Captain Dragoo is one of the most famous figures from the Indian army. He's also one of the best examples of someone who's had an extremely successful career switch. We've already featured, Captain, on this broadcast where he spoke about his time in the Indian army, his time as a commando, his time witnessing Netflix and his time witnessing battles firsthand.
But this is the second half of his story, his second innings in life, how he used his learnings from the Army and set up one of the biggest corporate careers that this country has ever seen.
He ended up working with a Mahindra group. He ended up working with the Indian government. He played a huge role in setting up the national intelligence grid or the NAD grid with the Indian government. And rumor has it that he was cherry picked by one Mr. Mukesh Ambani to become the head of ReliOn securities. He's one of the most respected men in the Indian corporate space. And this is a detailed breakdown of Captain Goodman's corporate career. Lots and lots and lots of professional earnings, lots and lots and lots of motivation and joy.
Captain Ruckle on the run, Vishal. Captain, to thank you for being on the show once again three times in a row.
Yes, we just figured it out in the episode, which is about the Army. This is our second English episode. Our first one was received extremely well. I have no actual people writing to me about thanking me for a particular guest. So there's a lot of young, aspiring Army cadets, a lot of people wanting to build their careers in the Army. I think that's what that episode did for the world.
Honestly, this one, I'm doing it from a very personal, selfish perspective. OK, I just want to extract all your learnings because you've had a very complex career.
Like I feel like after the you evolved into this corporate badshah, as we call it, and then you've done a bunch of different things in the corporate world. Walter also had a stint with Reliance. You've worked with Mukesh Ambani this week or in the last podcast. While I know that that's not a big deal, I got to say something.
A lot of my audiences and it's a big deal to work with Mukesh Ambani. I mean, it's all said and done.
And he is a corporate leader of a very, very different calibre and a very, very different era. And I don't know, 10 years, 15 years down the line when they write the history of the way in, then they'll call me Ward and how people have got access, including millions of people who probably now have access to shows like yours. And I've actually given life to a completely different medium of learning, communication, health care. His name is going to be there.
And that as a person who did all of that and he's going to be a massive section of this particular episode.
But you've also got an access to a lot of powerful people, famous people, so-called rich people.
Over the course of your career, you had learnings from them. And I know that you almost feel as little that I know personally.
So let's just talk about your career and as we do that report, because I'm going to stop you and ask you for me and Gengel.
So let me start from living the army. And this happened in 1998. It was the 15th of August. I remember my last year that I my sense of humor, Independence Day.
So I left them. And actually, I like many things that happened to Army folks when they leave, their initial first point of contact is usually an example person who is left ahead of you. And in my case, it was a I was very lucky that I had a classmate in a unit officer who was part of my unit called Captain ALAC Parashar, who was an SS officer, service officer who had left before me, and he had joined the Mandro group.
And at that point when I was leaving, I was my last posting was in a place called Emman Nagar, which is you might be about about three hours away from Poona. And what had happened was that institution called the Mahindra United World College that you see the United Colleges is a very famous institution. You should Google it. As a matter of fact, I encourage all listeners who are in the age group to appear for their 10th exam. They should look at this UW see as a concept.
The one in India is sponsored by sponsored by the Mahindra Group, and that's why it's called the Mahindra United World College. But it's on top of a mountain and bolshy and amongst its 200 students, it has close to about 80 to 90 countries being represented there. So it's a very, very rich, multicultural environment, a very novel concept of education, where they say that we put kids who are from different cultures, who have learned their own cultures, but are still at an age where they are open to learning other cultures and put them together.
And so you put a German and an Israeli and a French and Spanish guy in one room. So when they move away from there, they know that at least that is one good German I can talk.
And also it has to produce this college of leaders, so to speak, collegium of leaders who, as they grow, will know each other.
Multiculturalism. That was the concept.
So this school was being set up and this is the 1998 when the Internet was still I mean, you guys won't even remember the tone of a modem. It used to make that word funny sound. And it was 14 KBB, as was considered to be like high speed. It was those days.
And I was still in the army. I was it was my last month, last couple of months. And I remember captain calling me from Boonah once and saying that, hey, listen, we got this thing called the Internet. And there's something I don't understand this stuff. So can you just come over and, you know, sort of sit on the other side of the table? Because we are discussing with a few vendors about, you know, this kind of Internet connectivity and all of that stuff.
So I kind of knew enough about computers at that time in the U.S. I was working on a few projects which required me to learn a lot about computers and a lot about technology. And that's another advantage, by the way, of working in the government and especially in the forces you get. You get to work with technology, which is ahead of ahead of its time. I mean, I don't think I learned my computers in the Military College of Telecommunication Engineers in the short course, but I learned my programming on a mainframe and mainframe.
I mean, I don't think even MNC could afford a mainframe at that point of time. So you do have a lot of exposure.
And of course, a lot of it was learned also with my job because I was in a branch of the army, which was the mechanized infantry, and that did have second generation missiles, which had some sort of computing power on board. And so you needed to understand the fundamentals of computing. And of course, a large part of learning in life is your personal passion. So I was passionate about computers.
So I came to attend this meeting and this was I'm seeing this college for the first time. It is still under construction. It's getting built. And there were a few vendors who had come to give their proposals. And essentially they gave a non feasibility report. They said that, you know, Internet connectivity can be brought over here. And the reasons for that, the reason is that firstly, it was 40 kilometers away from Oonagh and Poona was the nearest city where there was Internet to begin with.
Secondly, this was on top of a mountain, which is in the middle of a reserve forest. So you either had to draw cable all the way from Boonah to this place, a fiber optic cable, or you had to set up relay stations, you know, just radio based railway stations and radio. Basically, stations could not be set up because the area from Boonah to the college, it was interspersed with mountains and these mountains were in the forests.
So not only would you have to put a tower on each one of them, but you would also have to service the tower, which means you try to reach that place to fill up because it was not feasible. And drying a fiber optic cable all the way from Boonah right up to the college was also impractical because empty and a lot of the VASANA live in order to lay a cable for a school at the other end and a school which, because it's an academic institution, pay one fourth of the fee anyway.
So one customer, they wouldn't do that. So anyway, there's a non feasibility report was given that I remember sitting there and that table and I think I just thought it was stupid sentence to say, but I kind of said it that I mean, if connectivity can be provided in the glacier, why can't it be done here? Very silly statement to make because the stakes are different. But the then headmaster, Dr David Wilkinson, who set up this college, he kind on.
So I just want to give the listener some context. So you also settled in on this, Yatin?
Yeah. I mean. Me and 80 percent of the Indian army, so it's it's that's that's the only issue, that's that anyway. So it's what I meant was that it can be done in difficult places. So why can't it be done here? Of course, the context is completely different. And that was a silly statement to make.
But the headmaster, he caught on to that and that was the end of the story. I went back to that and after a couple of weeks, I got another message from Captain Brasher and said that can you come over to Bombay? There's a meeting in Bombay. I said, OK, fine. And I came on a Saturday, I remember, and it was in Mahendradatta hours. So that's the first time I'm seeing I still remember. I tell some of my friends even now that when he was telling me to look for a landmark, he said this all India Radio Tower is the biggest landmark and I now sometimes go to the ceiling.
You can't even see the big one because of the skyscrapers that have come. But that period of time when I was six floor building was called the minor tower. Right. So I went there for this meeting and Mr Harishchandra and his father was alive and was his personal you know, he was passionate about this project. And it's a saga of how the project wouldn't have got done. But for him and there was this whole team sitting there and I remember David Wilkinson sort of introducing me to them and saying that he said that he can do it.
So I said I didn't second it, I said it can be done. So you said, would you be willing to take up this? And I said, fine, I'll give it a shot.
And that's how I joined the Mahindra College with the very limited objective of setting up the Internet connectivity. And honestly, and I think that's a philosophy I have followed, learned and followed throughout my life. And I think that's what the army teaches you. I don't know how the hell I'm going to do it. I had no idea. And there the three companies which had given a non feasibility report and these are three technology companies.
So I do not know how I was going to do it, but I knew I was going to get it done. You want to go ahead. So then, of course, I went out to various people, talked to companies who might be able to help this, that all of those things. And then we found a breakthrough.
The breakthrough was that while there was no way to connect a fiber optic cable all the way from hour to this college, which is on top of a mountain in a village called Kubuabola. And by the way, those days, the telephone exchange there was not even digital. It was actually a mechanical telephone exchange. I don't know if you might have seen it in movies that, you know, a dial goes up and turns around and then falls back and it's completely mechanical.
So no way that the entire system would have to be rehaul. So I went to the director of the telecom there, Dr. Rupia, I still remember his name, and I went to him and I told him that, you know, we need this connectivity. And he said the same thing to me, Captain. I mean, at the other end of this pipeline, there is a school so commercially this has got no viability and all of that us.
So this was the year 1999. So I just told them, you know, we got these 200 kids there and they come from these 80 different countries. They keep asking me one question. They say if India can blow a nuclear bomb, why can't you give the Internet connectivity?
Zarabozo, Abdulemam, Dagoberto. But other than that, he's holding it OK for the prestige of the country, we have to find a way out.
And that, you know, become that became and that was, I think, my first learning that if you make something larger than just some bits and bytes, if you make something that is a dragon that has to be killed at a task, that has to be done for the prestige, for the honor, then usually impossible tasks get done because everyone puts their shoulder put, everyone puts their mind to it. And this project got a life of its own.
We also call it Project Make and McDowd being cloud messenger. And it's also, again, comes from my experience in Seattle, because that is also called me.
So we decided eventually the solution that was found was that if we cannot get connectivity using radio right up to Poona, up to where can we get connectivity? And there's a place called Pitango, which now is a big industrial hub. But at that point of time was hardly there was one telephone exchange that saw the telecom authorities agree to lay a fiber optic cable up to and from Pitango. We were supposed to pick it up using a radio modem, which at that point of time, a 17 kilometer radio modem, was probably one of the longest links for an educational institution.
And definitely it was the longest link and that got set up. And that was the first time that Internet came to that matter of fact. Both of you are interested in that area.
One more that place, listeners, if you go to Muluzi, you can still see that cover, which is on top of a mountain, which actually started not only the Internet, but the first telecom services to come into that valley came because of that tower, because it was at a very high point.
Matter of fact, the Mahindra Group bought a mountain because that was the only place from where we had better window, which was a line of sight to be. And so we actually traveled foot by foot, every part of that landscape to see from where we had a line of sight and we got the line of sight and we connected that. And I still remember the message, the first message which went out from there.
And you don't understand, is this like about 100, 150 underneath kids who come from other countries and they have no link with that.
I mean, if you have to communicate with their parents, they'll actually remember that at that time in Yugoslavia, the bombing was going on, NATO bombing was going on, and there was a student from Yugoslavia whose city was being bombed and he had no way of knowing whether his parents are okay or not, because there was no I mean, telephones were the only communication and that also need call this that.
So the first time we got connectivity, the first message we went out was geography, history. And that was the first message that we sent out from the college. And my colleagues actually became the eighth college to get Internet connectivity, including to colleges in other countries who still had not got the connectivity. And we got it. And I still remember Mr. Harishchandra when he gave me the mandate.
He told me it has to be done before August.
