Business, Entrepreneurship

Five reasons why Shipping is an interesting career choice

Why the shipping industry is an interesting career choice

I used to work for a stock exchange for nearly 3 and half years after my B-School stint. Hence when I decided to shift to the shipping industry, quite a few eyebrows were raised. I myself wasn’t sure what I wasn’t walking into when I joined Maersk Line India Pvt. Ltd.  (Part of AP Moller Group, Denmark) As part of their Global Leadership Program (MLGP) this year

However, nearly half a year in the firm, and I find the industry and extremely interesting one to work with. Quite a few myths were broken down as I settled down in the industry that is hardly known in B-School campuses in India, let alone people from other walks of life

First let me give a brief idea about the industry. Shipping can happen either in containers (the ones you see in Bollywood movies – used to carry apparels, automobiles in normal containers and food products like fruits or fish in air-conditioned ones- Maersk Line is into container shipping industry for example,) or in open large metal plates (known as break-bulk shipping – use to carry minerals, crude oil etc).

Let me list 5 aspects of the industry which makes it an interesting career proposition:

  • The application of knowledge acquired in B-Schools

Mugged up those macro-economic books? Know everything about international trade? Discussed FDI in retail over cups of coffee? Well, if there an industry if you can apply all those you learnt, it is this industry. Which markets India should import from or export to? Which industries and which seasonality should one look at? The application of those economic and finance fundamentals and correlation with your daily work is what would define our work here


Photo taken by author – containerized cargo is being lifted by cranes from a vessel

  • The people

Well, we do use a lot of gadgets at work– we have our iPads and Blackberries and Laptops, but at the end of the day, we work with our colleagues. And the shipping industry has perhaps the most diverse group of people working under the same umbrella organization. From people who work in ports, operating gigantic cranes to lift containers, to people who use the most sophisticated software to record data and keep it in a usable form, there are people with knowledge in wide range of human endeavor

  • The depth and variety in the industry

In most industries in this world – you work either in the manufacturing or the service sector. Here is an industry where you can work in the two extremes – you can be in sales or customer services, or you can be in the frontline operations, giving details of vessels that leave or enter the ports and related technical information


The inside of a reefer container (temperature controlled, used to carry sea food etc) (photo by author)

  • Chances of exciting global roles

Most of the big shipping firms are headquartered outside India, or have significant operations outside India. It means a good performance can lead to exciting roles, globally. And these would not be the usually “big economic hubs” like London or New York. But can include exotic places like Brazil, Central America, Western Africa and the Middle East. This also means an opportunity to work with, interact and know people from different cultures – exchange notes on food habits, arts, literature and lifestyle

  • Responsibilities at young age and matching remuneration

The shipping industry is a very young industry. The average age across shipping companies and functions barely touches 30. Hence the responsibilities and ownership of business processes come early.


A young manager at work in the MLIPL office

However, the variety of roles, non-repetitive nature of work, opportunity to undertake interesting rotations and hands-on experience with a great mentor-buddy system means the industry rarely burns out people. Plus, a senior role at young age means good remuneration, bonuses and incentives, and subsequent low rates of attrition. It’s very difficult to come across people who have worked in the industry for less than 5 years

Overall, a very interesting career prospect indeed!

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Business, Leadership, Politics

Modi, the management guru

I first heard of Narendra Modi, like many others, post the unfortunate Godhra incident and the subsequent riots that shook the collective conscience of the nation. Before that, I must admit, I had never heard of him. In fact, in those days, the only two CMs of any state I knew of was the West Bengal CM and the Tripura CM – Bengal because of obvious reasons and Tripura – because the person concerned had a long reign at the top. And I knew vaguely about the Delhi CM, and knew that “one of the two” were CMs in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh

