He’s probably the wealthiest Indian in America. But you wouldn’t know it if you walked into his scantily clad office or his modest two-story home.
You’d probably think the complete opposite if you saw him sitting at the coffee shop answering his flip phone.
No, Manoj Bhargava doesn’t put much stock into material things. He’s more committed to the big picture.
And he’s made quite the commitment.
As a teen, Manoj Bhargava moved to the US with his parents who were well off in India. When they moved to the United States, they went from living with servants to sharing a Coca-Cola between the family.
To say they lived meagerly would be an understatement.
Manoj was a math whiz. He could calculate numbers quicker than his teachers.
He knew from an early age he saw things differently than his peers, too.
When he got accepted to Princeton University, his parents were thrilled. They were less thrilled a year later when he decided to drop out.
But Manoj couldn’t commit to four years of college. Not because he wasn’t good at committing. It was because college wasn’t helping him become the best version of himself.
And even at 19, he knew there was more to life than college.
Like most people who feel lost in life, Manoj started looking for answers. He wasn’t necessarily looking for the meaning of life.
He was just looking for some meaning in his own life.
He read about a Hindu saint who spent his life on a spiritual quest. Manoj immersed himself in all the literature he could find out about this man.
And in 1974, he packed up a small satchel with his things and began his own journey.
He went back to India and joined a monastery. He traveled from monastery to monastery doing chores, running a printing press, and working construction.
His life was broken down to the bare essentials. When he wasn’t in motion, Manoj spent his time learning how to still his mind through meditation — a practice he still uses daily.
That was his life for twelve years.
At times, he would leave the monastery to go back to the United States. He would work odd jobs that included being a taxi driver in New York City.
None of them paid well. And he always struggled.
And he always went back to India. Back to the stillness of his mind.
When he finally left India for good, he moved back home with his parents and went to work at their plastics company. Within a few years, Manoj had a plastics company of his own.
And then another. And another. And another. He was great at business.
When he committed to something, he stuck with it. He just had a hard time finding things worth committing too.
Until one day, he went to a natural products trade show.
He was given an energy drink that was impressive in its ability to keep Manoj alert and focused. But it was sixteen ounces. More than he wanted to consume in a sitting.
And it seemed like just another Red Bull — which was already on the market.
Despite being less than inspired by the sample, Manoj couldn’t get the effects of the drink out of his mind.
He wanted to replicate it. Smaller. But just as effective.
And he had no doubt that he could.
What he came up with was a shot full of vitamins, amino acids and a bit of caffeine.
He and his team worked on perfecting the drink like the one that got his attention at that trade show. In six months, they had a 2-ounce product on the shelves of hundreds of GNC stores in the country.
He called the drink 5-Hour Energy.
And people loved it.
From truck drivers to businessmen on long flights, the container was compact enough to carry on a plane and small enough to not hit the bladder and cause frequent stops while traveling.
Manoj had created the next best thing.
After GNC, his little magic bottle was in gas stations, pharmacies, and even in Walmart.
Within a few years, he was generating hundreds of millions annually. His product was and still is at the front of every convenience store in America and most grocery stores.
With a price tag around $3, sales have been holding steady for the last decade. And Manoj is proud of his product.
“IT’S NOT THE LITTLE BOTTLE. IT’S NOT THE PLACEMENT. IT’S THE PRODUCT. YOU CAN CON PEOPLE ONCE, BUT NOBODY PAYS $3 TWICE.”
The popularity of 5-Hour Energy has made Manoj a billionaire.
More than four times over.
His billionaire status, although impressive, is not what sets Manoj Bhargava apart from other entrepreneurs. It’s his commitment to the planet, that makes him someone noteworthy.
Manoj has pledged to give 99% of his fortune to charities making the world a more sustainable place to live.
He started a second company from his 5-Hour Energy earnings called Stage 2 Innovations. The mission of his newest endeavor is to create technology that provides a better quality of life for people in developing countries.
He has committed to getting clean water and electricity to the 3 billion people on this planet who don’t currently have access to it.
And he has already made huge strides.
From free electric bikes that produce up to 24 hours of electricity by pedaling only one hour — to a water desalination machine that is easy to put together and can produce thousands of gallons of water for countries in drought and famine.
Manoj’s unshakeable commitment to humanity comes from his early days when he worked many difficult jobs, but still struggled to get by.
It comes from growing up with neighbors who only had light a few hours a day in his childhood. It comes from the experiences he had while traveling through the mountains of India.
He is determined to change the world with any and all of the newest innovative ideas. No matter the cost. And without any regard to how much money he could possibly make or how much he has to spend.
He just wants to make a difference. That is his big commitment.
We all have experiences that shape us and force us to re-evaluate our life. And at times, to re-evaluate what it is that we are committed to.
How many times have you had a brilliant idea? One that you knew would bring positive change.
Was it just a fleeting idea? Was it something you thought about in passing?
Or were you excited about it? Did it make your heart speed up and your hands sweat when you talked to people about it?
We’ve all have that one thing that we knew we must do. What is yours? Have you started working on it?
If not, what happened?
Was it fear that got in the way? Was it time? What excuses are you using to not be completely committed?
Now is the time to do the things you are scared to do.
“NOW IS THE TIME TO STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF AND BE COMMITTED TO DOING IT BETTER.”
Ask for the donation. Ask for the investment. Start the non-profit. Start the business. Build the new program. Do that awesome thing you’ve been dreaming about.
Commitment is only as strong as your will to follow through. What are you committed to?
How are you going to get started today?