Jacob talks to Manuj Aggarwal about building businesses, mindset, anxiety, depression, and spirituality. Manuj is a successful CTO, and he's worked at large technology corporations as well as smaller technology startups. Originally from India, Manuj started his career working in a factory and making $2/day.
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Manuj Aggarwal 0:11
Welcome back to another episode of SuccessQuest. I'm Jacob Harmon. And I am so happy that you are here today to learn a little bit more about success and how to achieve it. Today I was able to interview my new, I'm not even gonna try to say his last name because I know that I will butcher it. But it was an incredible interview, we were able to cover a lot of different topics in a very short amount of time. Here on SuccessQuest, we talked about the different facets of success, different kinds of success. Well, in this interview, we covered a whole lot of them. We talked about business and entrepreneurship, which incorporate financial success. We also talked about anxiety and depression, which is a big part of emotional success. And we even were able to talk a little bit about Spirituality. So this interview is kind of well rounded. And there's a lot of great insights. So let's just jump right into it. Okay, well, I'm super happy to have Manu here. I'm not even gonna try to say your last name. So sorry. I probably already butchered the first name but and he is an entrepreneur, investor and CTO of a company called tetra noodle. And he really does a lot of stuff. I've been looking at your LinkedIn profile, and he dabbles in a lot of things. Some of his specialties are tech startups and spirituality, which are two things that we'll talk about in this interview, and also helping businesses grow, especially bootstrapping businesses, businesses that are paying their own way. Welcome to the show. My new we're happy to have you.
Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.
Yeah. And before we get into some of that exciting stuff that we've already mentioned, like tech startups and bootstrapping and spirituality, What's your story? We love to just hear Your stories here on success quiz kinda? How did you get where you are?
Sure. Well, it has been a long road. I started my career at 15 years of age, I was working in a factory six days a week, 12 hours a day, making $2 a day. And basically, you know, that was a tough life. And I knew I wanted more out of life. So I basically tried to figure out, okay, you know, what can I do to change my life and the only thing that came to my mind was my mind, basically, you know, I had to acquire education and use my knowledge to get ahead. And luckily, those days programming computers that they were pretty new, so I managed to enroll into a programming course. I met my future wife there. And I found my profession there. Like you know, I fell in love with computers and programming. And so that's what I've been involved in for last 20 years, working on many, many startups large, large projects that large global corporations, but basically just you know, solving a lot of interesting problems through use of technology. And that's my story on the professional side on personal side. You know, as I said, it was a tough childhood. And that left a lot of scars growing up, which I didn't realize I had those until I start noticing some patterns where, you know, I couldn't have any sort of meaningful relationship with anyone, including my parents, my spouse, my kids. So, you know, one thing led to another and I started looking for solutions, going to therapy and all that. And finally, I found, you know, therapy is good, like, you know, it gives you a little bit perspective, but, you know, I don't like the idea of going to therapy through the throughout your life. So I wanted, you know, I'm always impatient to find solutions. I wanted to find a better, more effective solution and that's when I turned towards spirituality and and found that you know, you can really get in touch with yourself If you can understand yourself, what what are your trigger points why they are so how to neutralize them and sort of, you know, attain satisfaction and happiness, irrespective of what kind of situation you are in.
That's so cool. That's amazing. So let's, let's kind of dissect a little bit of that. And first, let's start on the professional side, and then we'll move into the more personal side $2 a day, my goodness, I mean, going from that to where you are. Now that must be a pretty incredible contrast and difference. What are some of the biggest takeaways you have from from being able to come from point where you're making $2 day to where you are now?