So I asked him, I said, what's the hurry? And he said that I don't want a single student who decided to come to India to this college to turn around and said that my education was shortchanged because I chose India. So any student who passes out from here, including the first batch, cannot see that I did not get into that. That's the criticality.
And I admire that the vision of that man to say that, you know. So anyway, we did it. And when that got done, I was invited by unknown to come to the you know, they have this technology board in which they have the CEOs of all the technology companies.
Interestingly, one of the companies was given a feasibility report was a that company. And that's why I think they wanted to figure out who this guy who did it. And I was called and of course, I mean, I was only representing the team that did it. The team consisted of many people, including the the duty guys.
They were also very excited about it because it was a big thing for them.
So I came in for a presentation and after the presentation and this was my job. I mean, I was brought in for this particular project. And after the project was over, I was basically looking at, you know, other stuff.
And I had a couple of offers from other companies like IBM and the others. And I was looking at evaluating options.
What were you thinking after the army laid, after you've, like, seen and learned whatever you've seen and learned in the Army?
It was a different world when I came out into the Civil War. But, you know, the the good part was I, unlike many of my other classmates who come from India, Senegal, India and all of that, I actually had worked in the civil street. I mean, I was a graduate from an English class. So I knew a little bit more about and had a lot of friends who were in college and all of that. And I thought, you know, it was a different world I wanted to explore.
And so I'm kind of point blank asked me, why don't you work with the group?
And I said, OK, why not? And fascinating. I mean, I still think about that conversation. It's almost surreal because he asked me, what would you like to do?
And I told him point blank, I used to be a company commander in the army. So give me a company. And he burst out laughing and he said that this is the first time someone has asked me to be made see CEO and said, you know what, I'm actually going to do that. And there were three companies at that point of time which were which they were looking for a CEO. And one of them happened to be a company called Automator India, which today is called First Choice.
So I was the second CEO first, right? I mean, there was a founder and then was Nicole Ragland, who was CEO before me, and then I became the third CEO.
And of course, it was a job that I think I was totally unprepared for because, well, I knew how to do beams and projects and this and that.
I had no idea about personnel and finances. And because that's not something that you are taught in the Army ever. I mean, in the Army, your entire financial planning consists of making your mess build on your salary slip match. And if it matters, it's OK. If it doesn't match, don't drink for a few days and it'll match. So that's your financial planning. But I had to actually, I remember, still have to count the number of zeros to figure out whether it was a lack of growth and then the private equity guys would convert it into millions of dollars.
And I have to start all over again. So it was totally a new area for me, made a lot of mistakes. But one of the things that I found fascinating about the Mahindra Group and Onen especially that he had an eye and I'm not seeing it because he recruited me, but he had an eye for taking a bet on people. And they wouldn't normally be people who would never, ever get entry into the organization through the normal channel. And that's a great lesson I've learned from him.
He he would take a punt on people who would have some sort of a maverick behavior or some sort of a. A streak which was not normally positive eccentricities. Maybe you can call it that, maybe you can call it the his ability to spot a can do attitude or whatever it is. I mean, he that's his that's for his podcast when he does with you.
But he would then give a fairly free hand. He would not even not try to look over your shoulder, nor did I know that I know this now because those days I did make a few mistakes because I tried to translate my style of leadership from the Army directly into the cockpit, which doesn't work because there are two different worlds. And he he helped me correct those mistakes, sometimes in a nice way, sometimes in not such a nice way. And I kind of cut my teeth in that organization in InfoChoice, learned a lot about technology, about the Web.
And that's, by the way, the first technology boom, the first dot com bubble.
So I saw a lot of these companies like eBay and so many of them, which are now big ones at that point of time as fledgling companies being being sort of funded and all of those things, technology being. And a lot of those technologies like databases, how do you make two different portals talk to each other, like first choice was an auto portal, which was also on Rediff and then it was on Yahoo!
Also. So how do you interface with different technologies, different processes? How can you have one username and password seamlessly going through three different portals? But that so it was very complex and we were trying to figure it out. And I think the great thing was all of us were trying to figure it out. So it wasn't like, you know, somebody sitting in my heart. I knew it all. Nobody knew at all. It was like the youngsters were discovering it on a daily basis and it was evolving.
That entire thing was evolving.
So it was a great experience learning that personally. Actually, I was fascinated by the area of information security. And I think in first choice I'd reached a point of time where my capability to lead the organization would not be enough for the organization to go to the next level. And there was a change of the CEO when I finally took over from it. And then I moved from there back to my parent company, which was my Network Services Ltd., which constructed this entire portal.
And then I started an entity called the Mahindra Special Services Group. Now, this was the story, what is what is information security? I'll come to that.
So today, information security is like very well known to everybody and that's why you have this password thefts and credit card frauds and money being siphoned out, emails being intercepted, videos being stolen, Twitter accounts being hacked and messages being sent out on your behalf. All of these things that are happening today because it's much more work. But when it began at that point of time, basically people were completely unaware of anything other than a username and password that said they would write down that they still do it.
But at that point of time, it was much more rudimentary. They would write down their passwords and places and all of that. They would go into an Internet cafe and start checking their mail, not realizing that Olkowski would have a key logger in it and they could be logging all your keystrokes, including your email, I.D. and password still happens by one of the most common ways of hacking is harvesting, you know, passwords from there. So information security was actually making its presence felt because a lot of now transactions were happening online.
Money was being moved around, banking was beginning to become online. Banking portals were coming up. So this was a space that would require a lot of attention. And I still remember. So I needed to get to I had this business plan to say that we need to focus on information security and at that point of time, I wasn't even thinking of starting a business out of it. I was thinking more for my environment that we need to have better information security.
So I decided without I mean, without seeking permission, I decided to do a penetration test. It's called penetration testing. Now, those days, it was just me fiddling around to see whether I can get access into it. And I remember I sent the email to my brother saying that this is the first half of your password. And I hope I've got your attention. I need to explain this concept to you. So, of course, when anyone gets the first half of his password sent to him, they usually get the attention of the sender.
So I explained this concept to him and I said, I just want to do a test of Mahindra.
And when I did the testimony that, of course, those days most corporates, they were leaking like a sieve because information security wasn't really I mean, people didn't even know at that point of time.
So the entire I remember the ID leaders were present and I did a presentation which basically, you know, kind of slipped the the the I.D. protection team and all of that. And of course, I told you I was very, very naive and I was, I think at that time playing to the gallery. And all of that was doing overkill. But in effect, I got the first mandate to implement it for my environment. And that's where it began that the colonel of the company began that.
And then, of course, I was kind enough to speak to the them and they decided to give us a chance. And that was our first external assignment. Philcox. I still remember the first external mandate. I mean, there's two of us who started the company and then, of course, it grew and grew bigger and bigger and bigger. And today, of course, it's considered to be one of the leading companies. More importantly, I think a lot of our members of that company went on to become some very, very good information security practitioners.
And matter of fact, even as I'm speaking to you now, most of the foundation of information security in the big fall, you will find that the DNA comes from my.
That's where they come from. And of course, many of the leaders went on.
And I think that is something that I was exceptionally proud of, even when I used to do recruitment into Mendes's know, I would always find people who are far, far better than me. So when I would be recruiting from people who are leaving the Army, they were like two or three sort of runners who were like Topo's of their badges who would come and join. And also I was surrounded by incredibly capable people who are far better thinkers, far better, you know, sort of far more competent people.
And many of them have gone on to create their own. I remember some is one of them. He's now had several companies.
And does the army at anything specifically in this domain or huge? I think the see, the security is a state of mind. And most hackers I can tell you this, I've spent almost four decades and that life in that world, I don't think till now are 256 bit encryption has been and cracked. So you don't need to go for a fight. Well, what usually happens is the human error. It's always a human error and human beings can be tracked all the time.
Psychologically, human beings are I mean, the psychological or what they call social engineering is the wrong phrase, but it's actually mind hacking.
They hack into your mind.
They make you do what the it's a bit like if you were to ask some very important person secretly, where is the boss?
She will never tell because she has been trained not to tell. But if you say when is unknown coming back from China, she'll correct you. But you're not in China and Japan kill character. She won't give you the answer, but she'll correct you.
So if you understand the psychology of of criminals because you have to fight them, then you understand how to create a protective barrier against them.
And a large part of that is actually the user education, educating the user about what can go wrong, how it can go wrong and all of those things.
So anyway, so that continued for a while. And then that company came to a size where, like most consulting firms, it really could not grow beyond the consulting firms. It's a boutique. Consulting firms don't really grow in scale because it's very manpower and personality intensive. And Skilling means adding more people, which means more costs. So eventually you come to that sweet spot of of a certain amount of turnover beyond which if you try to take it, then the business goes away.
And, you know, it's something that and by this time I was doing many other things also within the group, then the minority group I was and of course, learning a lot, learning about how corporates work, learned a lot about sales because I think one of the most important things.
That everybody should learn essense, because with sales, you learn one very important lesson, and that lesson is not to take rejection personally. You want to tell customers only three of them will buy it because only three out of 10 will buy. But the remaining seven, when they reject you, they're not rejecting you, the individual they're rejecting. And they may be rejecting for any number of reasons. And some of them have nothing to do with you. But that ability to take rejection, ability to go and say said, OK, no problem, will come back again, will try again and all of that.
That actually was a very solid training ground. Also, I knew that unlike many of my colleagues, I did not have a formal education in the management theories of as an MBA. So I have not studied advertising. I have not studied finance, I have not studied. But as a CEO, I needed to understand all of that. I needed to understand the nuances of that. And I still remember they were friends. I'm in one of my friends called the lady who was again a very big guy in the private equity space today.
I remember going literally to his house and sitting at his feet. I remember sitting on the floor. We would take out his laptop and IT systems otherwise genic out that what anybody has done. And he would explain to me line-by-line the items on it and say this is IRR internal rate of return. This is what investors look at. So learning from them, I had another friend called.
We were Kamata actually heads this company called Matrix, which manages a lot of celebrities.
Many of the celebrities you interview are managed by him and he at that point of time used to work in an advertising agency. So he would teach me the nuances of advertising that you, you know, give only one message at a time. You don't confuse the audience with too many messages.
And so I was literally learning the nuances of various different trade craft that are required in in business from the Masters and sitting at the feet, which I found is one of the best models for me to learn.
I studied like that throughout my school, throughout my college. I've always gone to somebody who has been really good at that subject and just said, you have to revise Cardinal Medical Battalion and I'll just listen to you and I'll I'll understand it if I have some questions, I'll ask you and all of that.
So I understood the importance of learning at a very early stage, even when I came into the corporate, that you need to learn not only about your area of specialization, but every other vertical that'll affect you. And this is a story that I've often narrated to people to illustrate another aspect. And I think it's important to.
To narrate this story, to explain. What are the two routes you can take in a corporate or in any career? What are the two routes you can take and how making that choice can actually end in a different result?
So. In a certain year, I was there was a team which was sent from ended up four people went from my idea. This was the team was led by Mr. Pardo. She was at that point the CFO of my grandmother. And he is currently a Sibby member to be or would be a member.
It was, I think, and the second person was missed, all last group who until quite recently was hitting the IT sector for and we had we need Neier, who was then hitting the MBT Mandro before the Mandrel British Telecom entity Eckmann that as it was called at that point of time.
