptiness we feel and a process for bringing joy. Back into our life and work to discuss all this and so much more. I'm so honored to have Suneel on the show.

Suneel, such a warm welcome to How I Got Hired. 

It's so good to be here. I love your show. I love what you stand for and it's a privilege to be a part of it. 

Oh my gosh, that means a lot to me. So we are,  I, I, I, we were talking backstage. It's so good to finally make this happen. We've had lots of back and forth and I'm going to milk every minute of our time together.

So we are going to get straight and we're going to jump right into it. Suneel, are you ready? 

I'm ready.  


Suneel's Career Journey and Insights

So I think of your career, Suneel, in like, sort of three parts.  So when you worked at companies, so your time at corporate, then your startup journey, and then this decision you made to write and host shows.

And you know, you're much more in the public eye today. So let's rewind a little bit. Let's talk about your time in college. You studied Information Systems and then Business and Law at Northwestern. So, you know, back then,  you know, we, we don't really have some idea. Some of us do, some of us don't. What was your thought process back then on, you know, the path that you'd be taking next? 

And, you know, what would you say to someone,  um, who's a young grad today?  Let's say, I'm sorry, I'm going to take a step back. What would you say to the young Suneel today, a new, freshly minted grad, if you could see him?  

Suneel's Reflections on Success and Happiness

Well first of all, thanks for breaking down my career so cleanly. And if you wouldn't mind talking to my parents and just, just explaining that framework, I think that will help them make sense of what, What the heck has happened over the past 15, 20 years?

You know, I think at that time when I was graduating from college, I was still, I think, caught in a framework of what I now call outer success. And outer success is wealth. It's status, it's fame, it's achievement. It's all the natural things that we want. But what I didn't understand at that time is that there's also a framework of inner success.

And inner success is joy. It's meaning it's fulfillment. It's what some of us call happiness. And I think the, the false belief that I had Sonal at that time. And I think a lot of us sort of share this belief is that if you get enough outer success in your life, you will start to feel inner success. So if you get enough wealth, you get enough status.

It will lead to joy. It will lead to meaning 

and I just pause you here, Suneel, because that feels logical, right? Because someone might say, Oh, that's rich people crap, you know, outer inner success. But first I need to take care of the roof over my head, my food. You know what I mean? What would you say to someone who's like already?

I want to kind of like, you know, nudge you here and say, what would you say to that person? Like, that sounds great, but, but you know, that person, that sounds great, but. What about, what would you say to that? If you 

don't have food to eat, you don't have shelter over your head. You don't have a certain level of safety and security for yourself and your family.

Those are the top priorities. Nothing else really matters after that, right? I grew up, I grew up right outside of Detroit, Michigan. My first job was in the city. I saw, you know, a city go through really, really hard times. When we look at sort of what's happening around the world, Detroit in some ways has been going through that for the past basically since I was born.

And so I got a chance, I got a chance to write books. But the, the, the test that I always put it through is this cannot be for my Silicon Valley peers. It's gotta be for my friends back in Detroit and they have to understand this and they have to get this and it has to feel like something that's relevant to them.

And, and I think that's what I love about your show is that you begin this idea that purpose should not be for rich people. Right. And it should not be for people who have great networks and have you know, high fancy educations. It's got to be for everybody. And I think that that's, that's part of what I've really aimed for in my work.

And so, yeah, if you don't have a roof over your head, you know, nothing else matters. You want to provide for your family. But I think the, the irony is that we we live in a world where I think there has been a tremendous amount of excess as well. Right. You look at sort of especially Western countries GDP, economic security has gone up for certain populations, right?

Certain parts of the population. And yet happiness has not. In fact, there's really strong indicators to say that it has gone down, right? So we know  by almost every measure. That beyond a certain point economic sort of advancement is not leading to inner security. It's not leading to inner fulfillment and happiness.

It's almost to the point where it's cliche for me to even say that it, that that's true because we know it to be not true. And yet I think that we start to convince ourselves that if we just have a little bit more in the bank, if we have just a little bit more of what we're looking for externally, we're going to start to feel that internally.

You know, there was this, this question that they asked groups of people all around the world. And they said, how much money would you need to be happy?  And you know what the answer was across every single different type of population with every single different type of wealth. The answer was twice as much as I have right now.

All right. And that was true for people who were billionaires that were, that was true for people who were just trying to get by twice as much as I have right now, which means that every time we hit this level that we're going for the goalpost moves again,  right? Dr. Tall Ben Shahar at Harvard university.

Now he's at Columbia called this, the arrival fallacy. The arrival fallacy and the arrival fallacy is this mental construct that we have been conditioned to believe that one day we are going to, we're going to reach this point of arrival when we finally made it. And then when we finally made it, we finally have enough money in the bank.

We finally have enough to our LinkedIn profile. We finally have enough that we can talk to people about a cocktail parties. We're going to feel this lasting sense of happiness. But the problem is that every time we hit that goal. It moves again and it moves again to the point where we start to feel like, well, gosh, I'm never, I'm, I'm advancing in all the ways that I want, and I'm not feeling any happier.

Suneel's Perspective on Career and Life Choices

And I think if I could go back to my 21, 22 year old self graduating from college, I would probably try to explain this difference between outer success and inner success. But honestly, so no, 22 year old self would have been like, all right, old man,  enough is enough. Let me go get that high paying job. 

I totally hear you.

And I think I tried some version of what you're just saying with my 15 year old. And he literally gave me that. Okay. Boomer type of look. I think it comes down to readiness when, when the, when the student is ready, the master appears. So I love this answer because  there is that sort of  bare minimum.

psychological, the bare minimum, not sort of in the classic Maslow hierarchy, because I think Maslow hierarchy was made for a different time. But you know, psychological,  financial security, physical security, you've got enough in the bank, but it's never enough. I like that you shared that study. It's never enough, whether you're starting in your career, let's say 30, 35, 000 dollars a year, bare minimum, versus billions in the bank, I want 2x.

It's never enough. It's never enough. I, I, I listen, I'm listening to you and I, I, I crossed a goal recently. I'm not going to share what that is. It's irrelevant.  And now I'm feeling, you know, a little sense of shame, Suneel, because I didn't celebrate that. And I was like, yeah, okay. It's about time. Next. 

Right. No, but, but it's so common what you're sharing. It's not other people. It is, you know, everyday people. We need to read about every day.  

Well, I think it is common. And I think that the shame that you feel is one that I felt as well. And I guess what I would offer you is that I don't think we need to shame our outer success or our desire for outer success.

And that's where I feel like the real tension sort of comes in is that, you know, you can,  Scroll through Instagram and all of a sudden feel bad sometimes that you want things in life, right, that you want and you want new career advancements, you want more money, and it can sometimes feel like I shouldn't want that.

And I don't think that that's really the point. I think it's totally fine to have ambition, and I think it's totally fine to want more from your career and to want to give more and to want to serve more. Those are all natural things, and I think that they're also worthwhile. The fallacy, though. Is that all that stuff is somehow going to lead us to this place where we feel good inside.