In those days, I, like most young men of my state, were enamored of so-called “leftist” ideals, and found Modi to be a hate figure. Over cups of coffee, reading about his interviews, his “methods” in various magazines, I had a strong dislike for him. Then I got admitted to an engineering college, and started concentrating on my studies. NaMo gradually slipped out of my mind, almost _ though some reports of the Best Bakery case, the Sardar Sarovar Dam protest, the “ban” on Fanaa just about kept him alive in my mind

The next time I heard of him was when a professor in the college where I was doing my MBA came out with a report on how NaMo had used masks of himself to spread his message and keep his persona alive and kicking. We had a long discussion over cups of coffee in the canteen over this strategy, and the parallel it had with the world of marketing, specifically, brand positioning

It is at this point of time that I began to take interest in the management guru (not the politician, not the stylish gentleman). Here was a man who did not have much formal education, yet symbolized and stood for many of the principles and theories taught in long lectures and to which many people owe their PhDs

I have picked here 5 aspects based on 5 incidents of NarendraBhai

1. The masks before 2007 Elections and Swami Vivekananda in 2012

It’s a oft repeated statement in marketing that if you keep reminding a customer something over and over again, chances are – he will not forget to buy the product. Here the “product” was an idea – “Brand Modi” or rather, the implicit message “Vote for Modi”. Now there is a risk in this – “what if the idea is oversold? What if the customer, here the voter, gets angered and refuses to vote?”

The answer to this is simple. Again, using a marketing parlance, if we consider the 4Ps of marketing – first P would be the “product”. If the “product” is value for money, “positioning” will bring a smile on the face, rather than irritate the customer. An example of a bad “product” over positioned and angering the customers, in the world of politics, would be, without going into great details, celebration of birth and death anniversaries of “certain leaders” in all leading newspapers, and crediting anything under the sun to them. That does not apply to NaMo. He has delivered over the last 5 years, hence the “brand recall mechanism” created through masks worked to a great positive effect (

In the past few months, NaMo has made Swami Vivekananda as his own. It is said that he is a big fan of the 19th Century Great and has spent a significant time in Ramkrishna Mission in Calcutta, which was established by Swami-ji himself. (it is rumored the respect towards Swami-ji also comes from sharing the same first name – Vivekananda’s real name was “Narendra Nath Datta”). It’s also a matter of luck for NaMo that Swami-Ji’s 150th Birth anniversary falls in 2012, election year in Gujarat. And NaMo made great use of this as a political weapon – tweets, blog posts, youth fairs, yatras, even cricket kits given away as rpizes – everything had a brand association with the great Ascetic. NaMo projected him as a symbol of great Hindu pride ( Here the management lesson seems tobe a clever association with a well known “brand” (personality in this case), who has great brand potential, yet has not been used by anyone else for some reason

2. Focus on women and children

This is not an attempt to be sexist, but the ladies generally make more rational voters. They vote based on issues which affect their livelihood, budget and less on matters of caste or religion. Modi understood this perfectly well. Right from day1, his focus has been more towards the women and the first time voters. He was faced with a serious challenge as far as women’s literacy and health and nutrition issues were concerned. And he took on these issues head on – he introduced several schemes for girls – “kanya kelavani”, giving away money earned from selling gifts given to him as charity to organizations fighting female foeticide etc ( ) . The message was clear and simple – “Ladies’, I care for you, something very basic which many leaders in this country don’t”. This simple message found a lot of takers. Today he has a dedicated vote bank. He followed a simple management principle – choose your target wisely and kept on persisting with his promotion

3. Modi, the darling of the corporates

It’s an old fact in the history of politics that businessmen and politicians are the best of friends. The reason is not hard to fathom. Each one of them feed off the other. The politician needs funds; the businessmen need the right business environment. Modi was clever enough to realize this fact very early. He had realized how the incidents of 2002 had damaged his reputation in certain sections of society. He had to find an alternate way to build a reputation. And he chose the path of development. Development would require funds, and for most of his tenure he had had to deal with a hostile government at the center. So he thought of an alternate way – business