And a very junior CEO of a small company called Mandry says, you must have been in my late mid 30s or late 30s. At that point of time, we were sent to meet Michael Bloomberg.
So a lot of people in my peer group asked that, how were you selected to I mean, I understand these three people going.
So the story was that Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Mandela met each other in one of these Davos conferences. They shook hands and they said we should do some work together. So Bloomberg had told him that we can send a team from your side and we will see what we can do and all of that. And I was part of that team. Now, I remember many of my younger sort of colleagues asking me that, but what was the rule? I mean, how do you how are you to go there?
And I think I tried to answer that question to myself also. And I I found the answer, which is the answer I want to share with you. And I think this particularly defines a way of thinking about work, a way of thinking about life.
So the story actually goes back many years, two or three years before that, when I was part of a company called Mandro Consulting. And this was a division of mine that I consulting my special services group was a division of my consulting.
And we were going to participate in one of these Nasscom Transcom kind of conferences.
So we were supposed to make brochures. I mean, not to be the PR person was supposed to Capcom person was supposed to make a brochure.
Now, that lady who very competent person who is now head of Capcom of a very, very big company. She kind of came to all of us practice and said, can you give me a paragraph about your practice? What can you give me a paragraph or whatever I wrote?
And we provide the services, blah, blah, blah, all of that, the word to the brochure. So after the first proof came Rent-A-Center the first proof. They came to us for the draft and take a look at Pattycake. And so I checked and I found one or two typos. I corrected it and all of that. And then as a habit, I checked the remaining brochure. I mean, I took the remaining ones. I found some mistakes in the others.
It wasn't really mistakes, but it was a flaw of the language because every person had written it individually. It was like, we also do this. We also do this. We also they didn't like flow together very well. So I just corrected the flow to the best of my ability and of course, gave it to this lady who, of course, must have done a much better job on it. And it got printed and all of that happened, blah, blah, blah.
So that even next year, the same thing was to be done again. But at this point, not by this point of time, the head of Capcom had left us and joined another company. And so she wasn't there anymore. And so when the CEO was trying to figure out how to get it done, the printer told the CEO there's one captain was involved in it last time and all of that. So I was called. Can you handle this?
OK, I'll handle that. None of my job. It was not my business. But I learned at that point of time that you must adopt a one and a half portfolio mindset.
That mindset is I will do my job completely, but I'll also handle a portfolio. I'll take over some part which is giving a headache to the CEO or the CFO or some part a difficult customer or a difficult territory or something where I can take my excess bandwidth and provide in that area, not because I wanted to do it for them, but I want to learn about Capcom. I want to learn about communication. I want to learn how much time does it take for the printer to turn around the brochure.
I want to learn what is the difference between offset and letterpress printing.
I want to learn which color looks very well. In an advertisement, I learned that yellow is the best color in an advertisement because it stays longest in the sun, so anybody holding the yellow colored fades out the last. And that is why yellow is better and better controls, and that's why it's used in traffic lights also.
So you learn these kind of things only when you go in that half portfolio.
Not your portfolio, but the one and a half portfolio is generally a very good professional lesson that always do more than what.
So when somebody asks me that, how did you reach that place? The answer is here. The answer is by correcting a paragraph that is not your business, that is somebody else's business. The answer is by putting a shoulder in someone.
They are misunderstanding because I know how to do it. Yeah, I give some to me. Let me handle some of this or you need another member in that interview panel. I'm more than happy to come and offer that to you.
You want to bounce off of something, this construct of being able to spread a certain amount of your module, a certain amount of your resources in an area that is directly not yours, but somebody else's not doing it with some altruistic mindset. That is a wrong approach. You're trying to kill yourself, but I'm bringing it is more to say.
I'm getting an opportunity to learn about this at zero risk and I'm not being graded on that. If this thing goes down the drain, nobody is going to ask me why did your copy did not work? Because not my job, but I'm getting an opportunity to learn from somebody else. I'm getting an opportunity. So that's forced me, for example, to read books like David Ogilvy on advertising. I learned about communication. I learned about various different things because it was a task that I had taken on.
And I think this philosophy is something that I have carried forward entirely in my life.
I mean, I remember after this stint in my the there was a joint venture which meant that I mean, that I was doing at that point of time with BEA and for the joint venture, a CEO was being searched for. And I was actually and told me that we are picking you as the CEO. And I was at that point of time, again, I give them credit, one of the youngest CEOs to be given a portfolio which was potentially this large.
I was maybe about thirty to forty three at that point of time and a much, much bigger canvas, a canvas that, yes, while I was in the army. But it was much, much bigger than that because this was about defence procurement. This was about interface with the government. It was about understanding procurement policies and all of those things. So. Then I went into that, that also I would often try to find things that are not part of my portfolio.
So, for example, in my area, we had a relationship with several other organizations like Rand and a few others.
And I would I would take up that role.
And so I will sort of head that interface because it would teach it would teach a lot more.
Hmm. I think this philosophy is something that I've tried to encourage, you know, all all people to practice. And again, with the caveat that you're not taking on that portfolio because you're doing anyone a favor.
You're doing it because you will get an opportunity to learn something that is not in your area and know strategically, at least in my thinking, no strategic leader can ever become a strategic leader without understanding domains that are not her core competence.
You can be the greatest CFO in the world, but you're not going to become a CEO unless you understand marketing, unless you understand human resources, you understand technology.
It's not possible. You don't have to master it, but you need to have a very good understanding of how it works. What are the nuances of that? What are the compulsions of that?
If you don't understand that, you may be very good in your silo and you will reach to the head of your silo, but it'll be very unlikely that you will be the overall commander, because the overall commander needs to know a little bit about many other facets, because it's all of these forces working together which actually delivers the end result.
One of them that maybe in terms of taking a company to the next level or finances or whatever, this is not a very good example of, you know, when people say, oh, you have to have an MBA to progress in the corporate world, would you would you say that if you offer these things, if you are if you outperform everyone else by taking on more work, you do have a better chance for progress.
So I will not advocate if somebody says or is it important to do an MBA or not? I will not have an opinion either way on it. So, for example, in my last assignment or even before that, I had just reporting to me, let's say 50 of them. And if somebody told me out of this 50, 20 from Ivy League colleges. Buendia from you, second level B schools and N are without and B, honestly, I wouldn't be able to tell you who's who because that's an entry ticket into a corporate.
After that. It depends on who is performing how and who is what person who's got. I genuinely think passion outweighs any day. Want to have a colleague who is passionate and hungry, has figured out a way to reconnect it rather than have a Harvard graduate will show me in one hundred and twenty slide presentation why it cannot be that right.
So nobody needs to be shown Michael Porter's five forces on why it can't be done. What people are looking for is how can it be done now that doesn't take away. There's got nothing to do then that doesn't think of. I mean, I've done many executive MBA programs after that. I've done it from Kellogg, from INSEAD, several other places.
And of course, you learn great from books.
There is no denying that you come across managed like I looked studied under the again, the legendary sort of head of strategy and all of that stuff.
Now, in spending one hour in his presence will give you experience, which is what, like a decade plus? It's like reading a book. You might read 400 pages and find one idea. And that and that one idea could alter your entire life to give you a completely new. So it's never about the number of pages is no note about the amount of time that you spend with the person, but it's about your curiosity and your passion. And to seek out those opportunities.
I still remember the book came to give or rather conduct a session for us Minara leaders, and we were all Mandro. We had gone to this place and we had madrasa training, establishment body research or something it's called. And he we were 80 leaders, 70, 80 leaders, and he was there and he did his whole strategy or whatever, but I made it a point to make sure that I was in the car, which was dropping him to the airport.
And I ordered one or more of them. And in that one hour more, you know, I was speaking his mind. I was of course, I must have been asking very amateurish questions, but that one are getting with him was actually more valuable. I mean, that was more value. And that didn't come because anyone sent you in. Later, I realized there's one thing that I often advocate. You will never get an invitation to the hateable.
Nobody wants you at the height. It's already crowded. They're trying to kick people out of the hateable. You have to move chairs and you have to pull your chair in and sit in the high table.
And that you can only do by taking that initiative to get that one out of the way. Nobody. There's not that on the timetable. But here someone has got to drop in to the airport. The guy is going, let me sit. Not that ability to find the opportunities. Again, it's not a prerogative of an MBA or MBA, but I think nonmembers have to hustle a lot more time.
And because they have to hustle a lot more in their lives, they are perhaps much better at grabbing split, fleeting opportunities.
Whereas people who come again, I'm being very cautious here. You will find, you know, people like that on both sides. But people who have got a very formal structure of solving problems whenever they see a problem, they'll try to go back to a case study witzelsucht, or they'll try to look for the hammer for this particular nail. Whereas people who have who don't have that structure may sometimes actually had the audacity to try something which is completely untaught.
I'm not saying they'll all succeed and many of them will fail and they do fail.
But I think a nice mix is ideal for an organization.
So an organization, I think, should ideally have some people who have very structured thinking and some people who have unstructured and creative thinking and create teams which work together. And that's something I mean, my entire career, I always had one or two colleagues who are extremely structured thinkers who are, you know, so I have a colleague of mine with whom I worked not just here, be also from the same unit in the army. And we have worked together in several places.
Now he's a stickler for detail. And, you know, he look at a spreadsheet like this and is portrayed as like that, understands finance, understands the nitty gritty. He compliments an area where I'm extremely weak. It'll be silly on my part to try to become an expert in that area because I don't have a flair for it.
Second, even if I did, I it's too late for me to work so hard to get into that space is far better for me to have a relationship with five or six such people that whenever I have an assignment which requires the skill, I'm able to call those people to assist me in that project rather than trying to replicate or develop a skill which I'm not going to be good at, as good as this person is. So I think that ability to recognize your Marovic area, Yemen, Eco-System, Karonga, immediately, Mannitol Giggie.
It's not what the return of investment. It's much easier for me to hand over control of this area to somebody who understands this much better, is passionate about it, is much better qualified than me, and this far more intelligent in this space. I think that ability is something that comes usually if you don't have a formal structured education, what do you have a level of?
Actually, as things happen in life, usually you find that your weakest things are also your strongest things because you put in an effort to not really it's the other way around.
So, for example, I by the way, when I was in school, I was a pretty bad student, a very, very bad nice to come first, second, first, second from the bottom of the class and a large part of that. And he's still a very large part of that is that I am never able to remember stuff. So I cannot remember long acronyms. I can't remember, you know, seventeen points. I can't remember six things.
It's very difficult for me. I can't remember phone number. I think the only phone number I remember it my own number and I don't remember any other number. I have a learning disability in that space, but the same disability gives me the ability to make connections so I can look at the entire picture and see if I took this idea, this idea, and decided together and jam them together, we will have something completely new. So the ability to create rather a friend of mine gave it a term, the ability to cross pollinate, to take an idea from one place connected with another one and come up with a solution which is completely different.
I think it comes from my inability to remember numbers, to be good in calculations, to do mental math and all of that, because I'm weak in that area. I have the ability to join the dots. Actually, I was just talking to my dad when we were coming here about this famous story about him. I don't know if you're aware of it. So 3M used to be a glue making company. The Islamic groups and accidently in trying to make a super group which would be able to stick material like metal and metal together, something went wrong in the formula and the glue became extremely weak.
