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Ep. 9 | Gaurav Valani – Covid Series: 76 Emails To Elon Musk


September 21, 2021

3:28 pm

On this episode of Rich Equation Podcast, Ashish talks to Gaurav Valani, owner of his own staffing company. Gaurav tells the his story and shares his journey to where he is today, starting from a horrible run of not being able to hold down a job, to being in a room with Elon Musk. Gaurav also gives some incredible tips for both employers and employees that could help both sides out in their respective careers.


Gaurav Valani is a professional Career Coach and the Founder of CareerSprout – a career coaching company dedicated to helping professionals build meaningful careers through landing high-paying jobs at companies they admire. He is also the former (and one of the youngest) executive of and co-founder of TrueBridge Resources. In addition to running CareerSprout, Gaurav also owns a boutique staffing agency and advises early-stage startups.


0:00 – Intro and background to Gaurav Valani 3:17 – Gaurav looks at life as a series of projects and considers being able to choose what projects he wants to spend his time on as richness 4:28 – Ashish asks how he has got to a point where he is able to choose his projects, as he explains you have to do things you may not want to do 6:37 – Gaurav talks about how if you go in TikTok you’ll see so many people showing off how many millions they earn, putting pressure on others 8:05 – Gaurav suggests staying patient and enjoying the grind, as well as raising your standards 9:41 – Gaurav talks about when he was going through a horrible period in his career, and his mentor asked him what the worst case scenario would be if he started a staffing company and it failed, as Gaurav shares some of the wisdom he shared during the start of his business 12:10 – Gaurav tells the story of how he stole Elon Musk’s email address and sent him 76 emails, which ended up with meeting him in his office 17:56 – Gaurav had everything to lose at the time 21:05 – The biggest mistake people make in their careers is they aimlessly kind of drift around 22:20 – A meaningful career is the a career that supports the lifestyle you want to have, something Gaurav came across from the author Hunter S. Thompson 25:15 – Ashish asks Gaurav why people are so impatient right now 27:13 – There’s 2 frameworks in your career, the first is looking at what you can do for the company 29:05 – Gaurav preaches the career progression life cycle, which he explains the 3 stages 33:22 – Gaurav thinks today is the best time you’re going to have to go look for a job with things going back to normal after the pandemic 37:07 – Gaurav suggests to employers to take to time to learn what people want 39:00 – It’s very easy to get into a position of “oh what if I lose this one person” as an employer, as Ashish explains that there’s more of an opportunity to have transparent conversations between employees and employers 41:11 – Gaurav says asking himself what more can he do keeps him up at night 43:20 – Ashish relates to Gaurav in saying he is also kept up at night asking himself what more he could do 45:10 – It’s fascinating to get to a destination and to realise it wasn’t fulfilling 46:25 – There is no end goal, there’s a destination and once you make it, you then choose where the next direction to go is


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Welcome back to the Ritch equation today. I have an amazing episode for you. Gaurav Valani is a professional career coach and the founder of career sprout, a career coaching company dedicated to helping professionals build meaningful careers through landing high paying jobs at companies they admire. on this episode, Gaurav defines richness as the freedom to choose your own projects. And we will get into a story about how he sent 76 emails to Elon Musk to get the Tesla account. And how many of us are living our worst case scenario. So what’s the worst that could happen if we were to chase our dreams and so much more, you’re going to love this one. Let’s get into it with Gaurav Valani. And remember if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to share it with someone that would be inspired by this or this information could be helpful and subscribe right now to the podcast and leave a review so we can continue to bring value to you.

Welcome to the Rich Equation podcast. Are you ready to discover how to live rich today and not wait for retirement? If you’re tired of struggling and want to live your best life now, you are in the right place.

Outdated principles will no longer work in today’s environment. It’s time for a new approach. Your host Ashish Nathu will help you discover methods to live the new American dream. It’s time to start living the good life on your own terms and experience a new way to live rich. Now here’s your host Ashish Nathu

Ashish Nathu: Hey everybody. Welcome to the rich equation podcast today. I have my really good friend Gaurav Valani welcome to the show my friend.

Gaurav Valani: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

Ashish Nathu: I’m super excited for this. So just to give everybody a quick introduction, Gaurav actually built and ran a pretty large recruiting firm and then had an exit, and I’ll let you give a little bit of background in the context of what we talk about today. So had an exit from one of his businesses and has in the last four or five years completely pivoted into being online, but really focusing on adding value to people and as he’s searched for his own Richie equation. And finding fulfillment is now helping in career advancement and coaching for employees to find where they belong in the world. And I think it’s really cool that we’ve met. We met about half a year ago or so maybe it’s shorter than that, but instantly hit it off and it was completely just blown away about how he’s taken his skill set and build this really amazing you know, value proposition for his business and his clients. And he just gets so jazzed about it. So welcome to the show my friend.