The people he governed are ones with good business acumen, he reasoned. So why not give them an ideal opportunity to carry out business? There is the story of how when the Tatas decided to pull out of Singur, Modi immediately send an SMS to Ratan Tata welcoming him to Gujarat, and a dejected Ratan Tata didn’t have too many alternatives but to invest in Gujarat ( ). Uninterrupted supply of power, almost unheard of in other states of India barring a couple in the North-East, broadband connectivity in almost every village of Gujarat means both large and small scale industry has thrived as well as benefits of mdern technology could be used by the people

He has made business easier to be carried out, and this has been an invitation for investors, from not just in India, but from other parts of the world as well to flock to invest in Gujarat. The “Vibrant Gujarat” summits” have seen MoUs worth lakhs of crores being signed, and a significant portion implemented as well, which has brought huge investments to the state. Corruption has almost been eliminated, setting up business is easier than many parts of India, and the infrastructure (road networks, ports etc) compares to best in the world. Reduced costs and red tape has made investing attractive, bringing down unemployment significantly. This has had domino effects in terms of healthcare, sanitation etc and education. People have more money to buy better agricultural products, thus bringing up agricultural productivity. Higher returns mean they have more money to send their children to school; arrange for more nutritious food and make better sanitary arrangements. Thus Gujarat has entered into a virtuous cycle of higher income -> more taxes -> better quality of life. A simple lesson of finding what your customers (in this case the voters) need the most and provide that service the best turned out to be a trump card for Modi

4. Use of technology + social media and great back-up and PR-team


Narendra Modi has 1 million followers on twitter ( ). Now, that is no mean feat. Leaders far bigger to him as far as constitutional authority is concerned, heads of state, etc have far fewer followers. It is here he scores big. He understood the value of technology and social media, something which would appeal to the youth and place from where he can take direct feedback from. It also helped him spread his message quicker and cheaper. He has taken potshots at his political rivals, showcased his methods and results and has connected to a segment of the population that is rarely given too much attention – the aspirational middle class. His use of 3-D hologram technology turned out to be a huge hit wherein he could be heard and seen, as if live in a number of places at one time ( ), as did his Google+ hangout hosted by actor Ajay Devgn( )

NaMo has a great back-up team and an efficient PR-team, which not just keeps posted about him, helps spread his message on the social media, but also does great research for him. For example, when he went to China earlier this year, he had his visiting cards made in Mandarin, besides of course, having done solid research on the business environment of the country ( ). The Management lesson obviously is  have a good back-up team and to be well prepared when visiting a potential client (here he was wooing Chinese investors to Gujarat, and created the simple analogy of being the “two fastest growing economies in Asia”

5. Turning adversity into advantage

Narendra Modi has inherited a state ravaged by an earthquake and jolted by communal riots. Red-tapism, nepotism, poor infrastructure almost engulfed the entrepreneurial spirit of his subjects. However, in 10 years, he not just turned it around for the state, but for his own image itself – his lack of immediate family members barring his ageing mother and estranged mother (rumors of a wife were later found to be unfounded) kept him away from own personal gains, aided by his RSS-background discipline. He has cleverly molded his own image with that of Gujarat. Any insult to him was turned into an insult to “6 crore Gujarati”, his own portrayal as a “CM = Common Man” and “servant of the masses”, evoking of “Gujarati asmita” or pride has made him a man of the masses he lorded over. And the opposition – Congress, has fallen time and again into cleverly laid traps. In 2007, Sonia Gandhi called him “maut ka saudagar” or “Merchant of Death”, and he immediately used this to his advantage by claiming this was an insult to the state. Needless to say, he won by a thumping margin (–maut-ka-saudagar–sonia-cong-tread-carefully-on–muslim–issues/1042507/ ). Even this time around, during the campaign he was called a monkey by the Gujarat Congress Chief (  ), which he immediately turned into “Lord Hanuman out to serve Lord Ram – the people of Gujarat” argument ( ). Here the management lesson is “take stones thrown at you and turn them into milestones”