Then as long as we understand that that's not true, then what we can start to do is we can start to reverse the flow. And what I mean by that is instead of letting outer success lead us to inner success, we can start to let inner success lead us to outer success. Right. Which I know, which I know sounds, you know, it sounds nice and flowery, but it is amazing for me over the past 10, 15 years of going out and studying the most extraordinary people on the planet, which is what I do for a living.

I travel around the world. I meet with exceptional leaders and performers who have reached the top of their game. And I unpack the habits that really took them to the, to where they are. And what I have realized way more times than not is that a switch has flipped for every single one of them at some point in time in their career where they have stopped.

trying to chase something on the outside and they have really reflected on what they want from the inside. And because they did that, they were able to bring a whole new level of energy to what they did. A whole new level of purpose to what they did that was able to pour over into the outside world.

Suneel's Experience at Mozilla and Groupon

And when it poured over into the outside world, the irony of it all is that they got even more of the outside validation and riches.  

Yes. Not the other way around. So not the other way around. So important. What you just said. If there was a way I could virtually underline with like my, you know, fluorescent marker, it's this thing that you just said right now.

So to the listener, you're driving, you're walking the dog. pause here and rewind 30 seconds because this was worth listening to. Don't let the outer guide the inner, but do it the other way around because it's going to come full circle beautifully. So amazing, amazing. So just going back because I think I, I didn't finish what I started Information systems to law, you know, was that the outer success sort of chasing happening subconsciously?

Yeah. You didn't think like, Oh, I'm going to do the whole law, you know Ali McBeal, Boston legal thing.  

No, I mean, it was really, you know, my, my parents were both engineers. My brother is a, was a neurosurgeon. And, you know, at that time had just joined CNN as a medical correspondent. And, you know, I, I think that I was trying to find my lane.

And you know, I, I, I, I'd spent a couple of years as a computer programmer, and I think everybody, including me realized that that was not my Dharma, like that was not going to be something that I was really, really good at. But did you take 

engineering Suneel because of the parents, maybe some sort of desire?

For sure. 


The Importance of Personal Connection in Career Progression

Yeah, for sure. For sure. You know, to be sort of analytical, to be quantitative, to use that part of my brain and, and to have that. Part of me shine was a desire because I saw that in my family and at a certain point in time, I kind of realized, well, that's not, that's not who I am. So what's the next best thing?

And to me, the next best thing, at least in my family systems eyes, including mine, you know, it was, was to be aware. And so I went to law school and, and You know, I just, you know, I had this moment where I was in my third year and I was about to sign an offer with a corporate law firm and I just couldn't do it.

You know, it was, it was like, I had, I had what, you know, What I think many people would consider right now to be a panic attack, like I had a contract sitting on my apartment, you know, in my apartment dining room table, and it was ready to be signed. And I just, I could not find the strength. I felt numb. I felt shaky.

And I was like, this is my body telling me that this is not the career that I want. And so you know, I had an offer in hand and instead I decided to go to Silicon Valley. Cold call people out there. I knew very, very few people ended up getting a job offer at a place called Mozilla, which was the maker of Firefox.

It was for approximately half the salary that I was going to get paid at the corporate law firm. Mozilla is a nonprofit. But it was going to give me a chance to really work with really talented engineers and designers. And ultimately I had this sort of. feeling that what I want to do in my life is to make things.

I want to, I want to create something from nothing, you know, I didn't, I wasn't more specific than that, but I was like, that's what I want to go do. And so that's, that's the step that 

I took. Beautiful. Before we go there, hold the phone. I'm thinking right now, just for a moment, a moment, I'm putting my feet in the shoes of your immigrant parents. 

My dear son, beta,  you not only rejected the offer,  you also,  you know, didn't pursue law, which you've been studying for three years. And then you go to Silicon Valley and start calling, or did you call already while you were at? That location to make those contacts. My point is you kind of went into the unknown, right?

went into the unknown and, and I don't think my parents are very happy about that. And, and, and, and half the money, half and half the money and half the money. Yeah. And 

external markers for success that Indian parents love asking each other how much their kid is earning. There's no  hesitation. So with all that going on, how were you dealing with that? 

Suneel's Entrepreneurial Journey and Lessons Learned

You know Slowly is the answer. You know, there was no point in time where I can sort of say, Hey, I got over the way that my parents sort of felt and I started to become my own person that would be, that would be a lie. Even today, you know, I talked to my parents and, and, and, you know, knock on wood like they're, they're like, you know.

They're still alive and they're still with us. And they're, they're, we're still having conversations about this stuff, but I'm still looking for their validation.  Individuating from our parents is, is a slow process. And it doesn't come in steps. It comes in cycles, meaning you'll get to a point of progress.

And then all of a sudden you'll realize you're back to the age of 13 years old, mentally and emotionally. Right. But, but, but I think, but I think that what I was starting to learn at that point in time was in some ways a reflection on their journey. As immigrants, which is that I know that there were people in their families that were also disappointed by their decisions, but they had to make it because they believed in something.

And at the end of the day, we all have to get to this point where we start to have conviction in. Our own choices and ultimately to accept that the way that we feel and approach the world isn't going to be exactly the same as the people who have raised us and that's OK. And on top of that, to not feel like in some ways that needs to be a wall or a barrier between us loving them or them loving us is And so I think that this idea of like, I, I, I know that what you want is the absolute best for me, just the same way that now me as an ad, I want the absolute best for my parent, for my children.

But it doesn't necessarily mean that the way that I see the world is going to be the, is going to be the way that they need to see the world. And, and that's, and that's okay. And ultimately, you know, I will say this too.  My parents are really good examples of what I call the game of now and the game of now is different than the game of someday because the game of someday is a game that I think most of us play where we wait for courage in order to take action.

Right. So courage leads to action, right? That's I think how most of us have been conditioned with the game of now you flip that. And so you let action lead to courage, right? You just take action on something that you really want. And then you let courage, you have faith that courage will catch up along the way.

And that's the game of now. And both of my parents were very, very good at playing the game of now as immigrants, especially my mom as a refugee who grew up in impoverished conditions. And she played the game of now. I decided that I was going to start playing the same game that they played. Maybe not making the same choices that they wanted me to make, but I did play the same game that they played, which was not, not the game of Sunday, the game of now.

And I think at the end, after many years, they began to appreciate that at the end of the day, we were all playing, I think the, the same journey out. And and, you know, we started to, we started to reconcile that. 

Yeah. Oh, wow. The game of now which is in direct contrast to the game of I'll be happy when dot, dot, dot.

Which postpones happiness, which postpones joy. And you are like, Make it a reality now. And I love because I know that your book goes into a step by step process to make this happen. So let's rewind here. So we, we, you, you talked about San Francisco, which is a huge change for you.  Talk to us about, so that time, you know, you worked at, you said Mozilla Firefox MTV Groupon.

I saw all these, you know, companies on your LinkedIn profile. So if you had to go back you know, Suneel, and sort of recap that time, maybe all of them, none of them, one of them, which of these roles do you think had the most profound impact on your career?  