So weak that even if you stick it in paper and you stick the paper, it'll just come off. And that's how the three impostors stack. So the 3M Post-it started because a glue, which was supposed to be very strong, turned out to be very weak and it had a completely different application. And I think that is true of all human beings. All individuals, including the ones that are formal education system says are Duffus.
I don't buy that story for the simple reason that by that logic, all the 90th percentile people who are completing their MBAs, I mean, today, any even a reasonably appear to be school is cutting off at 96 percent, 98 percent, 99 percent. So what happens to the remaining people?
Are they are they are they supposed to lay down and die or are they supposed to say that we will work, as you know, the subordinates to the MBA, but usually life is the other way around. Usually in life it's these guys were employing those those people.
So very clearly, I think the educational system also needs a relook at needs a rehaul. People need to take a I'm not saying I'm not talking about boiling the ocean, but I'm saying as an individual, I think today if a young person feels that I'm going to attend the MBA, but I'm not going to be fanatic about it, I learn over there, I'll do some stuff.
I'll also do, you know, organize step programs in my college. I'll also participate in some concert. I'll also organize some NGO activity and I'll work in the slums with something. I think that person is going to grow up to be a far more well-rounded person who he will know how to work with different environments, different kinds of people. If you get used to saying that I need all issus in my team to win, only then I can win.
That's an artificial. That's not what in real life.
In real life, you're not going to get esus in real life. You'll get all sorts of people. You will get people who are intelligent. You'll get people who are not intelligent. You will get people who have intelligence in one area and not in another area. You'll get people who are passionate, people who are not passionate, people who are hungry, not hungry. Yeah, you'll get the cards that you get dealt with and the ability to play with cards which are not like you will usually only come if you have had some of that experience.
But if you have been always a topper in school, always been in an Ivy League college, and then you learn into the real world, it might, as I have usually found people who have done extreme. Again, I'm talking generally done extremely well in academics, very rarely take risks because they got a perfect track record. First division, the first division, a gold medal is gold medal, is he or she will never take something where there's a chance of a silver medal because it'll spoil the record.
Those people will very rarely take risks and because they will take very relevant to take risks, they will not deviate from a bit partner beaten path of the beaten path with very little or very lesser returns. You want higher returns. You have to take a path which is not beaten. You know, you have to take that path and to take that path usually. I mean, there's a saying that fools will leap where angels fear to tread. And of course, it's an extreme example.
But I've usually found that if you have to do something remarkably different, it does take a person who is not in the standard format of education and thinking to do that.
So since you had leadership experience in the Army and then in the corporate world, something very cool you told me about the Army in the last episode was that the training involved a slight shift in your mindset to be able to work as a team, to be able to have some more leadership qualities in each person. So when you're doing that switch in leading in the corporate world and you're finding loose screws and you're finding people who aren't trained in that same manner that the army people are trained, what your discoveries about non army human beings like what are the army human being like of human beings who haven't been through that kind of a grind?
So I think, you know, this question needs to be taken in some sort of a depth because I can give a shallow answer, which is that the army is different, private sector is different.
I think the challenges are different on a very human level. I think environments are different. They're completely different environments. So you have to understand firstly that let's say you and I, if you're working in the army together in six months time, you and I will know everything about each other for the simple reason we are spending twenty four by seven together. Except when you are only what I am on leave the rest of the time we are together. I'm seeing in the officers mess.
You're going up. I am in your part and you have no way of avoiding me. So you better, you know, if I, you, you better find a way to work with me. Whatever it is inappropriate. You have a set period of time and you are from nine to five. You're working and after that you have another vote. What is happening in your world? What is happening? You know, very unknown to me. Maybe once in a year we'll meet in some, you know, festival or some brazing day or Founder's Day or something.
But other than that, it's very difficult to really know. The real you is I know your CV story. I don't know your real story. I have no idea about what your real story. I have to have the story you told me in your CV and your CV story, obviously, and embellish story, all of us CV stories. I embellish stories because I believe that dopaminergic securitise because of you. But you won't talk about the time where you were betrayed, where you betrayed people, that you have been in your own eyes, you have not done the right thing.
And all of this only a real friend will know.
Now, what happens is in the army, that is the kind of camaraderie because physically you're together, you are you in some place, you know each other's body order because you're in the same bunk for three months or six months together. So, you know, each and every idiosyncrasy of the person.
And you also learn that by and large, people are people. They'll be some parts will be good, some will be bad. So there's no such thing as a good person or a bad person. Of course, there are some extreme examples, but by and large, people will have good things and bad things and all of that. So you start accepting your teammates for who they are and not for what their CV says they are.
And so that's one big difference. The other is that there is some sort of a parity amongst everybody. So if I'm a captain with a certain number of service and you are a captain with a certain number of services, our salaries are going to be dictated by government of India.
It doesn't matter, Jack shit whether you outperform me ten times, you're not going to get a performance bonus, which is higher. So at the economic level, there is of course, there are other measures of reward. There's promotion, that is plum postings, there are foreign tours and all of that, which are other mechanisms to the world. But financially, that is sort of a parity. So you're not I've very often found in a true story this has actually happened to me.
I remember when I was in one of the companies, I was a CEO and one of my senior guys, the annual appraisal came to me. We had a whole chat and all of that. And I said, I'll get a job well done. And I gave him his envelope for the next year salary and he opened it and he was delighted because he got a raise that he was not accepting expecting. And, you know, I was trying to you know, I was thinking, but not this much.
He did a good job in go.
Are they going to give up that guy? As what it turned out, that guy was up. I thought they said it's a relative measurement. So he's happy with what he's got in an absolute sense. But when compared with the relative sense, there is a certain amount. So, yes, those levels are very different in the army or in the government for that matter. The levels are different. But I think there are some essences of leadership which are common.
And I think those essences of leadership are possibly. More pronounced in the army for the simple reason that you are on duty all the time, you know, for example, I could work in a corporate I'm just making it up, but I could work in a corporate and say come to the corporate at nine o'clock in the morning and five o'clock leave. Nobody really knows who I am after five to next day at 9:00 in the morning. I mean, I could be I could be a drunk.
I could be, you know, an abusive person. I could be one of them in the army or in a goldfish bowl.
You're you're living with the troops. The troops are watching you all the time.
So there is no way that you will have to be who you are. And that's OK. Troops are OK with Florida leaders. They are not OK with hypocritical leaders. That's true in every place. In every place, people will accept a flawed leader. The Tyga terrible guilty, but overall but nothing.
But they will never accept a person who puts up a facade and actually is something else, which I think there is a lot more scope to do in the corporate world because there are these two worlds so that it's almost possible to do that, you know, maintain one and not for long.
Obviously, you can't do this forever, but. So these are some differences, but I think the main essence where I would say leadership and it's distilled down, whether it's leadership in the Army, whether it's leadership in a religious institution, in a school, in a slum, in an NGO, in a in a charitable institution, in any of it.
Some aspects have to be common.
And the first aspect is a leader has to genuinely care for the troops, genuinely care. I'm not saying mollycoddle the troops.
I'm not even saying that we ought to be. You know, it's like tough parenting. A tough parent genuinely cares about it, maybe takes the wrong decisions. I'm not debating that could be possible that a parent in his or her wisdom insists that you have to study engineering and maybe that's the wrong decision. But there is no doubting that he has the welfare of the child in mind.
So I think that's the first criteria that the leader's intention of. Being. Looking after the interests of the troops first, it's got to be very, very clear if that is not there, whether the army, the copper world, everywhere, people recognize that the world is watching out for himself and he doesn't give a shit. And unfortunately, not just in the corporate, but in many, many segments of life. Bulk of the leaders are like that.
And it's a sad and I'm not making I'm not even pretending that I'm not one. Maybe I'm one of them as well. So I'm not making any judgment on that. But usually you'll find that the number of leaders who genuinely care, genuinely care, are few. And that's why maybe only a few reach that strategic level. That's point number one. Point number two, I think leaders have to be constantly learners. They have to constantly keep learning. Again, that is true in the army.
That is true in the cockpit. That is true in any successful leadership aspect. You have to constantly be learning to be able to ask the right questions. You ought to be able to ask the right questions is why? Why can't we do it this way? Why maybe not do it this way? I mean, and I, I can tell you this, and I've worked with some of the leaders whose names you mentioned also a little while ago.
And I can tell you they find the time to learn. I mean, and so anybody who says I don't have the time, you can be busier than I am Mukesh Ambani, or you can be busier than a Bill Gates. And you are aware of this, that each one of these leaders has their own way of constantly learning and updating.
Now, how can a person who is a chemical engineer go on to raise Telkom, which beats every other telecom at its game? You can't you can't tell. Just hire whatever. Of course, you can hire the best people in the world, but so can your competition. So what gives you that edge that you are able to do it? It's the ability to learn an entirely different domain in a very rapid time. So you have to be a constant learn.
The third thing is you also have to be a very good teacher. Um, communication. I wouldn't just say communication, I would say teacher. And the difference between the huge difference between the two attract we should not confuse the two. A good communicator can communicate very well, but teach nothing, may choose to teach nothing. Right.
A good teacher might actually let another go, but allow the subordinate to learn something. I'll give you an example. This is one of my CIOs who taught me this lesson and I think is one of the finest lessons I've learned in how to teach and how to mentor. He was commanding officer Michael Slager Majumder and I still remember exactly.
It's frozen in my head.
There was a general coming for a briefing. Very, very important man coming for a briefing, very senior officer coming for a briefing. And he suddenly looked at me and I was a very junior person at that point. And I said, okay, you are going to conduct the briefing. I was palpitating and rehearsing and I was practicing and this and that, and he's going to come and time is also short and I was like, a nuke is going to explode and this and that and all of that.
And I'm literally of course, then I said, take it. They could do it. I went through the whole thing. And just before the presentation was going to start, he just indicated to me and he started the pleasantest.
One could say, why the hell did you put me through that shit, but that was the mentorship. He actually put me through the palpitations, which is going to happen in a high risk presentation without actually taking the risk of doing that.
So he made me go through the entire battle inoculation without the actual battle.
So the next time I had to do it, I would be prepared for it.
It's a very thoughtful gesture because you could have chosen not to do it at all. You've got to and I'll do the presentation you just helped me, in which case I switch off completely, because if you want to do it, why should I get want to take a look at the appointment like I did. But beyond that, I'm not invested in it. But the moment has shifted it to me. I became invested in it personally and used that opportunity to train me on that.
Now this is a technique I have followed throughout my career. In every meeting that I'll go, I'll take one or two youngsters with me for two reasons. One is that they sit as a fly on the wall and see what happens in the strategic tables. What what are the kind of discussions that are done so that they don't have this all of an ivory tower.
But then you want to look back at gaslights then they realize that they are also human being.
They also have feelings. They also don't understand many things. And you know that it's that all goes away.
The second is I usually tell them that, hey, listen, I'm in ask you to take on at some point that helps them prepare.
And sometimes every once in a while I ask them also that it doesn't feel good. So I'll ask them once in a while. Now, these kind of techniques are also techniques of teaching.
So teaching doesn't just mean I can stand and do a brilliant lecture. Teaching means how do I find opportunities where I can allow my colleagues or my peers to experience that learning? Right. Or for example, I often do this that whenever I'm going to hire a strategic hire, I will ask three or four people to interview that.
