I offer my obeisance to my eternal master Om Swami.
प्रेरकः सूचकश्वैव वाचको दर्शकस्तथा।
शिक्षको बोधकश्वैव षडेते गुरवः स्मृताः॥
जो प्रेरणा दे, सूचना दे, पाठ करे, मार्गदर्शन करे,
शिक्षा दे, और बोध कराए, ये छः गुरु माने गये हैं।
The one who inspires, one who informs, one who recites, one who guides,
one who teaches, and the one who awakens, these are the six Gurus to remember.
I am still to imbibe the values as taught by my master Om Swami. So a detailed note on my future transformation and my guru’s role in it will be written after I become worthy to be called his disciple.
In the mean time let me share with you about my past. I have always been a movie buff and there are so many of my favorite movies which have influenced me, but none like “GURU” a movie based on life of Dhirubhai Ambani and the lead role played by Abhishek Bachchan.
This film was released in 2007 and around the same time I was struggling to establish myself in supply chain management industry.
I am going to share some of the memorable dialogues of the movie Guru and how it has influenced my life.
1) “Sapne mat dekho, mera bapu kehta tha, lekin maine sapna dekha”.( Don’t dare to dream , my father said, But I saw a dream).
When Gurukant Desai, was working as a shell petrol attendant, at Aden, he dream of owning a refinery. Any other person in his place would have dreamt of becoming a manager or at the most owner of the petrol pump. But dreaming of owning a refinery, that’s a vision only a leader can have. During this time, I was doing my business from a rented premises, I decided that I too will have my own warehouse. In 2010, I bought my first warehouse of 45000 sq ft and in 2015 my dream of having another 1 lakh sq ft was fulfilled. Today when I look back, I wonder would it have been possible if I hadn’t dreamt about it. My advice to readers, Dream Big. It need not be realized immediately, but if you put your heart and soul to it, nothing is impossible.
2) Main Baniya hoon sahib, sab kuch bahut sambhal ke kharcha karta hoon. (I am a trader, I spend everything cautiously.)
When I started my business( I am a brahmin :)) in Bhiwandi, I didn’t have my own cabin; just a few chairs and table for the computer set up (yes, no air-condition). I also used to travel in public transport to save money. But I used to pay my employees much better than the market rates. Also I invested in the best hardware and infrastructure. My first car was a Chevrolet tavera, and the only criterion was that it was the only SUV with a 10 seater capacity. I used to leave early and pick up my staff too on the way, that way I ensured my staff reaches on time and also I saved on their travelling costs.
3) “Na sunai nahi deta mujhe” ( I am not able to hear NO)
Being in supply chain industry, I had realized from the beginning that it is a pure service industry and you need to fulfill client’s demands and keep them happy. This meant working odd hours, someday even late in the night till 4 and again beginning the next day at 9 am. In the commercial world just like army you need to lead from front. Since I myself used to sit late, my team was not able to say “NO” to me.
4) Jab log tumhare khilaaf bolne lage…Samajh lo tarakki kar rahe ho (when people talk against you, understand that you are on the path of success).
One of my clients had 4 CFAs in Bhiwandi itself. Other CFAs created lot of obstruction for me, right from sending goons to badmouthing about me to senior management. I never retaliated. I just kept on doing my work and did the best that I could. After a few years all of them were closed down by the client and all work was handed over to me.
5) Mere ko yeh golf khelna nahi aata… Yeh ghode ki race bhi nahi khelta… Lekin apne dhande ka Mazboot khiladi hoon main. ( I don’t know how to play golf, Nor do I bet on horses, But I am a master of my trade)
Whatever you do, be the best in your field. Right from FMCG, to Pharma, to Ice-creams, I have handled all sorts of clients. The philosophy is quiet simple, learn their distribution systems and give them the best results. When I started Vadilal Ice-cream, it was a real challenge for me as my team had to work in a cold storage facility with minus 25 degree temperature. The dispatch too hat to be done in a reefer van which was again temperature controlled. Not only was I the most successful CFA in the history of Vadilal, but also gave them the highest growth in sales. I do not say this to brag about myself, but to highlight the underlying factors about building a core team and understanding the minutest details of the customers. The same success was replicated with Creambell ice creams( A Ravi Jaipuria enterprise).
6) Public se kya darna sahab… Mein khud public hoon. (Why should you fear the public, I too am one of them).
When you are transparent with all your stake holders, you need not worry about anything. I do business in Bhiwandi and till date I follow an open door policy. Right from a laborer to a tempo driver, anyone can come and meet me any time. Normally, what people tend to do is after reaching a certain level, become inaccessible to the lower rungs. Second, the financial dealings must be such as you should never have to worry who will barge in for his payments. I have seen the pain of not having money, so all my staff is paid on 1st of month without fail. My vendors too are paid promptly. Another important factor is when you take something for yourself from the warehouse, always keep in mind, your staff too will be tempted to do the same in your absence. In my ice-cream operations, I too was tempted to try each new flavor, so it was obvious that my team too would have wanted to taste the same. What I did was, opened a separate account in my name with the company and told my team you can eat as many as you want but kindly bill the same in my account, so that there is no stock variance. For a few thousand rupees I not only satisfied their taste buds but also gained their loyalty.
7) Meri Himmat aam aadmi ki himmat hai, Is desh ki himmat hai.(My courage is a common mans courage, It is the courage of this country)
I wanted to be a chartered accountant, but I could not pass the exam. I tried different businesses and failed many times, but I did not give up hope. Becoming an entrepreneur is not easy; it is not that difficult too. Many times I hear people saying, Business is not my cup of tea. How will you ever know that unless and until you try? Believe me it is much more easy than taking orders from others in a job. All it needs is courage and conviction. Nothing else.
Dhirubhai ambani may have had many faults; some might even consider his style of business as unethical. I am not to judge on that, I admire his qualities as an entrepreneur and his sheer Blitzkrieg in the Indian corporate world will always be a bench mark for years to come.