Suneel's Reflections on Entrepreneurship and Personal Fulfillment

And also tell us the juicy bits, you know, the background sort of behind the scenes, how did you get hired into that role?


Yeah. Yeah. Well, so Mozilla was the first, was the first step. And the way that I got hired into that role was really about connecting with the CEO and connecting at a human level you know, meaning that I was you know, I was out there trying to figure this out for myself. And I think sharing my journey pretty openly as like, you know, I will, I'm a lawyer.

I'm, I've just passed the California bar. Right. But I'm, I'm willing to do anything, right? It was very, very important. So I think to the extent that I would have come in and said, Hey, I'm looking for this very specific role as a corporate attorney inside your, inside your company, but I want to be doing this and that as well.

I think it would have been trickier, but I think the, the, the, the posture that I had that I think resonated with the CEO was look.  I know I went to law school. I know that I've got this, you know, education. I've got this experience, but I'm really willing to do anything. And I just want to learn.

And I think that that's, that's, that's ultimately what resonated with him. And he gave me a shot. And, and, and that was a, that was a turning point in terms of the, the company that I think that had I think the biggest change in my psyche though, was probably Groupon. And the reason for that is because when I joined Groupon, we were very, very small, we were pre series a and, and so, and so we're talking about a very small company.

We all could fit into one room in two years later, we were 13, 000 people all over the world. We had become a big public company. It was the Forbes magazine. It called us the fastest growing company of all time. And, and, and being part of that journey was incredible. However, I think what happened next was even more.

I think more important, which was all crashed and burned, meaning that we, we lost about 80 to 90 percent of our market value within a few financial quarters. I mean, talking about over 10 billion of value came, came just crashing down and never, and never came back and never came back. And, and it really sort of, I think, got me used to this idea that success while wonderful is a very lousy teacher.

Because if I was to compare the first two years of that journey, it was amazing. And on paper, I was worth a lot more money. And I was part of this company that everybody thought was sexy, but I was learning not all that much. But when things came crashing down, And I had to manage and lead a team and I had to, and I had to figure out a way to keep myself in the game and to keep myself from burning out and to also just, I think, I think collect myself each day on this, on this  ship that was sinking, my gosh, like I built so much character.

During that time, I think had I not had that experience, I probably wouldn't have become an entrepreneur. And the reason for that is because I was so scared of the success rate in entrepreneurship. One out of every 10, you know, at the most we'll actually go on to succeed. But because I had tasted the other side, I knew what it was like to fail.

And I kind of realized that while it's not easy, it's embarrassing and it's shameful.  Ultimately, it's not all that bad. The world does not come to a halt. And I am one of the privileged people in this, in this world that will still have a roof over my head. I will have food to eat. I will always be able to, you know, despite my parents, like, you know, not wanting me to, I could always move in and be like, Hey, I'm crashing on the couch.

Right. And yeah, would that be like what I would want to post on my bio or my LinkedIn profile or call one of my old law school classmates say, guess what? I'm sleeping on a futon now again. And no, but is that the end of the world? No. Everything 

is temporary. I love that. Yeah. One of the things I love about your story, Suneel, is that all the lessons that you've shared in your books come from deep personal lived experiences.

You've seen extreme success, 30 to 13, 000 in two years, right? And being one of the  earliest members of the team.  You've seen sort of, let's say, the epic rise, pun intended,  to the crashing and burning of that, of that entire experience. I just want to stay here because we like to get a little tactical here on the show, Suneel.

When you said, I just want to rewind, when you said, Manzila, And he said, I reached out to the CEO. Did you mean like he didn't know you from Adam and you wrote a cold message or was it an intro through a friend of a friend? How did that, you know, like, was it an old fashioned cover letter? 

It was an intro through a friend of a friend, however and so in that case it was but I did write my share of like cold call letters as well.

I still remember. You know, this will date me, but I still remember writing a cold call letter to somebody who was running one of the product areas at Yahoo, and I literally faxed him a letter and that letter and that letter basically said, Hey, this is what it seems to be that you're looking for. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience, but punchline, I will do anything.

And, and this, and this, and this person wrote me back and said, Hey, I loved your letter. Come on in for an interview. I did not get that job, but the fact that I even got through the door with the cold call letter, because at that time Yahoo was getting lots and lots of inbound was really interesting to me.

This, this email was, you know, With Mozilla, it was, it was an introduction to a friend of a friend, but Mozilla was one of these companies at the time, very, very small and had lots of people who wanted to work there because it had really talented engineers and designers. We lived right across the street from Google and it was an exciting place to be.

And. And, you know, and, and that job was very much about sort of, Hey, attitude, like I'm, I'm willing to bust my ass. I'm willing to do anything it takes you know, just let me, let me know. And I, and I think that that's one thing as people reach out to me about startup roles right now. I think that we, for anybody who's interested in that, you really do have to pull yourself into a different mindset than large companies.

And the reason for that is because large companies know exactly what they need, and there's these job descriptions, and they're looking for people who, who check certain boxes. And to a certain extent that that's true with startups as well, like there could be a job description, but what's really, really important is to go in with the mindset of, even though this might be the thing that we're talking about, I am willing to do anything.

Like I'm willing to work really hard. I'm willing to take the trash out. I'm willing to, because that's what, that's what startups, that's what small companies need. They need flexibility, need agility, because one year from now we might be a totally different company than people who are willing to grow with that.

Through flexibility and through curiosity is ultimately the definers of somebody who's going to fit into a startup environment. Beautiful. 

I love this. And I think this is brilliant advice, particularly for companies which are, you know, sort of finding their feet. I will do anything. This is in direct contrast to how I would work with sort of senior level clients, but I think obviously this approach worked for you because in certain companies, you know, you could also have a large company, which is got a startup culture.

in their division. Because the willingness to wear multiple hats, everyone likes to say that they can do that. But I, I still remember a podcast guest of mine Suneel, and he talked about how he went from this giant company to in house advertising firm and, you know, something simple like, you know, having their tea in the morning, he's in London, he would have his  It go to the pantry.

You got to put that in the dishwasher, dude. No one's coming to clean the kitchen. They don't have the staff that, you know, the Unilevers of the world had. So it's not an easy switch for, for people to make because it impacts sort of daily life, but to come out off the bat saying. I'm willing to work the hardest.

I'm willing to take out the trash, whatever it takes, and do it in a very unique way so that your letter, your email, your, your phone call, your fax  gets noticed, gets noticed. That's amazing. Very cool. And then I also want to know about this jump because you moved from Mozilla to Groupon. Tell us why and tell us how, like, how did Groupon find you?

Did you apply to the job? How did that work? 

Yeah. Yeah. So I was interested in, in going to something very small. Yeah. I wanted to join a startup. And at that point in time, I was considering, am I ready to start my own and my, my answer, at least for me, I was, I was probably still, still stuck in a game of someday mindset.

