“It Is Okay To Fail”: Naim Keruwala On His Journey Of Grit And Determination

By Mayank Jain:

This post is part of a series of content focusing on covering inspiring work of Indian youth, brought by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with Potentiaa

“He rose from the ground and reached for the stars,” is the perfect way to describe this journey of grit and determination. From a humble beginning in Gujarat where he wasn’t aware of the world beyond the walls of conventional degrees and lifestyle to making his dreams come true by working on one of the most interesting projects that he could find, he stands for the resilience that can be the bridge between one’s dreams and his reality.

Naim Keruwala, Assistant Director at Janwani (Mahratta Chamber of Commerce) and Course In-charge (Urban Economic Development) at Symbiosis School of Economics is a jack of many trades.

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His story began in the walled city of Ahmedabad and in his own word, the journey began as follows: “I grew up in the walled city of old Ahmedabad and had grown up in a very typical environment. My exposure was, well, very limited – the only options I was really aware of, were B.A, B.Com and B.Sc, and my aspirations like everyone around me was to start my own business soon after graduation. While I was pursuing my B.Com, on a normal day in college, some representatives of AIESCEC visited us. I got selected and getting selected for AIESEC was a big deal and it was the first time something happened for me. Through AIESEC, the 1st project I worked on dealt with environment. I saw foreigners who had nothing to do with Ahmadabad – people from Netherlands, Japan and Germany, going house to house, street to street, informing people about waste segregation and how can they better manage their waste. It was an amazing eye – opener. It was the first time I felt there was something more to a way of life than I had known.”

He didn’t stop there and went on to do a lot more things and projects that gave him the much needed exposure and head start, “I randomly wrote an email to the Director at Planning and Resources on Urban Development Affairs (PRUDA) in Ahmedabad about wanting to work with him. I had known him through my AIESEC days for nearly 2 years, and he very promptly called me the next day, gave me a 400 page report on Nirmal Gujarat project and gave me one day to make a 4 page summary report of it. I did that and met him the next day with what I had done. He liked it much and before I knew it, I started working with them.”

The strength of a man is known by the company he keeps and it shapes his potential to achieve great heights and Naim is no different. He has always tried to seek advice from the right people and always maintained a network. “I was blessed with some amazing mentors who have helped me all along. The summer school in May 2009 by GIZ (German Aid agency) gave a network and some amazing friends who still guide me. The network I developed from my work has been an immense source of strength, guidance, and inspiration.”

Yuva Unstoppable is an organization that works towards promoting youth volunteerism, focusing on education across India and Naim has worked as a Project Consultant for a good year and a half apart from being a member of the coveted Editorial team of UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report, 2012.

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Like every story of success, this one is dotted with failures and hardships all through his career which he proactively rose above. “If I have achieved 50 things, I must have failed in 200 things. I failed at CAT, GMAT, and pretty much every Math exam. I got rejected from a lot of companies when I was applying for a job after my graduation. I started by own social consulting firm, one year after college and had to close it down in 3 months. All my savings had gone into starting this firm I lost all the money. More than the money, I wasted a lot of time on it. It was a horrible mistake and I was super embarrassed.”

The story of his determination goes beyond just the obstacles though, and it is very motivating to see his high spirits and indomitable will that make him ready to break barriers and succeed.

“I do not want to learn from others’ mistakes; I would rather make my own. Failure can really decide what kind of person are you and how do you deal with various situations in life. The important thing is to always move past them and take them in your stride. It is okay to fail.”

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4 Responses

  1. Rushabh Gandhi

    Amazing Naim! Happy to be a part of your journey somewhere!
    You always have this fire to do it in the best way and that is what makes it possible to get 50 successes out of 200!
    After all this are all numbers! ;)
    You are doing a great job. Keep it going!

    Reply
    • Naim Keruwala

      Thanks a lot Rushabh for the kind words, means a lot bro.
      Proud and honoured to have worked with you and learnt from you.
      Cheers !!! :)

      Reply
  2. Babar

    I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work – Thomas A. Edison

    There is no such thing as failure. It is just a stepping stone to something better. At times, not achieving what you want right away can break you, or it can increase your motivation – it all depends on you. It is about belief and perseverance. Abraham Lincoln could not win eight times in elections before he went on to become the greatest president ever, Bill Gates was not successful in his first business venture before he built Microsoft, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected by a dozen publishers, Michael Jordan was not selected for his high school basketball team, Beethoven’s teachers said he was hopeless, Oprah Winfrey grew up in a poor family and had very humble beginnings, Michael Jackson was the seventh child of a poor African couple, and there are countless examples of people who went through a lot of hardships and obstacles to become successful. There are also many self-made billionaires who did it without a college degree: Mohammad Al-Amoudi, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Andrew Carnegie, Michael Dell, Ted Murphy, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Leandro Rizzuto, Kevin Rose, Charles Culpeper, Mark Zuckerberg, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Ecko, Ray Kroc, Philip Green, Ty Warner, Tom Anderson, and the list is endless.

    Reply
    • Naim Keruwala

      Completely agreed, Babar.
      Thank you so much for reading & sharing your viewsa.

      Reply