Growing up, I was like most teenagers: unsure about the world, fascinated by airplanes (and my PS2), but just going through the daily motions. Early on, my parents only told me a few things that to this day, define me as an individual.
- Read as much as you can
- Treat others how you want to be treated
- Don’t work for anyone else
In regards to the three points, the first one was completely ignored. Honestly, I did not read many books throughout my youth. In fact, I probably read more Sparknotes than any novel. Growing up, my strongest subject was Math.
My parents owned a company called TEAMS, which taught math classes around books such as the Art of Problem Solving. I remember sitting in a class my Dad would teach and not having a clue what was going on.
He would come home and attempt to teach me. Growing up, I was constantly compared to some of my best friends who are much better at Math than me. No matter how much work I would put in, I realized I had no interest, which naturally meant I did not do as well.
Going into high school, I was pushed to do engineering because my parents knew I would have job security. More importantly, my parents knew that I probably couldn’t do anything else.
Now, just think about that.
I couldn’t do anything else. Meaning I was very average at everything. The only thing I thought I was exceptional at was music. I played piano and violin for about 14 years, and I had a natural ability to pick up and play a tune from a song. I had a natural ear.
During my freshmen year, I learned what the PSAT was. My Dad got immediately obsessed with it, and pushed me to study. Suddenly, everything became very real for me – I needed to have a clue as to what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. To add to that stress, my mom forced me to volunteer at a summer program for young engineering students. After I was done volunteering at the engineering program, I was forced to volunteer at the business program to accumulate more hours.
I met my business mentor, Diana McBride, and my former business partner, Jaspreet Singh. Our job was to teach some of the best and brightest about international business; A topic I knew nothing about.
Although I was completely clueless regarding the topic, I learned that I loved talking about all things business. Everything from business strategy, marketing, sales, and business development fascinated me.
“How do you entice customers to invite them into your store?”
“Why do certain businesses succeed over others?”
It was that pivotal moment that I began playing tennis intensively, and started paying way too much for racquet stringing. That is when my cofounder and I founded STR. We bought a stringer, and started stringing racquets. Once demand increased, we started hiring students to string racquets for customers, and then companies.
I was in internal bliss, and finally, after 15 years of searching, I found what made me the most happy – freedom. To do whatever I want, whenever I want, while working extremely hard towards a passion and goal.
Lesson Learned: Just because something hurts or is difficult, don’t turn away from it – plow through. Sometimes the best opportunities are right in front of you. All it takes is to open your eyes and realize what is in front of you.