But I was, I was like, no, I need, I need more. I need, I need an intermediary step. I need to go to a company that has an uncertain future but that I feel like could make it. And I need to go there and I need to learn. And that was sort of my, that was sort of my, my, my reason for, for looking. And so I started looking at, at, at companies that sort of fit that bill.

Again, these were companies that had some funding, but not a lot of funding. I found their business model pretty interesting. I found their CEO  and senior team so far, the team they had built to be interesting. And, and so that was kind of my search.  I came across Groupon because I was a Chicago person for, you know, I went to Chicago for, for law school.

I was at Northwestern University. And one of the alums that I had, that I had met while I was there was pretty plugged in with this startup called Groupon. And I reached out to him for advice and said, Hey, I'm looking at, I'm looking for startups. Do you know of any? And he said, well, you know, I've got one that is pretty off the radar.

Because it's Chicago based, so it's not in New York or Silicon Valley where most startups would get attention and get written up in the press. This one is, this one is pretty unknown and, and let me send it to you. And I, I started to look at it and  I liked it a lot and I, I reached back out to him.

I said, would you be willing to introduce me to one of the investors there? Because that was his in. And he said, sure. And so I met the investor and we, we had a conversation. And  You know, and again, I, again, pattern broken record, but I was like, look, you know you're a startup and I will do anything.

Right. And this is what I've been doing here at Mozilla. You know, I, I, I, yeah, I, I, I, I started out in a semi legal role, but I ended up expanding into product development. I was, you know, helping designers do what they needed to do. I was staying up late to do this stuff. I took on other roles on the weekends and, you know, just, that's what I shared with them.

And, and ultimately like, that's what they needed as well. So I come on in and, you know, my official capacity is, is the first head of product development at the company. My mandate is to go build a team and hire engineers and hire designers and start to really kind of build this out. But at the same time,  I'm working on, you know, side projects.

I'm, I'm working on partnerships. I'm working on, I'm working on helping the CEO pull together pitch point decks, you know, PowerPoint decks for some of the presentations he's going to give to, you know, potential investors. I'm doing everything and and I'm, and I'm loving it and I'm wearing every hat that I possibly can.

And and, you know, so that's how the transition happens.  

Love that. I love that. And I also love that. Good old fashioned power of the network introductions. They go a long way and you know sometimes we can have a bit of a sense of ego. I don't really want to ask for help. I want to do this on my own.

I'm so glad that that was never an issue for you. You were reaching out to, you know alumni from, from law school, from business school. anD I see this, this hesitation very, very strongly with folks, but.  Look at what happens on the other side of it, interesting conversations, sometimes life changing roles, you know, that define everything that you do in the future.

So amazing and we're going to now switch gears and we're going to talk about the company you started because you hinted to it a little bit earlier and you founded this in 2013, we're recording this.  in 2024. My goodness, can you believe it's  11 years ago, Suneel? 


And it is acquired by one medical and then more recently it was acquired by Amazon, which sounds like a huge success.

And I want to talk about This because, you know, you mentioned this on a video recently where you said that you think you were trying to become an entrepreneur to become an entrepreneur.  So what made you change your mindset to say, I'm just going to enjoy this journey. Yeah. And you know, what's your favorite piece of advice  that you see yourself sharing over and over with others who are starting or in the midst of the entrepreneurship journey who are just not seeing  the level of success that they had hoped for or planned for?


Being an entrepreneur for me is, it's a tool, it's, it's a way to bring something alive. Yeah. And  sometimes we start to see entrepreneurship as sort of the, the, the end goal as opposed to sort of the means. And I think that that, that to me was the switch. And the reason that matters is because when, when I think about entrepreneurship, you know, there are two things that really matter there, there's, there's one, which is the sort of market.

Right. The opportunity that you're going after. But then two is, is how important that opportunity is to you personally, right? How much that matters to you. And so I made the mistake when I first started out as an entrepreneur, I'd started two companies that did not work and, you know,  The reason I believe now that they didn't work is because I was so focused on the size of the market and the competition, basically the market dynamics, but I wasn't focused enough on how important that was to me.

And I remember sitting down with a mentor of mine.  And I was about to start this, I wanted to start a company again. You know, it was my, it was my third shot at starting a company. And I told myself that this one doesn't work. Then I'm kind of just done being an entrepreneur. And I went through this sort of classic, you know, business school type analysis, where I had a spreadsheet and in column a was the list of opportunities and column B was, you know, Market size column.

C was competition, right? And it was just like the classic sort of analysis and I printed out this spreadsheet and I sat down with her at a coffee shop and she looks at this spreadsheet and then she looks at me and she says, let me ask you a question.  Which of these opportunities makes you come alive? 

And, and I, and I look at the spreadsheet and I'm like, Oh, well, you know, row two, it's a great opportunity. It's got like this massive market and it's like, look how, look all the white space. And she's like, no, no, no, I didn't, I didn't ask you that. What I asked you is which of these ideas really sets you on fire. 

And I look back at the spreadsheet and it hits me.  None of them did. Not a single one. You know, like I thought there were good business opportunities, but did they really make me like come alive? And the story that she shared with me at the time, which has always stuck with me, is that when Dr. Martin Luther King was talking about He was stepping into his role as the leader of the civil rights movement.

He was very young. You know, he was in his early twenties. If that were happening today, he'd be a Gen Zer, right? Stepping into that role. And it's just unbelievable to think about that, right? The enormity of what he did when he gave his, I have a dream speech. He was only 26 years old. Wow.  Incredible. Right?

Baby. Yeah, baby. And so he went to a mentor of his when he was deciding whether or not to really take on this responsibility. And this, this mentor's name is Howard Thurman. And what he said to Howard Thurman is, Hey, listen, I don't know if I'm ready for this, but what I do know is that the world needs this right now.

And what the mentor Howard Thurman said to him is don't just ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, because what the world needs more than anything else is more people who have come alive. So if I look at that, so if I look, yeah, if I look at that spreadsheet, these were all the things that I felt like the world needed.

There was market size. There was competent. There's like, it moves the things the world needed. But what I was not asking myself is what actually makes me come alive.  And so after having that conversation, I should I rip up the spreadsheet.  And I, and I, instead of having a business school type of analysis, I literally just start with blank pieces of paper, really just a journal of like, what do I care about what matters to me?

And over and over again, when I would ask myself that question, I would always come back to the story of my father who, when he was in his mid forties, he dropped me off to school one day when I was about my younger daughter's age. And he said. To me, I will pick you up after school today, right by that flagpole, because I'm having this, you know, medical appointment and I'll be here and, and I'll pick you up.

And I go back out there at three o'clock and he's not there. And the reason that he's not there is because he's been rushed to the operating room. And by the time I was out of school, his chest had already been cut open. He was having a quadruple bypass surgery and, and we nearly lost him that day. And what I remember the most is. 

Going to the hospital and seeing a man who had literally just aged overnight, he was a completely different person. What I also remember is that when we came home, his entire lifestyle had to change. 