Gaurav Valani: Dude. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

Ashish Nathu: So good. So the first question we ask every new guest is what does rich mean to you?

Gaurav Valani: That is a good question. Let me, rich and success to me are kind of the same thing and the way I define success. So I basically look at life as a series of projects, right? Where we go to school or schooling, a project. who we date or marry or whatever, project, kid project, work is a project, right? So if by that definition I view success or being, you know, like rich as being able to pick and choose the projects that you want to work on. So if you can get to the point where you’ve successfully are able to work on the projects you want to work on, then I define that as being rich.

Ashish Nathu: So meaning that you have choice and flexibility to spend the time you need on certain things that you want to spend time on. Is that what you mean?

Gaurav Valani: Right. Freedom, right? The freedom to pick and choose the things that you want to spend your time on is how I would define rich or successful.

Ashish Nathu: So how have you done that?

Gaurav Valani: It took a long time. There was a long period of time where, and I think this is part of the equation and you could tell me if I’m wrong here, but I think there is a certain period of time where you have to do things you may not want to do. so for me, like in my career, I did not have the most idealistic career when I started out after college. So I bounced around a lot. My first job out of school was selling yellow page ads. That obviously, this is 2006 on the internet was like very much a thing. So clearly that job did not last. Then I went on to do some software sales. Wasn’t good at it. Then I finally moved into recruiting and even within the recruiting industry, I bounced around a lot, took a long time until like, I felt like I was getting better at it, you know, and paid my dues. And then I started a company with a bunch of other people. And even within like the first 17, it took us 17 months to turn a profit. And so day in, day out, day in, day out doing all the things that I didn’t, you know, didn’t enjoy doing or, you know, I was sharpening what’s it called? the axe that time. And eventually things finally turned around that company gave me an exit. And then I was able to, from there on out, I was able to pick and choose what I wanted to do. But I wonder if that’s sort of the equation for everyone, right? You have to do pay your dues.

Ashish Nathu: Yeah. Well, before we talk about your pivot, actually, what I just picked up from that, and I say this all the time that, you know, you got to do what you have to do in order to do what you want to do. And I think people, I mean, you just said to that, what is the 2004? So almost maybe 10 years of grinding in many, many things to try to figure out what you wanted or what was good or what you were good at, I think that, and people can be really impatient when it comes to finding like what’s their niche, right?

Gaurav Valani: I think so. And especially like now days, right? Where if you go on Tik Tok today, you’re going to see video after video, after video of someone saying here’s like eight ways I made a million bucks in the last 30 days, or here’s my 40,000 streams of income that bring me like over millions of dollars, you know? And I wonder if that puts a lot of pressure on people. I’m so glad growing up, I didn’t have Tik Tok because I barely had the patience to stick it through with staffing. And I imagine the FOMO that comes with like seeing other people crushing it would that have like derailed me in some way.

Ashish Nathu: Oh man, totally. I mean, you’re totally right. Like it makes you anxious and it’s not real, it’s all marketing. All these people are fake, but there’s still this, like this perception that everyone has figured it out. I mean, we’re both in our bedrooms over here, you know, and so real success is not what it’s looks like on Tik-Tok. I guess, two quick questions. Like what advice do you have to people that are in that position or in that mindset? And then I want to really dig into sort of how you took from your exit. And then what questions were you asking yourself and what phase were you in, in your life? And the skillsets and you’ve just mentioned is to then go to the place where you’re at right now.

Gaurav Valani: That’s a good point. So for advice, I mean, this is very cookie cutter advice, but it’s so true. And I’ve had tons of people tell me this earlier on, stay patient, you know, like stay freaking patient and enjoy the grind, right? Like I’m really happy that I had to go through it now because it prepared me for all these things that I wouldn’t be able to deal with today. That’s one thing. And then the other thing is raising your standards. There’s a lot of people who say, I want this, I want that. I want this. I want that. And you don’t get something just because you want something, you get something because you raise your standards. And that applies to everything. The people you hang out with, the information you choose to consume, how you spend your time, what you work on, taking care of your health, your body, your mind, right? You got to raise your standards because that has a compound effect. And at some point, you know, if you do that day in, day out for years, it’s something pops. And all of a sudden you have like this really beautiful life.

Ashish Nathu: Oh my God that was so good. So how did you get here? Tell me about that journey and what really, and you’ve told me this before, but tell the audience sort of, you know, what really, what questions are you asking yourself and what triggered you to really build the business you have now and how it feeds you?

Gaurav Valani: Okay. So one piece of advice I got. So when I was going through like a really bad, horrible period in my career where I couldn’t hang on to a job, I wasn’t feeling like I was there, quote unquote. And then I decided, well, let me just go and try to build this staffing company. Even though I had no prior entrepreneurship experience, I wasn’t even that good of a recruiter to begin with. And at that point, I’ll just disclose all this stuff. Cause I don’t really care. But at that point in 2012, I hadn’t made more than $54,000 in my life. And I was like 28 or 29 and I was scared. Are you going to beep out my curse words?

