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Encounters with brighter minds invariably leave an author invigorated. When managers, whether the practising kind or the aspiring kind, ask searching questions based on what one has proposed in one’s books or blogs, the writer’s thought process also gets enriched. The more pungent the query, the more fulfilled one feels.

Over the past few years, yours truly has had several opportunities of interacting with youth who aspire to be future managers and entrepreneurs. The topics have been wide ranging, like Work Life Balance, Management Lessons from Movies, Management Lessons from India, Ethics and Values in Business, Managing Interpersonal Relationships, Four Pillars of Integral Management and Surviving in the Corporate Jungle.

Here are some of the outfits which have been kind enough to grant such opportunities:

  1. Catolica Porto Business School, Porto, Portugal.
  2. Department of Management Studies, Universidade Europeia, Lisbon, Portugal.
  3. Madras Management Association, Pondicherry Chapter, India.
  4. Sri Aurobindo Center for Advanced Research, Pondicherry, India.
  5. C K College of Engineering and Technology, Cuddalore, India.
  6. Sri Manakula Vinayagar Engineering College, Pondicherry, India.
  7. Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow: NOIDA Campus, India.
  8. International Minds in Finland, Finland.
  9. Madras Management Association, Chennai, India.
  10. Department of Management Studies, Pondicherry University, India.
  11. Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India.
  12. Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, India.

And mentioned below are some of the frequently asked questions yours truly has encountered in the recent past. Against each query, you will find a short summary of the response.

What precisely is Spiritual Quotient (SQ)? How does one develop it?

Those who have a high SQ have this uncanny ability to be creative and insightful in their approach to problem solving. They build up their level of self-awareness and there intuitive faculties. They realize that there is a realm of intelligence which is beyond the five senses that our physical bodies are endowed with.

SQ has several components: gratitude, self-esteem, self-awareness, consciousness, compassion, surrender, service and ego.

Meditation can help develop our Spiritual Quotient. So can heartfulness and mindfulness.

When you speak of the ‘Draupadi Syndrome’ in management parlance, you are speaking of managing multiple bosses. How does one handle such a situation?

Organizations are becoming flatter. Functional silos are breaking down. This means working in multi-disciplinary teams and reporting to multiple bosses at times.

Tact, patience and a better understanding of the psychology of each boss can help a manager to handle many bosses at the same time. Bad-mouthing one in front of the other would not help. Playing one against the other could also land one in a soup.

Due to parental pressure and financial insecurity, can one take up a job which is with a company which is marketing a dubious product?

It is not advisable to go in for a job where your value system does not match with that of the organization. You will not be able to put your heart into it. This may result into your being caught in a low-result and lower-rewards vicious cycle, undermining your self confidence.

If you are absolutely with your back to the wall, you may do so for a very short stint; be ready to change to the next one at the first possible opportunity.

 

You advise us to avoid being a Yes-man. How does one convey one’s difference of opinion to a senior? How does one say ‘no’ to one’s boss?

Politely. By marshalling your thoughts and sharing those with the senior at an appropriate time. Be open and respectful to his views. Registering dissent is a responsibility we all carry on our shoulders.

Please give examples of Eustress, the positive kind of stress you speak of.

When you are rushing for a meeting with your girl friend, or going to a movie, you feel a kind of stress which is positive in nature. When the end result is likely to be a pleasurable experience, you feel Eustress.

It follows that when we handle an assignment which connects us to a cause we happen to be passionate about, we experience positive stress. We enjoy doing it.  

 

According to you, interpersonal relationships have a half-life of their own, much like that of a radioactive substance. How can one increase the life span of a relationship?

I believe this can be done by avoiding anger, greed and a tendency to bad-mouth the party of the other part, especially when he/she is not present. Anticipating the needs of a person and assisting him/her in achieving a goal helps.

 

Ethics and Values in business: For an entity which is geared for generating a surplus for its equity holders and boasts of a great market valuation, just how practical is this concept?

Most businesses run on a quarter to quarter basis, with a focus on guideline values. But those which care about developing their brand equity operate based on a compass which is configured on a basic set of ethics and values.

In the Indian context, why do we respect Tatas? Because the group has a 150-year old tradition of good thoughts, good work and a basic sense of decency and honesty. They continue to do so much for the society, mostly in fields which have no direct connection to their diverse businesses.  

Any general career advice you would give to us?

