Pawan Kumar: Art of Quitting at TEDxDSCE (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of film director (@pawanfilms) Pawan Kumar’s TEDx Talk: Art of Quitting at TEDxDSCE conference. This event took place on May 31, 2017 in Bengaluru, Karnataka. To learn more about the speaker, read the bio here.


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You can also watch this TEDx Talk on YouTube here along with this transcript.



Pawan Kumar – Film director

So, morning, went on Google and I said the quotes on quitting, and you get a lot of these. This is just a screenshot of that. And the most popular one being with – yeah, “Winners never quit and quitters never win”. I’m sure you all have heard about this.

So quitting is considered as a very negative term, right? So everyone’s told you never quit. Especially in gym, they would have put it up: don’t quit, go on and on and on.

So my talk today is about Art of Quitting. I initially thought of calling it “Art of Leaving” but then it might sound like something else. And you might think I’m going to ask you to do some yoga. So I’m going to call it “Art of Quitting”.

So when they asked me to speak here, I said okay, it’s TEDx, it’s extremely prestigious to be up here and speaking, I should really talk about something that I’ve prepared for. And I took about 17 years to prepare this presentation. So I’m going to take you through that.

When I look back at my life, which technically started in 2000, I see that to get here what I’ve done is a lot of quitting. You know, so — and I thought that’s the most important thing I could speak about at TEDx.

So the first thing, in 2000, I got into engineering, like many of you here, was extremely passionate about engineering. And also something else happened in my life. I also got into theater and I started learning about theater, what professional theater is and got excited about both the domains: engineering and theater.

What was good about theater is that they could teach me theater. And what was not so good about engineering is that they didn’t really teach me engineering. So they asked me to do — what  — six internals a year, over four years, that’s 24 internal exams and then eight semester exams. So in 2002, after visiting two psychiatrists, I really did this, which is I quit college in year 2002. So that’s – yeah, I know, but don’t get too inspired, don’t get too inspired.

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I quit college not because I wanted to do theater. I quit college because thankfully at the age of 19.5, I had this clarity that this is not the way I want to learn engineering. I didn’t want to just learn for internals and exams and pass, because by the fourth year they were saying that you need to now prepare for campus interviews. So I thought this is all – this is it. My life is just going to be preparing for something that someone already prepared for and just got to follow that.

So in 2002, I quit college. And I was very, very inspired by a person. I won’t name him. I would — let’s call him mentor. So my mentor at 19.5 is very influencing, right? You get influenced by these people who teach you something. So this guy was teaching me theater. And I just loved everything he used to do, the way he used to be disciplined about his work, how passionate he was, and how he taught me theater. So every little thing that I learned about theater when I was 19, till about a year after that — from 2000 to 2002 roughly was from him.

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