Ashish Nathu: We can’t cuss on apple podcasts. So go ahead.

Gaurav Valani: Okay. So I was super scared and my mentor at the time said, okay, what’s the worst case scenario if you start this business and fail. And I said, well, I guess I’ll go back to being a recruiter. And he said, okay, great. So what is it like living your worst case scenario? That was mind bomb number one, I was like, okay, that’s right. I guess I should just go for it. And then once we started the business, as I told you, it took us like 17 months to turn a profit. We had lost close to $750,000, a little more than that at that point. And I was almost going to quit then. And same mentor said, you know, I went to him and I was like, dude, I don’t have this. I don’t have that. This is not working. This is not there. And he told me, it just seems like all you’re doing is focusing on the lack, the lack, the lack, lack of this lack of that, whatever. And he’s like, but what you’re not focusing on is what you do have that can actually help someone. So I was focusing on how come I don’t have something versus like, what can I give to the world that can actually help them? And that it was, it’s a very subtle thing, but it made sense because at that point, I did know how to help people, you know, write resumes, interview better, negotiate better, you know, map out their career better. I knew all things. So I was like, let me just, instead of trying to focus on closing sales, let me just focus on like every single day, how many people can I actually help per day, right. Improve their careers and see what happens from that. Because I’d had nothing to lose. This is a really long story. So I’m going to shorten it, but it took me, I also ended up getting I stole Elon Musk’s email address in this process. I think I told you this story.

Ashish Nathu: You should tell the story, make it quick. You should tell the story.

Gaurav Valani: All right. So I was like super down and out sitting next to a buddy of mine at a coffee shop right after I had this talk with my mentor and he worked at space X. He got up to go to the bathroom. I took his laptop, stole Elon Musk’s email address from his laptop. Didn’t tell him, went home, emailed Elon Musk. that night, You know, in that email, sorry, that night, I wrote like, I’m an entrepreneur. I’m trying to make it. I know you’ve tried to make it. you know, I would love to see if I could kind of have your company utilize my staffing services, whatever I promise I won’t rip you off because a lot of staffing agencies ripped people off all this stuff, right? Laid it out there for him. Just said, hopefully he responds. And back then on Microsoft outlook, it is 2012 or 2013, Sorry, you could see when someone read your email. I don’t know if they have that now, but it was a read receipt and he read it three days later and I thought best day of my life, he’s going to respond. Didn’t respond. I sent a follow up two days later, see that he reads it, didn’t respond. This goes on for 76 emails. FYI. I followed up with them 76 times because in my mind I was like, I have nothing to lose in until he literally tells me to stop. I’m just going to keep going. And the 77th email, he forwards it to his director of HR. And he says, I could see what he says because the guy, the director of HR responds on that thread and he’s like talk to this guy he doesn’t seem to go away. So I ended up meeting with the director of HR. I convinced him to have them use us as their staffing provider, one of their staffing providers. And I get, I basically asked him if I could meet with Elon Musk. And he was like, looks at me like, as if I’m the dumbest person in the world. And I first I said, is Elon here? And he said, yeah. I said, can I meet with him? And he’s like, well, first of all, his calendar is booked, like months in advance. And we don’t just let anyone want to meet with him. And I was like, okay, cool. But like, can I meet with him? Because he might find it funny that like I sent 76 emails and I’m here today. And there must’ve been something innocent about my face. I swear, I don’t know what it was, but he looks at me and he’s like, you know what? All right, let me just take you to the office.

Ashish Nathu: This crazy guy, Naive enough to ask this question.

Gaurav Valani: [14:40 inaudible] just do it, right. And so I do it, he takes me to his office and he’s like, look, the first thing, the only thing I got to ask you is you cannot like fan out. Like, don’t be a fan. He doesn’t like that kind of stuff, you know. And he doesn’t tolerate it. And I was like, yeah, of course, no worries. I’ll be professional. I used to wear like suits back then, you know. And so he takes me to his office and he’s like, Hey, yo, this is Gora. [15:00 inaudible] he’s the one that sent all those staffing emails and the first thing that comes out of my mouth on accident. Because I actually got so nervous was, oh my God, thank you so much for meeting with me. I’m such a big fan of yours. Literally I did the thing, the guy just told me not to do as fan out. And then I accidentally said the F word because I got so nervous. And then the other guy, the director of HR was like, looking down, you know, like, oh my God, but anyway, we were both so embarrassed, Elon decides he’s like, look, I have 10 minutes. You want to have a quick chat? You want a coffee? I was like, yeah, obviously, you know. So I sit down with him. I don’t get to ask a single question. All I get is bombarded with questions from Elon Musk. Like, tell me about your background. How do you find candidates? What’s your rate? How do you price things out? How do I know you’re good at what you do? All these things, right? Like that, I didn’t know. I didn’t expect answer, but anyway, he says, look, and he was very much on like, you know, on time, he’s like, look at the end of the 10 minutes, He said, if you do what you say you’re capable of doing, excuse me, I’ll give you the Space X account, Tesla account and Solar city account. And I was like, whoa, well, you know, and I was like, yeah, I won’t let you down. And I did not let him down. I mean, we spent whatever money we had left in the bank hired some of the best recruiters that we could find, you know? And so that little thing, there was so many like breaks that we caught after that. And those breaks that we caught after that weren’t really because of me. But that first one was so huge. And that little company that was down 750 something thousand 17 months in, ended up growing to 72 million in revenue by the end of 2016. And then we had got acquired, we had an exit, got acquired by a management consulting firm at the end of 2016.