It is difficult to predict whether Narendra Modi will win Gujarat, leave alone to go the national scene as a possible PM-candidate. But history will remember him as one of the longest serving CM of Gujarat. And his legacy of trying to bring all round development as well as his methods of electioneering, bringing in industries and taking care of deprived sections of the society will remain for long, a lesson in management for a lot of people

It can be argued none of this matters as far as voting is concerned, people vote a host of issues; even if he wins in Gujarat, he won’t be able to replicate it elsewhere and such claims. Well, all these can be argued, statements and counter-statements put in, but what matters is that these are some of the traits that very few leaders in India has shown. It is of little wonder then, that he will have several spokespersons who will speak on his behalf, not out of fear or greed, but out of love ( )

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Twitter image of Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal – India’s newest leader ?

Arvind Kejriwal by now has seen it all. Right from the day he became part of Team Anna at Jantar Mantar grounds at the historic fast to this week, when he launched the Aam Aadmi Party. On Nov 26 though on twitter, Arvind Kejriwal asked a very pertinent question to the media –

To this particular question, a lot of eminent personalities, writers, journalists and ardent followers of this phenomenon called Arvind Kejriwal have replied – and these replies truly cover the views of what the luminaries of the nation think about the nation’s media –

Answer by Pritish Nandy –

Not to be left behind, the irepressible Rajdeep tweeted in a way only he can – Reply by Rajdeep Sardesai –

Twitter image of Arvind KejriwalWhats indeed interesting is that while the media had a total blackout at the launch of the Aam aadmi Party – no one missed the news anyways! The news was all over Facebook and Twitter and Emails. Nearly every email group I am part of discussed about the Aam Aadmi Party. The point with Aam Aadmi party though is that, just a launch function will not be enough. A party is judged by the work it does and the newly formed party has a long way to go.

But none the less, Arvind Kejriwal has had a brilliant start indeed and as a mass leader he certainly looks capable enough to take Anna’s stance ahead in today’s world, in a more relevant manner. One thing particularly noticeable about the Aam Aadmi Party is the way India against corruption facebook group or Aam Aadmi Party Twitter accounts are already generating a massive following among the public. By doing this, Kejriwal is certainly presenting the youth with a credible option to consider for sure. Further, lets admit it, Facebook and twitter are perhaps the fastest modes of crowd mobilisation today, and will continue to grow as more and more Indians start using smartphones. Given this, the policy of using social media as a mass communications tool is indeed laudable.

In fact, almost all campaigning for Obama’s elections of 2012 was keenly contested and propagated on Social media, and now, even India, at least the Internet-enabled India is going to be increasingly influenced by these Social media behemoths and activity done on them. Particularly interesting is how this IIT alumnus is speaking at various centers about what change needs to be brought about in India.

Arvind Kejriwal’s speech in IIT Madras –

Part 2 –

Part 3 –

Part 4-

The words are indeed thought provoking to say the least. But corruption is an issue, and elections aren’t won over issues – they are won over votes. The votes gathering, the awareness generation etc are processes that take time. Will the Aam Aadmi Party be able to overcome all those obstacles ? What are your views about the Aam Aadmi Party ? Do you identify with the need of the Aam Aadmi Party?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Balasaheb Thackeray

Balasaheb Thackeray – an example in visionary leadership

Balasaheb Thackeray

His Antyayatra ( the last journey ) to the cremation grounds was perhaps the grandest ceremony witnessed by Mumbai after Babasaheb Ambedkar’s passing in 1956. On a Sunday afternoon, 20 lakh ( 2 million ) people came out of their homes, and stood peacefully in the Shivaji Park ground to witness the cremation of their leader. Note that these weren’t people hastily assembled. In today’s Mumbai, getting even 1000 people at an event is considered to be an achievement, given the distances and the wide ranging priorities of people.