Five years down the road, do you not see businesses becoming more dependent on technology? So, the writing on the wall is pretty clear. Be ready to embrace change. Learn digital skills and be ready to play a relevant role in the business, whether your own or that of someone else.

Do not be scared of bargaining for a better work-life balance. Remain connected to your inner self. Introspect, do a SWOT analysis, and create a USP for yourself. Invest in a good image on social media.

Build credibility. Observe company culture. Volunteer willingly. Build healthy relationships. Keep improving your skill-set.

Book cover English Front

Each interaction proves to be a good learning opportunity!

(Wish to look up my profile? You can find it here.

Related post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/about-me)

 

 

 

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A recent trip to New Delhi gave me an opportunity of calling upon His Excellency Joao da Camara, the Ambassador of Portugal in India. He was kind enough to spare some time for me to be able to present my book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’ to him.

 

It happened to be a day when the smog enveloping the capital city of India was at its worst. A brief meeting with an amiable person like His Excellency left one breathing easier. The brief encounter proved to be an uplifting experience. His grace, warmth and hospitality yet again reminded me of the genial and affable disposition of the people of Portugal.

The informal meeting took place in his tastefully done up office. The frankness with which he spoke and the warmth he exuded was typical of the people of character, resource and rich culture he represents.

He spoke warmly of the centuries old connection between Portugal and India. He mentioned families of Indian origin who have made Portugal their home for the past six generations and who make it a point to scout around for Indian brides who would eventually marry the sons in their families.

He mentioned the richness of India’s ancient culture and the diversity of its citizens. He turned out to be a close friend of Ms Clara Nunes dos Santos, a senior diplomat in the Portuguese Government, whom I was fortunate to have met in Oslo a few months back, when she was the Ambassador of Portugal in Norway.

Recapitulating the historic ties

It may be recalled that Bartolomeu Dias, a Portuguese explorer, was the first one to have crossed the ‘Cape of Good Hope’ in the year 1488, opening the sea route to India.

Vasco da Gama, another nobleman from the household of the King of Portugal, finally landed at the port of Calicut on the 27th of May, 1498, heralding an era of European dominance of India.

In 1510, the capital of Estado Portugues da India (Portuguese state of India) was transferred from Cochin to Goa. In the 17th century, Goa became the capital of the vast Portuguese empire which spread from Mozambique to Nagasaki, controlling the entire Indian Ocean trade.

When India gained independence from British rule in 1947, relations between the two countries turned a wee bit sour over Portugal’s refusal to surrender its enclaves of Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Indian military intervened, ending Portuguese rule over these areas in 1961. Eventually, with the signing of a treaty in New Delhi in 1974 with the new democratic Portuguese Government, amicable bilateral relations were restored.

Trade and commerce between the two countries has only looked up thereafter, even though much potential remains to be explored in the future. During the visit of Prime Minister of Portugal His Excellency Antonio da Costa to India during January 2017, as many as six agreements have been signed between the two countries. These also include an agreement on defence cooperation.

One feels happy to have made a very modest contribution towards an exchange of softer management ideas between Portugal and India. The book authored by me first got published in Portugal. The original English version, ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, followed thereafter.

(A Portuguese version of this article can be found at Book Portugal Ambassador India Vida Economica)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/a-meeting-with-the-minister-counsellor-of-portugal-in-switzerland

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/10/14/surviving-in-the-corporate-jungle-a-video)

(Note:

This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016, courtesy Liberty Seguros and Vida Economica.)

(The English version of the book, entitled ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, was released recently.)

 

 

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For those interested in the art and science of management, here is a video clip which captures the journey of my book so far.

Feedback is welcome.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/a-tale-of-two-countries-and-a-book-launch

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/surviving-in-the-corporate-jungle-some-comments)

 

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Respected Sir,

As a lay citizen of India, allow me to say that you are spearheading a great drive to reform the education system of the country. There may be no big ticket announcements, but one can see some incremental steps which would help our youth to realize their full potential in the years to come.

I write this with all humility at my command, merely to suggest one such incremental reform, which, I am reasonably certain, can help our youth to develop their soft skills faster and better.

I write this to suggest that a special drive be launched to expose Indian students to the works of the eminent humourist, P G Wodehouse. By discovering, delving into and devouring these, our future citizens shall turn out to be cheerful, joyous and happy. India would soon become a country which would be not only chasing her Gross Domestic Product numbers, but also shoring up her Gross National Happiness index.

