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What a Himalayan drive taught me about sales & entrepreneurship

Last year, my family and I decided to go for a driving vacation to the Himalayas. We went to a place called Sangla Valley, close to the Tibet border in the northern part of India. We had been driving to the Himalayas for the past two years, going further into the mountains every year. Sangla […]

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Last year, my family and I decided to go for a driving vacation to the Himalayas. We went to a place called Sangla Valley, close to the Tibet border in the northern part of India. We had been driving to the Himalayas for the past two years, going further into the mountains every year. Sangla Valley was the farthest we would drive so far – 15–20 hours on mostly mountainous terrain.

We were very excited about the trip. Sangla Valley is known to be beautiful – snow-capped peaks, glaciers, turbulent Himalayan rivers, forests trails to trek, the works!

Finally, the day arrived and we set off. The road was great and view all around fantastic. We took our time – stopped to buy apricots and cherries from the villages we crossed, and sometimes for chai at roadside teashops. Tea is always better in the crisp Himalayan air.

Up until a place called Karcham, the road was reasonably good, although it became narrower and steeper as we gained height. After that, the real challenge started. The road was very narrow – two cars could not cross unless one of them parked on the side. The altitude was high (around 8000 feet) and we were still climbing. There were hairpin bends at almost every other turn, and the road was broken and bumpy. There was very little protection on the edges. Falling off the road meant dropping 500–1000 feet into the deep gorges of the Baspa river. To top it all, there was oncoming traffic – military trucks, buses, and cars.

One of the few tarred stretches

Now, I know this road (Kinnaur Road) is not the riskiest of Himalayan drives (although it does figure in some lists of the most dangerous Himalayan roads), but it was challenging enough for me, a person who has driven mostly on the wide, flat roads of Delhi. It made me quite nervous, especially since I had the kids with me, and because we were still 2 hours away from Sangla Valley.

I took a deep breath and started driving, tentatively at first. After about 30 minutes on this stretch, I had figured out what I needed to do. If we were to reach Sangla safely, all I had to do was be calm and follow the basics of mountain driving – focus on the road ahead, drive slow, honk at the turns, stick to my side of the road, drive defensively, and most importantly, not look at the edges. I did just that and in about 1.5 hours we reached Banjara Camp, in Sangla Valley, safe and sound.

As we settled down in our camp, I was reflecting on the drive. What I had just done to navigate this challenging mountain road – wasn’t this what navigating tough situations in sales and entrepreneurship was all about? We frequently find ourselves in tricky situations – we have mountain high quotas, or have missed our numbers, or are at risk of losing a major deal. The only way to handle these situations is to look ahead and stick to the basics – keep prospecting consistently, keep calling relentlessly, keep refining the pitch, keep adding value to clients, follow up, hone our skills, and just keep closing. Inevitably, there will be occasional thoughts about the consequences of failure – no bonus, no promotion, or maybe even a lost job, or a venture that has run out of cash. To succeed, we just need to not focus on these negative thoughts, not look at the ‘edges’. We just need to focus on the road ahead and keep executing the basics consistently.

Views of the Kinnaur Kailash range en route to Sangla

And one more thing. Let’s not forget to enjoy the journey.

Photo Credit: Main featured image, www.adventure365.in

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