Entrepreneurship, Life, StartUp

When the thief in me died…

There lived an old fakir on the outskirts of a village. One night he was busy writing, when, past midnight, a thief entered his hut. The door was not locked so he just pushed it, hoping that everyone in the house must be a asleep, but found this old man awake. The thief got scared and immediately took out a big knife.

Fakir said, “Come in brother and keep the knife back in your pocket. There is no one here for you to feel threatened or afraid of. Who are you?

The thief was shivering with fear and said, “Now that you are asking, let me tell you that I am a thief and I came here to steal money and other valuables.” Old man was in tears, the thief was surprised and asked why he was crying.

Fakir said, “I can imagine agony that you must have undergone. You must be feeling such helplessness that you left the village and came to a poor fakir’s hut in want of things. This condition of yours is making me sad and also that I do not have much to offer you… look, I have some 10-15 coins in that drawer in the table in the corner, you can take them.”

The guy took the money and was about to leave the hut when the old man said, “Hey listen, do me one favour, give me one coin as I may need it tomorrow morning.”

The thief gave him back one coin. Again the fakir said, “Brother, at least say ‘thank you’ to me for what I have given you.” Confused, the thief looked at him and said, ‘thank you’ hurriedly before dissolving in the darkness.

It so happened that some days later the thief was caught by the police and was brought to the court. Among other thefts, it was also found that the thief had gone to this old fakir’s home to steal, so the magistrate called the fakir to testify. The thief was too scared as he knew that the magistrate may not believe others, but this old fakir was known for his truthfulness and nobleness, and hence his comments were of immense value in this case. When the magistrate asked if the old fakir knew the thief and whether he had stolen anything from the fakir’s house, Fakir said, “I know him. He is a good man. He did come to my house in some desperation and I had given him some money. He also thanked me for the same. The matter was over then and there. He never stole anything from me.”

When this man was set free, he went straight away to meet the fakir. He was puzzled as he asked the old man, “I was very surprised that you didn’t even consider me thief for what I did.”

Fakir said, “The day when the thief in me died, it was difficult for me to consider any other person a thief.”

The world cannot give us what is not there in our character and personality, at the same time cannot take away from us what we have within.


I picked up Robin Sharma’s The Greatness Guide after a while. It was as refreshing as it was when I read it the first time. I found topic 74 – ‘See Through the Eyes of Understanding’ rather relevant in extending the core thought of the above story. Author said and I wish to quote

“The sad fact is that so many people look for the worst in others. They see them through the eyes of their anger, fear and limitation. If someone shows up late for a meeting, they impute a negative intent to that person, saying, “they are so rude.” If someone makes a mistake on an expense report, they grumble, “That person is so dishonest.” If someone miscommunicates a point, they silently say, “She is a liar.”

Real leaders are different. They look for the best in people. Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, said it so well: “The most important job you have is growing your people, giving them a chance to reach their dreams.”

I want to be clear. I’m not suggesting that leaders avoid reality. Not at all. They make the hard calls when they need to. The best don’t worry about being liked – they just do what their conscience tells them is right. Best leaders see through their eyes of understanding. If someone is late, they try to get to the truth. May be there’s a time management problem to coach around or a sick child to help. An error on an expense account could be the result of a poor process in place or the employee’s disorganisation. The miscommunication might be all about the person communicating having weak skills in this area – an opportunity for improvement.

Today, rather than looking for the worst in people, I encourage you to look for what’s best within them. Sure some people really are inconsiderate or dishonest or uncaring. But in my experience – most people are good. Few human beings wake up in the morning and ask themselves: “What can I do today to mess up someone else’s day or undermine my credibility or ruin our business?” Most of the mistakes people make are the result of a lack of awareness. Most people just don’t know better – so stop taking it so personally.

And there’s the payoff for you. As you seek out the good in people, not only will they want to show up more fully for you, but you will see more good in your world.” – Unquote.

I have been involved with the start-up ecosystem since the early 2000s when we started TiE in India. I was fortunate to have worked with many amazing angel investors, mentors and professionals, along with some great start-up founders and entrepreneurs. What I have observed and learnt was that the best angel investors and VCs who can spot the right entrepreneur, idea, technology, team, and back their start-ups were ‘entrepreneurs’ at heart and not just hardcore investors.

They can relate to the vision, passion, perseverance and even pains of the start-up founding teams and support them in their thick-and-thin with the same entrepreneurial zeal and compassion. These angels do not see the entrepreneur with the lens of a pure play investor.

My salute to such amazing angels and leaders. I wish to tell the start-up founders –

याद तुम्हें भी आएंगे वो लम्हें..,
कि कोई था, जब और कोई नहीं था!