A spurt to ingenuity and innovation

At the school level, his stories – depicting hostel life, cricket rivalries and the kind of goofiness which kids normally display – would entertain and motivate our children no end. On the one hand, headmasters and headmistresses would quickly learn how to be shrewd lion-tamers. On the other, children would get into the right spirit of innovation and ingenuity, thereby brightening the prospects of creating many a Silicon Valley in India in the decades to follow.

Children who have already shifted to ball point pens, iPads and other advanced gadgets would no longer be able to put sherbet in ink pots. But they would still learn how to sneak back into their dormitories, ably assisted by their resourceful seniors. They would understand the importance of giggling and staring at guest lecturers, thereby enabling the latter to improve upon their oratorical skills and overcoming their stage fright.

Seeking protection money would come easily to them. When they grow up and take up responsible positions in administration, such skills would make them hotter at their jobs. Planning for such innovative schemes as creating butter slides for defaulting step-fathers-to-be would help them to sharpen their intuitive faculties. Their decision making abilities would improve. They would end up being better managers. Their employability quotient would register a quantum jump.

Many back benchers in our schools would end up being proficient in such vocations as chimney cleaning et al. The skill of using paraffin to douse flames of any kind would help them to gauge and neutralize terror threats of many kinds. When they grow up, our law enforcing agencies would find them ready for many a delicate task.

When besotted with Bollywood divas, they would rise to their higher selves and learn how to help those in distress. Better discipline and good conduct, whether in schools or at home, would result. Tantrums thrown at the change of a Wi-Fi password at home, or at the announcement of a surprise test in mathematics at school, would be a thing of the past. Hapless parents and teachers would breathe easy.

A boost to chivalry and matrimonial bliss

At the college level, our youth would learn invaluable lessons in chivalry, thereby making our country much safer for the delicately nurtured amongst us. Following in the footsteps of Bertie Wooster, they would go to any length to stand by a pal in distress. Eventually, this would help them to imbibe a feeling of brotherhood and secularism.

Such exquisite hobbies as rearing newts would reignite their respect for environment. They shall imbibe the finer characteristics of canine and feline creatures. They would learn to treat members of all species with due respect. Those who decide to pursue the career of a dietitian may seriously consider specializing in developing healthier diets for the Empress and her ilk.

Standing up to aunts who are not gentlemen would come easily to them. Rebutting the unpleasant endeavours of such bullies as Roderick Spode by ferreting out their Eulalie-kind secrets would help them in their lives. They shall develop a deeply spiritual outlook towards the harsh slings and arrow of fate.

Some of them would surely aspire to be like Jeeves, providing satisfaction to all and sundry with their keen intelligence. They would learn to use the psychology of the individual as a potent tool to achieve their goals in life. Overall, their Emotional Quotient ratings would jump manifold.

The art of sliding down pipes to avoid encounters of an unpleasant kind would be a great value-add to their skill sets. Refusing to be job seekers, they would use their romantic skills to assume key positions in premium dog biscuit manufacturing conglomerates, generating a multitude of employment opportunities. Motivated by the adventures of Sally, many others would create successful start-ups.

When they start experiencing the bliss of married life, Bingo Little would become a role model. Sacrificing a highly proficient cook merely to keep peace at home would make them practice the invaluable art of detachment, as espoused in the Bhagavad Gita. Ensuring that the spouse gets the daily ration of her afternoon tea would sustain matrimonial harmony. The art of bringing up kids and touching others for ten quids would get learnt the easy way. Divorce rates shall plummet. Happier and contented kids would eventually evolve into happier citizens of India.

From Ashe Marson, they would learn to do regular Larsen exercises at an early age. Even if they choose to write detective stories when they grow up, they would land lucrative assignments involving restoration of unmindfully pinched scarabs to their rightful owners. By hobnobbing with those who are less fortunate than them in their station in life, they would develop empathy and compassion, thereby becoming more humane in their approach to life and its myriad situations.

Thanks to Rupert Psmith, the art of managing and controlling bosses would come easy to them. They would make effective managers, and shall be in great demand in the employment market.