The Power of a Health Coach

He had to eat better, he had to learn how to exercise, all things that he had never really done in his life.

And with the help of a health coach, because insurance helped pay for that insurance, helped like have somebody in his life that could hold him accountable, help him figure out how to exercise, help him figure out how to eat.  That person saved his life. And I continued to come back to that over and over again.

And I started to look into like this idea of. a health coach. And I, what I realized is that they were only available for people who were very sick or very rich. Like you would hear stories about Oprah and Kim Kardashian having health coaches. You would also hear people who were cardiac patients or people who had cancer having health coaches.

But everybody in between, it was either too expensive or they weren't sick enough. And I said, well, why can't we all have somebody like that in our life? 

The Inception of Rise: Affordable Health Coaching

And that was really the starting question that helped me create a company called Rise, which was one on one health coaching for a price point that was a small fraction of what it typically cost.

It was right on your mobile phone. And look, I mean, the reality.  

The Entrepreneurial Journey: Ups, Downs, and Personal Motivation

As if I compare that journey to all the ups and downs that I had with places like Groupon or the startups that I had tried, we had all the same mistakes. We had all the same failures and we had all the same setbacks. It was no different than the entrepreneurial journey, but because I cared, I cared so much about bringing that thing into existence and the fire never really went out.

I never really sort of, I never really like turned my back on it because I, okay. I, it mattered to me in a way that was deeper than money. It mattered to me in a way that was deeper than market size. I just wanted this thing to exist.  My 

gosh, so much. You shared here. Firstly, I'm so happy all these years later, you said both your parents are doing well.

Oh my gosh. That obviously what you did meant something and it had.  it had impact. So I just want to rewind and double click on a couple of things because they are worth underlining. 

The Impact of Entrepreneurship and Mentorship

The first thing you said was entrepreneurship is a means, it's a tool.  What we see on social media is entrepreneurship is a lifestyle.

It's a way of life and we want to aspire towards that way of life and I think we have that backward. Yeah. So, so important what you said. And secondly, oh my gosh, that mentor sharing that story with you and you tearing up that sheet of carefully crafted numbers, which you must have worked so hard for to prepare for that meeting.

It feels like such a, you know, like dramatic sort of cinematic moment. 

The Power of Passion and Personal Connection

What makes you come alive? It's such a simple question, Suneel. But I think that the reason it's. Tuck with you and the reason it impacted a lot of us and I've  I think I've read something to this effect in your book, Packable, is because what is it that only Suneel can do?

Because the thing that you were describing probably on those Excel spreadsheets, Tom, Dick, or Harry could do that. But what is it that only Suneel can do? And, and in a very sort of twisted way, I mean, I think we always say God has a twisted sense of humor. He did give you that answer in a, in a sort of.

Twisted sort of health journey for your dad, but I like that you said it was either, you know, a service, a health service was either for people very sick or very rich. And most of us touch wood are somewhere in the middle, but not that sick. But we don't have the means to be able to get someone to check on us.

So you saw that opportunity and you took it and you went through it. The, the, the ups and downs, because it made you come alive, right? It made you want to wake up in the morning and look forward to Monday morning as opposed to, oh gosh, this again. 

Yeah. Yeah. 

The Importance of Emotional Connection in Business

Well, you know, and, and one of the ways that I think we can test that for ourselves is what makes us come alive  is by starting to get a little bit out of the logic of it all and starting to get into the feeling of it all.

Right. Like one very sort of simple, like kind of out of the box practice that I've learned to do is when you have an idea, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket and carry it around with you for a day and just see how it makes you feel. Right. Does it, does it excite you? Does literally that piece of paper in your pocket sort of light you up and give you the tingles or does it kind of make you feel ambivalent?

Right? Because at the end of the day, I think that that is the fuel, right? If you think about sort of what is it that takes us from point A to point B, It's what's inside of you. And if you don't have that fuel, because ultimately you don't care as much about it at an emotional level. Well, it's not to say that it's impossible to succeed, but what it is to say is that you don't have a lot of fuel inside of you.

So you better get there quickly. Right? And so when you see people shut down businesses or turn their back on opportunities, it's usually because the external validation that they were looking for is no longer there. Right? It didn't end up becoming the market that they thought it was going to be. We're not making the amount of money we thought it was going to be.

I'm not getting the kind of critical reviews or the praise that I want to receive as an author. And so therefore I'm going to pivot and I'm going to go do something different. And that, because that fuel that I was looking for is no longer there. What I think is important to realize is that when something makes you come alive, there's another source of fuel.

And that fuel is what is inside of you. And so what ends up happening is that as you go through this journey, even if you're not getting the external validation, you're still, you're still able to keep going. And if you look at these successful journeys, very rarely is it because they ended up getting quick hits of validation.

The Journey of Airbnb: A Case Study

Very rarely, like look at Airbnb, for example, I was 

just thinking of Brian Jeske right now. 

Oh yeah. And so, and so I spent a lot of time with, with Brian and his team back in the day, because, you know, I was at one point in time I was interviewing for a role there and then, you know, I ended up sort of doing a little bit of work with them.

And, you know, I just, I, I like what I was impressed by was the growth curve. And what I meant by that is like, not that they grew out the gate. Right. Contrary to popular belief, this was not a company that like, you know, ended up hitting a home run in the first inning. They ended up having three, four years where nothing happened, nothing at all.

Like they were growing at a snail pace. And then they finally started to hit some, some moments of inflection, but The question I think that the period as anybody who's thinking about being an entrepreneur needs to pay attention to is what must have been happening in their minds and their psyches during those three years, right?

Because they're not getting any of what they were looking for at all. Right? So where is the fuel? Where is the juice coming from? And the answer is that it wasn't coming from the outside. It was coming from the inside, which is why it always comes back to  what makes you come alive. Yeah. Because when you can answer that question, then you can start to bring your head into the game and say, all right, how do I take this thing that makes me come alive?

And how do I create an opportunity that's going to make sense for everybody else?  

Beautiful, beautiful. I love that you interviewed Brian Chesky. My goodness. Because, yeah, I mean, that story is, is nothing short of remarkable. We've said, I think you've, you've said the term come alive at least seven to eight times.

I can't help but think of Hugh Jackman right now. In that song what movie is it? Oh my gosh. Love that song. Love that movie. And, you know The fuel, when you also said fuel, I was thinking of fossil fuels because there is an end to fossil fuels. It's just an analogy to what you're saying. The renewable sources of fuel, I think that dharma, dharma and everything that you're telling us about the inside, it's renewable.

It never stops. Right. So, which is why they kept going because it wasn't coming from, but we need to meet the numbers next year. I want to be able to get that Ferrari. It was never about that to begin with, which is why it was easier to keep going. It wasn't about showing this to an investor or yeah, I'm sure the pressure was there and I'm sure that was hard.

I'm sure they were breathing down their neck, but the, the belief. And the hope and keep going forward because we believe in something and it's coming from an inner source. Yes, which never stops. It's never finished. You never meet that goalpost because it's always there's an abundance of that. So beautiful.

