From Challenges to Triumphs: My Personal Story

This historic image is my most cherished memory. It captures the moment when the Pakistani army surrendered to the Indian Armed Forces in 1971, and at the forefront of this momentous occasion stands my father, Col. Sirinder Raj Singh. He stands tall and resolute, a symbol of strength and leadership, as he oversees the surrender.

Every Vijay Diwas, this image is celebrated across India as a tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the Indian Armed Forces. It serves as a constant reminder of the unwavering courage and determination of my father and his fellow soldiers, who fought fearlessly to defend our nation and its people.

I was 17 in 1993 when I lost my father. He was martyred in the line of duty while serving on a UN peacekeeping mission in Cambodia. My world was shattered. My father had always been such a central figure in my life, and his absence left a huge void that I didn't know how to fill. I found myself lost and directionless, unsure of how to navigate this new world without him.

It was during this difficult time that my mother became my rock and my hero. I marvelled at her strength and resilience as she faced every challenge with courage and grace. While I grew up quickly, the virtues of discipline, courage, and the pursuit of excellence became core to my personal philosophy.

No matter what I did henceforth, be it a hobby or my career, every decision was done with the intent of being the best I could be.

However, this was a time in life when:

  • I had to think twice before buying my favourite shirt.
  • I wasn't privy to the luxuries of life.

Don't get me wrong, I was not knee-deep in the depths of poverty, but I was not living the life of my dreams. But that brings me to one of the more elusive realities of life: money is not everything!

Fast forward a few years later, and I completed my MBA from Delhi. I started my career with all the struggle most of us face and, with tough grind and rigor, worked my way into a senior leadership position with Citibank, Deutsche Bank, and ICICI Bank, and was a founder member of Fullerton Securities, India.

Life and surroundings seemed mostly on track, but there was something I felt was missing. My desire to explore my strengths further had different fortunes set for me.

So, I moved towards my next steppingstone in life: real estate. Following my vision and supported by unwavering determination, I ended up being the CEO of a leading Fortune 500 real estate company and a global IPC firm, JLL Residential. Further, I founded ANAROCK Property Consultants, as its Co-founder & CEO. Anarock is today considered one of the most successful real estate start-ups in India, which fulfilled my entrepreneurial itch.

By this point, I must have assisted nearly 2 lakh homebuyers in realising their dream of owning a home.

Today, I am the CEO of Residential at Bhartiya Urban Private Limited, the company behind Bhartiya City, India's largest integrated township. I also have oversight of the group's marketing.

Not only was I a CEO by this time, but I had also delivered 200+ keynote addresses and authored 250+ articles for leading publications in India and abroad. I was conferred with various coveted awards, such as the "Most Enterprising CEO of the Year" award from CMO Asia in 2016, Real Estate Person of the Year - South by Construction Week, and the National CSR Award in 22. Indobes also named me one of the Top 100 Mentors and Coaches in India in 2023.

But, even now, I was not satiated, there was still something missing, I felt. something I couldn't quite place my finger on. And then it occurred to me, eureka, that it was my childhood passion for writing. Then, pooling together my experience in banking and across the board leadership experience in real estate, I came out with my very first book, "The A to Z of Residential Real Estate." Termed "a "mentor in print" by Financial Express, the book is considered thought-provoking and is rated as the #1 best seller in the real estate category on Amazon.

Now, I had tried out the ropes with banking, real estate, and writing. I kept asking myself, "Was there something still missing?" The answer was an unambiguous "yes." Well, it was then that I discovered that I possessed an innate skill for singing! Something that I did with a lot of heart to lighten up my team’s mood after a stressful day. Such moments were always anticipated by the team, and they are one of the many reasons for the emotional bond I have with almost everyone I have worked with over the last 23 years.

Then, in a melodious ode to my college days, I did my first music cover, "Purani Jeans," which was incidentally launched by the Bollywood ace singer Kunal Ganjawala.

My next two albums were picked up by Saregama India Ltd. and all other music OTT platforms. Today, I am delighted to share that I am on the list of Spotify's "verified artists."

At this point, I have done almost everything that I implicitly desired but wasn't fully aware of all along. Today, I would like to believe that my journey is still going strong and that there are many more pleasant surprises that life has to offer in the future. And I know that to fulfil those unseen dreams, I will have to continuously strive, which is my second nature.

All in all, I would like to say that, in my experience, "success without time and time without success are both not helpful. "A good balance between success and time is essential in life; after all, you cannot have one without the other. However, I strongly believe that having a pursuit of excellence in whatever you do is what separates men and women from boys and girls, respectively, and leads to true contentment, happiness, and satisfaction, which is everyone's final goal.

This begins with a desire to achieve excellence and the courage and conviction to pursue it, no matter how unusual or difficult it may appear. This is the principle to follow, which I believe is the secret ingredient of life that most of us overlook.

If there is one last piece of advice, I would give it to anyone who agrees with my philosophy of life: stop thinking and start executing!

It's all about how to become an Arjuna and not a Karna!

Ashwinder R. Singh

Keynote speaker | Bestselling author | Startup mentor | Advisor on multiple boards