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Monday, 31 March 2014

Family Inc!

Recently I happened to attend a conference where one of the topics debated was “The role of professionals in family run business”. The speakers included select business leaders of ‘Family run’ companies. As expected most of them were first generation businessmen who through hard work and industry had set up and grown their companies to their present position, each one a fairly well established set up in my city. While they made a strong case study of how to start and build a business, it was while explaining the topic and how they saw the role of “Professionals” in their organization that most stumbled. Random high sounding jargons like “marry traditional values to modern trade practices”, “making the Professional a part of the family”, “inculcate a sense of belonging to the professional” etc were spouted. On prodding what these actually meant and how one or they did all the above drew further incoherent bilge. As an ‘expert’ on the subject, I take it upon me to elucidate on this, a subject which will fill a fairly large portion of my autobiography as and when it is written.

What I could make out of the industry leaders in the conference was most that of them thought ‘Professional’ means a suited-booted, laptop lugging, English Medium Type who swore by XL spread sheets and power point presentations! Knowing that I have been blessed with readers who are much more well versed with the term, I refrain from giving my ‘dose’ of gyaan on the same. (Should you still feel lost; a cursory glance into Oxford Dictionary should suffice. Welcome!) If the speakers were confused on the definition of professionals, the audience a few exceptions apart (Ahem! Ahem!!) were confused on what is ‘Family run business’. This needs an explanation as I don’t think Oxford or any other dictionary is capable of getting to the soul of this definition.

Firstly, family run businesses are not necessarily a small mom-n-pop businesses as the word may fool you into believing. Scale is immaterial when it comes to family run businesses. Secondly, most businesses world over are family run businesses. You find my statements incredible? Here you go……Who do you think has succeeded Rupert Murdoch’s Media empire? James Murdoch! Closer home after Ratan Tata who?  Cyrus Pallonji Mistry. Mistry is no Tata you say? Well Mistry is family, extended one through marriage! (Noel Tata lurks in the background) Birlaji’s successors are who else but Birlajis. Then there is one of the oldest family run enterprises in the country which goes by the name of the Indian National Congress!

Tataji & Birlaji

As someone who has worked all his life in family run companies the above mentioned conference was of zilch value to me as it gave me no clue on what the ‘family’ expects from a ‘professional’ that I didn’t know already. I venture into sharing some guru-mantra instead on what ‘professionals’ should expect in a ‘family run business’, a sort of a quickie, self-help ideas to bear in mind while on work.

Please expect and be prepared for a sugar coated variant of feudalism if you want to succeed in such organizations. A little bit of tact and some amount of apple-polishing should be ideal recipe for success. If you agree with “Boss is right” then you should not have any problem with “Lalaji is right” either!

Whatever your qualification or your experience in the business of your organization, please remember you can only make suggestions and not give decisions. That is the exclusive preserve of the ‘Sethji’. The more your suggestions are accepted and you get a go ahead for implementation the better is the likelihood of your Diwali ‘packet’ becoming fatter!


Grow a thick hide! Remember to address the gen-next as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ however dumb, dumber or dumbest they may be. Or even if they are old enough to just about be dating you son or grandson.

Tone down your ambitions. Remember it is always the Yuvraj who succeeds the Maharaj and never the Mantri. And there is no guarantee of Mantri’s progeny succeeding the Mantri either!

Never swallow the bluff of your fancy sounding designation like Business Head or CEO on the business card. You will always be way below in the hierarchy. You will most definitely follow the Lalaji, Lalaji Junior, the family Munshiji and the Lalaji’s driver in the ladder.


If all this sounds scary, relax! Be pragmatic. If there is no parambarai sotthu or zamindari to fall back upon, just follow the herd. After all money in the bank has never hurt anyone that I know of! Remember there is always a lottery waiting to fall into your lap should the Lalaji’s daughter fall for you!

P.S.: I once worked for a Lalaji whose definition of ‘Vision’ was eye sight! I am sure you are better off!

Gyaan: Knowledge
Guru-Mantra: Tips
 Lalaji/Sethji : Owner of the business
Yuvraj: Prince
Maharaj: King
Munshiji: Family accountant.
Parambarai Sotthu: Ancestral property
Zamindari : Fiefdom.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Gym! Boom!! Baah!!!

