Aman Brar | Crain's Indianapolis

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Aman Brar


Canvas is an Indianapolis-based company that created a text-based screening and interviewing platform for employers and recruiters, allowing them to screen more candidates and better reach millennials.

The Mistake:

Growing up a child of immigrants in the U.S. provided me a lot of benefits, but it also led me down a very individualistic path. In my home, my parents always stressed that there were “no excuses” and, if I put in enough effort and hustle, I could accomplish anything I wanted.

My upbringing was focused on valuing personal accountability, whether that involved seeing a racial slur spray painted on my door or struggling on a test at school. Excuses were just that ... excuses.

From the very onset of my professional career, I recalled and appreciated the powerful notions my parents instilled in me. But it also forced me to think of everything in life as an individual effort. If I wanted to accomplish great things it was up to me to work harder or be smarter. I looked at everything from a very self-centric approach.

Early in my career, I was lucky enough to have a great mentor who changed my way of thinking. Brett Flinchum got me to understand that if I thought about the world as a team and engaged and motivated others to accomplish great things I could accomplish more than I ever could on my own.

I can get 100-times more things done being part of a group than I could on my own.

The Lesson:

They say every strength is also a weakness. I could have easily fallen into a trap of only wanting to accomplish big things through personal effort and grit. But what I found out, particularly through lessons taught by legendary Indiana high school coach Dick Dullaghan, is that to make a real impact in the world I needed to support, empower and invest in others.

My journey ended up coming full circle when it comes to really embracing parts of my upbringing that are special and important to me, like a “no excuses” mentality. I now know that I can’t accomplish great things just on my own. Instead, I must build and invest in people and watch the systems help create and accomplish great things. It’s ten times as powerful and meaningful to experience the joys of success as a group than as an individual.

In the maturation process I went through, I had to learn that it wasn’t just about me. I‘m grateful I had a mentor when I was an impressionable 21-year-old who understood that leadership is about the people and not the person. 

I figured out the difference I can make in the people around me. I can get 100-times more things done being part of a group than I could on my own. That was not an instantaneous moment of enlightenment. In fact, I now look back and see the snowball turning into an avalanche. I look back at the teams I was fortunate enough to work with both at ChaCha and Apparatus and now at Canvas. The best part of my day is coming in and working with a group of amazing and talented people and getting things done as a team.

Twenty years ago I would have started each day thinking: “What can I accomplish today?” I wish I would have known it before. I would have been more effective professionally at ages 21, 25 and 30 if I had some of these insights back then.


Follow Aman Brar on Twitter at @amandbrar.

Pictured is Aman Brar. | Photo courtesy of Canvas.