Today starts my annual pilgrimage to BIM Trichy (Bharathidasan Institute of Management), one of India’s leading B-Schools. This is my 4th year here and I teach Digital & Social Media Marketing for the final year students. Look forward to a fun-filled, action-packed days of teaching and learning.
As I type www.kiruba.com on the browser and click, an elegantly designed web site opens. What I see first is Kiruba Shankar’s visage, smiling faintly with hazily outlined coconut trees in the background. Right below the picture is the sentence introducing him – “Kiruba is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcaster and a farmer.”
I got to know Kiruba about nine years ago because he was part of our small group of runners meeting in Anna University campus for running. Then he was a manager in Sify. And I learned from him, he blogged a lot. He moved around the city, including to work, on his cycle.
From then till now, it appears he has not relented on the pace he has set for himself. He has run two marathons and has cycled more than 1000 km all over Tamilnadu at one stretch. Judging from where he has dipped his hand into and has accomplished so far, he has kept a hot pace in pursuing his passions. The list of activities he has given his attention to is long. I am borrowing heavily from what he considers “obnoxiously long egoistic bio” in his web site to make a decent, crispy introduction of him.
Kiruba Shankar is the CEO of Business Blogging, a leading social media consulting firm. He is one among Asia’s foremost experts in Digital strategies. His multiple entrepreneurship ventures in various fields are: He co-founded F5ive Technologies that does ‘Open Source Development’. His passion for agriculture led him to start up Vaksana Farms He has authored 4 books: ‘Copy Right and Left: Understanding Creative Commons‘, ‘Wikipedia – A Beginner’s Guide‘, ‘Crowdsourcing Tweet’ and ‘Unconference‘. He has been a technology columnist at The New Indian Express, Business Standard and Financial Express. He sat on the advisory board of RangDe, a peer-to-peer micro-lending initiative supported by ICICI Foundation. Kiruba is passionate about teaching. He is a visiting faculty at Great Lakes Institute of Management near Chennai and Bharathidasan Institute of Management at Trichy. He has lectured on Social Media at IIM Kozhikode, IIM Bangalore, IIT Madras and Asian College of Journalism. He is the curator of Cerebrate.in, an international event for achievers. He is a professional podcaster and hosts Kiruba.TV where he interviews global achievers. Business World magazine once ranked his blog Kiruba.com as one of India’s top blogs.
Right now, what fills a good part of Kiruba’s horizon is documenting details of the existing Colonial Bungalows – to discover the treasure of rich architectural wealth.
Then, there are those workshops which are unlike the regular ones for their content and method (of not having too much of a method in the conventional sense). For example, Unconference captures the wisdom of the crowds, using interactive methods. At Fail Camps people learn to turn wounds and failures into wisdom. Bucket-list Boot Camp is an annual workshop on goal setting. Then there are Book Writing Camps…
No wonder he has about 56000 followers on Twitter and 6000 on facebook!
Prior to his entrepreneurship role, he was Associate Director of Sulekha.com and a senior manager at Sify.
The activities he chooses to give his attention to, suggests a mind that is prepared to experiment with the new and unknown. He even chooses to experiment with his physical appearance. He is the perennial learner – knowing that the repertoire of an ‘expert’ is limited and, it is only by starting from a state of ignorance that we actually learn.
Kiruba is candid enough to admit that focusing on too many things prevents richness and exponential growth from materializing. He tells me he is passionate about all of these activities that jostle for space in his life.
He subscribes to Derek Sivers’ philosophy – “If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no”. Kiruba is learning to say ‘no’ to tempting opportunities when he does not feel kicked about them. He does not believe in free stuff, either.
He shares with me about his real “HELL YEAH” passions in his years to come. He is going to give it everything to create ever widening ripples in the digital space. And, he wants to expand his farm and invest enough time in this rooting experience.
All these he says, he would do for and with his close-knit family.
His daughters Krithya and Kalpitha are great individuals in their own right, there is an effervescence about them. Krithya, his elder daughter published her first book at the age of eight. During the three hours I was with him, I could discern the caring space he gives his two adorable kids. For Kiruba, his wife Sujani is his source of strength. I myself was a witness to her quiet, caring charm.
I ask him the inevitable question – what is his higher purpose? He does not entertain pretensions of doing anything for anyone, or for that matter, for changing the world. This is his life and he intends to make it as rich and full as possible – in congruence with his deepest desires and values. He tells me he sees himself as a sculptor chiseling a stone into a beautiful statue – a work of art.
Perhaps, the imagery of a sculptor sculpting a stone pervades all activities of his life. He writes and blogs because it gives him the avenue to sculpt his image as an act of creation for the world to see. And the blog serves as a platform where he delivers value. This is a smart way, I think, of causing people to draw towards him.
To make that happen, I realize, is not an easy job. He gives first. He communicates through his blogs and digital media consistently. And the world gets value from his expertise and viewpoints. He thus develops a bond and trust level with his readers. The trust he has built is an invaluable asset in his avatar as an entrepreneur.
During the course of our conversation, I confide in him how I labour with my writing, taking enormous amount of time. For Kiruba all it takes to write 100 words is just about 3 minutes. So, he needs around 15 minutes to churn out a 500-word article.
Writing has taught him and given him a lot. Writing a book affords him the opportunity to focus laser sharp on one thing – to cull out its essence and share it with the world. He intends to write many more not just because of the catharsis or sense of release he feels, but also because it is his passport that opens up the world for him. And it is also the visiting card causing raised eyebrows in respect where ever he goes.
Whether it is his family, farm, business or other passions he gives them attention in a very immersed type of way.
I was a recipient of his undivided attention when I was with him for three hours.
Kiruba can be contacted on 98415 97744. His website is www.kiruba.com