Let us start with busting a few myths. Firstly, being lean and lanky is not equivalent to being fit. You don’t believe me? Try sprinting approximately 32 meters to board the last fast local to Virar or a similar distance to jump onto the footboard of that Gandhipuram-Singanallur town bus. You made it? Good! Now do you feel you are about to collapse of a heart attack? Great, first myth busted. Secondly,dear roly-poly, rotund, gol-matol, couch potatoes, “ I go for a walk everyday and eat only two chappaties” is neither an adequate exercise nor appropriate weight reduction formula. Thirdly, when you gen-nexters look up from your laptop, mobile, television screens and gaze into the crystal ball and you do not see yourself in either of the above described scenario you think? BUSTED!

Here is some sane and free advice. Take the plunge now by choice or be condemned to being forced to later by a prescription and a medical bill running into……………..!Or you can also wait for the day when you see your toes only on a mirror because that ombodhu masam blocks your view! Once I munched through all the above, I decided to dive headlong into it. The added incentive was to prove the myth “Life starts at forty” right!

The preliminary to joining the gym was right up my alley.  Shopping for the right shoes, track pants, tees, sipper, gym bag etc was a breeze. The presence of an up market gym in the locality was a help too. Out came the credit card and the gym fees for the next two years paid in a jiffy, in advance. The night before, all the paraphernalia was neatly laid out on the sofa ( being a considerate type, I didn’t want to wake up the entire household that early in the morning), alarm was set to discreet mode on the mobile which in turn was placed strategically below the pillow (Please re-read the sentence written within the brackets above, welcome!) And self was before the instructor before either the locality dogs or the nearest TASMAC outlet had woken up.

Adrenalin runs high when intention meets enthusiasm. Every instruction of the instructor was followed like an eager beaver; every exercise was indulged in, a few rounds more than what the instructor wanted you to. A wry smile, a sly giggle was directed at ‘uncles’ in the adjacent treadmill or dumbles rack as they huffed and puffed. Every sinew of the body was thoroughly rinsed before I said bye to the instructor. The rest of the day at work and otherwise was spent in trying to somehow build in words like exercise, fitness, health consciousness, gymnasium into every conversation and hopefully get an opportunity to spout gyaan on the same. The preliminary preparation for day two followed the same as day one and hence I decide not to repeat the same.

On day two  the alarm rang, snooze button pressed, repeat, repeat, repeat……… the body refused simple commands like opening the eyes or getting up from the bed. By now the discrete alarm had woken up the entire household. Amidst the commotion as the eyes finally opened and the torso moved northwards, the legs decided to go on a flash strike. Further pushing, pulling, jostling later (ably supported by the uproarious laughter of the Mrs and appan suppan kind of comments from the kiddos) I managed to reach the gym. There is a premium that I pay for sound education, a respect that is reserved for none or nothing else. The Class III lesson “Perseverance Pays” flashed on my mind as I gingerly mounted the ‘air-walk’. To cut the story short, the Class III lesson won the day and the next and the next…………..

As the days went on, I worked out a formula which helped me to grow beyond the Class III lesson as the only source of motivation. Creaking bones and aching muscles need much more than just the above dictum. The first was to find ‘partners’ with whom you work out. While this may sound rather innocuous, it actually calls for much more thought. I selected a slightly middle aged ‘uncle’ who had been pumping iron for a few months now and a fifteen year old bubbloo who seemed to be a waking-walking advertisement for potato chips. The uncle gave me the enthusiasm to compete with him and the bubbloo gave me the laughs. Secondly I selected a time-band when there were no members of the fairer sex around.  The Gym history is littered with innumerable cases of wannabe Casanovas who pulled iron only to pull out once the neighbourhood nymph broke out into peals of laughter.  Among the other strategies employed was to sing praises of the instructor to other mates in the gym, especially when he was in the hearing zone. Recommending the ‘great’ gym to fellow workers and dragging them to the place irrespective of the fact they joined it or not also made him ‘go slow’ on you.  The clincher was getting the instructor to play a list of your favourite songs during the work out starting with “Gymmy, gymmy, gymmy! Aaaja aaja aaja’!

 It has been a month or so since I have graduated from “aah, the pain” to the “aaha the pain”!


PS: Always inform the instructor your reason for joining the work out lest you might end up losing weight when your wish was just the opposite or end up looking like the last thing you wanted, an over grown bollywood like orangutan! 

Gol-Matol : Roly poly
Chappati :  Indian Bread
Ombodhu Masam : Literal - Nine Months, Simile - Tummy like that of a pregnant women.
Gyaan - Knowledge, lecture.
Babbloo : Roly poly kid.
Appan Suppan : Daddy is a weakling!