Making education enjoyable

Sir, you are undoubtedly aware that our students happen to be a worried and depressed lot these days. At a tender age, they are expected to lug around heavy bags slung on their slender shoulders. When at the secondary stage, the poor souls turn and twist in their beds, worrying about future career choices. Much before they acquire a degree of sorts, they start chewing their nails and twiddling their thumbs trying to figure out ways to support their families by making a decent living.

A dash of humour is what they desperately need. Loads of wisdom and practical advice is what they want. Values and a role model is what they seek. A sense of inner joy, peace and happiness is what they inwardly crave for.

All this, and much more, can be found in the Wodehouse canon. By introducing his works for study at all levels of education, India shall be setting a fine example for the rest of the world.

By ensuring ready availability of his works in libraries, book clubs and reading rooms across the entire country, we shall be enabling our youth to rediscover the value of subtle humour in their lives. Our Teacher Training Institutes can be tasked to expose those in the so-called noble profession to the works of P G Wodehouse. Our multilingual scholars can be persuaded to translate his works into other prominent languages used in India. Local fans of the author may be willing to spare some time to read his books to students at all levels.

By learning to appreciate the sunnier side of their lives, students would overcome their depression and be ready to face the future challenges with a chin-up attitude. Many of them would derive a vicarious pleasure in reading about the decadent British aristocracy, thereby forgetting their own deprivations in life.

A unique initiative with juicy spin offs

It is time that we, as a country, adopt what is good for our youth, rather than only blaming Lord Macaulay, who belongs to a distant past.

If you were to initiate this single change, your colleagues in many other ministries of the Government of India shall feel obliged as well as bucked up. The Home Minister would applaud you. The Health and Family Welfare Minister would praise you. The Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister would be in awe of you. The Social Justice and Empowerment Minister would look up to you. The Defence Minister would admire you. The Women and Child Development Minister would envy you. The possibilities and the spin offs are mind boggling.

Sir, this unique initiative is all yours to take. I, on behalf of Wodehouse fans the world over, hope you will not disappoint us.

With kind regards and a hearty pip pip!

An Indian suffering from acute Wodehousitis.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/the-epidemic-of-wodehousitis)

 

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You are the main engine of economic growth,

Making global MNCs continue to fuss over you;

Splurging on goodies, traveling all over the world,

Your hard work yielding fruits which are your due.

 

You work very hard to secure a better future,

For yourself, for your progeny, and for your kith and kin;

The joint family system you appear to have given up,

Bringing up kids amidst the social media din.

 

You are the upholder of values and character,

Quietly paying your taxes, fulfilling social commitments;

A God-fearing and law-abiding citizen of the country,

Balancing a scientific outlook with superstitious predicaments.

 

Great sacrifices you are also willing to make,

When making India stronger is your belief and view;

You do not mind spending hours in a queue,

Retrieving hard-earned cash which is due to you.

 

Government subsidies you are willing to give up,

So the poor and the needy may live a better life;

You live the life of a silent but true patriot,

Ignoring social unrest, mobocracy and strife.

 

Corruption in high places you do not like,

Petty bribes which save you time you do not mind;

Inefficient delivery of public services you hate,

To trains and buses running late you are often kind.

 

But much like the three monkeys of the Mahatma,

Unpleasant things you do not hear;

You remain blind and muke to many a thing,

Indignities which do not touch you directly, silently you bear.

 

You remain faithful to the concept of democracy,

Keeping the flame of our independence aglow;

Pushing the Indian nation on its path of glory,

Hoping for a better tomorrow, even if the progress is slow.

 

Perhaps a day would dawn when you would speak up,

Push also for social, judicial and political reforms;

Chasing not only GDP and per capita income numbers,

But also Gross National Happiness in its myriad forms.

 

Strive for India to excel in its Millennium Development Goals,

Contribute towards building up Gross National Character;

Refuse to let caste and religion determine vote banks,

Of the unfolding Indian drama, be the outspoken main actor.

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How does one handle bosses and secretaries? What are the scientific laws which govern interpersonal relations? What kind of management lessons can be drawn from Indian epics?

Launched in the Portuguese market in March 2016, the book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’ was recently unleashed upon unsuspecting business magnates and management honchos at Pondicherry in India.

The book, published by Partridge India, presents insightful lessons for managers at all levels – the aspiring kind, the practicing and the tired kind, and even the retired kind. For hassled business executives and entrepreneurs, relentlessly chasing goals and deadlines, the punchy prose – infused with a Wodehousean humour – should come as a relaxing and uplifting read.  