And you know, I think let me just add to that real quick. So I think that because that gets such a good point, which is like, just if you're listening right now, I just want you to like, think about sort of the feeling that you're ultimately chasing in life. Right. Every time you try to do something good at work, sometimes with if you have a project that you're working on you know, a promotion that you're looking for, then really just conjure up the feeling that you would have if you actually got to that mark.

Right. And just imagine for a second that you could have a bit of that feeling every single day. Yes. Right. So rather than having that be something that you're looking for in the future, that will probably be pretty temporary because whenever we experience success, you know, typically it ends up lasting for just a little bit and then it fleets, it goes away.

Right. But what if you could have that feeling every single day? What would that do to your psyche? What would that do to your spirit? What would that do to your energy? What would that do to your creativity? What would that do to your productivity? Just imagine that. That is the way that people who end up reaching the top of their game tend to operate.

They have found something that is independently worthwhile,  even if they don't end up reaching the goal. There's something that they cared about.  So much that they were they were getting that energetic hit that feeling of success, not from the achievements that they were taking, but from the actions they were taking. 

Yeah. Every day that was an action was a feeling of happiness and a fulfillment. When you can start to experience that flavor, you begin, you start to become unstoppable. 

Yes. Beautiful. And it ties beautifully with the point you shared earlier about action, preceding courage. Right. And, and  this is so important, you know, instead of chasing that feeling embody it.

I've studied with a spiritual coach last year, and she talked about that and the whole sort of, what would it feel like to be at that level, let's say for example, income. What would that feel like today?  What would you do differently? What decisions would start incorporating that already? Because if it was all, it was all, you know, a lot of people will say, oh, it's a bunch of woo but the universe doesn't know the difference whether you have it or not.

It just wants to sort of give you more of the way you think. And if you're thinking. positive and you're thinking happy and you're thinking I'm already successful. I don't have to do this to prove. Then the universe says, Oh, is that right? Let me show you more proof why you're successful. So it's it's it's  not that well known because we, we want a little bit more of what we.

So you talked a little bit about people you know, resulting in so much success at Groupon and Mozilla, and you wanted to work with really smart people. 

The Power of Teamwork in Business

Talk to us about the people related decisions, because, you know, at RISE Labs, Suneel, you were at the helm. You were the big boss there. Yeah. And you  made all these people related decisions and some of them ended up helping you to get acquired by one medical and then eventually get to the IPO stage. 

Talk to us about some traits that you looked for or continue to look for when you are hiring for 

Yeah, so I think the, the most important thing that I learned, and I would say that I learned it slowly not, not something that came to me naturally is that when you're hiring people, you're not just hiring them for what they want Influence they're gonna have on the company. You're hiring them for what influence they're gonna have at the other people at the company.

So if you're familiar with you know, Mark Cuban and the way that he decided to sort of bring in, you know, this idea of what he called the over under. into basketball. And it came from the baseball world.  Baseball, this guy named Billy Bean, who was a, who was a recruiter. He basically said, I'm not going to look at baseball players based on their individual statistics.

I'm going to recruit players who every time they're out on the field, everybody else seems to be playing better. Right. And so, and so it's, they're over under what's the influence they're having on the people around them, which was a very different way to recruit. But by doing that, he was able to take the Oakland athletics from this losing team to a championship team.

And then Mark Cuban brought that same philosophy to basketball as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He took a team that was underperforming to become national championships by recruiting people. Who had this exceptional over under and the reason that I got close to this story is because a good friend of mine, Evan Eshemire, who was in the NBA but, but a sort of an unknown player did not have great individual statistics.

All of a sudden, one day got a call from Mark Cuban saying, Hey, how would you like to play for the Dallas Mavericks? And Evan said, I, are you sure you have the right person?  And he said, well, no, because when I look at other centers, we, we didn't analysis of all the centers in league. And what we found is that you have one of the best over unders.

You may not have great individual statistics, but when you're out on the, when you're out on the court, everybody around you seems to be playing better. Right. And I, and I found that to be such an important shift for the way that I looked at leadership and recruiting, which is instead of trying to hire her.

Individual rock stars. What if I was starting to look at people who, when they were here, they were at the company, they were inside the team. Everybody else felt a little bit better at what they did. They felt more energy. They felt more creativity. They became more of themselves because if you can do that and you can make every hiring decision that way, where everybody has a high, you know, over instead of a high under, then you start to elevate.

You know, the collective performance of the team, not to mention that naturally you start to build a culture, right? More people are interplaying off of each other and, and starting to lift each other to, to higher levels. When I started to make that shift, that's when things started to change. That's when I started to feel like we were really becoming a team.

And, and, and it was an important thing for me to learn because I think that oftentimes, again, we can be conditioned to believe that like an individual rockstar is what we're looking for. 

Yeah, yeah, this is such a unique answer. I've got to say, I've never heard this before, but I love the sports analogy because if there's one thing that sports, particularly team sports, is the teamwork, right?

 So for someone listening today who probably has to do some hiring or even someone who's a potential job candidate, right? How  would you? Test this today. Would you put them with other members of the group? Yeah, because individually, you know what I mean? Cause individually you'd get individual signs of success  versus like a group discussion or would you see how they are in their natural habitat? 

So all of the above. So I would, I would. So what I would do is instead of me as the CEO spending 80 percent of the whole team's bandwidth with this person, I started to really evenly distribute that. and when I would have Other members of the team have conversations with this person and we would all regroup to talk about this person.

I really tried to get a sense of what is the energy inside the room. Right. Because even though that person wasn't with us, these collective conversations are now coming together. And so I wanted to get a sense of what is the vibe after spending a day with this person? Did people feel lit up? Were they feeling more creative and excited?

Like one very, very simple way to think about it. This is like, would my teammates be more excited or less excited or equally excited to come to the office? The next day, if this person was now part of the team,  right, so, so I was really trying to get a sense of what was the energetic, what was the energetic influence that this person had that that was one.

But yeah, if we could ever find a situation where they were willing to do a test. Right. Just come in, work with us for a couple of weeks. Obviously, it's paid and everything like that, but let's get a sense of what it's like to work together. That would be the best. That would be the best situation because then again, I'm not, and there are those two weeks.

I'm not looking as much for like them to, you know, deliver a project that we think is unbelievable, but it's more about what did that do to everybody else? How is everybody else's performance? How is everybody else's energy? That's what I was paying most attention to. Yeah. 

Yeah. And you know, you would think, because this is so simple, so brilliant, you would think, for example, when we spend 30k, 40k to buy a car, we do go for a test drive, right?

We pay a person much more money, a test drive, like a trial period for two weeks. It's just, it's you know, both sides are at liberty to say, hey, this isn't working for me. You know, maybe it's time we part ways versus would you like to sign with us full time? Hey, I'd love to work full time. So I totally hear that there are trial periods, but they are usually based on delivery of something.

You know, what did you bring to the table? Sort of very hard where a person knows they're being tested on it, but if it's focused on, are they bringing out the best in other people in their own way?  In their own way, particularly in the early days. It's never too early to start that. This is beautiful.

