Running a successful company is the goal of every entrepreneur, but inevitably, we miss certain steps along the way. Dr. Satya Mitra is the author of The Five C’s, a handbook that will help you better serve your business, your clients and employees, and also your community.
Dr. Mitra has an amazing backstory that he starts this episode off with, where we talk about how he rose up from his childhood in rural India to becoming an influential business leader. If you’re somebody who has struggled with challenges and getting back up, this is definitely the episode for you, because Dr. Mitra shows how you can use these negative incidents in your life and turn them into positive outcomes.
Dr. Satya Mitra: My life has been, from childhood very difficult. I grew up in adverse conditions. My mother passed away when I was three and then my father who was taking care of me just like a mother and father, although no one can replace a mother’s love, but he did his best. In the process, all being by himself.
He started becoming ill and gradually he started losing his eyesight and he became blind. Life became more and more difficult.
I have a sister who is quite older to me, and my brother who passed away who was even an older to my sister. My sister had gotten married at the age of 14, my brother used to live at a house that belonged to one of my mother’s old friends, who my mother at her deathbed had requested to take care of my brother. So that’s where my brother used to stay.
At home after my mother passed away, it was me and my father, and then my father became very sick, and he had to quit his job, which was a school teacher’s job at the age of 42, 43. He was retired because the background of his illness. Then we went to live with our family members and didn’t work out well. To make it short, we became homeless.
“There were many days in our lives that we were just like vagabonds.”
We traveled, we lived with the mercy of some friends, some days in their kitchen, some days in the veranda, some other days in some other friend’s house. Life went on, and certainly the challenges were surmounting, one over the other.
I don’t regret anything, because that made me a very strong person.
Early Life and Studies
My father certainly was a big motivator in my life. He was a school teacher, and he gave me all the courage that was needed, all the inspiration there was needed. Many people came to help me, support me. I knew that I had to do the same thing one day when I got that opportunity to pay forward.
After, I finished my PHD, I would say because my brother supported me big time, helping me to get educated. He couldn’t go further in his education because we were very poor. My father didn’t have a job. Then my brother helped me when he became the first in a person to get a job after he finished his undergrad. He wanted me to go ahead and study as far as possible, a great brother. They all were very supportive, and then finally I finished my PHD back home and got an opportunity come to United States, which I had never dreamt that I would ever come here.
I came because of a kindness of a person who helped me get the ticket to come to America after I got the opportunity to do a post doctorate fellowship as a scientist.
I did my PHD in biochemistry in Louisville Kentucky Medical School. From there, I moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where I live now as a scientist in another company.
“My father inspired me to become an entrepreneur, which I never thought I would be.”
But then came family priest who we became discipled of, and he motivated me to really quit my science career and become a tax consultant and an investment adviser. From nowhere, overnight, I quit my science career and became tax consultant and investment adviser, which I had the knowledge of by taking calls just for my personal knowledge.
Then I turned it into an entrepreneurship, and that was a struggle because I had no clue how to run it. There was fear of being a failure, I had two little boys and my wife who supported me and we jumped into that venture thinking that my priest who blessed me to do this probably has envisioned that even if he’s throwing me in a ditch probably there are gold that I must be able to grab.
I moved on, sailed my own to become a tax consultant, investment adviser, and wealth management person—a financial planner, that’s what I do now.
Learn to Connect
There were many struggles to come up with how to really build this business and be successful. The calamities, the challenges of my childhood and life’s difficulties came back to me, trying to find positive things out of those.
I found out that when I came to this country one day, one person had asked me, “Hey, can you tell me if there is a John up here?” and I didn’t know where John meant, the slang behind it. I was thinking a name of a person but it was actually an emergency to go to a John, and I didn’t know that. When he figured I didn’t know it, he started yelling at one of my friends who rescued me saying that he doesn’t know what John means, he’s just new here and he started yelling, saying man, if he wants to live in this country, he better know what John means. He was so furious because I didn’t know that.
That stuck to my mind and I said that when I started this business, that I really need to know this country if I want to be an entrepreneur here. That’s where the concept of connect came in.
I wanted to connect with every possible sector in the community and know all different things going on here. Really fearlessly, I went and became a part of it. A lot of times, people would say some jokes that I wouldn’t understand because they were at that time American jokes, but I laughed when everybody laughed. Because I thought, “One day I’m going to understand it.”