Ashish Nathu: That’s amazing. I mean, like talk about 76 times. I mean, it is Elon Musk, but 76 times to one person, when you’re feeling like you’ve lost everything. I mean, 76 times you’re like grasping for straws. You’re like hoping and dreaming at that point. But what I think was really cool about that story is that like the universe served you, right? You were just trying to serve somebody else. You were not asking for something, you were not asking for, you know, $70 million of top line revenue. You were just like, look, how can I help you? I know I’m not going to let you down. I’m going to serve you in any way I can. And you just kept leaning into that. I think that’s such an amazing story.

Gaurav Valani: Yeah, I think I had a lot to lose kind of, because, I met my wife. Well, at the time she was my girlfriend who now today’s my wife. She at the time was a schoolteacher in Southern California clearly makes nothing, sadly and I wasn’t making anything. I know, cause she had told me that her family was saying things like, what are you doing with this guy? He hasn’t like, he hasn’t made it. What are you doing, I was like, God, that like, that actually hurts. And I remember I used to, there were days where I would like cry and I would say, why is this like, how much more am I supposed to take? You know, when do I get my due? And now I look at it, like I was like, maybe like I was only 30 something.

Ashish Nathu: Still really young.

Gaurav Valani: And that clicked. So this is what I mean. Like you and I talked just like 10 minutes and five minutes ago, we were like, well nowadays, like no one has, why I feel like a lot of people don’t have patience. They want everything so quickly because that’s how the world’s like portraying things to be. And I’m like, well, I’d rather go through that grind because now I am prepared for anything, I feel at least.

Ashish Nathu: No, it’s totally right. You feel like you have this level of resilience because you’ve gone through the worst thing, I mean, for all intents and purposes, like your worst thing, right. Is that just feeling of failure or the fear of failure.

Gaurav Valani: And FOMO and everything, anxiety, depression, whatever, all of the things that are kind of mixed into one.

Ashish Nathu: Entrepreneurship supposed to be full of roses and sunshine and abundance, what the hell are you talking about Gaurav? There’s no fear and anxiety and insecurity. What are you talking about?

Gaurav Valani: Yeah. Entrepreneurship, the tagline should be entrepreneurship where, well, never mind. I was going to say where there is no you’ve made it.

Ashish Nathu: Oh, that’s so good. That’s true, right? you just keep going. There’s really no destination. Which then takes me to what you’re doing now, which I think is an incredibly amazing business and really a noble business. But also like, I know it gives you a ton of fulfillment and I want you to explain a little bit about it, but basically what you’re doing is you’re reverse engineering employment and you’re kind of starting from people’s place of what is your life? If you had to create your own life and design your own life, what does that look like? And then let’s work backwards to find you the career or the job or the position or the salary or whatever, to align with that life. Rather, which often happens is finding a job at the highest salary and stop.

