In a world where every company and startup seems to have a grandiose mission statement, finding your personal passion hasn’t become easier. Shalini Prakash, Principal at 500 Startups and founder of side-project Find Your Slash gave GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal some insights in her approach to finding her passion.
Shalini, in the way you speak and write on blogs on Medium or LinkedIn, you find that same passion back. How did you find that passion?
Shalini: I'm not the best person to be answering this question about passion; I have always taken up things that I'm really uncomfortable with. For some reason, I love challenges, I love getting out of comfort zones. When you look at my background, I started out as a software engineer at Fidelity investments, it's from there that I moved on to many different roles, so for me passion, really means having a deep connection to whatever you're doing.
For me, the deep connection comes with newer challenges and to see that you're really solving a big problem. That's why I'm so interested in working with entrepreneurs. Or even in some of my writing that I've published recently.
And that’s where your new project, Find Your Slash comes in?
Shalini: The platform is really inspired from my own personal journey, especially over the last one year, I've had an opportunity to meet some really amazing people. I've had an opportunity to work with some of the best minds, I love my job. At the same time, there's this constant feeling that there's something that's missing. I need more, some sort of creative energy booster.
And I thought: if I'm feeling like that, think about somebody sitting in a field or posts where they're just thinking of getting through the day. I thought I was in a much better position. So I thought maybe I should form a community for people like that. People who have this burning desire to do more and have this fire in their belly, but are not able to do.
This is not about quitting your job and trying to start something new. Instead, it's about what else you can do, other than your typical day job. If you think of it, in a larger sense, to achieve excellence in one thing, be it at your job as an engineer or whatever you want to be, you cannot just think in a uni-directional way. You need to think multi-directional, to think that if you, for example, want to be a successful wildlife photographer, you need to understand wildlife, environment as well as what it means to be an artist, a technologist and a salesman at the same time.
Even to just be good at one thing, you need exposure to different things. This platform is a call for people like that, don't go after passion, especially if you don't know where to find it or what it even looks like. Instead think of ten different avatars that you can be, because tomorrow, when you know what you want to do, all these dots will connect together and you will be super good at that!
This platform stands for developing those 'slashes'. You can be a blogger/artist/photographer/maker/dietitian, anything that you want to be. The slash essentially stands for all the avatars you can be.