No connection with Vasco da Gama

One does not claim to be a descendant of Vasco da Gama, but it so happened that the original manuscript, penned in English along the coast of the Bay of Bengal over the last three years, found its way to Porto, Portugal, on the Atlantic coast. CEO World, a unique start up there, managed to secure the support of Liberty Seguros. Vida Economica took it up for publication in Portuguese.

The Portuguese version, ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’, has found its way to the office of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Portugal, His Excellency, Mr. António Luís Santos da Costa, GCIH, who has roots in Goa.

It has also been presented to Ms. Clara Nunes dos Santos, the Ambassador of Portugal in Norway, and to Mr. José Manuel Castro Santiago, Minister – Counsellor at the Embassy of Portugal in Switzerland.

The book has also been discussed at IMiF (International Minds in Finland), a select group of entrepreneurs and intellectuals in Finland.

English version launched at Pondicherry, India

Recently, a book launch function was organized at Pondicherry, India, by People for Pondicherry Heritage (PPH), a group of individuals and NGOs who are passionate about protecting as well as showcasing the unique heritage of Pondicherry.

Ms. Sunaina Mandeen of PPH spoke of the need to preserve our values and our rich heritage, the latter including works of literary kind.

Ms. Sunaina Narang introduced the author to the audience.

While launching the upgraded English version of the book, Mr. R Mananathan, Chairman of Manatec Electronics Private Limited, spoke warmly of several topics covered in the book. He found it to be a unique book which covers a vast area of business management. In particular, it touches upon leadership, administration and refined concepts in the domain of human resources. He felt that I deserve credit for having summed up my forty year long practical experience and present it in a crisp and humorous manner. He wished that the language used could have been somewhat simpler in some parts, though.

Mr. P Rangaraj, Chairman and Managing Director, Chemin Controls and Instrumentation Private Limited, said that the book is replete with rich management lessons which would be useful to managers and business owners of all kinds. He was appreciative of the fact that the book also draws upon such Indian ancient scriptures as Ramayana, Mahabharata and Thirukkural.

The book presentation on the occasion touched upon some of the hundred odd topics covered in the book, like Meeting the Boss halfway through, Female Power and Stress, among others.

The presentation also brought into focus a new perspective on leadership by means of an upgraded Blake Mouton Grid, wherein a third dimension is proposed – that of the Concern for Ethics. It advocates the importance of developing not only one’s intelligence and emotional quotient, but also one’s spiritual quotient.

The book transports the reader back to an era when the instructive yet delightful works of such luminaries as C Northcote Parkinson, Lawrence J Peter and Sharu Rangnekar ruled the management book market.

 

The launch of the book in two countries is a reaffirmation of the fact that managerial knowledge and skills happen to be universal in nature. Books can act as bridges between two countries and two civilizations and bring these closer to each other for the purpose of forging mutually beneficial relationships.

Press coverage

Here is a press report covering the launch event: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/the-art-and-science-of-management/article19338392.ece

Details

“Surviving in the Corporate Jungle”

By Ashok Kumar Bhatia

(http://www.amazon.in/Surviving-Corporate-Jungle-Ashok-Bhatia/dp/1482888505)

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/the-book-como-sobreviver-na-selva-empresarial-guia-pratico

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/a-meeting-with-the-minister-counsellor-of-portugal-in-switzerland

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/an-interaction-with-senior-professionals-in-finland

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/09/14/a-book-presentation-session-at-madras-management-association-chennai-india)

 

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After the 2008 economic meltdown, the management world has discovered that CEOs need to follow not only the Business Compass but also a Moral Compass to steer the enterprises they happen to run. Improving one’s Spiritual Quotient is now a sheer business necessity, and shall be more so in the decades to come.

It is here that Indian scriptures and sages provide a ready template for managers of all sizes and shapes.

The bookSurviving in the Corporate Jungle’ covers some lessons from the following:

-Ramayana

-Mahabharata

-Bhagavad-Gita

-Thirukkural

-Chanakya Neeti

-Sri Aurobindo

Managers with a Western Mind and an Eastern Heart

The success of the likes of Satya Nadella (currently the CEO of Microsoft) and Sundar Pichai (currently the CEO of Google Inc) goes on to show the growing importance of managers who are not only exposed to the Western models of management but also steeped in Eastern wisdom in the realm of management.


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