Go Kiss The World: Subroto Bagchi – A Book Review

Your life is a beautiful gift, unique to yourself.

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The Prime Minister of our country, Mr Narendra Modi, recently addressed entrepreneurs in his speech and encouraged young India to engage in startups. To add to the idea, Subroto Bagchi’s second book  – Go Kiss The World: Life Lessons for the Young Professional, can become the mantra of every entrepreneur today. An autobiography, the title of the book is actually the last words that his mother told him, before she breathed her last. Initially not understanding the context, the author quickly picks up pace in life and understands the importance of connecting with the world on a deeper level than simple materialistic view.

The only edition available is the 235 page, hardcover published by Penguin Portfolio in 2008. The book is divided into three parts. The first part talks about his early years, how his parents and his brothers shaped him into being the person he is today. The second part deals with his changing professional life all through his twenties and thirties. In part 3, he takes the reader on a tumultuous journey of his forties and the years of incepting MindTree, to expanding it to become a public listing company. The book is a collection of anecdotes from his life that taught him important lessons. The anecdotes are neatly put in the form of chapters, and at the end of every chapter, is a lesson to be learned, remembered and practiced.

From being a mere clerk in a government office to becoming the founder of a multimillion dollar company, the author’s journey has not been an easy one. There were days where he barely lived hand to mouth, but that did not stop him from taking risks in his career. Moreover, becoming an “IT guy” was not his initial goal; in fact, he only wanted to be ‘somebody’ – somebody of importance. That desire to become somebody eventually led him to his success. Quoting him,

At the source of the river, we have no idea of the path it will take to reach its confluence.

This has been extensively true for the author. His professional life started as a clerk, he then went on to become a management trainee with DCM, followed by being a salesperson with HCL (which was his venture into the computers industry), PSI Data Systems, MMC Digital Systems, co-founder of Project.21 and lastly, and most importantly, Wipro Information Technology, which in turn led to the inception and formation of MindTree. From the looks of it, the story of Subroto Bagchi’s life is one of “a zero ahead to a zero behind”, in the truest of the sense. It is not rags to riches because money was never his ultimate goal. One important lesson that I took away from the book was:

All battles should be based on principles.

His former boss and co-founder of MindTree, Mr. Ashok Soota taught him the importance of principles in life. It is essential to act upon what is best for you, but not if it goes against your principles. This thought is a recurring idea in the book. The language used by the author is fairly simple, but it strikes the right chord. However, it follows a more philosophical tone than a practical one; but the lessons one take away from the book are undoubtedly practical and realistic.

Go Kiss The World teaches entrepreneurs what it takes to be a good leader, an entrepreneur and more importantly, a good human being in matters of business. It is a must-read for young Indians to understand that

You are your deep driving desire,

As is your desire, so is your will;

As is your will, so is your act,

As is your act, so is your Destiny.

Anecdotes For Life

Have you ever wondered about what experiences different people go through, which makes them the person they are today? Well, I do that often. Being a social person, I meet a lot of people and I love talking to them, knowing about them and their lives. I often ask people about one experience in their professional life that changed them or made them the person they are today. After asking this to several people, here are the three most interesting instances I came across. The best part about them is that they are actually such simple instances that might not have been important back then, but shows significance in the long run.

(For the purpose of maintaining confidentiality and privacy, the names have been changed)

Mrs. P has always been a calm and composed woman. She loves children and teaching, and thus, being a teacher was her best suited career choice. After attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Education, she started working as a kindergarten teacher. Although she loved her work and got along with the kids fairly well, it wasn’t until she came across ne particular child that her understanding of her job and her role in it became clear. M was a cute little boy who came to the school where P taught. However, there were other teachers too who taught M, but he was most attached to  and would not listen to anyone else or go to anyone else. One day, P’s senior was taking class and M got into trouble with her. The teacher yelled at him and he stood in a corner crying. When he was being yelled at, his eyes searched for P and when he found her, he silently cried and kept looking at her. It was almost like he was begging P to come and save him from being shouted at. It was at this moment that P realized why the little boy was so fond of her – he sees a protective mother figure in her since he is away from his own mother in school. All this while, she had been thinking that being a kindergarten teacher is as simple as being a school teacher. However, she learned with M’s incident that when children come to school, they are leaving behind their mother – the first primary caretaker of their life. This generated separation anxiety in them. When they find a mother figure in their school teacher, they feel safe and thus, respond well, learn better and show signs of growth quickly. Once P understood this, i.e. her role in the job, she was able to connect with more children and be a successful teacher.

