"We provide a platform for those who started from zero to share their life experiences to change the world's perception of success."
From being a well-rounded CMO for some of the globally recognized brands to becoming a social entrepreneur and founding the company ‘The Half Brick,’ Balasubramanian Jayam’s journey has been nothing short of exceptional!
Finding the resumption of his career as a marketing professional challenging after a continuous two-year break due to voluntary time-off for the birth of his child first and then a forced pause owing to the deadly pandemic that plagued the world, Balasubramanian Jayam chose the ambitious path of entrepreneurship.
‘The Half Brick,’ a company that the entrepreneur bootstrapped, was founded to “inspire this world’s younger generation (future leaders) to follow their passion and pursuits as self-dependent individuals with high values.” The company’s main area of focus presently is ‘Raw Stories’ - “an inclusive people’s platform celebrating the life journeys of self-made and selfless people from all walks of life from around the world.”
“During the construction of a building with bricks, a mason usually gives importance to full bricks and often avoids the half bricks; however, the half bricks are imperative to complete the structure - - the half bricks are unavoidable. This is a metaphor that applies to the world’s design, where people are avoided and even suppressed on the basis of money, power, and skill sets, amongst other things. For example, a company with its base in the U.S.A. has a higher perceived value as opposed to the same company mentioning its base as a low-key city, say in India; I want this perception to change. Through ‘The Half Brick,’ I am trying to convey that everyone and their skills are unique and equally valuable, and no one person or their achievements should be perceived greater or lesser than the other. The world will be complete only when we join hands irrespective of our differences. Therefore, I want everyone to be recognized, valued, and celebrated equally. Our brand slogan echoes the same belief - ‘This world is incomplete without you.’ Similar to half bricks being unavoidable in the completion of a building, I want everyone to know that they, too, are equally essential in making this world a beautiful whole - - the reason for naming my company ‘The Half Brick,’ with the tagline ‘I am unavoidable,’” the founder of the company explained.
When asked how he came to perceive life differently from most who are unfortunately caught in the 'rat race,' Balasubramanian replied that various experiences in his life had moulded him differently from when he was only a child. Despite being treated inferior to the rank holders in his school for being an average student academically, he knew his worth and never diminished his fighting spirit. He recognized that his not excelling in academics did not reflect his ability to shine in other fields. “I was an Apple tree, and people expected me to bear Mangoes,” he added. He went on to prove all his naysayers wrong by excelling in a field that he knew was his forte. He has won 50+ awards as a marketing professional - including Asia’s best marketeer award, exponentially increased market shares of globally-recognized brands, and earned his fortune as a successful marketeer well-recognized in the industry.
Speaking of ‘Raw Stories,’ the young entrepreneur said that the platform treats everyone equally and aims to impact people positively. Irrespective of the domain, profession, gender, age, accolades, background, and social status, each speaker gets fifteen minutes on the stage to share their life’s journey highlighting their struggles, their mindset and thought process, and the strategies and solutions they opted to overcome hurdles.
Mr. Jayam emphasized that through ‘Raw Stories,’ he wants to change the world’s perception of success. “How does one decide who is more successful? Who dictates the definition of success? At ‘Raw Stories,’ we invite an Olympics medal winner as well as a sports instructor in a government school who has worked hard to train several students in his/her career to win medals at various tournaments; each of these individuals is successful in the true sense of the word. I do not want the younger generation to get caught in the “race” trap. Prioritizing learning and self-improvement over external markers of success defined by society is important.”
'Raw Stories' - currently in the process of being registered as a ‘Section 8’ company - has conducted events in several cities in India like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Coimbatore. Soon, the platform will be in the international limelight in Singapore, Malaysia, and Dubai, with various brands already keen on sponsoring the events. With 180+ speakers from different walks of life and 50+ brand sponsorships so far, ‘Raw Stories’ has garnered extraordinary responses from people and has “already become a phenomenon in South India” since its first event in August 2021. “We never invite the same speaker twice, or rather never had to, on account of the unlimited talent that exists across the globe. Also, all the promotion we get is only through word of mouth,” he further highlighted.
The events conducted with hundreds of live audience members, the ‘Raw Stories’ creator affirmed, are also an excellent place for networking. The speakers, along with the audience, significantly benefit from these events. He spoke of the ‘Raw Stories’ event in Coimbatore, where two investors approached a speaker on the spot for her intriguing business idea.
The social entrepreneur also shared that he had declined VC funds to stay true to his vision and not commercialize the platform.
He continued, “My mission is to encourage the younger generation’s pursuit and passion and motivate them to be self-dependent. Don’t plead for your job; focus on improving your skills, character, and personality - - opportunities in plenty will then automatically come your way. When companies didn’t offer me jobs and treated me poorly after my two-year break, despite my successful track record professionally, I decided to be the creator of my destiny.”
In addition, it was noted that ‘The Half Brick’ does more than organize impactful ‘Raw Stories’ events. The company affiliates with prestigious universities in the country to provide free education for students that covers their tuition and hostel fees, invites notable speakers and conducts educational sessions to train college students in entrepreneurship, and provides students with internship and work opportunities within the organization. “My experiences growing up where I was denied opportunities for being an academically-average student inspired me to provide free education to deserving students who need a helping hand,” Balasubramanian stated.
The Half Brick founder & CEO believes that the shift towards gender equality and recognition of the importance of shared responsibilities within families needs to be more significant in countries like India. He added that it should be acceptable in Indian society for men to take a break, fall and rise, and not be winning horses all the time.
Expressing that he aspires to make ‘Raw Stories’ a global movement and uplift people regardless of their race, caste, creed, gender, age, or any other factor, Mr. Jayam mentioned that his message to budding entrepreneurs is to always add a human touch to any endeavour they pursue. “First, identify the purpose of your business - does it solve a human problem? And, always have an empathetic approach toward your product or service.”
Balasubramanian Jayam - also a brand consultant and advisor for a company and a reputable university in Tamil Nadu - in conclusion, said: “As in the case of ‘The Half Brick,’ when you have a strong vision to help humanity, people will willingly come forward to volunteer and help.”
Written by Deepika Kamalesh for Art.Knowledge.