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Pay close attention to matters of the heart
Technology executives are notorious for believing they have special powers and are indestructible. They become obsessed with making money and achieving success — to the detriment of their health. I know because I am one of them.

  Heart disease is the leading killer of adults in the US, and, according to The New York Times, Americans of south Asian extraction are four times as likely as members of the general population to develop it, and tend to do so a decade sooner.
The Times article cited a seven-year study by University of California San Francisco and Northwestern University named Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America, or Masala, which followed more than 900 south Asians in Chicago and the Bay Area. They suffered from high blood pressure, high triglycerides, abnormal cholesterol, and type-2 diabetes at relatively low body weights.
I have a feeling that it isn’t just my Indian friends in Silicon Valley who need to worry; heart disease is a common problem in the business world — also in India. Technology executives are notorious for believing they have special powers and are indestructible. They become obsessed with making money and achieving success — to the detriment of their health.
I know because I am one of them.
I started a company back in 1997, which became one of the hottest startups of its time. All was great until the dot-com bubble burst and 9/11 compounded the economic shock in 2001. After a year of extremely long hours and incredible teamwork, we turned the company around and were on track for 200% annual growth rates and 25% profit margins. I was determined to make it as big a success as my previous startup, which we had taken public, and believed that nothing could stop me.
I was wrong. My body could stop me.
On a flight home from Mexico, where I went to take a short celebratory vacation, I started to feel a shooting pain in my left arm. It was as if electricity were passing through my veins. I ignored it — as I had ignored the back pain that I’d felt on the cruise to Cancún and my extreme nausea after climbing the Chichen Itza pyramid — because I thought I was indestructible.
Fortunately, my wife, Tavinder insisted that I see a doctor as soon as the flight landed. But I had not been sick in a decade and didn’t have a personal physician. I didn’t know whom to call. So we just went to the nearest hospital: The University of North Carolina Medical Center. There, the nurse strapped an EKG monitor to my chest, reviewed the results, and started making phone calls. Then she pulled Tavinder aside to talk to her.Before I could understand what was going on, doctors had put me on a stretcher and taken me into an operating room, where I was sedated. I woke up to learn that I had been having a major heart attack and needed placement of two stents in my arteries. The doctor said that if I had checked in two hours later, I would not have checked out: I would have ended up in the morgue. I share this story because I want others who are as careless about their health as I was to realise that they too are vulnerable. You may not subscribe to anything called a work–life balance, but your body certainly does. You need to monitor and nurture your body. I used to have an obsession with building businesses and forgot about building health. I was focused on the destination rather than on the journey. I caution you to not do the same. Get regular checkups; exercise; meditate; learn to relax. Do the things that are fun and good for the soul.
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