The Writing Process: From Inspiration to Publication

And we're going to now move to the sort of highest gear, let's say in our metaphoric car car, and we're going to talk about writing Suneel you have had so much success with both your books, and I want to congratulate you on Everyday Dharma. And I'm loving, you know, following you on social media and all these interviews where you share very practical tips  on how we can experience dharma  in our daily life. 

And  I want to now talk to you about what made you write.  This particular topic and, and also part two, as you can see, every question has a part two, cause I'm greedy. That's what I am. hoW do you approach your writing process? Someone who's listening today, like. I have an idea for a book, but I'm  terrified to start.

Okay. He said courage precedes action. Sorry. Oh, very important. The other way around. Action precedes courage. But what does that actually look like? So describe that sort of day to day, not the pretty, not the glamor side of things, but the background. And let's start with the topic. Dharam. Dharma. What made you write about this?


Yeah. Well, you know, I think it's. Writing for me has always been a form of therapy. I started to write when I, when I was a, when I was a, you know, CEO of a company and, and, you know, a startup that was like, you know, just teetering along, trying to, trying to make it. But I, I knew that, that for me, like I needed some outlet every single day.

And you know, I'm, I'm married, but like my wife is like, you know, I can't put it all on her. Right. And I, I feel like, I feel like I needed, I needed something to express how scared I was that we were going to fail. I was when he did something to express how you know, the, all, all this jumble, all these jumbled thoughts that were inside my head.

And, and I got a piece of advice to just start writing, to just start journaling. And so I did, and, and that became. Therapy for me, because the page always listens, it will always listen to you.  And so every morning for 15 or so minutes, I began to write. But what I began to realize is that like, I was getting creatively very lit up during those 15 minutes every day.

I would like, even when  Well, even when I was writing things that were nonsensical, you know, unformed paragraphs, sentences that didn't make sense, it was just the expression of it. Right. And, and that is really kind of, I think the point of Dharma. Dharma is essence plus expression.  Essence is who you are and expression is how you show up in the world.

And, and so Dharma is really about when you have this thing inside of you that wants to speak, that you're expressing it somehow. And the key to it all is it doesn't have to be in any big profound way. Right. It doesn't have to be because you became the CEO of a massive company or that you did something that was, you know, worth worth a massive, you know, news report.

It can be through little expressions. And what I was finding is that even 15 minutes a day was was was really bringing me back into my Dharma because it was tapping into a part of me that I know now I would define as somebody who likes to tell stories. And what I was doing every day in that journal as I was just telling stories and it was telling my stories, but I started to think about how do I, how about I tell other people's stories?

How about I go out and research what other people are going through? And that is what really kind of set me on the path to, to become a writer, you know? And, and so I think,  you know, one of the things that like, if you are thinking about writing a book,  a couple of pieces of advice, one is, one is that, you know, 90, 99 percent of what most authors write end up in the trash bin, meaning that they don't end up getting used.

And that is such, that is such a different way, I think, of looking at the writing process than I had in mind. Because what would happen when I initially started is I would write and I would, I would immediately be like, well, this is bad. And therefore this book is not going to be any good or what I have to say isn't going to be all that important until I realized the idea of what Anne Lamont calls a shitty first draft, right?

You have to write these shitty first drafts, these, these, these, what some people call vomit drafts in order to really get. Like this stuff out of you, right? It's expression expression. And then you invite in this editing side of yourself much later on in the process to start cleaning things up. And what'll end up happening is that very, very little of what you end up writing will ultimately make it to the final cut.

I met Salman Rushdie when I was in law school. And at that time, at that time I was, I was also like, maybe one day I can be a writer.  And I asked him, how do you get inspired to write?  And you could tell when I asked him that question, it was like the worst question I could have asked him.  You could just tell by his, like his face sunk.

He's just like, he rolled his eyes and he's just like, he's like, he's like, look, I don't get inspired to write. I just write.  I just sit down. And then I get inspired. Yeah. I just sit down at my desk every day, you know, like an accountant. And I just write and along the way become these pearls of inspiration, these little pearls and most of what I write ends up end up going into the trash bin.

But every day, you know, I'll be able to find, you know, maybe a pearl and over time I string together these pearls into paragraphs, into pages, into chapters, you know. And eventually into books. And that is this process, right? And it's so much less glamorous than we might think because oftentimes we think the process of writing a book is sitting down and all of a sudden creating poetry.

And that's just never, it's just never how it works, or at least not for, you know, 99 percent of the people out there.  The, the, the, the other thing that I would say just very practically is to get out of this place of what I'm writing needs to be good is oftentimes I will write with my eyes closed.  So I will literally, I will literally bring to mind what I wanna write about, and then I'll close my eyes and I'll 

literally, like, you're typing with your eyes closed, 

typing with my eyes closed.

If you saw me, you might think, I'm, I'm, I'm having, I'm in the experiencing a medical condition. Like it's, it can be scary. My kids have walked in on me while I do this, and like, are you okay? But I do this because I, I think I, like many others, have a temptation to write and edit. At the same time,  writing or writing, but we're also evaluating.

So we're using these two parts of ourselves rather than just freeing the creative flow of writing. And if I can close my eyes, you know, what I can do is I can just let that part of part of me just rip. Just go. And then I can go back later on and be like, Oh my God, what was that? Like, those are jumbled, those are jumbled words of periods out of play.

So like I said, but my editor can take care of that. What's important is to divide these two systems. Let your writer be a writer and then let your editor be an editor. 

Very important because there are two different skill sets and there are two different sets of people. We don't have to encompass everything.

Goodness, my goodness, I love this. First of all, the page always listens.  So beautiful.  I want to add the page always listens  without judgment. 

Yeah, I love that. Yes.  

Because it's therapy. A therapist isn't supposed to be like, Oh, you had a shitty day. What's up with your face? They don't like you said, it's therapy, right?

So it's just kind of poured it out. I love this. I, one of my New Year's resolutions, which I I think I need to do a better job of is right. I especially bought a very expensive diary. I'm going to add a journal and morning pages, just kind of free flow, whatever's on your mind, because it's such fun also to go back and read that this is what I was going through in that moment.

But the clarity, the refinement of your ideas, what you talked about writing, it just reminded me of this metaphor. You know, when we open a tap after many months and said that green yellowish disgusting water comes out, let it flow for a minute or two, then it gets clear. So I love that you said 99%. So in those two minutes, 99 percent of that water was not usable,  but there it comes.

Got to give it that time brick by brick, bird by bird and Lamont love that SFD. And, and the second I like how I also kind of like, you know, for a lot of us, that mathematical analytical brain, I love Dharma is equal to essence plus expression.  You, you broke this down, ancient Sanskrit, you know, sort of Hindu concept and you've broken it down for everyday people,  what is your essence? 

