Bengaluru: It is a popular belief that focusing on a single thing will enable one to succeed. Most people subscribe to this school of thought and tend to follow it. Dr. Jagdish Chaturvedi is an exception to this rule.
Jagdish is a successful ENT surgeon, a stand-up comedian, an author, a theatre artist, an inventor (he has invented 18 medical devices and hold patents for several of them), an entrepreneur and founder of a company. He was also one among MIT's prestigious "35 Innovators under 35" list. Did we mention that he is just 33 years old?
Naturally, the first question we asked him was: "How do you manage all of this and do it so well?"
His reply was one that we've all heard before and hate - effective time management.
"But I've also been lucky enough on several fronts that give me a fair amount of flexibility in my schedule," says Dr Jagdish. "Though I practice at multiple locations as an ENT surgeon, I can plan my surgeries and visits. Being an entrepreneur also gives me to plan my day, as opposed to a typical 9-to-5 most people have."
Jagdish is one of the co-founders of InnAccel Technologies Pvt Ltd - the company that manufactures the medical devices he invented. All of these devices are essential for medical treatment in India and are available at low cost.
He got the idea for the first device when he was a PG student at St. Johns Medical College in Bengaluru. He realised that while good treatment was necessary, quality affordable tools were also critical in treating patients, especially in rural India.
"I was encouraged by my professors at the university and developed my first device ENTraview," explains Dr Jagdish. "This was received very well by the medical community, and I realised that there was not only scope for this, but these were essential requirements. As doctors, we become so focused on the 'treatment' aspect and we are rarely encouraged to look into the surrounding parts of it, like inventing required devices."
The aspect of looking beyond the job was ingrained him as a child.
Jagdish was a slow learner and had stammering issues as a child. Luckily, he had understanding. More importantly, being doctors, they were more attuned to deal with it at an age when there was very little awareness about the condition.
Love for theatre
The need to look beyond traditional books as learning methods helped Jagdish develop curiosity. He also took up theatre at the age of 5, exploring new horizons and experiences. He was a part of over 100 plays through school and college. And his interest in theatre also led him to the world of standup comedy.
"Theatre requires a certain amount of dedication, team work, coordination and time. In the past couple of years, I was not able to dedicate the required amount of time for theatre practice. I had just joined InnAccel and was in the midst of some other projects, traveling quite extensively. I really missed theatre! So when my friends suggested that I move to just comedy, focusing on standup pieces, it seemed interesting," Jagdish says.
The funny man
His initial forays into stand-up comedy were tested on his friends, and some small shows at corporates. Encouraged by the response, he started the YouTube channel, "The Magaa of Small Things".
His comic style was primarily observational, finding humour in daily life. A lifelong Bengaluru boy, he chose to see the funny part of his daily travails.
"You can either choose to get mad at a traffic light, or you can find a lot of material for your next show," he laughs.
Though stand-up comedy was easier in terms of practice hours, he still had to find time to write the material. The aforementioned traffic lights, time spent in the bathroom etc are his writing hours, he says with a laugh.
For more serious work, like authoring his two books, he took time away from work.
"The ideas were there. They just had to be put into paper. Both my books 'Inventing Medical Devices: A Perspective from India' and 'The Benefits of Failing Successfully' are immensely personal experiences. So more than finding the words, it was finding the time to write them. I took a couple of weeks away from work, and wrote it down, and then it was up to my editors," Jagdish says.
'Inventing Medical Devices: A Perspective from India' is a book about his experiences on inventing the devices. The aim of the book was to share his experiences, which he hoped would inspire more doctors and engineers pursue medical device inventions.
The second book was inspired by his experiences as an entrepreneur. He believed that there was a lot of conversation about the success stories, but not much about the failures. It is equally important to acknowledge failing experiences, and learn from them. His book, 'F The Benefits of Failing Successfully' primarily captures his personal experiences in failing. He hopes that entrepreneurs like him can find some things useful from the book.
So what is he trying next?
"It'll be stand-up comedy for now! I'm doing shows in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. It is a great experience! And it is always nice to make people laugh!" says Dr Jagdish.
(Amulya Nagaraj is a freelance journalist, photographer and traveller based in Bengaluru)