And then I'll ask the person, OK, what is your situation? Should we take or not take? If so, yes, why not? Why now? What is happening is that person's trigger is being applied. She's applying that. He's applying the rigor. I'm also getting into the brain and thinking of that individual.
Like, I'll tell you, I had a colleague in my last and you said any person to him for an interview is if that's the nature of that person, you know, he likes to look at every are pretty damn good job is a very good job.
So you'll calibrate well. So one source is very good. You have to calibrate it and bring it down. If he sees a nine point three to bring it down to about six or seven, because you always over.
Great. Similarly, there may be somebody who is extremely cynical or who may have extremely, you know, parochial views about something.
Right. Maybe you have a colleague who has a view that women can't work late. So this job requires late working out. I prefer men. Now, this is the mindset that the person has. It's important for you to know that mindset. It's important for you to know what is the mindset of this person. Now, you can't work with that person no matter what. So how do you do that? You do this work creating opportunities where you are able to observe that person's behavior and you say, OK, one person is given this situation.
This is the way the person reacts to that situation that also allows you to understand that person much better and understand that person's thinking much better.
So if a person comes back and say, hey, that was a fantastic presentation is OK, it must have been good. I been excellent. And person becomes a factor of man. They screwed it up. They probably gone good, but by his calibration he will always give. It is very important to understand that because eventually for a strategic leader, you have to use the eyes and minds of other people who make your decisions. And eyes and minds of other people are never objective.
They're always subjective. They always add a narrative of that individual like a Rorschach test. You see the same picture, I'm sure you know that inkblot tests. So you open the test. And if you were administering it to five people, five people will see five different stories. That that's not the picture. The story is in their head. The picture is only the trigger. So if you have to lead eventually, who are you leading you to think about it as a leader?
Who are you? Are you leading the physical form of and be like you leading his legs and his arms and it's just are you leading his mind? If you're leading his mind, then you have to know the mind and your mind is very different from his mind is very different.
Your mind is very different from your mind yesterday. Your mind is very different underpressure. Your mind is very different in a creative task. This is a mechanical task. There are some people who will check the hundred the line of the Excel sheet with the same diligence as the first line. There are some people out on the third line they'll get, but not if you don't know whom to assign what task. Even if you have a great team, you will actually start messing up.
So I think that is what I mean by teaching leader. A teaching leader is always trying to impart whatever knowledge they have to their ecosystem.
Again, with a very selfish I'm not saying again, not from an altruistic one. None of this stuff that I'm telling you is from an altruistic point is from a point of view of becoming a better leader, because if you understand how a person is behaving and you are able to impart what you know or what you think in that situation to that person, then you are actually force multiplying your capability. But if you don't do either of this, you don't teach.
If you say no to this guy, why much like this guy, that person has no idea of where she went wrong.
What can be recalibrated? Where is the alignment mismatch and stuff like that? So I'll go back to the three fundamentals, genuine, genuine interest in the themes that you're leading that they must do well and that they must doing well is not necessarily give them a raise in the salary. It could just be like I remember in Ryland's, I embarked on a program which was basically to make sure that every officer who was working in that group, that that knowledge level was enhanced.
They would become better people in terms of general education, general knowledge, better communicators. We had an internal exam in Reliance called the Cops of the Career Accelerated Program, which anybody, after four years of three years of service can write. And it puts you on an accelerated track. And this whole initiative of literally compelling people that, hey, you have to give this exam, you have to do this like a civil service enterprise. And the number of people who cleared that, it shows you that the talent was already there.
It just needed that stimulation. That's the job of a leader. The job of a leader is to provide that stimuli that compels an individual to go beyond a limit that has been imposed by themselves. Usually that limit has been imposed by the people. Somebody else has told you this is good enough for you. This is good job. You're are this level. It's fantastic. But if you actually compel them to try and attempt, which is much bigger than they actually make it, you're building their confidence, you're building better, you're building a better version of that person, which I think is the primary job of every second.
As I told you, you have to be learning constantly. You have to be constantly learning, which can be technology. It can be new concepts. It can be a different way, like the podcast that you I watched that part.
I may not connect with that podcast, but I need to watch it. Why does it have four million views? So what is it that is attracting these four? Who are these four million people and why are they listening to this and what am I missing out of that? You kind of buddy, because I don't like it because it's not if it's got four million viewers, which is twice the number of views that any one of my fox has got, then very clearly either they have some formula or some audience or something that I need to learn from.
And the last point is that if you constantly keep teaching one, it reinforces that knowledge in your own head. Secondly, you are building a more enriched team and you are building also a very vibrant culture where people share knowledge and say, but I this it's that we have done this successfully. Take it from us, you know, rather than hoarding knowledge. We have been trained actually. Unfortunately, education system trains us to learn. That's why kids are taught how to write an example.
First creation, then great. You train them like this for twenty years and one day tell them, collaborate, I'm going to collaborate. They've been trained to hold knowledge inside them. I think these three traits I found are common that the good leaders have it in bureaucracy. They are the enemy, they have it and they have it in sports. Some of the greatest leaders in sports actually make the players shine much better than them.
Yeah, that is a great example. When when he's there in the field, everyone feels that I can operate at my very best. Some other captain may actually bring a sense of fear into the air. So anybody I mean, the very famous statement made. Who is a powerful leader, a powerful leader is one in whose room, when you enter and come out, you feel powerful, you feel energetic, a power less leader is one in whose room, if you go, you're scared.
And when you come out, you are like half of what you were earlier. So the idea of power is different. A powerful leader is the one who gives people the feeling that they have become more powerful. A powerless leader takes away that power from people a lot of people think is the other way around. Said today, a powerful leader, Rouhani will power less leader. Thought I was clear.
I go off as much as I do, but then he goes out to check out your to Gadzhiev Abdulelah. Then he's a powerless leader.
But if you feel matter which but will take me to the next level, will you genuinely watch out for my interest then? That is a powerful leader.
So I think that these, these three traits I come across all the three domains that I've worked and also seen other people.
So coming back to your story, you had one very interesting evolution right after I think of my interest and your initial competence. And I feel your corporate credit is divided into two parts and the middle of that, you work with the government also on a project. So I know you can't talk about it too much on a public broadcast like this, but in whatever capacity you can, I'd love to hear it from your mouth and I'll just share it with my listeners and all.
Even if you can't share what you did. Exactly, if you could share some learnings from that stage of your life.
So obviously I can share what I did there. I mean, it's still it's it's a classified project in the interest of us as a country.
It's not and it's not really important what I did there. What is more important is that I think for a country like India. We must start understanding the concept. So let me take a project like Aadhaar, which is more trackable and it happened at the same time, and I was quite involved in that also. And of course, Nandan, who was hitting it at that point of time, was also kind of a mentor in many other ways.
So we have to, as a country, start looking at leveraging our national capacity, not government capacity, not private sector capacity, but national capacity. So what is national capacity mean? The national capacities, the government, the private sector, the citizens, individuals all working together towards the same mission because increasingly problems of our country are going to be complex and multidimensional and multistakeholder. For instance, to understand a politician's dilemma, let's say political leaders, Dinamo, suppose you are asked, how do you improve the health of a country like India?
There is no one single trust thing, you do need more doctors. Of course you need more doctors, more and more nurses. But you also need hygiene. You also need a clean sewer disposal. You also need clean air. You need to give education to mothers to have the proper nutrition. You need to give inoculations to the babies. You need to make sure that there is a, you know, post delivery care. This thing, you have to be early.
So it is a multi functional and multistakeholder activity which has to work in conjunction with each other. Just by providing more doctors is not going to solve the problem like we realize just by providing ventilators.
How are you going to make for the shortfall of the doctors for short follow the doctors. You'll have to go back 15 years to train a doctor, have him have five years experience, then in Punjab, then at. So you suddenly realize that when you are trying to solve national problems, you need to leverage national capacity, not the national capacity can come from various different segments.
Matter of fact, most complex problems in the world, whether it's the taming of the atom, the Manhattan Project or even major, major things that nations have done. It has happened as a collaboration between several entities which included the government, the private sector, the private citizens. They all work together.
Now, fortunately or unfortunately, we you want to look at it in countries like the US, the UK, Europe, this has already been done several times during the first in the Second World War. So in the Second World War or in the case of us, even in Vietnam, it's a very common thing for a lot of the military who worked in the military to come into the corporate world and then work in the corporate world and then come to a decision point where they have to take a decision on the military and they have an understanding because they have been there.
So a lot of the European leaders or even American leaders, corporate leaders have had a stint in the forces in the earlier decades that so they understand that government private partnerships are not very adversarial in India. To a certain extent, they are still adversarial. It's seen as a private sector. Got me a sakagami. So there is that almost like a Chinese wall between these two entities and for whatever reasons, valid reasons on both sides, maybe the government thinks that a lot of people in the corporate sector are corrupt.
And that could be thinking a lot of people in the corporate sector putting a government. Well, I'm negative. They're very lethargic and both are wrong. Both are wrong. I think government servants, if you look at that as a working and more importantly, their responsibility it is and I mean incompatible, because if you are working in the private sector and let's say you screw up at the worst, you lose your job, you do the same thing in the government.
The CBI could come after you because they may say that this was a clear cut. So the stakes at which they are working, the environment in which they're working is very different. Now, I think both these worlds need to understand and work together, because if any nation has to look at solving complex problems, you know, there's a friend of mine who actually runs a session with CFOs and she puts them into three different groups and she says, OK, you are all bureaucrats and government servants and you are NGOs and activists and you are the corporate sector.
And then she asks each demography, what do you think about them? So the government or the private sector guys are already all of this capital is money, they only want money, they want to make more money. You give them any license, they'll try to make profitably out of it. If you don't regulate the prices, they will shoot the prices of medicines up and be able to you the corporate people.
There's a government license for everything. You need permission. It's got permission. Who's got permission to open a business? You need permission that they have no understanding of our business. They don't understand technology. They'll put some rule which will be completely cut.
What do you think about the NGO activists? They don't allow any project to start. There's nothing to start. That now is the same group of people in the same group of air when they were ahead of the other side. They have an adversarial relationship. But guess what? For any project to happen, if you want to increase jobs in Marussia, you need to provide maybe a new board has to come. If you build a port that will provide jobs to 10000 people will also maybe kill 10000 turtles.
That's also important. But really, turtles die. They are a precursor of the nature of getting destroyed. So that's also important. This is also port. So you suddenly realize that in a country like India, you're always going to have a solution which is a satis, satisfying solution. It is satisfactory and efficient. It is never going to be superefficient. On a scale of one to ten, you will never know what it's like designing a menu for one hundred people.
Nobody will be satisfied.
More than 60 percent nonmedical visual underneath our a budget. The meat thermometer to everyone will have six out of 10 rating. And that's the best thing you can do in a complex country and a complex problem. So the ability to leverage national capacity is something that I think India should really, really work at in an accelerated platform.
And there are some very basic reasons for it. The reasons for it is that when the a very simple example, I'm simplifying this example, but I think it's to illustrate a point. Let's say the civil service is in 1990 decided that we need one hundred and fifty year offices because these are the portfolios 1990. They could not visualise that. You will need creative arts, you need Internet traffic monitoring, you need this, that there's no way to win.
And we suddenly can see that will be required. Now, if you have to position someone in that vacancy who needs that domain strength, you have to bring that person laterally.