***

We have been taught the importance of quality over quantity time and again in life. Despite that, most of us generally tend to overlook the quality of a product. For people working in companies that offer products and services to the consumers, quality should be the top most priority. Mr. S was once driving back home from a long day at work. On his way back, he stopped at a small vendor who sold freshly roasted peanuts on the corner of a road. Since this incident took place several years back, the cost of one paper cone of peanuts was merely 5Rs. The vendor filled a cone with peanuts and outstretched his hand to give it to Mr. S. However, he immediately withdrew his hand and stashed the cone away without an explanation. On probing him for why he behaved that way, the vendor replied saying – “the peanuts were slightly burnt and would not taste nice, and since I’m taking money for those handful of peanuts, I must serve good quality to the customer. Give me 5 minutes sir, I’ll roast a new batch of peanuts for you”. Mr. S was stumped on hearing this. The peanuts cost just 5Rs. and he would not have really cared for them to be perfect. But if a small vendor can be so concerned about the quality of product her serves to the customer, then why can’t the big guys do the same? Mr. S is a businessman – the CEO of a kids’ garment manufacturing company. Ever since this incident, he has an increased respect for consumers, quality of his product and appreciation for the vendor’s honesty.

***

Mr. K is a young film enthusiast and aspiring film director of about 24 years of age. He started working at the age of 16 and has been in the industry ever since. Belonging to a family who is into filmmaking since generations, his family encouraged him to take on projects and do what he thought was right. Besides working as an assistant director on several big projects, in his free time, he also reads a lot of books and writes stories for his own film which he dreams of directing soon. He dropped out of his last year in college when he got a great opportunity to pursue his dreams. Soon enough, he started his own production house with a friend as his business partner. Both of them wanted to get into main stream filmmaking, but they knew their path was a rocky road. They started doing wedding short-films and online digital media making. They would deliver the service and the end product to the best of their abilities. However, their company had stopped growing. Since his partner was now married and his wife was in the same company, the couple was happy with the way things were –  they both had a company of their own, they liked their work and were satisfied with the money they were making. Mr. K, on the other hand, was extremely disappointed with the work as well as himself. He had different dreams and aspirations from that of his partners. He waited patiently for a change to occur, hoping things will turn around. But a difference of opinion soon began to build up between the partners. Tired of working for something that he did not believe in, that did not give him any kind of job satisfaction or any sense of self-fulfillment, he decided to quit the company altogether. Starting the company in the first place was his idea – it was his baby. But there was little he could do to change his partner’s mind about the work they were doing. It wasn’t a rash decision or a hasty one, it was a well-thought of decision which he took after a long time of contemplating and analyzing. In his words “he took back his hand before he burned himself in the process of keeping the flame alive.” Mr. K is still finding his way to pursue his dreams and achieve his goals, but leaving his own company left him shaken and he learnt an important lesson of life – although you have to start small for the big goals you want to achieve, you should never digress from your chosen path because it will only lead you astray.

What I learn from the life experiences of these three people is this:

1. I understand the value of understanding your role in a particular job profile. Unless you have clarity in what you have to do at work, you will not succeed.
2. Never overlook quality over the price or quantity. Customers trust you to provide the best, exceed their expectations.
3. Do not go astray from your goals even if you lose the plot sometimes. Trace your way back to square one and start anew. It is the only way you will make your dreams come true.

StartUp India – A New Beginning

In the 30th October, 2015  issue of Economic Times, Ishan Gupta talks about the importance of culture in a company. He is the CEO of Edukart.com, which is an online education website wherein national and international course providers provide distance education to students online. The article starts off by listing the pros of being an entrepreneur and then talks about the kind of culture suitable for efficient working of a startup venture. By culture, he does not mean the traditional norms of culture in a society; culture, here, refers to the environment and working of a company for its employees. He lists down several of the most important cultural aspects that have been adopted for Edukart, his own venture. These are:

Feeling of accomplishment – Refers to the employee satisfaction derived by letting them feel like they are responsible for the work they do and its consequences, whether good or bad. This keeps the employees more motivated.