The biggest thing is your own mindset, right? Like if you have to decide what you want out of life, and, and you don't really need to know how it's going to happen. I had no idea. You know, I, you know, this life that I'm living right now, that was a pipe dream for me, you know, but the fact is like, if you really are convinced This is what you want out of life and this is what you're going to get out of life, then you just need to look at the next step, meaning, you know what, what can I do right now to move one inch towards my goal and, and that's what if you keep doing that over and over and over again, you know those inches they accumulate into miles and you know, before you know it, you are, you know, you are you are there. So, that is a key takeaway, you know, inspire yourself, surround yourself with good, good people, fill yourself with good thoughts, positive thoughts, be ambitious. Don't give up, you know, all these sort of cliche or are not cliche, but if you keep applying them, you know, it actually can transform your life. So,
yeah, I love that concept of just a little bit. Every little inch helps. And I think sometimes a lot of people get overwhelmed because they see where they want to be. It's so far away. But really, it's just one step at a time. One, one small change at a time, one little inch at a time. I love that. That's amazing. So you built an incredibly successful career, helping startups and helping, especially in the tech sector? What are some of the secrets of growing a business and especially a business where it's bootstrapped? Where you're funding it yourself?
Well, any business revolves around revenue. So you know, you need to focus on revenue. And when you focus on revenue, you need to see where is the path of least resistance to get the revenue, especially for a person like me, who did not have any background in marketing or sales. So, you know, since I was in tech, for me, it was more finding the niches that had less competition and big demand. So, you know, I continuously look for those niches continuously acquired those skills. Once that happened, you know, when when people are looking for that skill, and there are not many people with that skill available, it becomes kind of easy to, you know, to get your get the business and, and build up the revenue. So, that has been the case for a while and now, I'm at a point where, you know, I want to grow exponentially, so I started learning more about marketing and sales. So, you know, I survived without that the work was just coming to me like for 1516 years. Now, I want to formalize it and expand it and grow it.
Jacob Harmon 7:36
Okay. And you talked a little bit about finding niches that don't necessarily have as much competition. Are there any great ways to do that research or find those niches? what's what's the best way that you found to kind of notice what what industries need more business?
Manuj Aggarwal 7:54
Well, see, the thing is, like, you know, our human mind is really good at Finding patterns, right? So even kids when they see two or three times, same thing repeated over and over, then Okay, this is the pattern. But the key thing is finding that repetition. So what you have to do is put yourself through multiple streams of information, go to meet ups, go to networking events, check out trends on, you know, on various sites related to your profession, see what people are talking about, see what are the pain points they're talking about and, and try to zero in, because you'll start to see patterns if you if you educate yourself enough, if you consume enough information, you'll start to see these patterns and say, Oh, you know, looks like this is a common pain point. People are looking for this type of skill, and they're not able to find it. So let me look, dig a little bit deeper into this right. And then obviously, you need to reconcile it with your interest like, you know, there may be somebody looking for Hitman, obviously, you know, you're you're not in that business. So it's not going to give you any benefit. I mean, maybe it's a silly example. But you really need to align that niche that you're targeting with your interests as well otherwise you'll get burned out you'll get you you won't have any passion for that. So it's not just about money it's also about finding your interest in aligning them with something that is in demand and there are not a lot of people doing that and then once you find that that's when you know you can make rapid progress very very quickly.
Jacob Harmon 9:30
Yeah, it's kind of the sweet spot right where where you're passionate about it, there's a need for it, there's not a lot of competition and once you find that that's like gold that's that's awesome.
Manuj Aggarwal 9:41
And and one one more thing is like you know don't stay on the at the niche level go deeper like gold micro niche, right so when I say software and it it's a very very broad field, but if you go really deep Michael nation, slice it even deeper, because you know, let's say you want to use in software field as an integral Feel integrated within integration, there is a protocol. You know what kind of protocols you're using, what kind of technologies you're using. And so you when you go deeper, deeper, deeper and find a micro niche, that's where you can find, okay, there's a lot of demand here, but not a lot of people know how to do this stuff.
Jacob Harmon 10:17
Yeah, that makes sense. And that's actually something that I've kind of wondered, since we've started this podcast, maybe we went too broad. I mean, success is like, a very, very broad topic. And there's so much inside of it. And it's nice because we have a lot we can talk about. But it's also I think that it's coming to bite us just a little bit because it's such a broad topic. So niche down is definitely something that that's, that's important. So when you work with companies, and especially companies that are bootstrapped in the tech industry, we always hear about these huge investments, right, companies that are getting hundreds of millions of dollars of seed funding and and venture capital, but not all companies get that and a lot of Companies kind of rebuilding themselves as they go. What are your recommendations for entrepreneurs that want to fund it themselves or want to bootstrap their own business?
