On the phone with Papa

Even at my age, when it comes to issues of business and strategy, networking and building long term relationships with clients and customers, ethics and dignity, or even, integrity and professionalism, I turn to that fount of all "it’s just not done" mentor of mine, Papa.

Today, I called him, as any child does, in times of need, to talk to him about money 🙂 Unlike my college days, however, I wasn’t *cough* calling home every month, this time I needed some advice on how to juggle competing revenue streams. A problem every father should face, at least after said child has graduated from college long enough already!

I read somewhere, and I wish I could remember where, I’ll link up when I remember, that as the corporation’s strategist’s start analyzing the core competencies, they need to evaluate each potential lob with a view to integrating into a single vision. Similarly, if I am my own CEO, then I need to look at my "resume" if you will, as these days it’s your entire output on the net and not just what’s on two sheets of paper, as my corporation. That is how Papa has always done it. When he first moved to India, during the tail end of the Asian Tiger recession of 1985-86 from Malaysia, where they had sold the factory, he started at least three if not four ventures simultaneously, one in Singapore, one in Australia, one in the US and of course, two in India. Bhan Consultants Pvt Ltd being one of them, of which I was the principal from 1997, after leaving HP, for an intriguing offer by Scientific Atlanta VSAT division, SAARC region, of a retainer for just two days a week for a bit more than half my monthly salary. Manoj used to say I was such a lateral thinker that I often fell off the map 🙂 The opportunity and the challenge were a Pandora’s Box for poor little me, really, since one of  my uncles has been nagging me to stop working for others for years.

And I, I was always afraid. Why? What’s there to be afraid of? It’s not like I hadn’t seen the ups and downs of a variety of ventures as various members of my family tried their hand at entreprenuership. It’s supposedly our rite of passage into true adulthood. At least, if you are a Gupta. Oh boy. What a tremendous load to be born with. You see, I just realized, as I saw my grandfather and father go to work everyday, that business didn’t stop at 5pm if you were the owner and caretaker of the company. So, my biggest problem in my "employed for others" phase was behaving in the only professional manner I had seen, that of a CEO. Oops. Talk about a culture clash right there.

Employees are supposed to be humble. And I forgot some of the most basic tenets of my family’s teachings, that you must be humble if you are to be truly hindu. Or in the words of my father, an elegant echo of my earlier post ,

"Don’t look at the money.

Money means nothing now.

Act as though it doesn’t matter. "

i.e. as The Bhagavad Gita says,

    Perform every action with your heart fixed on the Supreme Lord.
    Renounce attachment to the fruits.

    Be even-tempered in success and failures, for it is this evenness of
    temper which is meant by Yoga.

    Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done
    without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender

Hey Dad! Guess what? I finally figured out what you’ve been saying all these years. Oh boy. I never quite thought I’d grow up and turn into my father. Help! Mummy!

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