Monday, May 20, 2013

Rahul Dravid, IPL and Art of Retirement

It is delightful to see Rahul Dravid in this IPL. His team Rajsthan Royals has done so well but I am not referring to that. I am referring to Rahul Dravid as a batsman. Yeah, he is not the orange cap guy nor has he hit fastest century or hit 6 sixes in one over but there is something delightful about his battingnthis year. He is trying out everything that he did not or I must say could not in his long illustrious career. In one of the matches, he lofted a ball from outside the off stump and deposited it on mid wicket fence. "This is so unlike Rahul Dravid - shot", said Harsha Bhogle, in cheerful voice, astonished tone and with half a giggle.

That set me thinking. Rahul Dravid to me represents that class of corporate workers that is completely capable of leading the team, getting that next promotion or be in the limelight but they just could not. Just like Rahul Dravid they did everything the situation asked for, whole heartedly, without complaints but lime light, flamboyance or the oomph factor always stayed away from them. Rahul Dravid really cherished playing at no. 3 position but he opened the batting when he was asked to, played at no. 5 or no. 6 position to accommodate VVS. He kept wickets during the entire world cup to just because selectors could not find a genuine all rounder. He even captained the side when their captain fell sick looking at the grass on the wicket. He is second highest run getter for India, third in the world and played a supporting role in one of the best counter attack in test match in our times. He also retired quietly. There were no wars fought among the fans about his retirement, no TV shows, no discussions about right timing or timing it right. This pretty much sounds like a significantly above average corporate career.

Thats why it is delightful to watch him blossom after retirement. He seems to enjoy himself. There is nothing left to be proven anymore. He can open up the shoulders to play any shot he feels like as they are not burdened with any national responsibility anymore. He can now try any fancy shot, get beaten and still there will not be hoo- haas in the stadium. So far he played for his captain, his team, his country and now he can play for himself.

I want to follow his footsteps in retirement. I want to do things, I have never done before. I want to try those things which I would most likely to fail. I want people to exclaim , "That's so unlike-Vivek thing".

I learnt a lot from Rahul Dravid when he was playing, I will learn lot from him even after he has retired.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Why did fish leave water to live on ground?

I started my career with a motorcycle company as a sales person. My job was to sell targeted number of motorcycles through the dealer network every month. It involved very close personal interactions with quite wealthy people and getting things done through them. I distinctly remember one such interaction about 15 years ago. In those days, there were very few car dealerships around and I was discussing with one of my dealers why he did not take up car dealership. He pulled out a sheet that showed merely lending that money at prevalent interest rates would earn far more money than investing in a risky new venture. He did not think that the business case for a car dealership was stronger than simply lending the money. The calculation was impeccable but somehow the conclusion didn't seem right. I could not think of what was wrong but I could feel it.

Now when he looks back he must be regretting his decision. The bike dealership must have grown but car dealerships have grown multifold and are raking money. Gradually, their business proposition became much stronger than lending money.

This story is not isolated. There are many inventions or new business venture that were shunned by astute business minds as they failed to prove their attractiveness on an excel sheet. No financial model or theory could prove their merit. Someone had to take an uncalculated risk, someone had to listen to her gut than cash flow analysis and put their heart and soul to bring that idea to life and make it successful. As Ratan Tata famously said the one needs to work on making the decision right rather than just worrying about whether the decision was right.

This situation is however, not really unique to humans. It has happened in nature many times. The life on the earth started in water. Fish had everything needed inside water, the food, their oxygen, their eco-system. Still some fish decided to venture on land. Nobody is really sure why they did so or what the trigger was. Was there too much competition for food or too many predators or just boredom with status quo or all of the above? Or whether these fish were visionaries, we may never know. Some fish made their mind to plunge into the unknown, try to breathe in air, crawl instead of swim and the results are apparent. They started a whole new cycle of evolution of which we are all beneficiaries. We would not have existed in this shape and form if they had not taken the risk.

Challenging status quo without any apparent reasons and logical benefits has its own rewards as well as risks. Thats the reason this path is less travelled. If there is an idea, a new activity which you strongly feel about, which you think is going to change things around but no excel sheet supports your claim or none of the facts in the past point towards the success think of the fish who left the water for land. Think of my dealer who refused to expand to unknown just because immediate excel sheet did not support it.

May be you will get courage to start a big cycle of evolution! May be you will know why did fish leave water to live on ground!