And yet, 20 lakh people turned up on Sunday to see their leader for one last time. Clearly, such an event does not happen for an ordinary individual. But Balasaheb wasn’t ordinary. He was much more than that. Over the past few days, I have seen so many ‘intellectuals’ criticise sitting on their comfortable armchairs the work done by him and his party. Firstly, to all these intellectuals, I would say, that he created an organisation which did work. And not one which would turn up every five years to the doorstep for votes. Believe it or not, Sena does work at a local level – and it works for the common man like no other organisation can or will.

So what work does Sena do? Giving you three practical instances of works done by the Shivsena Shakhas ( Giving Mumbai examples because I stay here) – A college demands a capitation fees of Rs. 5 Lakh from a middle class family to admit a meritorious student. A lot of middle class families cannot afford this kind of donations. The Sena helps this student and her family. Now, is this ‘Gundagiri’ or is this ‘social work’ ? In the eyes of the press, it will be ‘Gundagiri’. But at ground level in Mumbai, given the depressing and growing rift between the rich and poor, its social work. Its work that secures that families’ future prospects. Its work that gives a deserving student a chance to actually fulfil her dreams. Now, is this work in the eyes of people who live in Mumbai – Yes.

Another case – There was an accident on the road in the middle of the street involving a bike and a car. A full blown crowd of 500 people comes around the scene. But no one wants to touch the bike rider and take him to the hospital. The bike rider is bleeding and can lose consciousness given the blood loss. At this juncture, people from the local Shakha turn up and actually take this injured bike rider to hospital. Again – Is this work in the eyes of people who live in Mumbai – Yes it is.

Another case – a couple live in a 1 BHK flat – an 85 year old man and a 82 year old woman. The 85 year old man passes away for some reason, and their kin cannot reach back in say 12 hours. At this juncture, whats required is on the ground help as well as emotional support. In the area I lived, there was only one organisation that gave this kind of support. One last time – is this work in the eyes of people who live in Mumbai – Yes it is. Note – for all the above three incidents, I was personally an eye witness.

Now coming back to who was Balasaheb Thackeray – He founded the Shiv Sena – an organisation which through its network of Shakhas does local work. Is this not leadership as we learnt in B-schools? I certainly think so. The difference being that unlike other armchair intellectuals, he created an organisation that did work fearlessly. And it worked for the local people. Given the prevalent social fabric of Mumbai, the need for such an organisation was & is immense. Now, the question of whether everything done by Shiv Sena is praiseworthy. I don’t think they intended everything to be praiseworthy in the first place. It was in no sense an ideal political party. Could they have done more when they were in power- certainly Yes. But there is no question that they tried – They completed 45 bridges in Mumbai in those 5 years.

I don’t think Balasaheb created the ideal political party. But that wasn’t the goal either. He created a party that did work. And Mumbai critically wanted doers . Mumbai’s socio-economic problems at the ground level are so complex that only those who have lived in Mumbai could care to appreciate them. Mumbai is a city where for every Nariman Point, there is a Kurla ; for every Bandra Kurla Complex, there is a Dharavi ; for every airport, there are stretches of slums surrounding them. To add to this, there are ever increasing migrants. Transportation, traffic are unsolvable problems in Mumbai almost now. Further, Mumbai has been a favorite terrorist target and gets hit with torrential rains every season. Given all of this, an organisation that did work at the ground level is so badly needed. And Balasaheb created that organisation.

So, there you go, this was the reason why 20 Lakh people turned up at the cremation ground that Sunday. Balasaheb and his organisation touched these many lives, and lives of so many more watching on TV. Critics continue to criticise the man, but the fact of the matter is that Balasaheb was himself a doer and he created a party of doers. For creating this organisation and doing work in a city all social activists had given up upon, Balasaheb deserves the respect and affection that he rightfully gets.

Rest in Peace, Balasaheb! 