Gaurav Valani: And taking a job that you didn’t want in the first place, because you feel like you didn’t have any options. The biggest mistake I think most people make in their careers is they just aimlessly kind of drift around, right? Like, I’ll give you a real life example. Someone hates their job. They say actually I’m going to put together a resume and go and apply to hundreds of other jobs. Well, they never kind of mapped out where they want to go. Why they want to go there? What are my strengths? What do I value? What am I good at? They’re like, I just want to get so far away from this negative thing as quickly as I possibly can. And then they go out to the job world, go apply, go tell friends that I’m looking. And then they realized like, I’m not getting anybody to call me back. Or I’m not seeing, you know, they’ll apply to hundreds of jobs, hardly hear back or whatever. And then at some point they’ll get an interview and they most likely will bomb that interview because they haven’t had enough practice. They put a lot of pressure on themselves. They get nervous and that’s some, so they do this for a little bit and they finally land a job. They have no other options. So they’re like, well, let me just take this job before I, you know, because I don’t have anything. And now they take that job. They do this for another two years, realized they hate it. And they do the whole thing again, they keep repeating that same cycle. So our goal, the company I started was career sprout, was like, let’s break that cycle and teach people how to build a meaningful career. And just like your point, what a meaningful career to me is the way I define it as a career that supports the lifestyle that you want to have, versus your life being a slave to your career. And that concept was one that I came across by an author named Hunter S Thompson. Hunter S Thompson is, he’s the author who wrote fear and loathing in Las Vegas. He is this extremely eccentric author. He even told the world, he like announced it. He said, Hey to the world. When I’m basically done with my life, I’m just going to kill myself and he wasn’t depressed or anything. He just said, when I’m done, I’m just going to kill myself. And then he did. But anyway, in the midst of that, he put out all this great work. And one of the things, this letter, you should type it. If you want to see this letter, I’m talking about just Google Hunter S Thompson purpose. And it was a letter his friend wrote to him in the fifties and his friend was like, how’d you define like the purpose of life? How did you do this? And he’s like, well, the first thing I did was I did not ask somebody else how to define my purpose in life. You define it yourself. And then he said, the second thing I did was I knew that I wanted to first design the ideal life I wanted to have no matter how audacious or how ambitious that was, and then find, and build a career that supported that lifestyle rather than swim aimlessly or, you know, pursue these arbitrary career goals that most people have that don’t come from any place of value or anything like that, intrinsic value and just chase those goals. So I love that. I love that philosophy. And so that’s kind of what we teach in this program, you know, in our coaching program.

Ashish Nathu: I mean, that’s part of, it’s a big part of why launch the podcast, because I think that there is, we’re in a time right now that not enough people are asking us this question about, I mean, there’s two things you need to have, right? You need to have the ability to be diligent worker. You need to be a productive member of society. You need to be able to grind. You need to be able to add value, but you need to do it in a place that gives you purpose and be able to ask the question, what is it that gives me purpose and what fulfills me and am I doing those things? And I’m in alignment with those things. I think that is part of why I love what you’re doing. And a big part of why this entire communities is why I launched it and why we need to be having these conversations. Because I think it’s more important than anything right now. Why do you think people besides the fact that they’re potentially not trained to look properly, etc., but why do you think people right now are so impatient? what is it about society or the environment we’re in right now that makes people jump every one or two years? Like, why are people so impatient or are they impatient or is it something else?

Gaurav Valani: I just don’t think people take the time to figure out what they really want. You know, and so Tony Robbins says this thing, like, where are you ended up in life, has nothing to do with the situation you are in, and it has everything to do with the decisions you make. And people are not very intentional about the decisions they make. They’re very reactive about them and they react based on the situation they’re in. So they’re like, well, I joined this job and I hate it. Let me just leave. I don’t have great pay. I don’t have great mentors. I don’t have great leaders. I’m going to leave. And so everywhere they go, it’s a lot of it. And I’m not trying to be this like old guy was like back in my day because I was this person too at one point, but it’s all about like, what can I get, what can I get? What can I get? What can they do for me? What can they do for me? And I do think earlier on, it benefits you to first just take a step back and we’re not taught this in school, so I don’t blame anyone, but I do think we should take a step back and say, well, where do I see myself being most happiest, right. Based on what I value, based on what I think I’m good at, based on what kind of problems I enjoy solving all of those things. So when I know those things, that’s like, think of those as ingredients. I know, well then based on those things, I would probably enjoy these jobs and you need to be able to connect the dots or work with someone that can help you connect those dots. So then when you’re in those jobs, in your earlier in your career, you should think of your career in two ways, right? Like there’s two frameworks. So like in the beginning, it’s not about you. It’s about everything is about what can I get this company? What can I help this company achieve or this person achieve or this, you know, whatever. And I don’t care if I’m underpaid. I don’t care if I have the best title, I’m just going to use the early part of my career to achieve as much as I possibly can and learn as much as I possibly can.

Ashish Nathu: Okay. Now hold on right there, because that was a huge knowledge drop because I think people assume, and now, especially in this generation, that access to information is available immediately. We’re in this like instant gratification ecosystem. The fact that you identified that early on in your career, it’s all about what I have to give more than I get. I have to show up early. You know, salary doesn’t matter. I have to overwork, I have to add value to my boss or my team or my company. Explain why that’s so important to people because I think people underestimate the importance of that. And I’m not telling everybody, really people that are earlier on the careers, younger in their careers. And I was pretty fortunate to be surrounded with people that understood that and reminded me of that all the time. And I also wasn’t money-driven, the money’s important, but I wasn’t incredibly financially driven. Otherwise I would have, you know, skipped town long time ago, but I think being focused on keeping your head down and focused on adding value early on in your career is probably the single best advice you could ever give to somebody in a 30, 40 year career. You skip that phase and you build that routine the wrong way, I think you’re set to fail, but give me some insight on that.

