I was just 18 years year old. I never thought I could do it. I took up the project in a moment of crazy curiosity.
I used to take guitar lessons with a wonderful and loving teacher, Silveira Sir. His pointy moustache and slightly whimsical ways were super entertaining. But when his fingers started moving on the fretboard, it was a sight to see and a jazzy sound to hear. Silveira Sir was loving and friendly, and he was also a task master. He used to require that all his students use a ‘metronome’ and practise fretboard exercises to 60 beats per minute every day.
I was in the first of year of mechanical engineering. The cost of a metronome used to be Rs.3,500 to Rs.5,000/-. One alternative was simply to record the sound of a metronome on tape (remember that?) and practise to its beat. But that didn’t excite me. I was always the curious types. So I did a little research and found that the working of a metronome was based on a the simple IC 555 (integrated circuit), that cost less than Rs.10. I went about figuring how to create my own circuit board. I found some people who repair video players and I chewed their brains out until they gave me some electronics advice! I figured where in Nanapeth (commercial part of the city in Pune) to procure the required resistors, transistors and switches needed to create a basic metronome. Within about 2 weeks I had created my own metronome powered by a 9 volt battery!
My carpenter friend Adi Billimoria (who was about 55 years old, but I used to hang out at his carpentry workshop at least once a week) gracefully agreed to make me a beautiful wooden case for my circuity. I took the finished metronome to Silveira Sir when it was ready. His eyes went wide and his moustache turned upwards! He was amazed, and was brimming with pride.
Within a week I received 4 more requests for metronomes. My cost of purchase of the components was Rs.150 (the box was the most expensive item), and my selling price was Rs.500/-. Over the next six months, I had made about 50+ metronomes and steadily increased the price to Rs.800/-. I figured out how to create my own circuit boards using copper base plates, tape and acid. I had trained my father's driver to solder the components in his spare time. I also found some ways to reduce the cost of the wooden box.
It was a magical experience.
I learn’t to believe in myself. Even if I don’t know something, I discovered that I could learn. I learn't that learning doesn’t only happen inside the classroom, but can also take place in street corners, in my own garage, and definitely while talking to a prospective client or customer.
Most significantly, the confidence that ‘I can!' has stayed with me ever since.
Let me share a few more examples with you.
Bill Gates, Microsoft
As a teenager, he took odd jobs, from washing cars to delivering newspapers, using his savings to purchase several pinball machines that he placed in local businesses.
Ingvar Kemprad, IKEA
At 5 years as he was growing up on a farm in rural Sweden he would ride to his neighbors' houses selling matches.
He would buy matches in bulk from Stockholm then sell them individually at a markup — but still at a reasonable price.
The young Oracle of Omaha would buy packs of gum from his grandfather's grocery store and then spend the evenings going door to door in his neighborhood selling packs to his neighbors.
He and his best friend Nik Powell used one of their boarding school vacations to start breeding parakeets in Branson's backyard. By the end of the school break, the birds were multiplying faster than the boys could sell them!
They are many such stories - of businessmen, scientists, sportsmen, artists, who ‘DID’ some interesting things and experimented at an early age.
I believe that I have it in me to be like one of these ‘greats’ one day. In my heart I have the desire to contribute something to this planet. I believe that I will. I believe that I am already on my way. And a large part of that belief is that regularly and consistently I have taken opportunities to ‘DO’.
Here are some beautiful ideas I found that can be DONE :-)
Here are some ideas:
1. Make your skills and hobbies work for you
Can you use a free online computer graphic program to make make social media posts? Do you take good photographs and want to help create a portfolio? Are you good at writing? Can you create music jingles? DO it for someone!
2. Sell Last Semester’s Books
Don’t assume that your college bookstore is the best place to sell your textbooks from last semester. See if you can create a recycle-your-books movement in your school or college! DO it with some friends!
3. Help people sell their used stuff online
One of the easiest ways to make some money and also help people, especially if you already have a pile of “junk" in your basement just collecting dust, is to sell your goods online. Most people just don’t know how or don’t have the time to list their old stuff on the internet. DO it for your neighbours!
4. Start a good-work project
One young DWTian and her friend, started their own NGO right after 12th std exams to collect used clothes, clean them up, and give them to street kids!
A group of DWTians started a project to make some money by making and selling Mint Sherbet, and are planning to use the funds to buy sports equipment for a school!
Write to me if you know someone who is doing something interesting, or if you are looking for some ideas 😃