(Views are author’s own )

(Image: 1)

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Meet renowned Indian Cartoonists – Event Note

It is said, and quite rightly so that its easier to make people cry than to make them laugh. One job then which would be completely unenviable would be that of a cartoonist, who have taken upon themselves to make people laugh week on week. One such cartoonist and an avid reader is Shreyas Navare. Apart from his day job, he is a famous cartoonist who runs Dabs and Jabs on Hindustan times for more than four years now! This exhibition at the Nehru Center is a show case of his original sketches, and whats more, many of these sketches will also go on Sale at the exhibition . This is your chance to meet R K Laxman, Rana Kapoor ( MD of Yes Bank ) and Ad guru Alyque Padamsee. So, do make it a point to visit the Nehru Center, Worli, Mumbai between 20 to 26 November! Here is the event invite to all Readers ( also below the post ) –

Especially when you are a political / current affairs cartoonist, you have to be able to put your thoughts almost instantly into your cartoon strip for impact. Here are three leadership lessons one can learn from cartoonists

1. Timeliness – The cartoons have to strike you when the topic is hot or much discussed.

2. Wit – Wit is an essential ingredient of Cartoons. Perhaps the oldest proponent of witty cartoons is the team of cartoonists from Amul . Posting two examples of wit over here.


3. An all rounder of repute – A cartoonist has to necessarily be well versed in so many aspects of life. A good sketcher, with an artist’s eye for detail, with excellent current affairs knowhow and an inborn knack for humour is an unusual combination indeed!


Event Invite –

Would you like to hear about unique events happening in your neighborhood on ? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook Page ( See link on the right side )




Sources – 1 2 3


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Sons of the Soil – The story of Bhumi

 'BHUMI - Center for learning Grassroots Leadership' The following article is part of a series on – called Startup September. In one sentence, Bhumi is a 3 year old NGO that lights the fire that questions questionable leadership.

The anatomy of an itch serves as an irritant. Its symptoms include a certain hyperactivity that transcends your daily functions. A certain itch exists in all of us, show me a perfectly happy and content man and I’ll show you the disappearance of the itch. This itch manifests itself in various forms. Necessity is termed as the mother of invention, to extrapolate; this itch is the mother or innovation.

Innovation takes shape in a lot of ways, some ideas that get implemented, saved time, money or even a novel approach. In this case, let me take the example of an entrepreneurial venture that decided on a problem, focused its energies in solving it and got taken seriously. This approach is not much different to all the other stories that we read every so often. The difference however lies in the problem – Leadership, and the solution designed around it – an NGO called Bhumi.

A group of 5 people got together around late 2005 and started fomenting ideas amongst themselves. The ideas kept bouncing around and reached fruition in May 2006 when Bhumi was found. The group that met and discussed ideas came from backgrounds as diverse as software, media, sales and Journalism. They pin-pointed the root of our country’s troubles as a lack of leadership and immediately set about rectifying the situation. From the band of 5, only Mujeeb and Rakesh persist today while the rest have gone on to pursue their own inclinations outside the walls of Bhumi. The story of leadership is one which is steeped in time but has never found an audience, much less a cause to identify itself with. Bhumi looked at this as an opportunity and went ahead with trying to rectify this situation.

The vision for Bhumi is to groom leaders towards better leadership. Bhumi believes in inculcating leadership in every field that one might step in and it is in this approach of Bhumi that their novelty lies. Founded in Hyderabad, they focus on leadership with a holistic vision and look at offshoots like entrepreneurial incubation. They also have an incubation program going strong at Mahboobnagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

bhumi2Bhumi has a number of programs that are in keeping with their vision. Dronacharya and Eklavya program, a mentoring program for youngsters where a select group of mentors and coaches take school-children under their wings is into its 3rd year and garnering good attention both from the media and the contributors alike. Freedom under construction, a program that kicks off every Independence Day and carries on into the year is also a highlight for Bhumi. On 15th August 2007, about 1500 people came together to support their cause while rebuilding a school building in a slum in Hyderabad. This also happens to be the fondest memory that their co-founder Rakesh has of Bhumi.