Today, I am on the board of about 10 different organizations in this community and very well respected. People value me, people honor me and the leaders of this community have given me a very high regards. That has all happened because of the connection that I have made.
In my book, The Five C’s, the first one is connect. The power of connection is so much needed for any business owner, particularly those who are starting as an entrepreneur. That’s how the connect came in. Then as I started my business, I started becoming more professional and finding out how important it is to communicate with people.
Communicate, Create, Be Confident
We wanted to be different, we brought in some novelty in our business. This all came because of thinking. My father always used to say that you have a brain inside your skull and that generates creativity—but only if we use it. Always echoed that in my mind, what my dad used to say. We became different in my business. We have 25 rules now in our office that everybody follows. Those are some of those creative steps that we have taken.
For example, if in our office, someone arrives in the bad winter time, we live in an area where the winter is so brutal. When they leave my office, within an hour, if it is a bad weather, my secretary has to call and say, “Did you reach home safe? Dr. Mitra wanted to know that. He was concerned about you.”
Nobody does that. No professional office will call back and say, “Hey, did you reach home safe?”
“It carries so much weight.”
The client sends me a post card saying, “I am at an awe that your secretary call me asking about how I reached home safe.”
When clients leave our office, our secretary must ask that do you need something for the road? Tea, coffee, juice, anything. No office does that. We became very creative in our operation because we wanted to make sure that we are different, when our clients leave our office, they leave thinking, what a great experience we have. That’s the different culture that we created.
I felt that it must be very important for us to be confident in what we do, that’s the other C. Be confident, you must have good knowledge, no matter what business you are in. You should know all the bells and whistles of that business so that any time anybody asks you any question, you should be ready to answer.
I mastered my subject, I read, I did all research.
I’m up to date all the time.
I do radio shows on taxes, on financial planning. I became a sort of like a confident person in a way that people drew a lot of confidence on me because of my knowledge.
The last C, which is contribute is the heart of my business must give back and that’s what my guru, the priest who changed my career, always said. If your business is successful, make sure you give it back to the community.
Today, we have opened a charitable organization foundation in Joy Guru Humanitarian Services through which we give back to the community. This is how the challenges that came in our lives, we turned it into something positive. My wife was brutally beaten in Brazil to the extent that she would have been killed. But we were fortunate we were alive, we came back and we opened a charitable school of self-defense in our community to protect all the women and girls in this area.
Community people think—these people are not only business owners doing good for themselves but they care for us.
That element is my message to everybody: you are successful to the extent only when you give back part of your success to the community and touch another life.
Those have been how the C’s came across.
We’re not limited that these are the only ways you can be successful, but I think these five C’s came with the struggle, with the difficulties in my life, which evolved into all these things to put it in my business.
“The business started from a basement, where I had only an 8×10 area room.”
My wife used to sit in front with a desk in the basement. That’s where it started, and today we’re on the 16th floor of the best building in town, very state of the art office.
I had a second office near Boston in a place called Burlington which had just closed recently, just to give my time to help people in the community with my foundation that my wife and I have created.
Our two sons now have graduated. They are on their own. One of them is an attorney in New York, the younger one is a standup comedian, travels all over the country and performs. So we thought, we’ll now dedicate our time to what our guru had asked us to do, the mission that he had asked us to fulfill—to help the community, give back to the community, use part of your success for them.
I say that you are truly successful, not only when you have all the wealth for yourself but you see that you’re distributing it to those who need it the most.
The 5 C’s in Everyday Life
Charlie Hoehn: I’m curious for, let’s say the listener who is hearing this right now and thinking, “How can I start using these five C’s this week? To really make a positive impact on my life. Where do I begin?”
Dr. Satya Mitra: At the end of the day, it is you who has to inspire yourself.
I also say in my book that “YOU” stands for “your own usher.” YOU. I might talk to you, I might motivate you, I might inspire you, but when you go home, it is YOU who have to really lift yourself.
The way to do it is to talk to yourself. I talk to myself every day. I look at myself in the mirror before I leave my home, and I point out to myself in the mirror and say, “You can do it.”
That’s how I started my business and from day one through today, every day I look at myself in the mirror and I say, “You can do it.” That makes me so much powerful before I leave home. I step out of my home with that empowering message to myself that I can do it.
If he can do it, I can do it. My father used to say that it’s always easy to say I don’t have time, I can do it. don’t try to manage your time. Try to manage your desire.
“You will find time. You will be able to do it.”