You cannot you cannot tell a person who's been an IRS officer, he's a general leader, is a general officer, but he doesn't understand that particular domain or that particular technology. So I think this interweaving of national capacity is something that a country like India should really embark on as a program in every government. It has been attempted. It has been attempted. And like many of such projects, it starts and then it has some success and then it. But I think this is an area that we that was one of the biggest learnings that we should do more of it.
One, we should do not only more of it, we should have a much, much better understanding of each other's lives. And, you know, for I mean, I never had that notion in my head because I have worked with the government in my previous corporate also I worked with MSJ very closely earlier and with.
But for all my friends who. Often comment that, you know, bureaucrats don't work with gobbledygook. It's such a sweeping, inaccurate statement. You know, I still tell people about my first day in Imagist when I joined that time. Mr. Gobal Believer's the home secretary. And so know, the first day I joined, I was filling out the papers this day and all of those things, and I was sitting in the waiting room and I sat there and it was like seven o'clock.
Then it was seven thirty. Then it was 8:00. I didn't know what to do. It was my first day. So I can show us the bias of the home secretary that any instructions for me or so he's also just sitting and I'll just check with the home secretary. He must have called immediately. The Home Secretary called me and said, I know you're still here sitting. And I said, so what? I did not know what to do.
So I was kind of sitting here. So he said, no, no, no, no. You go come back tomorrow morning, then we'll start, you know, please go home. So by the time it was about 9:00. So I just asked him very casually, I said, is this the normal looking time till 9:00? No, no, no, no, no. Only when there is a crisis. And then when I was going out of the room, he again called out and he said in the home ministry, every day is a crisis.
And that's when you realize that. People who work under government constraints, they are actually it's like pushing a string, it's not like pulling a string.
There's so many processes that have to be adhered to because it's public money, because there is compliance, because it's not a company that somebody can write off a loss.
Those kinds of things.
So I think once you understand the constraints in which someone is working, you will be far more appreciative of the progress that has been made in that space.
Of course, that doesn't absolve people in this field or that field or that field who are shirkers, who are corrupt. I'm not talking about that, but I'm saying this understanding of each other's domains and understanding of each other, where they're coming from during my tenure, that I may have had very adversarial relationship with one or two of my colleagues, with one colleague, I remember very adversarial relationship. But what that man taught me about even the basics of is something as rudimentary as Vaastu.
And one of the deep scientific principle behind it, or his ability to grasp extraordinarily complex things in a fraction of time would set a new benchmark for me in terms of learning. These are all learnings that you take away from from different domains. So I think my learning has been that if we have to solve complex problems.
National problems are very complex. They are not one order of thinking that writing orders of thinking economic coronado's custody, legal custody, although that requires intense collaboration from different stakeholders who cannot afford to be adversarial, because the problem that we are trying to solve is much, much bigger than our adversarial environment.
So are you OK explaining what the market is, but in words that can be understood by a 10 year old so I can explain it to you from public information, whatever is there in the public information that it's there on Wikipedia, it'll tell you think of that institution as a library catalog, a library catalog. So let's say you are a student of history and you want to you want a book on your knowledge on ancient history of India, and you go to this catalog.
So the library in the first ask you, ancient history of India is too big. Why don't you tell us not OK from the Gupta period to find Gupta, period. There are four books that have been written on it. One is in the Bangalore library. One is in Mumbai University. One is in a private collection with somebody and one is over here. This is the gist of the content at your seniority. You are outraged to see only these things.
And if you want the book, the books with them will make the connection happen. So this is in a nutshell what any information exchange system is supposed to do, which is supposed to redirect the information seeking query to the right place where it is.
And of course, also in some cases to fuse the data together, to take data from two or three areas and to make the sharing of data.
I wouldn't even call it intelligence, but data much easier. So this is the charter of pretty much every fusion center in the world, not just the not every fusion center in the world. This is the fundamental charter to. Help pick out a needle. In a haystack of needles, the purpose of it is to battle what aspect of the national security and very specifically oriented towards counterterror. At least this was my knowledge six years ago. And of course, after six years, I have no knowledge of.
And institutions evolve. They change. They change their DNA, they change their motive mandates. And I think that's what it was meant for.
So from working with the government, I'm going to ask you a very direct question to bring you back to the corporate side of things. What did Mr. Mukesh Ambani see in you think terms of that?
OK, I need this person so that you have to ask Mr. Bush some money. I have I cannot answer that question from your point of view, because I have known goes by for many years. I've known him from the time when I used to work with the Mandro group. I've always admired certain qualities in them. And when I left the government as an individual is the kind of a person who, like unowned, has I think he knows his mind when he he wants a certain kind of talent to come in into the family.
What did you learn about him, like after you met him? You know, like what's the difference between your vision of him before you met him?
When you work with the leader closely? And and I don't pretend that I was, you know, part of his inner circle or anything of that sort. But the portfolio I held was sufficiently sensitive for me to be able to observe him from very closely.
And I think I mean, not just him, but I would say his father, because a lot of the things that you see in that empire are the foundations laid by the father. And of course, he has taken it to another level altogether. But I think if I were to pick one. Quality in him as a leader or as an individual, it's his incredible ability to envision things way ahead of the rest of us. I often quote this incident.
It's more of an internal incident, and I am quoting it here because I wrote it in my favor mail when I was leaving.
I wrote this incident as one of my experiences that I've had with him. So in the early days when I joined at that point of time, we had, I think, reliance as a corporate, probably as the owner and custodians of the largest number of CCTV cameras in the corporate world, definitely. I don't know how many millions we probably have because every store, every refinery, every location, its pipelines, all of these things.
So this is that time and drones were starting to come in and there was talk of using drones for aerial surveillance and other drone. They can do away with hundreds of cameras if you have one drone, which is, you know, sort of overseeing that, and so we had put together some plans. And I remember going to his office to discuss that with him and, you know, I was talking to him about the drones and as soon as I began telling him about drones and, you know, this is why we are doing it, to replace the cameras, blah, blah, blah, all of that he was is a one minute, one minute.
And you started rummaging in his desk somewhere. And from below himself, he pulled out a sheet of paper and he named the person who doesn't really matter. But it's a person from Blackstone, one of these financial companies. And he said that, you know, he was here last week and he said the satellite carried out there by a satellite not coming from any other business leader. I would take that with a pinch of salt, but from him it's quite plausible.
So when I was thinking that I'm thinking at a macro view of instead of CCTV camera, I'm thinking of a drone, he's thinking or satellite.
And I think that distance very clearly, I mean, this distance shows that one unique trait, he has the ability to envision something which is so huge and so large that the rest of us may not even think in those lines. And that, I think, is a remarkable trait. And I think every country needs a few of such leaders because it's these leaders were able to all work and take the digital revolution in India today. Every person having access to at least content, you know, and the content may be crap.
That's not his fault or anybody's fault. And I'm sure the content will now fill in that space. But access to content, I think has been exceptional is it's something that, like I said, when history of India is written, this period when suddenly overnight everyone got access to unfettered access to. Of content is I think it will be a huge contribution to every Indian and every next generation, I think that's huge, very important for all the with lives.
It's not just YouTube's life, but, you know, I mean, I'm fascinated. You are one of the examples.
But like when I see some woman sitting somewhere in Bhopal and has six million followers when she teaches how to stitch a blouse, I'm just thinking of the relevance that woman must have had in her life.
You know, this is one skill of teaching how to stitch a blouse. And suddenly it's I'm not saying she became a celebrity, but she became relevant. She she is now an entity, an identity on her own.
I mean, for you, perhaps it's not that big a difference. You you are born in the right place. You got a right family. Even if you did not have YouTube access or you are not YouTube, but you still would have had relevance. But the ability to take a person who is sitting in the back of beyond Kashmir and or some remote area northeast from there is able to have connectivity because to the wrong example in current times, but in the Northeast or in the remote areas and have the same amount of connectivity that a city kid has or similar to that extent, I think that's a revolution.
People haven't really grasped it even now. They think ultimately it's not YouTube million.
You've got you've got access to resources, which was only for a privileged few. He has. I think the right way to put it is he has mainstreamed the future. You know, he has actually mainstreamed the future. He's made the future mainstream. And I think that definitely is something which sets him apart from many other leaders I've worked with and seen also very closely.
What about the whole organization? I mean, if you look across competence, what is on on a very foundation and cultural level, what has allowed ridgelines to break out from the rest of the pack? Because I'm sure there's a lot of ambition amongst the rest of the pack as well. But there must be something culturally correct, Dunhill, to allow that rocket launch. Well, frankly, I don't think I'm qualified to comment on a question that I think every company, every organization has their own culture.
They have their own DNA. They have their own operating system, and they have their own way of operating within the larger operating system. So these four or five parameters define every organization's path. And of course, organizations also, like human beings, have a lifetime, just like human beings. They are born just like human beings. They have a young age like human beings. They have adolescents and they have maturity. And unfortunately, like human beings, they do become old.
And when they become old, they do become, you know, attractive and they also die. I won't take any particular example, but let's talk about the recent phenomenon that we have all seen, that a company called Zoome comes out of nowhere and overtakes Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, FaceTime, system time, Cisco, WebEx, Google Hangout, all of them, and overtakes them to become a 100 billion dollar valuation.
Why does that happen? Doesn't Facebook know FaceTime? Doesn't WhatsApp know how to do video conferencing? Doesn't WebEx Cisco, which had the original telepresence, don't they know how to do that? But why were they not able to leverage it? So it's also where the company is in its horizon in time in terms of its agility, in terms of its flexibility, in terms of its size. So many things come into play. So to take any one aspect and say that this aspect is what made this company happen is a wrong thing to do because it is inaccurate.
It's always a combination of factors. B, just because company aided it, Company B may not be able to do it because that is the company's core competence. Company B may not have that core competence.
Their staffing may not be done in that way. A company, if the culture of a company is having one centralized command and subservient leaders, then their staffing is done. In that way, the aspiration of their leaders is validation from that central source, whereas another company may have a requirement of having multiple leaders, let's say a company like PepsiCo, they have multiple brands and multiple franchises.
They need multiple independent leaders. Their staffing will be done in a very different way. They're the reward mechanism is not necessarily a pat on the back from the main person at all, but pat on the back from the market or whatever.
So it's unfair or incorrect. Diagnosis is like your physical health. You can prescribe the same diet to two different people and say, what works for an Olympic athlete?
An Olympic athlete consumes 8000 calories a day. You do that, you'll explode in a day. So it's basically what works for a certain entity.
I think that group or Mahindra or Bill or Tata or any one of these groups have found that ideal combination which works for them, which works for their partners, which also works for the expectation of the stakeholders. A stakeholder will expect certain things from a certain company or a certain brand. They will not expect the same things from another company and another brand. So the brand and the company are meeting the promise. It doesn't mean they have to be exactly the same.
They will not be the same. They'll be very different. But each one will find success in their own way.
But at its core, a company is a collection of people. So one thing I've seen, at least from the outside and I've been a part of like the Reliance Group of people because my my schooling was I don't remember any international school.
So there is an element of the ridgelines culture even in the school. The way I look at it, I think it's very well lesson oriented, as in like a lot of people are elevated to positions of command. And I also feel that there are deep family culture. And you will just see that in things like Rumanians when I keep returning like the old guard. So is it that they reward Longdon Baliles within the organization is some kind of cultural thing from a leadership perspective.