The journey to implement Bhumi has never really been an easy one with the initiative starting off as an idea and implementation deemed a stretch. Friday evenings that could have been spent catching up on movies and mall hopping went into Bhumi. Most weekends were spent incubating Bhumi and coming up with ideas that made sense. Overlapping timings meant that there was someone or the other left to baby sit the idea while the others went off on their day jobs.

Overall, a tremendously ambitious project, Bhumi hopes to spread its wings and re-invent itself in other cities as well. Bhumi is proud of its youthful image and hopes that it is this image of vibrancy that will propel it forward.

Find out more about Bhumi on

(Check other posts of Meghbartma here . If you like our articles, do join our facebook fan page .)

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Business, Human Resources, IIM

Detachment and leadership

We welcome our latest strater, Amit S Holey, an alumnus of the SP Jain PGDSM – MIT course. Amit also blogs here.

Leadership is one of the most coveted yet one of the toughest roles in any industry. The jazz and awe that accompanies any leadership position also carries with it the burden of tough decisions . As Spiderman teaches us- ” With great power comes great responsibility“. One of such compelling tasks is the ability to get detached and move on.

Two dynamic leaders from the technology industry have been in news recently. Both are founding fathers of great technology companies. Yet their attitudes have been contrasting and surprisingly so. Nandan Nilekani has been appointed by the Prime Minister as in charge of the UIDAI of the prestigious project. Two years ago, following the footsteps of NRN Murthy, he had already moved onto the co chairman role clearing the way for others. Now, there is a talk of further upward movement of the new generation of leaders. Nandan and NRN have moved on and let the sapling they planted blossom under other leaders.

Compare this with Apple. Steve Jobs has held a vice like grip and instilled deep fear in the minds of its employees. There is absolute secrecy over his health, so much so that the rumours floating in the media are furtively traced to the employee. All new products under development are fiercely guarded within the Labs itself in such secrecy that even the top echeleons of Apple are at times fazed to hear about the launches. Steve’s health has been deteriorating and the truth has been stifled from reaching the media. There is an interim CEO, but reports say he is just that- an interim CEO. Jobs is in the classic leadership dillemma. He just does not seem to let go of his baby – Apple.It maybe the one of the highly innovative companies, but it is reckoned to be a scary place to work.

An organization is akin to a family. The family head is the provider for the members and has the duty to nurture the youngsters in the family. With the passage of time, it is the duty of the family head to pass on the responsibilities  and step out of the role. S/he may mentor, but Nature forces the passing of the baton in such subtle but strong ways that the next generation has to come up and the old has to step down. It is the Law of Life to ensure the process of Evolution. When the old generation tends to hold on, it leads to skirmishes and sometimes even breach of the Family concept.

Similar is the case with the organizations -albeit at an abstract level. Founding fathers must understand and respect the Law of Life. They must pass on the baton and move on. Latching onto their positions only rottens the company and slowly starts to run counter to all the earlier work. Attachment is the root of all evils. Survival instinct is the strongest of all animal behaviours and that very instinct perhaps breeds selfishness that causes attachment. Bhagvad Gita, therefore says – ” Do your duty rightfully and do not worry about the fruits. They shall come eventually.”

Only when one moves on, will one evolve. Only when one moves on, will the others evolve. Hoarding creates nothing, but destroys the very thing that it holds.

Remember the movie ‘Dilli 6’. The feathers of Masakalli – the pigeon are tied as Om Puri wishes to retain the bird forever. In the same way, he stifles his own daughter too. She secretly mines a passion to sing in the ” Indian Idol”, but family resistance keeps her down. Nobody is happy this way. Only when Masakalli is untied and let free, does she scream into the air and fly away. The freer the bird, the higher it flies and the happier you are. Do not strangle the bird and choke yourself. Love it and let it fly. It is yours and always yours.