Gaurav Valani: Okay. So in our program, one thing we preach, the framework that we use, that one of them is, excuse me, it’s called the career progression lifecycle. And so the way, think of it like this in the corporate world, not entrepreneurship, but in the corporate world, there’s three stages to everyone’s life cycle. The first stage is what we call learning. And that’s the stage I just described where like, in your early twenties, you’re just focused on learning as much as you possibly can. Learning, learning, learning, racking up some achievements, whatever, right? Again, it’s not about title, not about pay doesn’t matter. It’s not about you. And then typically what happens in the second part of your career, like, so think of this as like your early thirties, mid-thirties into your like early forties, you go from learning and if you’ve done it right, you go to earning stage two is called earning. And so at this stage, you’ve capitalized on everything you just learned and achieved. And now you start entering the early parts of leadership, right? And if you do this right, you’re becoming a good leader. You’re understanding now how to help other people learn and how to help them do well. And the more of this you do, the better output of work you deliver. So the better output of work you deliver, the more opportunities come your way, right? Naturally. And the more valuable you become. So the more valuable you become, the more options you have simple as that. So then in stage two, towards the end of stage two, if done right again, you go from learning, earning into the last stage of your career, which is called steering. And now you’re literally steering an organization in the direction that aligns with its mission, its vision, its values. And you’re doing this in the capacity of a senior leader, like a senior leader, potentially even C level, if you make it that far. And so I always say this. I was like, if you go to any big company and you see 40 or 50 year olds being managed by like a 30 year old, the problem is that, you know, those 40 or 50 year olds, they didn’t go through the life cycle fast enough because they didn’t understand this framework. And now they’re pegged or deemed as somebody who’s not cut out for leadership. And that’s not the truth. It’s not that they’re not cut out for it. They just never had the opportunity. They were never trained. Maybe they didn’t understand this framework, whatever. And now some 30 year old comes in on, like in the organization is going to say, let’s put our bets on this person. And now this person is overseeing this 40 or 50 year old. So the importance of going through this life cycle is so that you keep moving upwards, achieving not just money, but more importantly growth. And then the more you grow, the more valuable you become, the more options you have available to you. And then that’s when you get to pick and choose which option you want to go with, which then to me is the definition of success. I tell people all the time, you don’t have to be a senior leader. You don’t have to be a C-level executive. You don’t have to be a VP, but so long as you have the option to do it, you’ll always feel great. You don’t want to regret not having that, not being able to get there.

Ashish Nathu: So post COVID environment, a lot of moving parts in the employment ecosystem right now. Give me a little bit of background about where you see us as a workforce, as a job for us, like right now this moment, and what advice do you have for employers or entrepreneurs or people who trying to keep, either keep or find really great talent, which most businesses are all about people. And so you can make the best widget, but if you don’t have really great people, like we’re all useless. So I’m sure a lot of people have that on their mind. Like how do I navigate the current employment ecosystem and how do I succeed? So give us raw feedback. Like what’s really going on, you know, what’s our, how can we have an unfair advantage?

Gaurav Valani: So I own a staffing agency too. And so the perspective I’m about to give you comes from me, coaching people directly to help them and then seeing what companies are going through as well. And I think today, August 26th, 2021, is probably one of the best times you’re going to have in a long time to go and find a job. So if you’re a job seeker, you get to cash in right now. And here’s why, so if you think about the 2008 crash, right, 2008, 2009, the financial crash, the housing crash or whatever, everyone in [33:44 inaudible] went out of work, tons of people. And so whatever, very few jobs that there were, everyone had to fight for those. Right? So when that’s the case, when supply is high in demand is low or sorry, supply is low and demand is high, It becomes an employer driven market. Meaning employers get to dictate the terms of everything. And this is when people had the like low-balled people that, they could pay them really low salaries because you have to take it. Right. And then along, you know, right around like 2013, 2014, 2015, like this is when things started getting healthy. And then there was sort of like this, like kind of like this equilibrium, there were enough people in the market, enough jobs and everyone was just growing and it was healthy. And then all of a sudden last year, 2020, we had the global pandemic and everyone hits the panic button at employers, humans. And so they lay off 20 million people fast around the world or within the US I’m sorry, way more around the world. So now there’s all these people out of work, fast forward now to today present day companies are like, well, I think things are going back to normal. We were still doing well during the pandemic, we were making good money. We didn’t lose them much. Stock market was really great. So they’re like, let’s just hire again. Well, all of a sudden there’s 10.3 million jobs out there in the US. And then there’s maybe like 7.2 million workers, something like that. So now the supply is extremely high, or the demand is extremely high and the supply is really low. And this time, if you’re a job seeker, you can pick and choose whichever company you want to go to. So here’s what I’m seeing realistically and here’s how that works out. Company comes to us. They say, we want a product manager. I can say, okay, well, there’s like 30,000 companies out there looking for really high product managers. There’s only like 5,000 qualified product managers out there. So if the product manager gets an offer from that company, the company is going to say, what are you looking for? That product manager when they normally would have got paid 130 can now easily say 180. We just had someone go through our program just this week, go from 155,000 to 425,000, because she was just the best darn revenue, like, you know, she was head of sales in her company. And so she could have picked and choose where she wanted to go and everyone wanted her. So she told these companies, she told the companies that she was interviewing with. Look, I’m interviewing with eight other companies. They’re all willing to pay over 230, 300 whatever. And she was making that up. No one knows. And then the one that made her an offer said, all right, let’s just go to like, above four.