I'll answer this question in a different way. Let's say you have a driver. Who's driving capability in a scale of one to 10? Is seven. But his trustworthiness is in a scale of one to 10, nine. Another driver you had was driving skills in a scale of one to ten is a nine, but trustworthiness in other than driving because he's just joined do is maybe three or four. You have two tasks.
One task is that you have to rush to the airport to catch a flight. And it's really, really critical that you have to catch the flight. The other task is you need to send five lakhs in cash to your friend in Mumbai or now desperately needs it. How are you going to make the selections right now to deliver the cash? You will take a person who's driving sales, maybe seven, but trustworthiness is nine.
So seven and nine is equal to 63 63. In the other case, the person's driving skill is nine.
Trustworthiness is for four and two. Nine is equal to 36.
So when it's a choice between 63 and 36, the choice is very clear. So any leader would rather have a person who they trust, who they feel aligns with them and is competent enough to do the job then to have competence, which is very high. But alignment and trust may not be that right now, both for alignment and trust, time is a factor because there is no way I can come and tell you. As I said, trust me, I'm a very trustworthy person.
I have to be with you for a certain number of years before that trustworthiness you accept.
I may be still a trustworthy person. I may be 100 percent trustworthy, but for you to feel that comfort that yes, I can trust is a different ballgame. And therefore, in certain organizations, whether it is Reliance or many other organizations which are much more family oriented, which are much more people oriented, and it's a very people oriented organization, I think the way they go out of the way, if somebody falls ill, even during the Soviet period, I mean, they airlifted doctors from all over the world to make sure that every place had that kind of personal, you know, kind of a it's a video game for people to get up, not family up, not up, not be able to take care.
That is a very different from an antiseptic MNC kind of behavior where you are just I don't see great. The great twenty four. That's it. And maybe you have few colleagues, but you are never ever there's no such thing as a family and that's different business, different acquirement, different kind of people. One is not better than the other, just different. It's like saying you're not Italian Amara's giuntoli which is better, not something that they're just different, they're completely different.
And I think we have to understand that. So that is definitely one of their is that at the end of the day, you always have to look at the outcome, I think. And organization's efficiency has to be measured by the outcome. A company that is outperforming the market, a company that is growing year on year outcome, it does show that it is doing the right thing. Some things are being done right. And that is the way to look at it.
I got Maunsell.
So now the demands are all my corporate questions and all my story. Raise questions. I got to talk to you about life and the future. And this is coming from all the perspectives of your army and your corporate and your plus.
I feel you've always been at that stage where you've been a loner and it's just become even more fearless for you, that process of learning as you've grown. And I'm saying that from a place of knowing you behind the camera as well as always reading and all that.
So what are the next 20 years old? You and I know that you think of like the present more than you think of the future.
But still, if I ask you what would give you joy over the next 20 years, how would you answer that after having accumulated?
I have to tell you, honestly, I wish I knew the answer to that question. I genuinely wish I knew the answer to that question. And there are two reasons for it.
One reason is my life has been this is not about my career and my my life. I think I said it in the football podcast also. I don't think I've ever, you know, had the structured view of life and life as if somebody were to ask me, how did this all happen? I'd say it was a lot of serendipity, lot of being in the right place at the right time or a lot of, I don't know, good karma by other people, whatever you want to call it.
It's been that and to a certain extent, I believe this is my belief and I'm not asking anyone else to believe it, but I believe that the marks that a person should have, at least in the professional side, I have a sense that most of those checkmarks, I have done it. I mean, to my satisfaction, I've done it. Yeah.
I mean, and you know what? A lot of young men, especially I can't speak for women because I'm not a woman myself. But for a lot of young men, having those professional Jacmel's becomes the game you create for yourself.
Of course it is. It's so that whole theory of an external scorecard was is an internal scorecard. So an external scorecard is handed over to. A newborn, even for women, when you're born, until you go to the school, is what if you get signs after 10? It's good in signs. If you get into a medical college or in college, it's good if you get selected by the big four in your first listing in your first day of placement.
It is good if you have given a dollar paid job in Hong Kong. It's better than being paid to be paid a job in Poona. That's good. So you constantly are being told that this is good and therefore you should be happy. And that's maybe true for an external scorecard, but at some point in time, you arrive at life at somebody will arrive and then you can leave at various stages also where you realize that I don't really feel good just because I have this.
I mean, you are saying it's good.
You are saying is what you are saying is what it's like in the story. Many, many years ago when I was a kid as a family outing, we are going to a place in Kollberg and there was a very famous coffee shop. So I don't know if you ever had that collectivities inside that metal, you know, with a stick in it, a very famous shop.
So people come there from so they everyone everyone is going to the first time are having a coffee. And I'm told that this is a delicacy and all of that. Now, what had happened is that you are aware this is when they put the coffee, they also put salt in the ice. So in this particular thing, there were some silk. You shoot the sealer broken and full of salt. So when I was eating it completely salty and I'm wondering, everyone else is saying this is very good, very good stuff I learned on my mom.
I don't want nobody very salty. So she tasted it and she told that man and that guy was a standard, a standard that I ate like 70 percent of it. And he I said, well, that said, I thought I thought it was good in life. But often it feels like that, you know, because others have told us it is good. So we didn't mean to say, ah, it must be good if I am working for this MNC.
I'm running so many likes. It must be good.
I'm not so sure that that scorecard you want to run with for the rest of your life. Of course you need to run with it for a certain point of time because you need the financial security. You need to bring up your family, educate your kids and all that.
Well, when you come to a point where this external scorecard is continuously driving you, I think I will start asking those fundamental questions.
That is this the scorecard, which is my scorecard or is a scorecard which has been given to me by my parents, by my colleagues, by my friends, by others. And if it is their scorecard, then am I living my hundred percent? So it's a very interesting analogy to, let's say, a person who loves you most in the world. And for the sake of argument, let's make it your mother. And also easier to imagine that, oh, my mother, not even the person who loves you most in the world, has only 20 percent of the mind for you because.
Twenty percent she has to give for your other siblings. Twenty percent for her husband, twenty percent for her only problem. We are divided.
But so the person who loves you the most in the world has only twenty percent of mindshare for you. Why the hell would you leave you one hundred percent of your life for that person? So I think somewhere people need to calibrate that scorecard.
And again, I, I don't think it's age. I mean, I know young students, MBA students, we've got a very lucrative career ahead of them. But choosing to join an NGO and saying, you know what, I want to work in energy because this is my scorecard. I find happiness there. I see that a lot happening in the current generation. I don't think our generation, or at least at that point of time, that financial street I had that luxury say you I learned it was very, very fixed that you had to you have to start working by a certain period of time.
So I think this understanding the difference between an external and internal scorecard is the first transition that I think I am going through right now.
And secondly, if I look back at my life, I always say that I have always had a posting order to come to me. You know, it's almost like the Army one day posting order will arrive in the mail and say, you are now or to so-and-so place. And that's the way my life has been.
So if somebody asked me in 1993, I would have never imagined that I would be out of the army if somebody asked me in nineteen or maybe in two thousand, six or seven, I would have never imagined that I would go back into the government. Somebody asked me in 2013, I would have never imagined I would leave the government. So I think these posting orders life has a tendency to send them to you once in a while. And while you wait for the posting or you wait in a holding pattern and a holding pattern, you basically try and acquire skills and knowledge, knowledge and even points of view, which you may not have had earlier or may not have had the need to have UNIA.
And I guess that's what I tried. So I would I don't know. I mean, I could I often joke about it that if you asked me where I was going to be three years from now and give me fifteen options, what would eventually happen would be a hundred and eighteen. So I have no idea. I would say so. But like I said, that the the good part is to focus on the battle drills. So it doesn't really matter then which battle you are to fight if you're battle drills argued that by and large you will find your way out of that.
So I guess that's what it is. But this is a very long time. I was going to happen to you.
Did you know covid was going to happen? So there's a very, very long time. I'd say that long term planning nowadays should be about it in my. Do you think that should be long term planning? Yeah, just just so that the viewers get some context on this part, because I would add one story on my radio. We actually do Wilsbach. We were thinking of stopping our English Channel completely because it was becoming extremely difficult to balance a Hindi channel as well as an English channel.
And I sat down with my team like my original team, and I told them that this is what I want to do. And I think I should go hammer and tongs on the mass game and not the classic. They ask me what's the easiest form of content you can do so they can call smart people and just talk to them. And that was why the podcast started. Like it was just that, because it was extremely easy to do.
Now, one vanua and one and a half years in, this is the fuel of my life. And we started a Hindi board because it's become the main source of content. We are known as the number one broadcast in the country and things like that, but just landed uphill. And, you know, the other aspect of things is I feel this whole year has gone in podcasting.
I actually survived the covid pandemic from a content perspective because we were part of it.
I mean, it's covid or any other constraint. Constraint is what fuels the opportunity and the constraint comes around you all all great technologies. I mean, look at it this way of India. We built our own supercomputer called Orham because the US refused to give us great supercomputers in the 70s because they said will use it for alternate uses for military and nuclear and all that. We went on to become one of the leading missile development programs in the world, satellite launching and all of that.
Because the Russians refused to give us psychogenic technology, we still haven't been able to make a good rifle because rifles we still buy. So when you are denied something, you have to find a way out of it. And that is where the ingenuity comes in. Innovation comes in. So any time a constraint is placed, it always will spawn some completely new kind of thinking.
A new kind of a I think that way. I mean, I'm not talking, of course, about a lot of misery and lot of heartbreak and a lot of sadness to a lot of people. But I think the pandemic itself has altered in many ways and opened up avenues for people to really look at, you know, how to roll out their plans for the future.
Yeah, I think that's my definition of life at age 27, that as long as you keep trying, keep learning, keep gaining new perspectives, life kind of nudges you into the direction you always seem to be in. I think so, too.
And I mean, as Rudiger mentioned in her talk also, I think eventually it all ties up together these bricks that are laid as obstacles. And in a way, these obstacles, opportunities, bricks and stones and opportunity that you were supposed to get was taken away from you and you sent it to some other place. I think in the larger scheme of things, these all pieces for together and maybe when you look back, I mean, I have had this incident in my life and.
I remember there was a certain portfolio I was holding I don't want to name what it was during my capitano and I was literally. A lot of organizational politics and literally compelled out of that portfolio, but because it was I was, you know, moved out of that portfolio is the reason why I did something else is the reason why something else happened and is the reason why I finally went on to raise the national intelligence grid. And I met that individual many years later who actually caused this?
You know, I'm a much older person and all I want to thank him and I genuinely want to thank. I genuinely think that if you are not able to put up some of they have actually give you, you're not getting it.
So I think these instances, these is things that come into your life, they they create you for an opportunity or for the ability to deliver opportunity with your life will present to you. It's actually very easy to look at it in the hindsight. It's very easy to look in the hindsight and say, you know, that difficulty which I had, that tragedy which I had, that opportunity, that I was overlooked for, that thing that I missed is the reason why I am in this place today at.
The problem is when you're going through it now, the ability to tell yourself now that now what I'm going through, it may be bad, it may be sadness, it may be depression, it may be mental health issues. It could be anything. It is for the good. I mean, it's a cliche sentence that everything happens for the best, but it is true. Now, the trick is the ability to recognize it while you are going through the bad stuff and having the result that it is happening for a reason.