Risk-taking – Giving the employees an opportunity to take risks and figure things out themselves contribute to healthy a culture in a company. Moreover, startups benefit more from employees involved in taking risks because they are more suitable to be leaders in future.

Colleagues – A cohesive team of employees can benefit from each others’ strengths and make up for their weaknesses.

Customer consideration – Whether it is a product or a service, keeping customer satisfaction in mind for employees in all departments goes a long way in achieving the goals of the company.

Time saving – Emphasizing on the importance of finishing tasks beforehand or on time, rather than procrastination sets a tradition for the company and ensures success.

Get the work done – It is important for a startup to have employees who are willing to face challenges and are ready to handle mishaps.

Startups

The reason I chose this article to write about this is because it emphasizes on points which are generally overlooked, despite being the most common ones. With a lot of startups coming up in India as well as across the globe, it is important for the young entrepreneurs to understand that there are more factors playing a role in the success of an idea, apart from the idea itself. For eg. If you have a brilliant product idea and the resources to manufacture it, but your employees themselves have no faith in the success of the product, they will have zero motivation to work towards it. Employee motivation plays an important role in the success or failure of a startup. The only way a startup can envision success is if the culture and the environment of the company provides the employees with opportunities to execute their talents, skills and explore their potentials while working towards the company goals. Ultimately it all comes down to shaping a company’s culture in a way in which the employees feel valued, appreciated, motivated and responsible.

The Artists

Artists swarm the field
Their brushes raised high.
Each of them has a design
In mind.
The horn sounds
To advance their charge.
The steel brushes fly
As great fountains of red
Arc across the blue sky.
The green glade is trampled
Into a viscous vicious brown.
There will be no applause,
No awards nor cheers.
These artists will never be named.
Yet they paint, for their pride
And honor.
A lust to destroy something beautiful.
What could be more alluring
Than that created in Gods image?
Shouts and cries ascend to the heavens
As each ones canvas comes to an end.
Their hearts are aflame, an inferno
A signal for their muse.
The last stroke is made
A final strike of red.
The lone artist stands on his field
Bathed in the paint of the hour.
The ravens descend.

– Sagar Nerala

(P.S – This piece is written by a dear friend of mine who refuses to publish his work himself, but has honoured me with the publishing rights for it.)

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Fleeting Moments of the Ineffable

Many a times in life, you come across certain people whom you eventually feel close to than others. These are the people you connect with, share similar interests with and the ones who ‘get’ you. Be it a day or a month since you’ve known them, you feel like you know them and understand them like no one else does. So, you claim some unspoken rights over these people. However, who is to decide how well you know them, or if you really know them at all? Is your belief about ‘knowing’ someone real or is it all just in your head?

Just because you think you know that person, you feel connected and attached to them. But what if it is just you attached to the person while the other person doesn’t even find you worth thinking about? There aren’t just one sided romantic relationships, there are one sided friendships too. You think you are close to someone but that someone may not care about you at all.

Speaking from personal experience, I know exactly how it feels to be the one emotionally dependent on someone who doesn’t care about you as much as you do about them. It hurts. It hurts so much because you feel like you’re trying too hard to be a part of their life. It hurts because they don’t care if you’re mad at them or upset with them. A little tiff with them can ruin your mood whereas their day continues as if nothing happened. It hurts to know that while you would be willing to take a bullet for them, they will remain oblivious to the amount of concern you have for them.

Finally, when you do snap out of this one sided friendship, you realize that you have been investing your time and energy behind something that was never going to bloom into a close knit bond. So you gather your remaining self-respect and walk out of their life with your head held high. Never ever should you allow yourself to wallow in self-pity over someone who doesn’t even think about you for a fleeting moment. There is only so much you can do for someone who wouldn’t do the same for you. Know your worth. Know that you deserve better than this. It is only when you start valuing yourself that people will learn to value you. Being kind and selfless is one thing, but being foolish is another. Never be selfless and self-sacrificing to the point of self-destruction.