Manuj Aggarwal 11:10
Yeah, so it has become a fashion to, you know, celebrate raising money rather than making money. So you know, there are Uber's of the world where they are losing tons of cash, but it's considered, you know, really strong company, they have an IPO. You know, they're trading publicly. But if you look at really successful companies look at, you know, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, there are tons of them, right? They actually started by bootstrapping themselves. So what bootstrapping means is you find something that you're passionate about. It's not that you will not need any investment at all, but you can do things in a scrappy way. And you just basically start again, going back to the same thing we talked about. You just take the next step, you just build a very small feature, very small product, something that really addresses somebody's pain point. You start to generate revenue, and then you stop reinvest that revenue and grow the company organically. And by the way, for centuries, this is how businesses have been built, right? This is only now that you know venture capitalists have come in. And there are multiple motives, why people fund startups and why people raise money. But in my opinion, like if two businesses built by bootstrapping, unless it's a very capital intensive business, for example, if you want to build a railroad company, if you want to build a Tesla with Giga factory and whatnot, obviously, you'll need to raise a lot of capital for that. But if you're trying to launch an app, if you're trying to launch, you know, ecommerce business or something of that nature, bootstrapping is the way to go.
Jacob Harmon 12:43
Okay. Cool. And how do you recommend you fund those small, small things like development costs and things like that? Is that just out of pocket from the business owner? Is it reaching out to family, or how is the best way to do that in most cases?
Manuj Aggarwal 12:59
Exactly. It Exactly. So so you know, I'll give you a concrete example. Right? So I was working with two entrepreneurs, they wanted to launch an app, and they, you know, went typical route, they started talking to some consulting companies and, and they could got a petition of about $350,000. And so, you know, they, they were planning to put their apartment on mortgage and raise the money that way and launched up. So when I, when they came to me, you know, I said, that's really too much of a risk. So why don't we figure out how to do this on the cheap. So, you know, I was able to get them going with around $30,000. So about 10% of the budget that they got from a consulting company, and we launched six months ahead of schedule, and that you can do by you know, using pragmatic techniques to incorporate outsourcing into your hiring strategy. You cut down on the features that you really focus on getting feedback on the customers because, you know, we what ends up happening is most entrepreneurs They start to inject themselves into the product of the service. They think about how they will they will use the product or service rather than the customer. Right? So a good example is in 2016, you know, we had political surprises in terms of presidential election, and then Brexit, nobody knew what the outcome was going to be. So that is a good example of up don't really know how the public at large things, right. So if you're if you get feedback for your product or service, you will know exactly what they're looking for. And if you build it, you will be able to generate revenue very quickly. And as I said, you can use pragmatic techniques to cut down on scope and build your team, build the features, put it out in the market, raise, build some revenue, and as you grow organically, now that your company is growing, you have revenue, it may be the right time to raise money at that time. If you want to, you know, grow your company at a rapid pace. Because once you have revenue, then investors will not have like it will be a sort of a bias transaction. So sorry, fellas transaction, you can make your own terms, because you have revenue, you have proven the concept. If you raise money before revenue, then it will be the buyers transaction because they'll say, you know, just an idea, give me 50 bucks off your company and take your money. Right?
Jacob Harmon 15:24
Right, right. So you're putting yourself in a much better position to negotiate if you're already making money. Exactly. That makes a lot of sense. Cool. Is there anything before we move from the more business and entrepreneurship side of things to the more personal side of things? Is there anything else you'd like to, to mention to our audience about business or growing a business?
