I am Manuj Aggarwal, a business strategist, career and business coach, author and trainer. Founder and CEO of TetraNoodle Technologies. I have four patents in AI and machine learning and a published author of 2 books on technology. I am also a behavioural scientist, and a student of meditation. So I understand the mind and human psychology very well. I use AI and Behavioural Science to help entrepreneurs, professionals and senior executives increase their productivity and ROI. I started my career at age 15 India working in a local factory for $2/day. It was life in the jungle here. One fine day, during my lunch break - I stumbled on some business magazines and came across some stories of business tycoons who made it big. Rags to riches stories. They inspired me. They changed something inside me. I started to think big. I decided to use whatever resources I had - mainly my brain and my intellect. So I decided to learn more about new topics and study further. After my masters in computer engineering I started working, made some little cash and got married. But life was not easy in India. My dreams were to make a big impact. Make a better world. Give a better life to my family. This burning desire to make a difference was too strong to fold my arms. I got a chance to move to Canada in 1998. It was definitely a great opportunity but I had no money, no job, no contacts. It was quite daunting moving to a new country with about $20 in my pocket (it’s a long story). 2 - months after arriving in Canada I got a job as a programmer. Through hard work and good rapport, I got promoted quickly. Then in the year 2000 - the dot-com crash happened. I lost my first job. Then September 11 happened. I lost my second and third jobs. So after realizing that job security was a myth even in America, I decided to launch a small IT consulting company of mine. This was at the time the web had just made buzz world wide. So, I named my company Spider Communications Inc which today is called Tetranoodle Technologies.
Now, Tetranoodle is a boutique big data and AI consulting company that provides strategic insights and develops problem-solving digital solutions for businesses of all sizes. We engineer business growth through custom software development, IoT and corporate training solutions After working with several fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Pearson and many startups, I decided to grow my personal brand.I am now helping entrepreneurs, executives and investors through mentorship and coaching, strategic advisory and how to use AI in growing a personal brand.
What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?
My success story of course did not come without challenges.
I have had to overcome a lot of set backs both in my personal and professional life some that even got me wanting to commit suicide. For the sake of this article, my first major challenge was the language barrier when I arrived in Canada. I could speak English decently enough - but still, I had trouble communicating with native English speakers.
As a programmer, I could get work done but couldn't really understand the nuances of North American culture, their mannerisms. I got fired after 3 months in my first job because I couldn’t conduct myself well in the corporate environment in terms of language and culture.
As a fast learner, I got my second job and was promoted to an IT lead but in 2000 the dotcom bubble caused most companies financial losses and I got laid off. Life became more complicated. I moved to New York, and got another job and still in 2001 the famous September 11 incident happened. Most companies including mine were affected and I lost my job. After all these events coupled with my own ideology about life I decided to launch my own company in 2001 which has pulled me up to where I am today.
My podcast “Bootstrapping Your Dreams,” got ranked next to Tony Robbins, Gary Vee, and Tim Ferriss. A few years ago, I delivered a project for Desire2Learn (D2L) which was mentioned by Barack Obama and Bill Gates. I have more than 190,000 students around the world on mooc platforms and leader of the startup community in Vancouver, Canada. Despite the ups and downs I will say, it has been an exciting and a rewarding journey.
What books are you currently reading?
One thing about entrepreneurship is the feeling of constant learning.
I make sure I read at least 5 books a month.Some of the books which had the most impact on me are:
The Bhagavad Gita - a profound Hindu scripture that is part of the epic Mahabharata, dated to the second half of the first millennium BCE.
Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio - Written by one of the most successful hedge fund managers - the billionaire Ray Dalio is based on principles he had developed while running Bridgewater Associates.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?
Actually, I wish someone told me the right way to do it.
When I started to focus on building my personal brand 3 years ago - the objective was to establish myself as a career and business coach, PPT consultant for investors and senior executives. I mistakenly thought I knew how to go about it. Meanwhile all I needed was visibility and attention from the right people. I tried doing marketing and sales the conventional way, which I am good at.
With two decades of experience in Silicon Valley and working with big names like Microsoft, IBM, Pearson, ING bank and several startups…I later figured it should be easy enough to grab attention… if I used what I was best at AI and behavioural science. Building a credible personal brand without knowing what I know now cost me a lot of money and time. After discovering what works in my niche and industry, I realized that entrepreneurship is not all about having the money ready to pump into a business idea, it is not by working 12 to 14hrs a day that makes a business succeed. I discovered that a successful entrepreneur and a successful business is the one that has the winning system of operation. Proven systems will do away with all the stress and pains that come with running a business or growing a personal brand.
What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?
To all young budding go-getters and ambitious people out there…
What I always say as a life lesson is: take the concept of self awareness seriously, define your core values and be intentional about making them the day to day guidelines of leading your life. Whether you want to be a career professional or business owner, you must make building meaningful relationships a top priority assignment.
Lastly, know your story. If it is sweet, build on it, if it is bitter learn from it and move on.
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