Ashish Nathu: Well, let’s qualify. Cause that’s in tech, right. If you’re like some, in a lot of industries that kind of jumped probably does not exist, but in tech, there is an alignment there.

Gaurav Valani: But you could still realistically make $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, $30,000 more than what you’re making today. Many industries.

Ashish Nathu: Well, what’s the advice to employers who were like trying to navigate that, where that’s the environment you want to keep really great people. You want to retain really great people. We talk about that in our [36:58 inaudible] group all the time. what advice do you have for them?

Gaurav Valani: Around retention. It’s like take the time to learn what your people want. And most of the time, what they want is growth, consistent feedback, recognition, right? If you’re giving somebody an opportunity for growth consistently, chances are they’re going to stay and pay them fair market value. Don’t be cheap. If you’re like a $500 million company, and someone wants $20,000 more just pay them the $20,000 more. You know if they’re going to, you know, they add the value and all that. But I think to retain good people in today’s workforce, you have to be flexible. You have to give and take right. If they want to work remote, let them work remote if it makes sense for that job, but really give them the opportunities for growth, give them consistent feedback and recognition, I think is another big piece that was missing back in the day. That’s I think coming around and then there’s all this other stuff that I’m not even going to get into around like diversity and inclusion, and you know, the gender wage gap, all that needs to be there too.

Ashish Nathu: It’s funny how, I wonder how many employers operate from a position of fear that they’re going to lose their people all the time?

Gaurav Valani: Yeah. I don’t know. That’s a good question.

Ashish Nathu: Isn’t that funny? I wonder, I mean, as an employer, like no, I don’t have this position right now because I think we’ve definitely pivoted to having these conversations much more transparently with our teams about, you know, what are you looking for? How do you get the right career path? How do we give you growth? How do we give you more responsibility, more, you know, all that stuff and building a culture around that. But I know in the very beginning, when we were starting our businesses, it’s very easy to get into a position of fear that, oh my God, like, what happens if I lose that person? I think it is going to fall apart, but you really start to build a business that is beyond just a handful of people or one person, right. And it becomes an ecosystem. But now you’re telling me that the employees operate that from that place. So there’s an opportunity for employees and employers, especially now today to have much more transparent communication about what’s in it for me. what’s in it for me, what’s in it for you. Why are we doing what we’re doing? We just had a conversation with one of our consultants. And our key leadership is like, keep reiterating vision, mission values, keep reminding people what’s in it for them as this whole transition happens. Any thoughts on that?

Gaurav Valani: I feel like you literally just hit it on the head that, that transparent, that open communication, I don’t think was always prevalent in the workforce. I think it’s getting there because again, like, I think something great is happening with this younger generation, the new, whatever they are, gen Z, right. They’re just a little bit more audacious. They say what they want, you know, and if they don’t get what they want, they’ll leave. So that part, they need to improve their patients and all that stuff that we talked about. But I do think what they’re doing is they’re being very vocal about the things that matter, not just to them, but to human beings in general. And it’s forcing employers to have these conversations that you just talked about. And that’s really good because that’s what breaks barriers and shatters glass ceilings and all of these things, right. Women are speaking out, people of color are speaking out and we didn’t have that in the past. And now we’re seeing that. And I think that’s great that we’re having that. And it’s only going to make the workforce better, but I’m sure there’s a lot more work to do around that, you know? But yeah, it is that open, transparent communication that you just said.

Ashish Nathu: That is so good. What keeps you up at night right now?

You got a nice Buddha behind you there. You’re like, you’re a very peaceful centered guy, but still what, you know, as you’re dealing with all the things you’re dealing with, as you’re growing your company, serving employees, what are the things that keep you up at night? What are the things you’re toiling over?

Gaurav Valani: I think what everyone goes through sometimes I’m not any different from anyone else, but like, okay, what more could I be doing? Did I spend my day effectively? I wasted time dealing with that or this thing pissed me off. I shouldn’t have even got pissed off about it. There’s not a one thing that keeps me up. But like, there are times where I keep asking myself, what more can I do? And I have to remind myself, like, I’ve already come far enough. It’s again, just take your time. This is not a race, you know, I’m not, like I’m literally not competing with anyone. I have competitors.