Manuj Aggarwal 15:44
Yeah, but entrepreneurship is, you know, like, it could be a lead into the topic that we have where we're going, but entrepreneurship is more about your mindset. It's it's not a rosy sort of Road. It's not all the glamour that you hear about about Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and, and whatnot. Right? It took them a lot of effort and a lot of pain to get there. Now, some people are very lucky. I mean, they may not face any hurdle at all, but some people also win lotteries. So, in most cases, what you see, entrepreneurs life is all about 90% experimentation, which, by the way, fail for some success. So right, you know, just be ready for that, and have a strong mindset and have a fighting spirit, and things will fall into place. But if you don't have that, that 90% of the failure rate is going to really, you know, give you a mental, physical and really spiritual fatigue, you know, so that's what happens.
Jacob Harmon 16:55
Wow. Yeah. And I think that's probably the one thing that a lot of people do. Think of when they're going into business because they see all the glamour stories, right? We live in a world with social media where people are only posting about their successes and their failures. And so we get this very tainted and incorrect view of what the world is like and especially what business and entrepreneurship is like we see people with Ferrari's right, we see, we see the Gary Venter Chuck's in the Elon Musk's of the world. And it's not it's not all roses.
Manuj Aggarwal 17:26
Well, I mean, the thing is, Gary Vee, no, jack, Ilan Musk, they have, they have the means to buy a Ferrari. So that's fine, right? Like, you know, we can take inspiration from them. But the key thing is, there are tons and tons of people who are just renting your Ferrari taking a picture, uploading it to Instagram. And, you know, that, I mean, for them, it's just another clickbait or, you know, a way to get more followers. But for some other people, it becomes a psychological you know, a pressure point where They think low of themselves just because somebody else has a Ferrari, right? That is the, that is the key. So that is where your own mindset should come into the picture and say, Hey, you know, I'm on, I'm on the journey. And by the way, so that's another thing. Like, try to enjoy the journey, try to enjoy the process. Because if you get annoyed, if you get depressed as you're going through this process, then again, it's not going to help anybody. So enjoy the process, enjoy, you know, this daily sort of discovery that you make. When something's work, you know, that's, that's a joyful moment. So celebrate that. Yeah, matter how small it is.
Jacob Harmon 18:34
Yeah, absolutely. And so let's dig in a little more into the that topic of depression, anxiety. It's all around us, right? I mean, a lot of people are really struggling with this right now. And it's a very real issue. And honestly, it's it's an issue that I don't understand as well as I, I should, because it's something that personally I haven't had to deal with. And so I'm it's hard for me to have as much empathy so from someone who has first hand experience with anxiety and depression and doing that, while trying to build a business in a company, I mean, how did you get through that? And what were some of the things that really you held on to during that time?
Manuj Aggarwal 19:13
Yeah, I mean, you you don't graduations, you're so lucky because as you said, like it's epidemic right now. And it has a lot to do with, you know, how the society is structured, how we are brought up, our education system is structured and all that. So a lot lot has to do with these mental issues. A lot of them they actually originate in our childhood, and we don't even know the smallest, smallest things can actually you know, take take home in our minds and they become something really big that control your decision making process and entire life. So you know, a lot of these type of issues that happened to me, were controlling how I was behaving with others, what I perceived of myself and things like that. So Anxiety is more about, you know, different, different reasons why people get anxiety. For me it was more about, you know, I don't know what is going to happen in the future whether, because because I've been conditioned to expect the worst, right? And when that happens when things don't go your way, you get really depressed and anxious. I, you know, is this ever going to work? Is this ever going to go my way? And so that anxiety starts to balloon up and snowballs into something big like, it becomes like a fog around your mind. You know, you're not thinking clear, you're not you're not seeing anything. Clearly. They're always paranoid. Okay, you know, there is some other agenda going on here. Why are people you know, after me or trying to jeopardize me or whatever. In fact, the opposite is true, because you're judging yourself by thinking like that. So that's sort of the mental structure that you people go through and I was lucky enough. I don't think I had Like a very severe issue, but still I felt it like my life actually got affected to a great extent. But there are people who are, you know, who have acute problems. So how you get through is once again, you know, you can you need to seek help. First of all you need to recognize there's a problem, right? So, a lot of people, you come to the way where they say, it's not me, it's, it's them, right? I'm perfectly okay. But these are the people who are interacting with me, they don't know. They don't know how to interact with me, they don't know what kind of value I provide, and those type of things. So the ego comes in the way from, and that stops you from recognizing what's going on. So if you put the ego aside, you look at the pattern and you say, okay, you know, definitely there is something going on here. Then you need to seek help. Because it's very hard to break that cycle on your own because it's inside you. It's inside your mind. So you see how they said you know, I started