Braving the heat, humidity, dust and grime of a typical midsummer Mumbai, I was relieved to enter the cool air-conditioned fortress “Om Sagar”, which served as the Head office to my ex-company. Quick as breeze, with a “daakiya daak laya rhythm” I flew across many cubicles of my colleagues who formed a Mexican wave of greets as I passed their dens. Quite a warm welcome that a sales person gets when he comes on a not so frequent visit to the head office, far away from the party time (noise to few) of the city sales office.
I was glad to see all of them like a child sliding his fingers over all the whites in a piano octave, like the green coconut palms waving past me in a train taking me to my long separated hometown, like the standing paddy turf bowing to gusts of pollinating breeze gently caressing them.
As I was swinging past with joy, I came across the cubicle of my friend who was a senior correspondent of one of the reputed publications of the company. His reportage was well regarded as a genuine source by lot many faithful readers of the magazine and of course by the highly placed marketing managers of leading IT companies regarding whose coverage in the magazine was very much sought after. As a good friend he used to provide me with tips from the industry which I used for generating sales. His reference was highly effective in breaking ice with new and otherwise unapproachable clients.
This time around the cheerful expression of his face was evicted by a gloomy frown with a tinge of frustration. He asked me “ Nagesh, can you spare a minute? Lets go to the café. Have something confidential to share”. “Sure” I replied hoping that it nothing more serious than the hot summer that kept him disturbed.
“I have decided to quit the company” began my colleague stating it upfront and bold. “Have you got a better offer elsewhere?” I asked with glee.. “No Nagesh, I am starting something on my own and wish to ask whether you want to be a part of it” He further explained what he was intending to do. I appreciated his enterprising decision but regretted my participation stating that I still had to gain experience and it was too early in my career to take such a bold step.. I was playing safe but after due calculations. He ended by saying..
”I am tired of working under someone. Its high time I do something on my own and earn for myself rather than generate profit for others” .
The last statement due to some reason started playing in my head again and again like a needle-stuck-gramaphone. While it was an enterprising move that my friend was trying to make, was he doing it out of passion or out of sheer frustration? Well maybe a fine combination of both.. But would he succeed or land up from the frying pan straight to the voracious flames? I wished him good luck and proceeded back to my paths with the extra luggage of my friends last statement…
“I am tired of working under someone”
I had known the editor, his boss to be a nice man, was he being a tyrant? Nah .. couldn’t be. Maybe saturation in his career and its worries had caught him imprisoned. The kit-baggage with these questions in my mind was waiting to be answered on another occasion which wasn’t far off.
Day with Anand (Answers)
It was another day o’ dust, sweat and grime minus the central AC of Om Sagar or my cozy cubicle at the Sales office. I was out on the punishing Andheri-kurla road where pedestrians, stray animals ( wild as well as tamed, some of them on wheels) and vehicles fight for their square feet share of the cratered tar + concrete, to jiggle and if possible wriggle their way through, while still remembering their destination by the time they take their next step into chaos.
Finally after overcoming every hurdle on the road and getting a thorough inhalation of vehicular exhaust, I reached Anand’s office. Anand and his brother Gurpreet managed one of Mumbai’s largest Web-hosting business and were faithful advertisers in my company’s magazine from its day one issue. After cooling down with a glass of water with a cup of tea waiting to cool (Anand never lets his visitors go without serving them tea), our discussions started and led to me asking for more than usual business for a special issue which was due in the coming months. Anand was a good negotiator and startled me saying that he may not be present in the next issue which meant it would be his first break in 3 years!!! He then allowed me to release my witheld breath by saying that he will not be able to spend high for the next month, although he will be present in his usual quarter page advertisement.
In his self-made stature he remarked
“Nagesh, I may be having a great rapport with you, but my boss will not allow me to spend even a penny more”.
I had known Anand as the proprietor of the company, now who was he reporting to off late?? How could he entrust his entire self made and established business to someone so easily?? Before I could think of disguising my question and ask him.. He read the query in my expression and said “You must be wondering who my boss is? Relax, I still own this business but I am Self-Employed.. I am employed… by whom?? Well you will be scared if I even tell you about what a tyrant he is.”
Anand continued ” Nagesh, you work for a nice company where if you dont meet your targets they dont ask for your head. Well my boss doesnt take any prisoners, He is the most ruthless superior you may ever see in your worst nightmares. Whenever my decisions lead to the right results i get rewarded. But when I fail, I dont get cajoled but I get the lashes straight till I bleed”
Anand’s words kept me hooked as he disclosed
” My boss is My Business”
” People may think that i dont have anyone to report to. But like I said, My business is an absolutely unforgiving boss who never keeps accounts to be settled for later. Whenever I take the right path and succeed, He rewards me with profits a large part of which I feed him back. But sometimes even with genuine intentions if things go wrong and give unfavorable results, he punishes me with the worst ever punishment.. losses, some of which takes long enough to recover and endangers your sustenance. But despite all of this I have to report to him and Hence I am sorry Nagesh I cant spend more with you at this time when I am at a greater chance of being punished”.
I smiled back at him with a genuine smile which may have perhaps raised surprise in his head, since salesmen can’t don a genuine smile when refused. But what i had gotten from him was a big principle of business which perhaps no B School would teach me.
Flash-back Om Sagar.. I was wondering if my correspondent friend would quit the current job because he did not want to report to anyone, whether he would be able to cope up with the Ruthlessness of a new boss – Mr. My-own-Business. The only quality that would drive anyone to the brighter side of this boss was sheer passion, which was at its highest levels in Anand, which I prayed that my correspondent friend should have.
Passion for your goal is the only language that can help him negotiate with “the unforgiving boss”. Pursuit of passion would surely see him shining in his new venture. But an act driven by escapism would surely land him in the boiling cauldrons of his unforgiving Boss – would -be.
Hats off to Anand who answered my predicament and gave me a lesson for lifetime. Sincere Prayers for my correspondent friend for his endeavors! And a big thanks to you for reading such a long blog 🙂
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