Ashish Nathu: Why do we ask ourselves that question? why We ask ourselves that question?

Gaurav Valani: Because we’re crazy, man. We’re just crazy. I think entrepreneurs are crazy. We have to remind ourselves just to slow down, right?

Ashish Nathu: Oh yeah. It’s a big problem. We don’t know how to be still.

Gaurav Valani: You just called me like two weeks ago. And you’re like, what if we do this business thing, remember? [42:28 inaudible]. I know we both have our own businesses.

Ashish Nathu: You already have a business. You’re married, you got two little babies and you want to go do what? I know it’s a chronic problem, but it keeps it exciting and it keeps it fun. And there needs to be guys like you who pushed the comfort zone and drive things forward and continue to build vision for other people to follow. So that’s what it is all about.

Gaurav Valani: Anyone who’s doing that follow them, but yeah, I appreciate that.

Ashish Nathu: Well, as we wrap up, do you have anything else you want to share or ask or share with the audience? I really appreciate you doing this by the way.

Gaurav Valani: What keeps you up at night?

Ashish Nathu: Oh man. Well, definitely the same thing. Like, am I doing enough? And I’ve definitely gone through the like, am I doing enough? Meaning am I doing the right things? Am I spending time on the right things? Am I adding value in the right way? And I don’t think I learned that until just a couple of years ago, to be honest.

Gaurav Valani: How do you learned that?

Ashish Nathu: Well, that’s the whole premise of the show is that I think, you know, chasing some destination and looking for wealth or richness or fulfillment or satisfaction or peace or joy or you name, it is not defined how we are conventionally are taught and raised and, and how society defines it for us. So I think when I achieved a certain level in my life, I realized like, oh, I need to step back and I need to rethink everything. And I think that’s real. I think that’s a real journey. A lot of people go through and it’s something that I wanted to crack open with people. are you asking the right questions to yourself? Because you’re really not chasing success for somebody else. You said it yourself. It’s like, no one else is asking you that question. And yeah, you know, there’s societies and there’s communities, especially in our Indian community and everyone’s got judgments and opinions and then you go social and people have even more opinions and judgments, right. It’s like, what are they doing? but it’s really a fascinating journey to get to a certain destination, whatever your destination is, and then realize like, oh man, that’s not satisfying at all. That wasn’t fulfilling at all. And so stepping back and redefining that is sort of, I think that’s the journey that everybody’s on and it evolves. It changes as you go through journeys. I loved how you said in the very beginning about projects and why you’re able to like what freedom is, being able to work on projects that I want to work on. right now I want to work on my business. right now I want to work on being a great husband, or I want to work on, you know, myself or my emotional intelligence or my connection with my kids or whatever it is. And whether you have that freedom or not, I mean, you know, that’s a choice you can make, even now you could have a W2 job, have a 50 hour workweek and still make some of those choices. Am I wrong?

Gaurav Valani: I agree. No, I agree.

Ashish Nathu: But there are choices and you have to be aware of it and make the choice.

Gaurav Valani: Yeah, I think you got to know what’s, We talked about like, there is no end goal, you know, cause it just keeps moving, but where is the place you’re trying to go in general? And then once you get there, you can define the next thing. And like, I’ll tell you for me, I am a very, very lazy person by nature. And I just choose not to be lazy because I have like the, you know, that saying like make hay while the sun keeps shining. And I was like, well, I’m still 38. I’m not that old. I have two little kids. I have a lot of time to do these things, to build generational wealth, hopefully. But I know that my end goal is at some point I’m going to hang all this up. I’m going to buy a coffee shop. I’m going to get fat and I’m just going to call it a day. But I don’t know when that is.

Ashish Nathu: Well, hopefully you buy a coffee shop and you don’t get fat, so you can enjoy 20 years of your coffee shop, but I’m going to be your first customer of your coffee shop.

Gaurav Valani: But yeah, no, you’re right. You’ll be my first customer. But I get fat anyway, I just want to eat pizza all the time, candy all the time, things like that. But I don’t do that now because I know that’ll destroy [47:29 inaudible].

Ashish Nathu: That’s a really good story.

Gaurav Valani: It’s the truth. That’s my end goal. Call it, get fat, and call it a day.

Ashish Nathu: Well with that, I think we’ll close, but I really appreciate your time, my friend. And thanks for all these knowledge drops and we’ll talk soon.

Gaurav Valani: Appreciate it. Take care.

Thank you for listening to the Rich Equation podcast with Ashish Nathu. Do you want more ideas on how to live rich? Go to for show notes and resources. Then take one minute to leave Ashish, a five-star review on apple podcasts, and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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You can have results or you can have excuses but not both.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

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