The Mission Impossible Man
What is the measure of a man? Not his words, but his actions. Not his success, but what he does with his success. Not his personal triumphs, but his seeing no line demarcating that from his public ones. A man who has nothing to hide and a wealth of experience that he wants to share, well, that about describes Sunil Jaiswal.
His business is to teach people how to buy property, and profit from it. He is, apart from the special characteristics that mark him out, uniquely placed to have the edge on this: His father is Indian, his mother English. Born and bred in London, he moved to Bangalore, India when he was 13 and has been nest-building all over the globe ever since. Not for him the cliché of not having any roots; he has many, and they’re all home.
“I went to Clarence High School, Bangalore and did my 8th, 9th and 10th there. It was very different but I coped,” he says. With 17 boils and dysentery because no one told him that unlike in England, you could not drink water from the taps. Being Jaiswal, he made that part of his learning curve. “I built up my immune system. Now I can eat anything,” he says.
If you wanted to find him out of his class of 70 students at Clarence, he would be the one on the single computer that was available to students once a week. “I took to computers,” he remembers. He had found his first love. It was not to be his last. But it was certainly prescient, a laying of the foundation that was to be added to in years to come.
By the time he joined one of the most prestigious schools in India for his 11th and 12th, Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, Jaiswal had already had a summer stint getting to know his chosen one at a family friend’s computer center, where he says frankly he was pretty much a ‘child prodigy’. While at Cotton’s, he won a prize for developing software that simulated heart rhythms, the next year the organizers of that event “refused to let me compete, saying I was too good.”
It was an absurdity but it probably planted a seed of quiet rebellion in the young boy which surfaced while he was doing his commerce degree at Sri Nijalingappa. The family friend offered him a job at his computer center and Jaiswal did the unthinkable as far as Indian boys were concerned: He quit college at 19. He was to face another challenge at the center, nevertheless, as though fate was determined he be deemed worthy for what he was to become. “All my peers had finished their Masters, I was younger but I picked up on things.” He went to the States for a few months which is testament to that.
Jaiswal’s penchant for understatement is balanced by his honest admissions of worth, through both you get to sense a man on a mission. It wasn’t easy to see because as he himself admits, “I got bored and I quit.” To join Microsoft? Not quite. He picked up the guitar, not to play out his angst in the garage but to be part of India’s first superstar band, Millennium. Which is not to say that he didn’t also work for companies like Ampersand, Indivisuals and Broadcast Media. At Ampersand, he was promoted at the age of 21 to the background music of one of his colleagues actually crying because at the grand old age of 33, he was still waiting in the wings.
Perhaps he should have got bored, too, because for Jaiswal that word was a euphemism which actually meant he had not yet found his calling. But by now, he knew part of what he wanted. “Millennium didn’t make serious money. Playing heavy metal in India was not the smartest way to do that!”
So he went to the UK, in Jan ’96, and stayed with his mother, who had decided the subcontinent was not where she wanted to be. The naysayers tried to dissuade him, saying there was no future in computers in Britain. Jaiswal went anyway. On his second day there, he went for an interview 100 miles away from home, snagged a job and a flat, got a raise in three months but after a nine-month gestation period, got bored and then got an idea: To set up his own business as an IT consultant. “I saw potential for what I could do,” says Jaiswal and proceeded to work for major companies in London earning a cool 700 pounds a day.
Then, Fate came calling, with a card that said Enough.
“I was in a bookshop in ’99 and came across something called Rich Dad, Poor Dad and I couldn’t put it down. I thought ‘I’ve been pretty successful, done what I wanted, here I am at the peak of my profession, what’s next?”’ The book told him what was next. “It talked about passive income. I had got used to 700 pounds a day and my lifestyle matched my income, I was stuck in the rat race. I wanted to become free of this,” but he wisely wanted to stay rich. So into the property market he went.
“Holding a property portfolio I could buy, rent and make passive income. In one year, I went through 8.5 million pounds of failed property deals, it was a real baptism of fire. I was looking for a way of perfecting a system where I could buy property with no money, of doing things structurally. I kept persisting. Finally, the right estate agent, the right finance company clicked.” And brought in, that first time, 11 lakhs, tax-free, into his pocket.
“I did it again and again and again and again. By 2003, I had a multi-million pound portfolio – which gave me more than 700 pounds a day!”
Jaiswal believes in a few good eggs in his basket, and as with friends and associates and learning experiences, he has the tenacity of the successful. “I was still in the IT business and developed an office in India,” he says, going on to talk about a guy who promised to double his business growth and delivered, and then told him to read a Finding Your Uniqueness workbook and he did, steering straight towards his future with each step. He woke up two days after reading it and knew instinctively what was next in the scheme of things: “I wanted to teach people how to buy property.”
As with all things Jaiswal, it was done in a hurry. In five days, he got 11 people to attend his one-day course. At the end of that one day, he knew “This is it. I got such a buzz out of it.” Why not? Many of those attendees came back and thanked him profusely for the millions he put into their own pockets.
“I got them out of their rat races,” he says, unashamedly pleased. His Reality Expansion company helped many win financial freedom and Jaiswal threw parties to celebrate their victories. “If I’m not helping people, I die,” he says. That is impossible as he’s already gained immortality being featured on the BBC and The Daily Telegraph.
In Jan 2006, he sold his company and is currently CEO of Sumansa, an event management company that will hold property shows around the world.
How could you leave a multi-million pound company? is a question he has often been asked, with varying degrees of skepticism and awe. For Sunil Jaiswal, it was easy. “The next thing will be bigger and better and a lot of fun,” was his annihilating answer.
“Impossible,” he echoed, “is only someone’s opinion.”
It helps to see the signs along the way to understanding that, nevertheless. “At 21, when I was working in Ampersand, another project leader who was 44 and had finished his second PhD, asked me to read a book called Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. I learned about a plastic surgeon who changed people’s faces and thus their belief in themselves, and thus their lives. You are, in other words, who you think you are.
“When people tell me I’m over-confident, I say No, it’s just that whatever I set my mind to, I can do.”
One of the most crucial lessons he has learned is knowing whom to know. He tells the story of meeting some dental students and asking them to “give me your last exam paper and I’ll tell you the answer to each one of the questions there.” Impossible, they said. Have you studied dentistry? No. Have you read books on dentistry? No. Then how, they asked. “All I want,” Jaiswal answered, “is your lecturer’s phone number.”
The same lateral thinking is apparent when he says, “I never work, I just have fun making other people money. There was a time when I wanted to buy half of England. Now that I’ve done what I’ve done, I’m financially secure, the question was ‘Do I really want to keep doing this?’ My goal changed to doing it for other people.”
Another love is travel, and this, too, Jaiswal uses. “The world is getting so small. There are people from Seattle, France, Ireland and more involved with the Indian Property Show. All you need are the right people to do the right thing, I provide the vision, I’m good at pushing things forward.
“We grow up in boxes, when you travel and see somebody else’s box, it changes you.” Where does that leave him in terms of free time? “I have lots of free time, I just spend it working,” he laughs. He still listens to Megadeth and Judas Priest while he’s putting on his business shirt, even R&B and Hip-Hop, and his love for movies is unchanged. He says Mr Holland’s Opus has special meaning for him. “Talk about getting caught in the rat race, it was a wake-up call for me, this guy who sold out and there’s a great celebration at the end (for what he achieved anyway). I thought, ‘Is that what I want?’ The answer was No. I want to have my cake and eat it too.”
He’s doing that as we speak. Impossible is, after all, only someone’s opinion.