Baldev Duggal always took a considerable amount of time to trek from the entrance of his building in the Flatiron District, to his upper-level office, as he stopped to visit everyone on the way. He would greet them, sharing his infectious smile, and always asking, "How do I look today?"
Of course, HE always looked great, because according to Mr. Duggal, "you look good, you feel good."
He made a point to ask each person for some good news, because to him, his employees were part of the Duggal family. He was always mindful to ensure that things were moving in a positive direction.
As he proceeded, weaving through the hallways, he would pass an iconic portrait of Andy Warhol, before finally arriving at a well-organized office and settling into a furniture set he purchased almost half a century ago. From this place he would prepare to tackle another day, to build upon his life's work, and, perhaps, add another brush stroke to his latest masterpiece -- in progress.
"Don't be afraid to dream big. Ignore the naysayers. Do, try, fail, and learn." -Baldev Duggal
Upon a beautiful wooden table, a large stack of papers existed perpetually, always in need of his attention.
The papers would consist of several matters--updates about Duggal Visual Solutions, events at the Duggal Greenhouse, meetings for his Lumi Ventures solar energy company, or perhaps some new project he was taking on. Mr. Duggal was always up for something new, ultimately venturing and finding success within the realms of art, education, photography and solar energy. His true belief in sustainable energy drove his interest to Lumi Solair and Lumi Ventures, and most recently to working to bring solar energy to Central America and India with Solar Mamas.
"Today, I dream of leaving a better world than the one I came to. I want to inspire young people to dream, to take calculated risks in life, and to never give up."
Each of the 350 members of the Duggal family has at some point shared personal time with "Mr. D" (as he was affectionately known). You never knew when you would be called in. The walls of his warm office were lined with portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Within those walls, dreams were created, passions were shared, and another big idea was always born.
By lunch time, someone is always waiting for Mr. Duggal to share his charm, his thoughts, and most likely, his Indian food. Mr. D took great pride in his roots, and would remind you more than once, "I came to America with $200 and dreamt of making more money than the President of the United States." And he actually did it. He lived and embodied the American Dream, the pinnacle of self-motivation and achievement.
"Aspirations are not uniquely American, but they sure are uniquely enabled here. Our freedom is a blessing, a birthright and a gift to our children and to the world." -Baldev Duggal
Mr. D almost always remained at the office until sundown. Constantly pushing the boundaries of his industry, he spent his days with meetings, phone calls, and pursuing various innovative endeavors aimed at reimagining a better future. He strived to never miss a day, making himself available even during the fiercest of snow storms.
As each work day came to an end, Mr. D would head to an event or function in his beloved New York City. He had engrained himself as part of his community, whether supporting art and humanitarian initiatives, or inspiring the next big local change.
I had the honor to work closely with Mr. D. He would call me into his office every day. We would talk about life, projects, journalism, writing, health, and all sort of topics. In his office, I learned how to dream with no fear, and how to make the best out of every situation life may put me in.
But each day, as the sun finally set, the time came for Mr. D to leave.
Although this time he will not return to his office, his legacy lives on within those walls, and his timeless spirit will continue to light many corners of the world. Thank you Baldev Duggal for helping to create a more picture-perfect world. Goodbye Mr. D...