Identity (او تسی ہو کون)

What do you do?

Some find it easy to answer this question.

I don’t.

I find it hard to put a circle around what I do. The reason for that is deceptively simple: I don’t want to tag myself as someone because identity is super important. Note, I don’t mean the identity you say when you introduce yourself. I mean the identity you tell yourself. Who are you? That is super important indeed.

In fact, it is part of the most powerful story ever told.

I have a video coming up on how “identity issues” is what caused the railroad companies during the American gold rush to miss out on the then upcoming airplane business.  Also, how these days the publishing industry is dying because they identify as paper sellers rather than content sellers. (Subscribe here to join MomekhNama, a weekly-ish newsletter… that way, you will know when the video comes out inshAllah)

If you identify as an artist, it may come with extra baggage that you can’t earn enough money because in your story, “a great artist doesn’t die rich” or something like that. So yeah, identity is important.


A better Identity than Entrepreneur

I read that my business partner, while filling in the “about us” section of our new startup, KHIRD, called me a “serial entrepreneur”. That is technically correct, but I know better… these days entrepreneurs are heroes.

I was fighting a battle to start my own thing when the “serial entrepreneur” was called a “waila” (a beautiful Urdu word that encapsulates “useless person” comprehensively indeed)… so I don’t let titles and prestige play together for long.

But I like the word entrepreneur because it gives me a well defined tag to put on myself. That thwarts cognitive dissonance when I am starting a new project under the guise of another “product”.

I discovered that Janaab-e-hazrat Richard Branson said that “entrepreneurship” is just a tag people use for highly curious people. Basically, the title of entrepreneur doesn’t put a tight circle around you, gives you ample room to experiment and be creative about it all.

But I found a better word. I think.

I asked this identity question to none other than Mustansar Hussain Tarar, and his choice of identity was much more thrilling than entrepreneur. See the video below to discover how one of the greatest living creatives in the Urdu language sees himself – let me know in the comment section of what you think:

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