These days we see a lot of people studying subjects or pursuing courses for the sake of getting a good job with a good salary and not because they are truly interested in it. In this situation, Human Circle, a community of people driving the ‘Do What You Love Movement’ through their Young India Challenge believes that the only way to be successful, rich and happy in life is by doing what you love. In September this year I got the opportunity to attend the Young India Challenge at Shri Ram College of Commerce, and it was a life changing experience.
A few days back I had an interaction with Kamal Seth, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Human Circle. Kamal is an entrepreneur and a professional recruiter with vast experience in guiding the personal and professional experiences of students, young professionals and senior executives from around the world. He is passionate about driving the ‘Do What You Love’ movement and impact the young generation to create an impact.
Here’s a snippet of our conversation:
Nikhil K: What was the basic idea behind coming up with the ‘Do What You Love Movement’
Kamal Seth: The idea for the #DoWhatYouLove movement took some shape in my head during my college years in 2005-08 at Delhi University. I noticed that a lot of my friends were studying what they were not because they were passionate about those subjects but mainly because they cleared the cut-off for those subjects. This also meant that after their graduation, they did a job or a MBA to get a good salary and not because they would truly enjoy what they would do. Before founding Human Circle, I worked as a recruiter for large organisations like Nestle, Philips, Mindvalley, AIESEC etc and ended up doing 2000+ interviews in aprrox. 8-10 years. The pattern was very disturbing for me to interact with people from across different age groups and realise that they were doing something that they didn’t love. In many cases, they were unproductive, unhappy and not content with their career and life in general. In 2014, we founded Human Circle to ‘connect enlightened minds’ and drive the #DoWhatYouLove movement.
NK: Back in 2014 when you started with Young India Challenge (YIC) at IIT Delhi, what were the problems you faced in gathering or convincing students to attend it?
KS: In 2014, when we opened applications for the first YIC at IIT Delhi, we surprisingly got 700+ applications within 2 months for just 100 delegate positions. Even we were curious to know what made so many people apply. When we asked them the same during the interviews, they shared with us that, YIC’s theme of #DoWhatYouLove connected with them at a deeper level. They wanted to experience something that no other event was offering in Delhi at that point of time. The biggest challenge we faced during the event is that, the room which we had booked to start the first session, was occupied by a Professor, who apparently was not informed about YIC. We gathered the 100 delegates of the first ever YIC in the lawns and started the first workshop ‘Turn Your Passion into a Career’ there itself. After 3 hours, we finally got another room to continue the event. This experience made us even more determined to never give up. But the support from the delegates was amazing. They did not complaint at all and fully participated in the session, even though it was done without any projector, mikes etc. Since then we have never looked back. The last YIC in Delhi at SRCC (6th edition) had a participation from 300 delegates, speakers, mentors and organisers. So within two years, we have been able to grow 3X in terms of the applications and delegates.
NK: After organising seven YICs since 2014, what has been the response of the students who have attended the YIC and do you see any positive changes in them?
KS: Yes, so far, close to 1000 people have attended the 7 YICs that we have organised. 6 in Delhi and 1 in Mumbai. We are self-funded and therefore have limited resources to invest in building a sophisticated online system to connect people. It is a challenge to keep a track of each and everyones experience but many of them stay connected through our online group on facebook and whatsapp and physical meet-ups that we have started organising recently. The YIC alumni often share with us how YIC was kind of a push they needed to finally do something about what they love doing. Many have started new societies in their colleges, startups, clubs, projects or went back to a passion area that they had left behind due to academic, parental or other pressures. Many alumni also continue to get guidance by us, our mentors and life coaches. Many pursue their career in the organisation of our mentors, speakers and eco-system partners. We offer recommendation letters to the most deserving candidates and this helps them in receiving admissions and/or scholarships to pursue their higher studies/jobs. More than 100 individuals have also gone through the ‘Happiness Team’ program of Human Circle, where they work as interns and volunteers for the #DoWhatYouLove movement.
NK: All the mentors and speakers associated with you are entrepreneurs or artists; there are no big brands involved. What is the idea behind that?
KS: It is true that we don’t focus on big brands and names for our programs and events. We believe that people should engage with the #DoWhatYouLove movement not because some bigshot is telling them but because they connect with the idea at a personal level. We want the experience of YIC to be unique for every individual. Everyone has their own needs and expectations. We believe that not everyone is ready to follow their passion for different reasons. Generally they do not get selected for YICs. Our target audience comprises of people who are action oriented, early adoptors of a new idea and are willing to take risks at an early stage of their life. Very often we see that if big sponsors are involved with an event, they inevitably influence the focus of the agenda and it becomes very commercial in a wrong way. Its not that we have a policy to not work with big brands, but we are selective in our choice. For example, in the past, we have invited speakers and mentors from companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Hindustan Unilever, KPMG, Techstars etc but they came in an individual capacity. YIC is a not for profit, self-sustainable initiative and we want to keep it this way to stay focused on our mission of engaging the young people of India with the #DoWhatYouLove movement. Delegates pay a basic fees which help us to keep it going. Any surplus that we make gets invested in building our organisational capacity and investing in new cities where YIC should be organised.
NK: What are the next steps for the Do What You Love movement in 2017?
KS: We are super excited about 2017 because within two years of our inception, #DoWhatYouLove has reached 1 million people virtually. Now we are looking to scale up and engage the next 1 million people within one year instead of two. We are doing it by organising two big YICs in IIT Delhi and Bombay in 2017. Each will see a participation from 500+ delegates and mentors from 10000+ applications. We will also be doing our research and networking to select the third city for a YIC in 2018. Besides YIC, Human Circle will also organise even more hangouts, meet-ups, mentorship programs, career networking, skill development sessions, leadership workshops and webinars to engage more people with the movement. For the record, Human Circle is a community of people driving the #DoWhatYouLove movement. Students, artists, freelancers, entrepreneurs, young professionals, authors, speakers, trainers, coaches, mentors and everybody else who believes that the only way to be truly successful, rich and happy in life is by doing what we love. This simple wisdom is translated by our 'happiness team' into experiential physical/virtual platforms and programs like hangouts, seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, masterminds and festivals.
For the first time we have recruited two full time team members and in 2017, we will continue to increase our team size. By the end of 2017, we would have connected atleast 2 million people with the #DoWhatYouLove movement one way or another. In short, 2017 is a year to ‘Make it Large’!