And what is your expression? You want to find out more about this? Just get a copy of the book. Everyday Dharma, everywhere where books are sold. Always wanted to say that. All right Suneel, I can't believe we've come close to the end. Time's flown. It  really, really has. And I want to sort of  ask you this sort of all encompassing question I ask every single guest of mine.

The Impact of Personal Transformation on Career Success

When you look back on your career so far,  Is there one standout defining moment that  supercharged your career and helped you to move closer to the current success you enjoy today?  

Gosh, such, such a good question. You know, I'm going to tell you the first thing that comes to mind and it's going to be, it's going to be an answer.

You probably would not expect, but  I  right before I started my career, I went to a summer camp. So before I went to college, I went to a summer camp and I was overweight. I was about 30 pounds overweight at the time. And and I was also the brown kid in a, in an all white school. But I had gone to this summer camp where all of a sudden there was a lot of diversity and there were people who looked a lot more like me and. 

That camp really changed my life and it, there was one particular thing that, that ultimately led to the change, which was that I was sitting there in class on the first day and this guy who was like your typical sort of varsity athlete walks into the room. I never knew him. I didn't know him. He came and he sat down right next to me.

His name was Gene, and he was a wrestler, and he was good looking, and he was tall, and he was white, and he was all these things that I was not. And he was the kind of guy, popular, popular, and he was the kind of guy who back in my hometown would never want to affiliate with somebody like me, or at least I wouldn't think.

And he did. And he became my friend. And, and not only that but one day we were walking, I still remember we were walking by Lake Michigan. And I, I, I admitted something to him that I had never told anybody in my life, which I said, Hey, Jean, I really I really want to lose weight.  And what he said to me is  6 a.

m.  And I said, what? And he said, tomorrow, 6 a. m.  We're going to go for a run, you and me.  And so  555 in the morning, he's knocking on my door the next morning. And I'm like, Oh my God, this is really going to happen. I had never like, unless I was forced in gym class to run, I would never run. And the most I had ever run was one mile.

And that day we ran over two miles and we did it again the next day and the day after that and the day after that. And those,  those 6 a. m. runs became like, you know, it 

just became a bedrock, you know? Yeah. Yeah. It's just like, 


sometimes when we're going through really hard things, we sort of think that the answer. It has to be really complicated.  The answer has to be tough as well. 

I guess what that I learned from that is that sometimes these,  these little things,  these little habits,  you know, really simple things that we can bring into our lives,  can really be the way that we get through all this.  You know, like I look back,  I look back on those runs as, as like a complete change in my life.

You know, it, it, it gave, it gave me, you know, a better psyche. It gave me a better.  Put me into physical health. It showed me that no matter how bad things are, that there's always a way out. And, and it also just showed me that like, you know,  it the humanity of somebody like Gene. Yeah. You know, saying, Hey, like,  I got you, you know, I got you on this one.

Yeah. And I think about that, I think at all about it all the time. I can, I can literally draw  a straight line from those 6:00 AM runs to everything that I am today.  

Oh my gosh. Thank you so much, Suneel, for sharing that with us. I think that he sounds like a beautiful soul.  And I want to draw attention to this that you shared.

The popular kid, the white, successful, athletic kid. Why would he want to hang out with someone like me? It's coming from, that was coming from some place, right? That was coming from some place of sort of low ego, self esteem. He couldn't care less.  So, it's so beautiful.  That he was like,  you know, I want to lose weight. 

I got two words. Six. A. M.  I, I, I, I'm on a health journey myself, Suneel. I've shared that with my newsletter subscribers. I have lots and lots of things to change.  And I, I read somewhere, someone said, it's the ultimate act of self love.  Not going to a spa, not getting a facial, not getting a manicure, getting up to do a workout that you don't want to do.

You were like, I've never run a mile. And here you are running two miles, 6am. I'd rather be in my warm, comfortable bed. It's minus 10 degrees outside.  That is the ultimate act of self 

love. Yeah, that's beautiful. I think going to the gym is an act of love. I think taking care of yourself is an act of love.

And that's why I think exercise is so much more than, than, than exercise. You know, at the time I didn't, I didn't realize that even if I look back at my dad's journey, right. And learning to take walks learning to appreciate himself, it wasn't just about his physical health. It was about all the other things that lie beneath our body.

Right. It's about how we see ourselves and, and, you know, yeah. If I, if I the reason that it gets me so emotional when I think about Gene is because he didn't just like, you know, I, I lost weight that summer, but it completely turned around my life. I liked myself more, you know, when I showed back up to my school, I was still the brown kid, right.

And other people. probably still saw me as the brown kid. But no matter how they saw me,  that may not have changed. But what changed was the way that I saw myself. 

Yes. And that is everything. It's everything. It's who you become. It's who you become when you're, when you're on that journey. And I think that I also recommend to everyone listening today,  you know, you're like, Oh, this sounds amazing.

Yeah, I'll get that book. Okay. Yeah. One thing you can do right away  is follow Suneel also on Instagram, because I remember Suneel, you had a post several months ago, and I think that maybe it is subconsciously been following you after. Your beautiful transformation with the help of Jean.  And that is with your daughters.

And I think it sounds a bit creepy. I promise you it was one story or one Instagram post. And you were talking about yoga. And you were like, I want them to remember their dad did yoga with them.  Every day or every week because you're paying attention to your body, you're listening to your mind.  That's so beautiful, you know that, that they forming for memory.

So, you know, this probably is you're, you're right. This is not the answer I was expecting. But that's the beauty of this question because every answer is unique. And there's people who've said, I, you know, this particular teacher changed my life, this particular incident. It's so many things we need to dig out.

And I love that  this is the, this is the answer you gave us because we've come full circle.  Because we talked about how the inner success and just this fortitude, the discipline of waking up when you didn't want to, and he's, you know, knocking, Hey, I said six, I'm here. Aren't I? And you were like, okay, fine.

I. I'm here. Aren't I? Yeah. That resulted in outer success  and that contributed more to inner success. So that's absolutely beautiful. So Sudeel, Oh my God, this is one of my favorite conversations of all time. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of this. How can people learn more about you?  

You know, I think.

So, that's a good place to begin is just go to Instagram, go to Suneel Gupta, and, and I spell it with two E's, S U N E E L, Gupta, G U P T A, and and from there you'll see links to, to all the other stuff that I'm working on, and, you know, I'd love, I'd love to, I'd love to connect with you there.  


Thank you so much. Suneel, I will share your social links as well as the links to the both the books in the show notes. Thank you so much for your time and generosity today. I, and we wish you continued success with the book, with all the work you're doing and beyond.  

Yeah. Thanks Sonal. Yeah. You made me cry. 

Hey there. Thank you for taking the time to listen to today's show. If you love. Did please do leave me a review on Apple podcasts. I search high and low to bring you the very best guests. And I'm so proud to bring you their stories and game changing career lessons. The best compliment that you could ever give me is taking a screenshot of today's episode and sharing it with your LinkedIn network and tagging me at Sonal Bahl.

S O N A L B A H L. All right. I look forward to spending time together. On the next episode of the How I Got Hired podcast, take care of yourself and bye for now.