Q&A: Atul Khekade, Author of 'Me Ki Gai'

Atul Khekade is a first generation entrepreneur in Fintech, Banking and Crypto domain. Atul was born in India, and is a Singapore resident with offices and community presence across 6 continents. He is the Co-Founder of XinFin (exchange infinite) or XDC Network, a crypto coin driven Blockchain network aimed at helping 450 million MSMEs meet their finance and liquidity requirements with Decentralised Finance or DeFi. He has recently come out with the book Me Ki Gai: A Young Man's Journey Discovering His Ikigai, which is a blend of a self-help book and a fiction novel, and tells the story of a young man, Parth, whose life is saved by a mystic during a crisis in his personal and professional life. Parth sees his life turn around as the mystic guides him through the principles of Ikigai and financial intelligence.

I chat with Atul about his book Me Ki Gai, how the book came to be, book recommendations, and much more.

Hello, Atul! Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m a first generation serial entrepreneur in the Fintech domain. I started business by myself almost 16 yrs ago. I have had my share of learning curve as a person, and this comes especially from the struggles of an entrepreneur, and then also by finding a path towards self dependence and building ventures. I have built ventures that are valued in hundreds of millions of dollars. I have also been featured on Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg and Entrepreneur magazines.

If you could only describe your book Me Ki Gai: A Young Man's Journey Discovering His Ikigai in five words, what would they be?

A self-help fiction to self-relate.

Now tell us a little more about the book! What can readers expect?

The title of the book is ‘Me Ki Gai’ which simply means ‘Me Ikigai’ or ‘My Ikigai’. The concept of Ikigai is usually presented as a theory or philosophical format which gives the wrong impression about it being a quick fix or some magical wizard. My book Me Ki Gai presents Ikigai as a journey through fictional characters.

The aspiring young generation may find the book Me Ki Gai particularly interesting and useful. The wisdom encompassed in the book is something that may take a lifetime to learn.

'Me Ki Gai', published by Notion Press

What was the moment when the idea of the book first came to be? What made you pursue it?

I am a first generation entrepreneur. I got into business early. There was no one to teach entrepreneurship to me. As I had my own ups and downs and experiences with entrepreneurship, I felt that I should express myself and share my experiences in a fictional format. Fiction, because I like it better than a philosophy. I started writing the manuscript back in 2012. I worked on it for a few years and stopped writing when I got too busy with work. Around 2019, I read about the Japanese concept of Ikigai and realised how much my concepts were closer to this Japanese principle. So I moulded it accordingly.

What is the main message that you want readers to take away from Me Ki Gai?

Very few people in the world are born with luck and riches so as to be successful. For the rest, it’s a journey which they have to fulfil. But the journey itself can be enjoyable and entertaining if one is willing to. Me Ki Gai is about a journey of this self discovery. If some of the conversations between Prabhudas and Parth, the protagonist, are really well understood, one can start everyday with a different attitude of positively exploring something and getting rid of the negative mindset.

What has the road to becoming a published author been like for you?

I had been working on the manuscript of Me Ki Gai since 2012. It was a very slow and steady process. I never had time to complete and publish the book. I had almost 90% of my manuscript ready but needed an external editor. During the Covid-19 lockdown, I engaged a few editors and a designer to turn the manuscript into a complete book. As the lockdown had slowed down the publishing industry, I chose Amazon KDP for the global market, and Notion Press for India as my publishers. As the book had gone through several iterations, the approvals were quick and the book was published.

How have you been coping with the current pandemic and what will be the new normal for you post it?

I used to be on the plane twice every week shuttling between Singapore, London, US, UAE and India for business meetings. Now everything has changed. Thankfully, our business is fully digital and the pandemic has actually grown the business almost 20 times. The only change for me is that I am working out of a nice home-office and farm house. It was difficult to deal with at the start but I'm getting used to it now.

Lastly, are you currently reading anything and do you have any book recommendations for our readers?

I usually read 3-4 books at any time. Right now I am reading 1984 by George Orwell, and The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution by Gregory Zuckerman (a business book). Here are some of my book recommendations:

  1. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

  2. Decision Points by George W. Bush

  3. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

The book ‘Me Ki Gai’ is available online and at your nearest bookstore.

From Jammu, J&K; Studied in DPS, Jammu.