So I suggest to everybody that clear the desire within yourself. If you have some enthusiasm to do something whether it’s with sports or it’s music or debating or writing a book or they’re in accounting or medicine, if you have the desire, tell yourself, I must get this done because I want to get it done, and I can do it because someone else can do it.
If you keep telling this to yourself, I think you will find that you will find in a way to get it done and not lagging behind, giving an excuse that no it is too much.
So it is how you really turn yourself up and talk to yourself and keep saying that I can do it and it happens. When you go beyond the line of duty to do something and express your desire, I think you’ll find a way to do it, and that’s what happened with me…
I wasn’t at all ready, but I had the faith in my guru. I had the knowledge of my subject, and I had the desire. It is a challenge—I wanted to take this challenge. People should be ready to take the challenge. I suggest to people don’t wait to be challenged. Challenge yourself.
When you challenge yourself and accept the challenge and say that, “I have the desire to do it. I will prove it to myself,” you will be able to.
“You need to have a support from your partner.”
If you don’t get that, things become difficult. Five C’s are one thing, but having someone supporting you every day in your life is so important to achieve success as well, and that is my wife. Every day I leave home early, at seven, come back at 1,1 doing all these things that I am involved in and my business. She has been so supportive for me to achieve the things that I want to achieve.
So all these bravos and kudos and standing ovations and things that I received, I bring home and say, “Honey it’s all for you.”
Without her, I don’t think I would have been able to move anywhere.
This book that I am writing, I might have been the author of this book, but the story that we have generated together during our married life makes her to be the true co-author of this book as well. She has been with me, strongly supporting everything that I have done.
She has worked with me, she has given her support. She has given me the love. Everything that I needed, which made me move with strength that I can do it and she has been the real person that has given me that courage to do good, achieve and be successful. So keep that in mind, it is important to have. A good family to achieve success as well.
Giving When It Hurts
Charlie Hoehn: What do you say to somebody who might be thinking, “Gosh I feel like I don’t have much to give compared to these other folks that I compare myself to, who are doing so much better in life”?
Dr. Satya Mitra: It is all relative, whether you can give or you can’t give. It is all relative. It is a matter of having to reach hard. You have to have that.
I work as a tax consultant. I see so many different people from so many walks of life. I read so many stories, I see many people who are struggling to live their own life. In my book, I think there are a couple of stories.
One of them is the janitor. When I’d do their tax return, husband and wife used to make $30 grand, and they would give $5,000 to their church every year. Now one day I happen to ask them how do you do this and they say, “In my country, there are people who are so poor. My church sends money to them, and I always think that we make $25,000. At $25,000 I would have lived my life. But this $5,000…helps someone who doesn’t have anything.”
So people have to say that I have a responsibility to give. It is not something that I will give when I have. It will never get that time, because I have seen millionaires not willing to give anything because they think “I have worked hard to make this world and I want to cherish it myself.”
That is fine, that is a different philosophy. We also have to know or consider or believe that we have a responsibility for others so that we can bring a little balance and that is what the message that is in my book.
There is a story. Once there was a big leader in India, I have read the story somewhere, he wanted people to come and donate so that he can work with the freedom of the country from British.
And many people started making huge rows of people, lines of people came and started donating to him. He was sitting on the stage, his treasurer was sitting next to him, and people come and give a thousand rupees. Rupees is a denomination in India, 100 rupees, 10 rupees whatever they could. Again, he took that money, blessed that person, and gave that money to the treasurer. The next person comes, he takes the money, blesses him or her, and gives the money to the treasurer.
In the line there was an old lady. She was hardly able to walk. She had a stick, it was a branch of a tree as a support. She walked and walked and came to stage and gave Gandhi just a penny, and Gandhi took that penny, blessed that lady and held that penny to himself and the treasurer said, “Gandhi, you didn’t give that penny to me.” He said, “No because it is very special,” and she said, “How come that penny is special? People gave you 10,000 rupees, a thousand rupees, you gave everything to me and you didn’t give me the penny? How could the penny be so special?”
Gandhi said, “That is all she had.”
“She gave everything she had for a good cause.”
When you give in that way, hurting yourself, it is the true giving. So people have recognized that I could be a very successful entrepreneur. I did well, I wear the Italian suit and I have the Ferrari car and I really have so many properties and huge bank balance, but to me really it means nothing if you have not given a part of it for those who have no roof, who have no clothes, who have no food on their plate.