It'll happen for a few more weeks, for a few more months. And when it ends, it'll be a very necessary part of my ability to do something in the future. If I have not gone through this trauma, the sadness or whatever, I would not have been able to do this. I mean, I've heard this. I'm sure you have heard it from several people.
I've heard it from a very close friend of mine who's blind, who now lost his eyesight.
And he says that losing my eyesight was what enabled me to see the world in a different way. And I can't even imagine a person who's become was lost one of the most important senses being able to say that. But he's actually covered that journey and he's able to say that. So I think in hindsight, it's easy when I look back at my well, you look back in your twenty seven years of some failure, you had some heartbreak you had and you say it was good.
I had it because because of that I have this now.
It is if you were to go through today, how do you deal with it? Are you able to take an attitude that is really the challenge and it's nice to say it in a podcast, but if I were to break a leg, I would say that it would be very difficult for me to convince my it's happening for the best, because during that time you're hurting. And when you're hurting, it's very difficult to have a perspective with just two years.
I don't know yet because you're hurting right now and you want this pain to stop now. And you are you are unwilling to be seduced by any temptation of what this pain will bring to you as again, two years from now. But that is the cycle of life. I think we all have a certain amount of bad luck and good luck. And that bad luck has to play out. It has to you can't avoid it. It's just it's going to be there.
So and the final question of this broadcast is not exactly about the pandemic of what sort of a pandemic that I feel an entire generation is dealing with.
It's called mental health issues.
I primarily velis because of social media and hyper connectivity.
I don't know whether we spoke about it in this episode of the Hindi podcast, but we've spoken about this, that connectedness, an overload of information which is probably increased the number of mental health issues, especially when you compare it to, say, 30 years ago, 40 years ago.
So have you seen this from your leadership positions?
And I think it's it's going to be one of the biggest problems that not corporate India, but India will face. And I'll tell you the reason why I think India is because, as we are aware, India's bulk of the population is very young and it's going to be young for some time. Matter of fact, I think firstly, we have to understand this mental health is a wrong phrase because mental health is a moral catchall phrase. I don't think that's the right phrase to use.
The right phrase is a psychologically unsafe environment. OK, I think the environment that the youth and the younger kids are growing in today and even adults to a certain extent is psychologically very unsafe. I'll explain what that means. A psychologically safe environment is one in which you feel you can speak your mind. You feel that if you say something, no one will get hurt, no one will get upset.
And that's the environment that you need in organizations where you need creativity and innovation and new ideas busting. You cannot have a punitive environment that if you say something wrong, you'll be penalized. If you do something wrong, you'll be penalized.
Ironically, contrary to your belief, this psychologically unsafe state is happening because of losing connections, not because of increased connections.
It's true. We have many, many Facebook and YouTube and Twitter followers. I think you have a few million or whatever, but how many of them are really friends of yours?
They're not really friends. They're not friends, friends. Maybe we'll be lucky. Any person will be lucky if he has about five friends who are really good friends.
But what happens is subliminally, if a person were to lose 2000 friends, it's almost a subliminal loss that two thousand people don't like me anymore.
And like, whether you're good looking or not, good looking is being told by a website. It's being told by an advertisement. Do you have a beach ready body? Do you have a tan? Do you have chiseled features? Do you have, you know, a shop north? These are.
Subliminal messages which are being fed into people's head, have you seen the social dilemma? I have seen it and I think it is contained, but this is nothing new. I mean, it used to happen in advertising even earlier.
But what is happening is that constantly people are being told you're not good enough, you're not good enough about it. Now, if you give a dog a bad name, the dog will turn into a bad dog so constantly. If an individual is getting that, you're not enough. You're not doing enough. You're not doing enough. You're not doing enough.
It'll start actually subliminally making that person feel guilty, make that person feel confident and make that person unhappy. Because if somebody tells you you are good looking, you feel happy and somebody tells you you're not good looking, you feel unhappy, your looks are not changed. Nothing's changed in your looks. It looks at exactly the same. It is how many people say you are good looking vs. how many people you can do nothing about it. It is what people's opinion is about you now.
I think we should care about people, but we should not care what people think about us. But unfortunately, in today's world, we don't care about people, but we care more about what they think about us.
Right. And they don't think very much about it. But in our belief, we are thinking that they think about us. They think about us all the time. It happens. It happens to all of us. You know, you get a thousand likes and twenty three dislikes. You can go and see or dislike this Najiba, who is the one. So you want to look at the thousands who have like you are going through this who may have disliked you.
I mean, you may have reminded them of some class bully. It could be any reason negative by a negative light.
So the moment you get into that.
So I think this generation of the like I said, I don't want to use the word mental health, but I think the importance of creating a psychologically safe environment at home, in schools, in workplaces and in common grounds, common meeting ground. If we don't address this, I don't know if you are aware that the mental health. Ailments are 37 percent, Indians are affected by physical ailments, only 17 percent. It's double of physical health and physical health is very tangible.
If you break a leg, if people will be coming towards you because you've got a broken leg. Come, come. You sit over here. But if you are a mental health problem, people are not going towards you. They are unkind words, right? It is true. They are unkind towards you. So basically, I think this is going to become one of the biggest challenges which if we don't address now and covid is only going to exacerbate it.
And I have one message that I really want to share. I think even for a lot of corporations, you know, when they asked me that, how can we improve our efficiencies and how can we do?
Well, you know, this platform and that transition and this transformation, I must be at least intervening on six or seven transformations in organization, multicore transformations.
And I'm reminded of a, you know, physics Duchenne master we had who sometimes topolice like physics, chemistry to teach about bullies. Like we used to tell him that why don't we learn alchemy so that we can turn lead into gold. And you would laugh at us. And we knew we are trying to pull his leg and he would tell us that, you know, there's a light bulb, there's all light bulbs that we used to have, 80 percent of the energy that is fed into the light bulb.
It goes into heat and only 20 percent converts into light, actually less than that. And since we just make that 20 percent, 40 percent, you make a revolution in scientific work. We just do now a little late to do that. Now, similarly, in an organization which is going with platform revolution transition and this and that, did you know that in a Gallup survey as late as 2015, they found that in an organization, typical MNC, large corporate or large organizations, less than 20 percent of the employees are actively engaged, 60 percent are waiting for the charter bus.
Time to know, looking at the clock because they've got a 20 percent actively sabotaging the company because they hate that or they dislike or whatever they're. So if this 20 percent engaged can just be made into 40 percent, that organization will have an exponential growth of 100 percent.
So this area, if corporate start recognizing that mental health is a direct correlation with engagement.
So rather than optimizing workforce, which I am asked to do many, many times, companies come to me and say, can you optimize my workforce? I think with optimization, what they have in mind. To give you a parallel look, as a great Badalucco Technology Largactil category, I think is the wrong way to look at it. The right way to look at it is how may we engage those 12 people so fully that their work output is today for people, happiness level is of twenty for people.
That, to my mind, is an area that is going to be a really interesting space to work in.
And I would actually urge a lot of leaders now, rather than studying management theories, which are based 20, 30 years ago, all our management theories are based on the assembly line, the Cathars, the Belka, which is 20, 30 years ago. I think they should be studying psychology now. Right now, I'm sure in school you have answered this question and some examples, usually maths example, that if eight people can dig up 14 feet tall in ten days, then how many people will take to dig it in four days?
The correct answer to that is depends on the people. Oh, totally depends on the people and the state of mind.
It's got nothing to do with 18, 12, 14 and the leader and only, of course, the people and the leader leader actually transforms the state of mind to positive or negative bootless.
So I think that answer is the answer that we need the youth to start understanding now that people are not automatons, they are not mechanical units, they're not even people. They are brothers, sisters, cousins, somebody's son, someone's daughter, someone's happy daughter on a good day, someone's daughter on another day. That's the dynamic we are working with. And I think this area we really need to bring to focus because. One thing I have, you asked me what I'm good at, and this is somewhat of a track record that I'm kind of I have usually had the ability to see a major threat coming well before it came when my interest was formed.
At that point of time, information security was not even on the radar of banks. Even banks did not realize it. I remember many, many years ago when I was talking to this guy and CIA and all these leaders, I was there in that meeting and I said this Knoxville's are going to become a huge problem. But then in the back of beyond their command, they will. Organon, I think, are the biggest threat that we are looking at, which will form the bedrock of all threats.
Because if you have a mentally. Unstable environment, it's very easy to cause any form of instability in it. When suicide rates start going up. Suicide bombers can also go up because of the guy who's going to commit suicide, why not commit suicide while blowing themselves up? So I think we need to really be aware that this is one area where.
I think not just corporate India should really be looking at and post the pandemic, it has exacerbated to a huge degree. As a country, as medical institutions, there is not enough attention on it. More importantly, in India, there is a stigma attached to it. So the moment you fascinatingly I was talking to a very, very senior therapist who told me this, that every individual, every individual from the age of one to 70 will have some mental health issue, at least two or three times his life.
While everyone gets it, many people get it, get out of it. Many people are not able to get out of it. That's the way it should be treated and not as some logotype of that stigma. And I think this is the right time for a lot of us to start thinking about it for two reasons. One, it is a big problem. And second has been mainstreamed. There is no stigma and a lot of organizations are talking about mental health, postcoital and all of that.
I think this is one area which I would urge the youth, especially one in seven Indians is suffering from some form of mental health, which means one out of the seven people, you know, maybe even including you, is suffering from it. The remaining six have to watch out for that one. That's the only way because it could be you. Like I said, it's not one person. It could be any one of us.
So I think that's one area which I really see as a challenge of your generation. It is a challenge of your generation is in a very, very psychologically unsafe environment. I when I was growing up, was encouraged by my parents to read the newspaper every day. I doubt whether Shardul will encourage his daughter to read the newspaper these days. Right. So imagine the psychological and safety that has happened in a matter. And that's that's one of the key areas that your generation will have to deal with.
Maybe one step in combating this problem is sharing their own vision, which is its positive content that's trying to change the world and make it a happier, more positive place.
I will do that. I'll share your pleasure. Thank you. Thank you.
Thanks for being great speaking with you. Episode three of this journey. Again, lots more content we created with the audience. We'll do that. But I really appreciate all the little things that are, you know, what you said about you getting knowledge from Deepak then, huh? I've learned a lot. I get a lot of stuff from you. I found out about two shows and you told me about it.
If you become a sponge, knowledge will come from everywhere. You don't have to look openly to die. It's all all around us.
And that's a big blessing on my life, to be able to do these podcasts and call it my source of living and my purpose. And I've just said gain knowledge from anything.
The only guy who gets paid for getting educated is. Yeah, exactly. Exactly, exactly that. People underestimate the power of what happens to the broadcasters through this.
Do any I mean, any interaction with anybody? It adds a completely different dimension.
I get to live your life through your words or at least, you know, don't make the same mistakes or even if that mistake has happened, you say it's not unique. Many other people have done it. And, you know, that puts a perspective which I think is great. And those who listen to your show as well. Yes. Thank you, sir.
Really appreciate it. Again, I'll be linking all of those channels down below and until next time from Denver.
And Captain Al Goodman, we will see you later. Thanks for. Look forward to seeing you again soon.