Decoding Jay Shetty

Decoding Jay Shetty

Knowing the digital monk and the virality he is creating among today's generation

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By Anita Iyer

Published: Fri 3 Nov 2017, 11:07 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Nov 2017, 10:24 AM

Amidst the applause and admiration flowing in freely from the audience, I meet Jay within five minutes of him getting off the stage, after delivering an electrifying session in Dubai.
It is surprising to see how calm he really is. Wearing a casual black jacket and the patent broad smile, he was ready for our conversation without any breather.
Knowing him a little more over the next 30 minutes, I realized that there is something about his persona, a certain sort of ease and charm that allows you to dig deeper.
Maybe, that's the reason he has managed to connect with millions of followers in the past two years since his Huffington Post video broke the internet. 

What followed was a Facebook page in 2016 with the tagline 'Let's make wisdom go viral'. And they did go viral as his videos receive millions of views within hours and frequently pop up in our feeds.
Backstage, it is nearing 8 pm in the evening and he is eating a bowl of cut fruits - his first meal since lunch. He shares that he avoids eating three to five hours before the show.
I probe further for any other pre-show ritual and he says, "I brush my teeth every time before the show. I do a breathing practice to calm my nerves. I like to be alone before I go on stage and don't want to be disturbed. When I am on stage, I like to bring every ounce of my energy to connect and resonate with every single person in the room." And in case of Facebook lives, he needs much more energy as he can't see his audience!
Pleasantries behind, we settle into our interesting conversation. Excerpts -

Few might criticize you for making viral videos and hooking us to social media while asking to reflect internally? What's your take?

We should use everything for a higher purpose. If technology, social media, and videos can be used to empower people, make a change, it is incredible.
It is said that you are an average of the five people you spend most of your time with... I would say, you are an average of the five social media profiles you connect to!  So, it is about connecting with the right ideas online.

What does a normal day in the life of Jay Shetty look like?

The only routine is my day that is fixed is the time I wake up, meditate, and go to sleep. So, I wake up at 5 am every day, I meditate for two hours in the morning, go to the gym and have my breakfast. After that, every day is different - some days I am in shoots, in seminars, meeting people or doing Facebook lives.
I keep a gratitude diary and fill it every night... and reflect on it every week. I take out time to read about two hours every day. And none of this is a recommendation as to what people should do in their lives. I do it as I feel the need to be more absorbed so that I can serve people better.

Have you earmarked days in a week to tune off from technology?

I detox once a week for half a day and spend it with friends or reading books. I always make sure that there is no technology in two areas of the home - the bedroom and the kitchen. You don't have to give up technology for a whole day but rather have no technology zones and no technology times in your day. I don't use technology after 9pm and before 9am. So, don't look at your cell phone the first thing in the morning and the last thing in the night.

Comedians have the pressure of being funny all the time. Do you feel the pressure of sounding profound when you meet anybody?

When you make it about yourself, there is a pressure that you have to deliver. I focus more on the message rather than the pressure of delivering it. 
Many performers, entertainers take a lot of pressure on themselves and it burns them out. It can take a toll on you. The way to disconnect is to remember that it is about the message, not about you.

Do you think the tinder generation is fickle about relationships?

There is more choice with the millennials today and the added pressure or the romantic idea of having 'the one'. And that's what makes them look fickle. When you have more choice and you don't want to settle, there are pros and cons.
The pros is that when you find the one, it will be more meaningful and passionate. The cons are you keep waiting for the ideal one to complete you. So, it's about finding a balance... you are never gonna find someone who has everything you want. So, prioritise your expectations. You should value compatibility over everything - find someone with the same values and goals. We look too much for the externals and not much for the internal.

What is that one thing millennials are struggling with and the solution for it as you see it?

It is finding their passion and turning it into a paycheck. Today, most of us don't know what our inner voice sounds like because we are clouded by the noise in the society.
When I was growing up, I had three choices - to be a doctor, lawyer, or a failure. I become a monk.I didn't even attend my graduation at business school.
So, the biggest challenge is to disconnect from the noise, the expectations, and then have the confidence to chase your dreams. The solution is to continue with your job and use your spare time to do what you love. Too many people are using their spare time to watch Netflix or randomly waste time in bars and that's not gonna build your dreams. In my early years, I was at work till 8 pm, come home and edit videos till 1 am. I was doing that for countless hours, every day. just making videos.
My point is that the solution is to build what you love on the side of what you have to. That way it is a no risk game.
Also, be patient as things that change your life, take time. You don't have to be a Mark Zuckerberg at 30... each one of us have our own journeys. It's never too late and you don't have to settle.
It's not about what you want, it's about what you are willing to give up in becoming what you want.

The current generation wants to change jobs frequently than our parents did? Is it because we don't want to settle?

I think it is the same thing I said about relationships. Too many options and yes, we don't want to settle anymore. For our parents, it was primarily about survival. With more opportunities and exposure to education, we have an ability to not do that. We don't have to settle early. We have the flexibility to sit back for two years, get it wrong and begin again.
The other thing is that we want meaningful careers. I don't like that young people are judged for the careers they choose. Why should you do something you don't love? I don't think we should feel guilty for wanting more out of our lives and chasing meaningful challenges.

Too much of heavy talk... so what do you do in your free time?

I don't have free time! I love water so I go for swimming or indulge in water sports. Watching the highlights of a soccer or football match . I never get time to watch the full game. I love going to Madison square gardens to watch basketball or see a comedy show live. I like live performances in general. And trying out vegan restaurants!

One last message on your mind.

Anything is possible, don't settle and it is okay to get it wrong!
(Anita has a fixation for the Garamond font and is frequently lost trying to figure the new song on the radio!)

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