A Gardener’s Guide To Business


I have heard several sport analogies at work, who hasn’t, right? I used several myself by sheer force of habit as you tend to absorb the jargon when you are immersed in it long enough. Like “the ball’s in their court’, ‘down to the wire’, ‘it’s a slam dunk’, etc,  sometimes getting a little mixed up about the specificity of the sports in my sports analogy.

I have been to talks where mountain climbers talked about how they overcame dangerous landscapes to reach their destination, or if they didn’t, explained how they learnt from it. Used it as a metaphor to leadership.

Although I am inspired by human endeavor of any kind, I am not into sports much unless the home team is playing, or mountain climbing for that matter. So I feel like an imposter saying the words without feeling the emotion.

So here is a solution, I want to talk about work in relation to experiences I do know. I have always wanted to write about how gardening closely aligned with my attitude towards work, team building, culture, productivity, and fulfilment.

So I decided to not wait for another gardener to pen down some garden based corporate jargon and decided to take ownership of it or creating or re-purposing garden based phrases for the workplace.

Now why gardening?

I have been enamored with gardening as long as I can remember, watching my mom’s ever changing garden growing up In India. We had a decent amount of space considering plot sizes in India and my mother and the ‘grass cutting sword’ wielding gardener did magic with the space we had. Me being a little bit of an introvert, a book worm with hobbies like singing that did not involve too many friends, the garden was a constant source of color, perspective, and inspiration for me. I relish the hours I spent literally hanging out of my house on little ledges with blankets, re-reading my favorite books and shooing away red ants whose paths in and out of the backyard mango and jackfruit trees that I rudely blocked.

In the US, I started my gardening career in parallel with my tech career as soon as we brought a house. We got a sticker shock when I explained to a landscape architect what my vision for the garden was and he, in turn, explained to me what the price tag will look like. I asked him what I could get for $5000 and his answer elicited an involuntary response of “You must be kidding me’  from deep within my soul. I told myself, I can get the equivalent of a $40K garden if I put in some thought, design, wielded a shovel and put in some sweat equity. Exactly like a startup, you put in the money, you put in the sweat or both. As with my company, I have done both with my garden as well.

So buckle up, hang tight, hold on for the ride. I mean, boots and gloves – check floppy sun hat, check, bug spray, check. And off we go digging away in the vegetable patch!


Deepa Kartha
Deepa Kartha
Deepa is the founder and CEO of Zinda, a people tech company that transforms the workplace through highly engaged employees. Deepa developed her unique purposeful productivity based leadership style working in fin-tech managing large global teams for over 20 years. Signup to Deepa's newsletters where she writes about issues faced by leaders at all levels and how to solve them with people, process and technology with a dash of EQ and humor. Zinda was named one of the 10 best employee engagement solutions in 2018 by the CIO Magazine.

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  1. Ah, I love the idea of connecting gardening and business, Deepa! I’ve been digging in the dirt myself most of my adult life; I even created and maintain the entrance gardens here in my little condo village.

    What we can’t afford to buy, we get by asking for donations. Splitting plants that are mature and too big for one space allows each part to begin anew in another place. And many residents are happy to volunteer their time to help, which is great for everyone!

    It’s much the same for my small business. What I can’t afford — or don’t want to pay for, anyway — I can often get by bartering.