Yaad tumhe bhi aayenge woh lumhe…
ki koi tha, jab aur koi nahin tha.

You will also recall those moments..
That there was someone, when there was no one.

About rajivvaishnav

Rajiv Vaishnav Managing Partner Cornerstone Venture Partners Rajiv is Managing Partner at Cornerstone Venture Partners, a global tech VC fund focused on Consumer business enablers (such as Applied AI) and Enterprise / SME BI solutions (vertical SaaS, AR & VR applications, Blockchain for enterprise, etc.). Cornerstone is a Pre-series A / Series A fund, the first institutional support for promising tech ventures enabling growth and customer access in unique ways. Rajiv brings over 35 years of solid experience in building brands, developing teams, expanding the market share and building organisations from grass root upwards. He was heading the Ecosystem & Partnerships Developmentt at Jio-GenNext Hub, A Reliance Enterprise. In this role, Rajiv is responsible to evangelize the Start-Up ecosystem, identify and connect with the deserving start-ups, academia, government agencies, mentors, angel investors and VC networks globally. Since 2002 till end of 2015, Rajiv was an integral part of NASSCOM’s senior management team. He headed NASSCOM’s first regional office in Mumbai and grown to manage the membership outreach nationally. He initiated many path breaking initiatives at NASSCOM including Cyber Safety initiatives with enforcement agencies, start-up incubators with State Governments under 10K Startup programme, evangelised Animation and Gaming industry and nurtured it, lead the ISO Standards initiative to establish a Global BPO and Product Quality Framework Standards out of India. He helped establish NASSCOM’s emerge forum in its formative days. At NASSCOM, he was enthusiastic about developing new IT destinations in the country, and fostering platforms for Industry-academia interactions as he believed that these were the two most critical requirements for the Indian IT industry to maintain its globally advantageous position. Rajiv was a member of AICTE (WR) and of IQAC of the SNDT Women’s University and Trustee at Dewang Mehta Foundation Trust. With Harish Mehta, the first President of TiE, Mumbai and the first Chairman of NASSCOM, Rajiv co-founded TiE in India. He built the organisation bottoms-up and nurtured the start-up ecosystem in India since early 2000. He got early exposure to work with TiE in Silicon Valley and investors, entrepreneurs and mentors such as Kanwal Rekhi, Suhas Patil, Desh Deshpande, Sridhar Iyengar, Raj Jaswa, Shabir Bhatia, Raj Desai and many others… He has worked with Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC), Franchising Association of India (FAI) and US- Environment Resource Center (US-ERC). In the corporate sector, his experience includes stints with two U.S. Freight Forwarding giants Emery Worldwide and Air Express International in sales & marketing. In 2000, Rajiv was invited by the U.S. Government to participate in their International Visitors programme on US Trade and World Market. Rajiv has administered several outward trade delegations including those to International Franchise Expo ’99, USA, Emerging Companies delegations to CeBIT Australia and Silicon Valley. He has represented NASSCOM in the International Advisors Council to the Mayor of Luwan District in Shanghai, China and E-Sports Symposium in Seoul, Korea. Rajiv is a Science graduate from Mumbai University. He is passionate about music and literature. His blog url: www.rajivvaishnav.com
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4 thoughts on “When the thief in me died…

  1. Dear Rajiv Sir…
    Yet another Fantastic Post… More than a just-read, this Article points out yet another sharp trait… often a limitation that exists in most of us, that indeed we should regularly revisit & if needed revise too… Thanks for sharing…
    Best Regards,

  2. Dear Rajiv,
    A wonderful read. Nothing that you say is new or not known to me as a reader, nevertheless it leaves me having an ‘aha’ realization. And i know that i will carry this at the forefront of my mind during tbenext few days during which i will consciously work on it. Who knows it will be the beginning of a new habit, bringing me closer to realizing my full potential.

    Thank you

  3. Superb Rajiv , a trait which I learnt by observation . My Dad, lived his life on this principle .. Look at the good side of people !
    Lost him when I was 15 years old , yes I did face a huge financial challenge , but the good will he had was my shield , and our family has been blessed .
    Thank you ! Loved your articulation .

  4. Grammar corrected reply: 😃

    Dear Rajiv,

    Another story, another moot point, so well presented. Kudos!

    Empathy is at the core of being not just a warmer human being, who is ultimately more at peace with himself and the world, but one of the greatest essentials to be a motivating Leader.

    Vision, Clarity of thought & purpose, Risk taking ability, Decision making, Empathy. A Leader who has all these is rare, and needs to be cherished when found.

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