off with therapy and all that But whatever works for you, you know, you can talk to your it doesn't have to be professional help, just talk to somebody, you know, talk to your family members, your spouse, maybe a mentor, or coach or, you know, if you really think you need professional help go to a therapist, or you know, once again, go within, like, you know, start meditation meditation is, is really, really good for everybody, whether you are suffering from any mental, you know, episode or not, meditation is really helpful. And so, so as you go inside your mind, as you start to understand what's happening, you will start to uncover these layers. You know, for example, when I, when I was going through this journey, there were so many incidents that I completely forgot, you know, they had a profound effect on my life, but I completely buried them. I didn't even remember that happened. Until in a state of, you know, meditative state. I remember Oh, yeah, that happened. Like I don't even remember. Yeah. So. So once you uncover all these layers, now, you're saying Seeing that, okay, you know, I'm behaving like this right now in this moment, because what happened 33 years ago in that house at 7pm, see clearly, you know, the direct line between that, right, so now you can address it, hey, you know, that was then when I was a child I didn't understand and blah, blah, blah. And now I'm an adult, I know better. So what should I do? And still, you know, human mind is so complex, even though you can rationalize it, it's not easy to actually neutralize it by just telling yourself that. So there are ways you can do that. Like, you know, you can use affirmations you can use other techniques to to neutralize that belief, because belief is something that once it takes on in your mind, it's very hard to get get rid of.
Yeah, that's so interesting. And there's so many great things in there. I'll have to go back and listen to this episode, because even just sitting here with you guys, I can't I can't register it all. So I'll have to go back and listen to my cast.
yourself, like, you know, you can see how you think about money or how you think about other people, even though you know you've had a very good life, you can, if you if you go deeper, if you start to, you know, uncover these layers, you will be able to see why you are, as you are right now and link it with certain experiences you had in the childhood, like you were happy and your joyful. And so you can directly relate that to, you know, some of the moments you had in your childhood.
Jacob Harmon 24:28
Wow, that's amazing. That's really cool. I'll have to do that experiment. So, one of the things that you mentioned when we first got on this call was that you're a very deeply spiritual person. And personally, I also consider myself a spiritual person. But something that I think might be a little bit of contrast for us is I think I'm also a very religious person. But you're you're thinking more of the spirituality that's not religious. Right. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Okay. And how, how is That made a big difference in your life and how does that look for you?
Manuj Aggarwal 25:03
Yeah. So, you know as I was growing up in India as you know, India is a land of multiple religions like you know, multiple religions originated there. And there's a lot of I mean, religion is sort of part of society you know, more so than the rest. And what I noticed was organized religion has taken over the the essence of of the true religion, the spirit of religion, right so it has become more of a transactional thing where you know, somebody a priest gives you a sermon, but he can only teach you things if you pay money or certain things right and that put me off because I thought like, okay if if religion is good it's it's it's there to uplift humanity. I mean, there should not be any transaction involved. They should not be like, you know, fear of, of hell are you know, this year, of having And that should not be there. It's like we all human right. So that put me off. And for the longest time I never went to the temple or anything like that. And even spirituality like I didn't really pay attention. It's kind of paradoxical. I grew up in India, that the land of spirituality, yoga and meditation, and I'd never paid attention to it until I came to North America. Right. So it's fascinating. It's mind boggling. And how I got into spirituality is, you know, they have a screening earlier, I went through, you know, I went through, like, I had some interest in spirituality. I was intrigued by it. I used to read some spiritual books ever since and since 10th grade, but I didn't didn't quite get the concept. You know, it was just something intriguing. But then, you know, after going to therapy and all that when I started searching for more answers, and when, you know, one hour two sessions with a spiritual mentor, just sort of opened my eyes to These immense possibilities like the whole universe opened up. That was a profound understanding that that was profound experience. I had never experienced anything like that. And, you know, a lot of the other people that go through that journey, they explained the same thing. And so, when you see the effects, when you see the positive outcome, that's when you are forced to believe in that, like, you know, there, I don't have any choice but but to believe in and become deeply spiritual. So, to summarize it, like you know, I was not spiritual. I was just sort of interested in it. I was not religious at all. And now with spirituality, it has become even more clear that if you really want to, you know, if you really dig deeper, the message that every religion provides, is related to spirituality, but the way it is delivered by established religions, it gets muddied, it gets it gets, you know, it almost feels like A business transaction that if you follow this path, you will go to heaven if you don't follow this path. So, so it's like, with spirituality you are, you're just taking out that transactional part out of the picture.
