Through the experience of caring for his wife and young family, Hardeep Girn thought deeply about death and discovered a reason for living beyond just career success. Out of this he has developed a unique business model, combining positive outcomes for his clients and the community with his own company’s success.
Hardeep’s business pedigree is impressive. Born and raised in London, in the late 1990s he worked in a technology start-up in San Diego for three years, and then spent a few years in the fund management industry back in the UK. His involvement in technology eventually led him to high profile positions at Westpac and the NAB here in Australia, with responsibility for high value corporate work. He was the consummate senior executive, and his business life was dedicated solely to profits and shareholder gain.
Today he is taking a very different approach.
“We’re here to help our clients and the community in business, life and health using media to entertain, create influence, build reputation and build opportunity,” he explained.
His business is multi-faceted, stretching from executive and corporate mentoring and “life story” videos to pro-bono documentary work for not-for-profit organisations and regular internet TV shows on health topics.
All this new thinking has come out of an intensely painful period for his family.
Family comes first
Hardeep’s wife, Rav, fell ill in 2012. She fought through the worst of times, spending eight months in hospital as her doctors struggled to treat the rare disease fungal meningitis.
She lost her hearing, suffered seizures, was unable to walk or talk, and her body was ravaged both by meningitis and the inevitable debilitation of a lengthy hospital stay.
Hardeep stood by her at every moment of those agonising months, while at home he was looking after their one-year-old daughter, Avarni, now six, and son Krish, now 11.
He stopped working entirely. Instead, he drove from Kellyville to the Westmead hospital and back daily to stand by Rav, but was up early to see the kids off to school, and home in time to make their dinner.
After so many months in hospital, doctors finally planned a treatment using thalidomide — the infamous drug better known for causing birth defects — as an immune depressant. Within weeks Rav was responding, although she remained severely disabled.
Rather than watch his darling wife fade away in hospital, Hardeep brought her home, gave up any idea of working and became Rav’s full-time carer. At that time, there was very little government help and no income.
“I became the world’s best housewife,” he said, “and it was a 24/7 responsibility.”
With great delight, Hardeep said that today Rav can talk and she can also cook. She is on programs to help rebuild her strength and restore connections with her family and the community, to allow her to function as normally as possible.
With NDIS support and assistance from other government services now taking care of Rav’s personal care, and transport to hospital visits and even local social events, Hardeep began to think about returning to work.
Returning to the fray
In 2014, Hardeep opened his new company, the Know My Group, with Know My Business as his first offering. Know My Business caters to individual executives and corporate clients.
“We do an in-depth interview on camera where the executive can explore his own offering or speak directly to customers, staff, the industry and other stakeholders. The video can then be used to promote the executive and his company through social media,” Hardeep explained.
“Our core business is about making connections between companies to realise unseen opportunities, and also bringing individual talented executives and companies together, and creating a perfect fit.”
To do this Hardeep has developed an extraordinary network of companies and well placed individuals.
Know My Business is a member of 25 chambers of commerce around Australia, with connections to 15,000 businesses, he said. Add that to his network of major corporate clients and small and medium sized enterprises, and he oversees a vast number of contacts from his headquarters in the Hills.
“Many businesses have no idea of their value proposition, so we help them to understand what makes them unique and show them how to present themselves to future partners,” he said. “Social media today are the perfect way to build relationships, and we find video is the most effective medium to influence people.”
Using his network and internet media, Hardeep has unearthed some fantastic opportunities for companies and individuals to make productive connections.
“I must emphasise, Know My Business is also about taking time to understand how you can spend as much quality of life with your loved ones, with the aim of being successful both at home and in business,”
“One thing that kept going through my mind during those years was that if Rav had passed away, our one-year-old daughter would never know her mother. So we now offer Know your Life interview videos for people to tell their story on screen for future generations and as a memento for relatives still living.
“Everyone has a story to tell and we make the process very easy, with the production crew coming to a location of your choice.”
Making video work for community good
Hardeep has assisted many high profile not-for-profit organisations, with his company working pro-bono. In 2016, through his Know My Life program, Hardeep was able to bring the KARI organisation, an Indigenous not-for-profit foster care group, together with the Commonwealth Bank.
As a team, they produced a long-form documentary video for the KARI cause.
Called Walking the Land Together, the film was entered in the Sundance Film Festival. As executive producer, Hardeep was made a member of the Australian Film Institute, which has led to many more contacts for his own business.
“But that’s just a by-product. KARI got to a broad target audience for a genuine issue, including a red carpet premiere screening and press coverage. There was visibility for the corporate support of the bank, and they were able to show how committed they are to indigenous issues,” Hardeep said with a great deal of satisfaction.
“We’ve already helped 25 not-for-profit organisations, but funnily enough, those relationships we’ve formed have led to our business becoming more successful. It’s not just about earning a dollar but also helping others that are in need in local and national markets, and we’re getting into international markets.”
His latest project is Know My Health, which involves producing an internet TV show called Recover Me to showcase the journeys that people have taken in recovering from chronic conditions.
With the 37-minute pilot completed and up on the internet, a slew of new shows will roll out in 2018. These shows will cover sugar and diabetes, laughter and happiness, meningitis, dementia and mental health.
“We believe the Recover Me series can take many Australians on a positive new health journey,” said Hardeep.
Hardeep is a whirlwind of positive energy, determination and irrepressible passion. At just 42, with his career stretching out in front of him, he will no doubt continue to make more significant contributions to the community.
“I want to leave a legacy for my kids, a memory that Dad had a successful business, but most of all that I aimed to do good in the community.”
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