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Business, Sports

Dont be a Leader… Be a Thought-Leader!!

Shantan, who joined our team a few days back, has now brought in his second post. You can check his previous post here


Aah!! Thats the word we keep hearing in management jargon all the time.
Every CEO in the corporate world talks about it, and every interview in a business magazine is sprinkled with the words.

The word has become so cliched.

But i am not a big fan of leadership or being a leader.
Thats coz i discovered another kind of a leader: the Thought Leader.

Look around you.
In your school project teams, ur classroom project teams, your sports teams, your organization- you will find two kinds of leaders.
One is the leader who has the visible responsibility for leading a team or an organization. This is the one who manages every aspect of the team, and takes decisions.
But there is also one more kind of leader.

The thought leader.

This is the person who is the brain of the team. Or perhaps the heart and the soul.
This is the person who is wise.
Whom everyone in the team turns to for advice.
Whom the leader secretly values and consults for all decisions.

This is the person in the group..who inspires by example.
And more often than not, this is also the person who everybody respects and thinks of as the real leader.
And in most cases, this is the person who has either refused the formal responsibility as a leader, or has given it up for other reasons.

A classic example is Sachin Tendulkar.

Ask any captain over the last few years, and they will hold him in a different level of respect.
Whether it was Azhar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble or even now Dhoni…..each of these cricket captains valued Tendulkar’s wise counsel

In matters of crisis, Sachin was the man whom everyone turned to for advice. And it happens just naturally.

When India was staring at a daunting target of 345 in the 2003 World Cup final, Ganguly had the entire nation’s hopes in his hands.
And in the dressing room before the start of India’s innings, Sachin spoke up to the team.
It is believed that he told the guys that if they could hit a boundary of every over..atleast 1 boundary of every over, the target would reduce to 145 runs out of 250 balls.
Yes!! was the team in unison.

Thought leaders also lead by example.
Thats why Sachin hit McGrath for a 4 in the first over, when many of us wondered why he isnt playing cautiously.
Ofcourse…its sad that the plan didnt work. And Sachin got out early. But thats another story.

Thought leaders dont like the formal clutter: The meetings, the documents, the budgets, the schedules, the agendas!!
They dont mind giving it up and focussing on doing what they like best. And this is what makes them a thought leader.
The pains and tribulations of becoming captain had Sachin troubled and stressed. He didnt enjoy dealing with management issues in the team, the media, the press conferences, the politics, the controversies.

He just wanted to enjoy his game.
Perhaps one can say the same about Dravid as well.

Look at our own worlds.
We have formal leaders. The president of your local club. The secretary of the campus committee. The project manager in your team. The team-lead in your project.
They are all worthy people. Without doubt. And they r all qualified to do their job well.

But look deeper. There is also that one team-member whom everyone thinks is invaluable. Who’s opinions matter. Who is indispensable to your team.
And who doesnt like the clutter of being a formal leader. This is the thought leader.

Thought leaders get natural respect.
They are usually away from controversies…ie. controversies dont reach them

While the leader has to fight his way up the ladder, with politics and controversies along the way; the thought leader is already on top of the ladder.
What makes it interesting is this:
Thought leaders dont have to prove themselves to anyone. Perhaps leaders need to. They need to prove their worth, fight their way, make a point, lead, and then get there.

Somehow..i like this idea of being a thought leader.
Personally i am not a big fan of the formal procedures and processes that come with being a leader.
Its not to say that i am a shirker or wish to avoid responsbilities.

But the weight of being a leader in today’s world, erodes your natural affinity to do something well. It has a shelf life. And eventually gets embroiled in procedures, processes and politics. And questions the very crux of what made u want to be a leader.

But i like the idea of being a thought leader.
You can love ur job. Be awesome at it.
And yet get the respect and feel-good factor that every human craves for!!

PS: an afterthought…what if everyone decides to be a thought leader??? ah well…..that wont happen…..after all, we just have one Sachin in the Indian team 🙂

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