There’s a reason Vinamra Pandiya goes running and to the gym everyday. It’s not just about building up the stamina to face the challenges that being an entrepreneur throws at him daily, it’s also about staying fit for his annual sky-diving trips in New Zealand.
“From the sky, everything looks clear. It reminds you of the grandeur of the world,” he says of skydiving, which he took up in 2012.
The co-founder of online curated marketplace Qtrove tried skydiving during his first trip to New Zealand in 2012. Since then, he’s become a regular. He was both nervous and excited the first time he went skydiving. “At 15,000 feet above ground, everything seemed to merge with the sky. I can’t describe how scared I was, but later, when you get a little comfortable, you start floating in the air. It’s a lot like leaving your secure, well-paid job and jumping into the unknown and uncertain world of being an entrepreneur,” says Pandiya (37).
Bengaluru-based Pandiya, who spent more than a decade working in various foodtech startups before setting up Qtrove in 2015, says it’s a good way to face one’s fears. “It is very difficult to stay calm and be disciplined when you are so scared, but once you dive into the air, everything goes into autopilot mode,” he explains.
The IIT-BHU alumnus says skydiving, much like entrepreneurship, pushed him out of his comfort zone and the result was entirely worthwhile. “We are scared of uncertainty, but I have learnt to not focus on what lies ahead but put all energies into the present. Focusing on the present with complete attention, and throwing your heart, soul and fears into whatever you are doing is key to success and happiness,” he says.
He’s tried paragliding in New Zealand too, and now makes it a point to make a few trips for this as well. “Paragliding is safer than skydiving and it is the closest one can get to feeling like a bird. It gives you a sense of freedom as you can sail smoothly through the sky,” he says.
While paragliding through New Zealand’s Remarkable Mountains, he says he realised that one shouldn’t waste energy on petty issues. “We should look at the larger picture. It really widens the perspective and adds clarity to one’s thinking,” he says.
He defines fitness as having both physical and mental strength. “Being an entrepreneur is no easy task and I have seen how people crumble under pressure. If you are physically fit, you will be mentally and emotionally fit as well,” he says.
Regular workouts give him the required push. He goes to the gym every day as well as for long runs with his two dogs. He has two meals a day, lunch and dinner, both consisting of home-made food. He avoids processed foods, but has a sweet tooth so gives in to his craving for dessert once a week.
He says adventure sports have helped him “de-clutter” his mind and become a better team leader. “I have always been driven and a nonconformist but these experiences helped me open up even more. When you see the world spread out below you, you gain clarity of thought, a better perspective. And don’t forget the adrenaline rush to break the mould and create a groundbreaking company and a great team,” he says.
He believes that leaders have to be “fit to lead” both physically and mentally. “Running your own company means innumerable sleepless nights, lengthy meetings and investor calls. All these require stamina,” he says. If the founder doesn’t lead by example, he says, the team will not take its work seriously. “I strongly believe that exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress, improve mood and energy levels and boost the feel-good endorphins in our brain. Being fit also gives you the mind space to think creatively and improves cognitive abilities as a leader,” he says.
Sports also helps him make decisions faster. “When you have to jump off a plane at 15000 feet, you have just a few seconds to decide whether to take the plunge or not. It builds confidence and character in high-pressure situations. You also learn to trust more,” he says. Jumping in tandem also teaches one to place trust in another individual. “It is the same when you become a leader. Trust your team and trust them enough to enable them to do the right thing.”
Pursuit of Adventure profiles CEOs with exciting hobbies that feed into their work.