Jacob Harmon 28:13
Right? That's super interesting to me, especially as someone who is very religious and very active in my religion. I think that it's just analyzing my own life and analyzing my beliefs and my own my own experiences with religion, I, I will say that some of the most incredible experiences that I had some of the most faith provoking experiences, and most spiritual experiences are times where I just truly understand like that it's all about just becoming better. It's about improvement. It's about becoming the best me that I can be. And so I can completely see where you're coming from there. And it's super interesting. And I'll tell you, I think whether or not you're religious, whether or not you believe in a God, spirituality, there's something there for everyone. And I think that it's something that can really help.
Manuj Aggarwal 29:03
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean, people give different names to whatever you feel like, you know, you can call it the university, you know, the source energy God. And in, you know, there's an argument that even atheists believe in something by not believing in something they're believing in something. So, whatever it is, you know, and even like, you know, you, you study the work of Einstein and all that, like, you know, Einstein, like nobody can argue that he was deeply scientific, like he was not no nonsense guy, right. But he also believed that there was something there that is that that is doing everything together. Not maybe, maybe it was not created by source energy, but there is something that is blowing us together.
Jacob Harmon 29:49
Yeah, absolutely. Super cool. Well, unfortunately, we are running out of time since we try to keep our podcast short. But if people want to reach out to you If they want to learn more about business building about entrepreneurship, anxiety, depression, spirituality, any of these topics we've mentioned, what's the best way that someone can get ahold of you or, or have a conversation with you?
Manuj Aggarwal 30:12
Sure. The best way is just look me up on LinkedIn or Facebook by my name on the wall. And I have a couple of free gifts for your audience. So if you're a tech, startup, tech startup founder, you can go to tech dot inner get.com. So it's ech.innergd.com. And if you're looking for help on mindset, spirituality, these type of things go to mind.internet.com.
Jacob Harmon 30:39
Okay, perfect. And I'll make sure and put those in the show notes too. So if you guys aren't sure exactly how to spell it, just go to the show notes. I'll have a link right there for Well, thank you so much money. This has been an incredible interview and I've learned so much and just thank you for being here.
Manuj Aggarwal 30:55
Thanks a lot. It was a lot of fun. Thank you.
Jacob Harmon 30:59
Wasn't that just Amazing. There were so many things from that interview that really hit me into things that I want to dive deeper into. I'm definitely going to be listening to this podcast episode again. And just a few little things before we end the show. There's only a few days left before our event on October 26. This Saturday, we are going to be having a live event in Utah. If you aren't in the Utah area that is ok. We will also be live streaming the event to get tickets, go to our website www.my SuccessQuest.com. Other than that, I'm going to keep it really simple today. The only thing that I'm going to ask you to do is if you liked this episode, if you learn something from it, please take a screenshot right now. Take a screenshot of your podcast app, and post on social media telling something that you enjoyed from this episode. If you want to you can tag us so that we can see it. But honestly, that's the best thing you can do to help us out is by sharing this podcast with people. And we've said it before, but I'll say it again, the whole purpose of this podcast is to help you. We want to be on this journey with you. We want you to be successful. And we're trying to be on that journey with you. And we're, we're trying to help as many people as we can. So let's spread the word. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll see you next time on another episode of SuccessQuest. Have a successful day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai