About Deploy Yourself
“The first step toward change is to refuse to be deployed by others and to choose to deploy yourself.” – Warren Bennis
“Deploy Yourself” is a message which you can see in my thoughts and articles on leadership and life. Since 2008 I have led many teams – mostly at work but also many outside of it. During this time I have realized that helping people realize how powerful they are gives me the most joy in life.
I have spent a lot of time talking, researching and reflecting on human behaviour (from angles such as psychology, neuroscience, philosophy and leadership). I have spent my entire life in the question “What does it mean to lead a life that is an authentic expression of who I am?“. “Deploy Yourself” is a continuously evolving set of concepts and first principles held together by a common desire of living a life that I can be proud of. In simpler words, it is a formula that I use as a guiding light to drive through life.
The premise of “Deploy Yourself” is that we can always live in a way that we are proud of ourselves, irrespective of how we fare at the various challenges we take on in life. We can always choose to deploy ourselves instead of being deployed by the circumstances, people, or emotions we found ourselves in. And that is my definition of leadership as well.
With Deploy Yourself, I am on a life-long journey of learning and action. My long-term vision and commitment is to:-
- Elevate the level of leadership in our organizations, enabling work that nourishes and enriches people rather than making them sick.
- Use the heroic spirit of business as a force for good on our planet, and eliminate waste of effort and energy.
- Create a world where we can discuss any issue with each other as comrades, not as adversaries. (without hating or killing each other)
- Empower people to realize how powerful they are.
Deploy Yourself is for those who seek long term benefits and gain, even at the expense of short term pain. If you are serious about change and want to know yourself better, you have come to the right place. Deploy Yourself is not for those who are looking for short term fixes. Go further only if you are ready to look within, answer the tough questions, and confront facing what you might not want to face.
“Deploy Yourself” is about understanding ourselves, nurturing and developing our strengths in a way that allows our own unique light to shine upon the world, instead of following the path others have decided for us.
I do not want you to believe or follow anything I have to say. Instead, I want you to take it as a tool, introspect and play around with it. And then believe it only if it resonates with you. All of us are unique and meant to stand out in our own unique ways.
My only intention is to help you find what works for you. Not to follow what works for me.
Furthermore, I believe the best investment we can make is in people. My most satisfying moments have been when I know I have impacted someone’s life. I believe leadership is helping people to be their own best selves, and Deploy Yourself is my attempt to do that.
About Sumit Gupta
Hi, I am Sumit.
I was born and grew up in New Delhi, India and am now based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Over the years, I have lived in multiple cities in India. In addition, I have traveled, worked along, and photographed people from all over the world.
One of my superpowers is to create safety and trust so that people do not have to wear a mask in front of me. I started as a techie in 2005 and fit the typical geek profile – good at computers but introverted when it came to working with people. In a way, I had learned to hide behind computers and not be visible.
I have worked in companies like InfoEdge (Naukri.com) (2005-2008), Yahoo (2010-2011), 91Mobiles (2013), and Booking (2014-2020). In addition, I also incorporated two startups – SaleRaja (from 2007-2010) and CricketRadius (in 2012) and co-founded a non-profit Pick A Fight (2011-12).
I started leading a time at 24 years of age. At that time, I had no idea what leadership was all about. To make it worse, I wasn’t even aware that people management and other so-called soft skills can be learned.
In 2013, I lost my mom to Cancer. This event shook my world in ways I am still realising. In a way, an old me died and a new Sumit was born that day – however it took me a long time to realise that. In 2021, I reprioritised my life in the pursuit of Deploying Myself.
Earlier, I thought the unpredictability of human beings was a bug and it used to piss me off badly. However, now I see it as a feature. I am left in awe and wonder as I support people in finding and shining their own unique light upon the world.
I regularly see smart and talented people undersell themselves and limit their dreams, desires, and results because of 3 main factors :
- They feel all alone and are afraid – not just of being exposed as a fraud but also of their greatness – of what they know deep inside they are capable of dreaming and achieving. They doubt themselves or their abilities even when others see them as powerful.
- They fear conflict and think working with others is hard – forming trustworthy relationships, having tough conversations, inspiring collaboration, and dealing with emotions.
- The third factor is different and personal for everyone. I’d need to ask you a few more questions to find out what it might be for YOU…
People come to me feeling frustrated, low on energy, and stuck in achieving something that matters to them. They come confused and with their lights DIM and leave with their lights shining many times brighter. They leave feeling empowered, confident, relaxed, and ready to take on that dream which had been “on hold” for far too long.
Just in 2021 (my first year of being a full-time leadership coach) :
- I am coaching two senior executives in tech unicorns
- I have coached one entrepreneur running his own software company for the last 25 years
- I am coaching four founders of well established and highly reputed non-profit organisations
- I am coaching one leader at the UN
- I have helped optimised the working practices and processes of teams, departments and organisations
- Coached and advised individual contributors and managers at all levels
The above was all that I want you to know about me. But as with everyone, there is more. What I don’t want you to know about me is…
- I have been hiding for most of my life. It took me a very long time to be ok with being seen, and to share my story with others
- I’ve failed at a lot of different things. And I have felt insecure, full of doubt, and anxious along the way.
- I’ve spent most of my life looking for where I can express myself fully, only to realise that I was only holding myself back
- I rebelled against religion and traditional wisdom, only to spend decades researching and coming back to the core message behind all world religions and traditions.
- I have moments of certainty that I am making an impact, and also moments of doubt, insecurity, and fear.
Today I am good at helping people see their light because I have spent so much of my life hiding my own.
Computers & Technology
I have been programming since 1999, and computers and software have fascinated me since then. I started programming in high school, where I ignored all other subjects to program day and night. Luckily, I made it to college where I spent 4 years learning the foundations of computation and software engineering.
Leading teams of highly skilled engineers building large distributed software systems have not come without its share of failures and learnings. Here is what I have learned about mentoring others, programming productivity, the importance of communication, code reviews, web security, and work-life balance.
I have photographed almost daily since 2013. Even as a child, I have always loved photography but my camera always used to sit idle at home. But after my mother lost her long struggle with cancer in 2012, I picked up my camera again.
Very soon it became a tool for me to hide behind and connect with the world around me. I find the experience of walking around and photographing a city almost therapeutic and meditative.
It is something very different, and that is why I find it very refreshing. You can view my best photographs from Amsterdam, Paris, Italy, and India. If you are into photo essays, you can see my photo essay from Kumbh Mela, or from Streets of Kolkata, or these two from Naples, or about Art In Our Cities.