And there are people in this world who have a responsibility to take care. So if you get this inspiration inside you…no matter what you have, you can always give a small amount to make someone else’s life a little better.
Stories from Dr. Mitra’s Book
Charlie Hoehn: That is a beautiful story. Are there other stories from your book, any particular favorites that we haven’t covered?
Dr. Satya Mitra: Well you know there are a lot of good stories of my life about my two sons. Giving is an important integral part of our business, of our life, and as they say the apple did not fall far from the tree. My younger son, when he started doing his comedy, the first year he participated in Boston Comedy Festival. That was the first time, he was a rookie and there were about 1,400 gigs that came in. The judges selected only 95 of them to come on the stage and compete.
There were many favorites to win that grand prize, and 14 out of that 95 competed every week in Boston. He won the whole thing as a rookie first year and he was given the $10,000 check as a grand prize winner.
He was the only winner, they don’t give any other second prize, third prize or anything. He went on the stage.
We were not even here. We were in India, we didn’t even know that he won this prize. He went on the stage and said to everyone that you know, we like to share the success of ours to the community.
That was the year of the Boston bombing, and he gave $5,000 right away to a fund to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and he said, “I have another $5,000. There were 95 of us competed every day and I am the only one who got paid. Comedy is more fun when you share,” and he gave equally the other $5,000 to every other 94 friends.
“He came home with only $49.50.”
That makes me so proud.
You can really make a ripple effect when you give to others even in difficult situations. If you give that is the true giving and I suggest people to consider that that giving must be an integral part of our lives. Business owners, particularly entrepreneurs, are only successful when you sacrifice or share a part of your success to make your community a better place.
Charlie Hoehn: Truly a beautiful story and yeah, you must be so proud. That is really heartwarming.
Dr. Satya Mitra: I am. There are quite a few stories in the book, and I think hopefully people will recognize that what I have written in the book are all deeply coming from within my heart. My two sons are the ones, if I can pass it onto them and they can pass it on to their children I think that will be the real success of this book.
Nonetheless, certainly any other person reads this book and uses their business in their entrepreneurship and leadership role—I am not saying that these are the only things that bring success, but these could be key points that could add to their success story. I would be very happy to see someone use them and benefit from it, and that’s the main purpose of writing the book—to connect, communicate, create, be confident and contribute.
Connect with Dr. Mitra
Charlie Hoehn: What is the best way for our listeners to potentially connect with you and thank you for the episode or even follow what you’re doing?
Dr. Satya Mitra: So certainly they can call my cellphone, 508-641-8441. The major reason of writing this book, besides giving tips or ideas to new entrepreneurs and startup business owners, was for me to get more opportunities to speak, motivate, and inspire. That is my main goal now in my life is to go out there and inspire people.
I do have the website, drsatyamitra.com, which is my speaking website. People can go in there and we have created this charitable foundation called Joy Guru Humanitarian Services.
So joyguru.org, is another website that people can go. They can connect me through that, and the proceeds of this book and the keynote speaking opportunity that I expect to get after this book is released and go and inspire people, the fees that I will be receiving from the book, from the speaking, the net proceeds after the expenses will all be poured into my charitable foundation.
Ultimately to go and do good things for the community. So it is not the money that I hold and rate for myself. I think I am doing all right with my current business that I have and my two sons and ourselves we donate any extra money that we generate into the foundation. My two sons have been donating every year plus we do some fund raising. Ultimately we want to build a Joy Guru International Humanitarian Center in our city to do all these activities to help homeless.
To help blind, to have the self-defense classes to bring in poor children and empower them with the good citizenships and to make sure that they become a good part of the community helping others. So I think we have big agenda ahead of us.
Our goal from this revenue from this book and speaking is to pour it back in our foundation to do good in the world. So they can connect with me through those websites or calling me.
Charlie Hoehn: That’s great and my final question for you is give our listeners a challenge. Something simple that they can do this week from your book that will have a positive impact?
Dr. Satya Mitra: I would say don’t think that you can’t do it. Develop the desire in yourself that I can do it. I can do it.
Talk to yourself every day. Don’t back off thinking there are so many people who are failures. They can do this to turn every negative into positive. In everything that happens negative in your life, you will find something to do that will be a positive phenomenon.
Challenge yourself to be challenged, but don’t be afraid that you can do it.
Tell yourself, “I can do it. I can beat this challenge. I can prevail,” and I am sure you will.