It's close to 2 am and a typical winter-night in Mumbai, the otherwise humid city which has been engulfed in cold breezes and temperatures in the order of 15-17°C. The haziness of the weather ties right into how my thoughts are aligned right now.
I lay down my mind without a thought. Even the slightest of quivers would’ve put me into action but sigh, there was none. A blank, that’s all I was drawing. The last time I drew a blank, I’d landed this job.
Circa. 2017, I’d freshly graduated as an engineer, a curious, starry-eyed one that too. Not a care in the world, and no clue as to what I’m about to do next. This is when I saw a recruitment ad that screamt to me. It seemed like my calling.
A website that sells just headphones? Yeh kya hai? was my first instinct. In a market dominated by conglomerates like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal (back then, it was!) Headphone Zone seemed like a cute, little niche ecommerce store that rightfully leveraged the internet boom in India and set out on a mission to help people rediscover the music they love so much through some of the greatest headphones in the world.
Those who’ve never been smitten by the love bug may never understand or perhaps find it hard to comprehend why we do what we do. I mean, it is just a headphone.
Ever since I walked in for the first time, Headphone Zone felt like home. Looking at fellow twenty-somethings I heaved a sigh of relief. I’d imagined work life being a stark contrast to my college life: Commuting in full-sleeved formal attire, sitting amongst fellow cubicle members and staring at the clock whilst longing to go home. This wasn’t anything like it. Interviews at Headphone Zone are unlike any other. The entire team has a sit down with you, weighs in and tries every bit to make the interview conversational and interactive. Imagine drawing a blank in a situation like this. Yours truly did that. Stereotypical introverted engineer, aren’t I? They say I have the gift of the gab, par yaha main pighal gaya.
Safe to say, things worked out. Blame it on the Panasonic headphones that rested around my neck or my ability to carry a conversation with the team. I was there.
I joined as a Headphone Guru. Fascinated by headphones, brands and the evolving technology that went into them being a key motivation to accept the role. I did that and did fairly well for about 5 months. In the midst of my inappropriate, uncountable ‘That’s what she said’ jokes and bad puns, my knack for coming up with quirky, funny captions didn’t go unnoticed. I was then presented with the opportunity to put those skills to a better use: Working with the Social Media team. This entailed customer interaction, defining a communication style for Headphone Zone across Social channels. 5 years later, I can tell you: We’re somewhere between Apple and Zomato. Dabbling between being approachable and that nerd you’d go to for tech advice.
Social Media captions soon translated to Ad Copywriting and working directly with the Marketing team. The ‘It’ team at Headphone Zone. And this is just my first 8 months on the job.
I’ve had the honour of wearing multiple hats in my time at Headphone Zone. But with Marketing, I found my calling. I felt like Bruno Fernandes, who’d hit the ground running. I went on to lead the team for heaven’s sake! Putting a 7-figure budget into these untrusted hands was a bold move and a massive opportunity and I’m going to be forever grateful for that. Obsessing over numbers, brainstorming campaign ideas, drafting budgets, planning activations and custom tailored GTM strategies for new product launches. Ah, the guts and glory. It’s addictive, I tell ye.
Well, now if you are not as dim as the 25 Watt bulb that struggles to light up my room, you must’ve gathered the reason behind penning this. I distinctly recall a conversation with a fellow colleague, a particularly distressed one and was on the verge of breakdown saying probably the truest words I’ve ever heard. She sighed, It’s the people that make you want to stay. No LinkedIn influencer will say this, they’ll make a song and dance about the hustle culture but not this.
Such is Headphone Zone. It’s neither the firm, nor the headphones but the people that make you stay. Giving away almost 8 hours of your time everyday, it becomes imperative to strike a friendship, create meaningful bonds and share a rapport with most people you’re surrounding yourself with. When I look back, I can tell you, I did. I’ve found some of my best friends at Headphone Zone, created indelible memories, shared countless Pizzas, discovered a wide range of music (I had an EDM-laden playlist when I’d walked in for the very first time) )and picked up a lot of skills here. The latter doesn’t equal the former ones in any-effing-way. Even on a professional front, to be able to give feedback, have open discussions with your peers and get routine feedback through closed door meetings: Nobody, I mean, nobody does it better.
Too long; Didn't read?
If you’ve read my blogs you know I always have a tl;dr section for the impatient. Guess what? There isn’t one here. Read this puff piece, put yourself in my shoes and if you think you’ve got what it takes, start here.
Because Yoda said, always pass on what you have learned. I’ll know I did.