What I learnt from shadowing Rohan Jayaweera for 3 Weeks.

I will start this blog post with one of Jack ma’s quote.

“Go to a small company. Normally, in a big company, it is good to learn processing; you are part of a big machine. But when you go to a small company, you learn the passion, you learn the dreams. You learn to do a lot of things at one time. So before 30 years old, it’s not which company you go to, it’s which boss you follow. A good boss teaches you differently.”

I was waiting for my visa to go to the UK for my PhD and I had this crazy idea. Without wasting my 3 weeks I wanted to work under someone whom I admire. So the first person who came to my mind was my good friend Rohan Jayaweera. If you don’t know who Rohan is, you can check his

LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rohan-jayaweera-9b42a95

So he is the COO of the company named Antyra Solutions which is one of the leading digital marketing agencies in Sri Lanka. His vision is to create Antyra a 50 million$ company. Very optimistic but at the same time I can bet anything that he would achieve this goal. The reason behind my bet is that he is willing to die for his dream and not everyone would do that.

So my internship ( not sure if it is valid to declare if this is an internship though ) started off with a meeting at Rohan’s favourite meetings place Java Lounge, Jaawaththa. Meeting kicked off as Rohan bought me an Americano. First, we discussed what I was expecting from the internship. I went on to explain that I want to explore how the corporate world works, how Rohan Jayaweera thinks and especially help me to find my passion( he thinks “passion” is too cliche of a word to use though ;) ).

The first week I managed to go into a few meetings with Rohan and I was amazed by the selling skills Rohan possesses. He literally can sell ice to Eskimos. First few meetings I understood that you need to have really good selling skills if you wanna excel in any field. Selling skills would be vital in a business, in your relationships, academics and you name any field, it would be needed.

Before I go to conclusions I would point down few raw facts about Rohan Jayaweera and things we could all learn from this Sri Lankan Entrepreneur.

  1. Calendar man

I think this is something we all could get used to in life even though we are not entrepreneurs. He has a busy schedule and 95% of the time he would stick to his Google calendar.

2. Treats people very nicely

Someone could argue that he is just doing that for business but the truth is he talks to every person very sincerely. For example he even knows the doorman of Cinnamon Grand very well. The point we have to get from this quality of Rohan is that we should be really nice to everyone. This could be a pain in the a** in the beginning but when you get used to it is very hard to stop and it would come in handy in many ways.

3. He works 18 hours 365 days

There are two types of people, entrepreneurs and people who work for someone. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur you have to give it your best. You can’t be idling around if you have taken the step to work for yourself. Rohan would work until he falls dead and he likes doing that. So the message to all the budding entrepreneurs is that there are no easy routes unless you become really lucky. So make sure to put in the hours.

4. Brute force + smart working

He is not all about brute force. He is a very smart person and he would find easier ways to do things. For example, if you are one of his closest friends, his personal assistant Amy(mail bot) would start scheduling the meetings.

5. He likes to work with people who are smarter than him

Rohan is not afraid to hire a person who is smarter than him, in fact, he embraces that with open hands. Even Jack Ma has stated that you need to hire smarter people to work for you. If you work for big companies or companies which have too much politics, you figure out that bosses do not like to hire smarter people and if you are smarter they would look down upon you and you will have to go through shit and eventually you will leave the company.

6. Family Man

He is such a family man. You would see how much he loves his wife and the two kids if you be with him for a couple of days. I think it is tough to be in really good relationships these days and if you want inspiration for good relationships take a look at Rohan.

7. Wanna be the best at whatever he does.

He gives utmost importance to everything he does. Be it pitching, moderating or a TV show, he would give his best effort. I think even he is going to take a shit he would make sure it is the greatest shit ever on earth ;).This competitive nature has made him the Rohan we see today and it had driven him to be the best in his field.

8. Big on growth

He is very keen on growing and he would get feedback from everyone after a session on how to improve. During the 3 weeks, he always asked for feedback from me after a session. I think we also should follow this method since no matter how good we think we are, we can always improve.

He learns from his mistakes. This should be one of the prime qualities any person should have. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are never going to get better. Rohan is a person who has had loads of experience in his life and he has learnt a lot from them.

9. He is your best friend

This is good and scary and the same time. You start trusting this dude and start telling your darkest secrets to him. He would back you up as your best friend, no matter how busy he is he would be there for you. For example, one of the office mates met with an accident and the first person he called was Rohan(It was around 1 AM). Rohan came to the scene and help him to resolve the issue. This is how he treats his friends.

10. He loves his team so much

He would be happiest to see the growth of his team. He has created the best work environment for 32 people in his company and he works his a** out to make their lives better.

11. Very humble

For the level he is in, he has no reason to be humble. But Rohan Jayaweera is humble as any human can be. He would always listen and respect others opinions and he would never pass judgment on anything we do. I found that quality quite astonishing. We always try to pass judgments, but he never does so.

12. He is brave and bold

This quality is like a double-edged knife. He tells things to people’s face and he is not afraid to tell things. This sometimes leads to losing people and people hating him, but Rohan always says that the net gain is much higher for being truthful and straight.

13. He practices what he preaches

Not every person does what they say. Rohan Jayaweera makes sure he does what he preaches. He is willing to die for his business and he would never give up until it becomes a 50 Million USD company.

14. Every day is Friday for Rohan

This is fun as well as a true fact. We were having this talk about how people are happy about Friday evening ( I think probably some radio channel was making a hype about it is Friday night etc ). Rohan said that people are happy about Friday night is that they get to do what they like in the coming two days, but Rohan is happy every day since he gets work on his company 24*7.

I learnt more things in these 3 weeks than in my 4 years in University. It was one hell of a time. We had rides in from Tuk Tuks to Speed Boats. We had tea from Hilton to Petti Kade, We had lunch from Cinnamon Grand to Saivara Kade. We met heads of the states to all types of business owners in Sri Lanka. Above all of that, I managed to find a really good friend that I could cherish for life.

So if you have some time please go and ask the person you admire to get mentoring. You would be quite surprised to see the power of “asking”.

Go and find your mentor/best friend. Good luck.

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PhD Candidate in Usable Privacy in Cyber-Physical Systems