This was not for entrepreneurs going from A to B, but rather from B2B. A to B to Babes- Rajiv Bajaj’s brand formula for revival of Bajaj did seem to be the overall theme of the event called ‘Young Turks Conclave’. (Rajiv confessed that he secretly coined the word B2B for lifting Bajaj’s sagging image that time, to a desirable brand).
CNBC TV18 was celebrating 10 years of the programme ‘Young Turks Transformers’ (one of them did feature yours truly and Onio Design). Out of roughly 1000 people who featured on this programme, 250 turned up. The event was also graced by a rather eclectic mix of luminaries- Shiv Nadar- promoter of HCL Technologies, Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus of Infosys, Malvinder Mohan Singh- Chairman of Fortis and Religare, Anurag Kashyap- film maker, Virendra-the Olympic Academy head and Jyotiraditya Scindia- the young politician. Taking advantage of the gathering Maserati and Ducati showcased the best from their stables being launched in India.
Well, after a long time, I felt educated in such a gathering. Shiv Nadar did send home the message that empires are built on the zenith of salesmanship. After all, a services company needs to have salesmen at the top. Malvinder and Jyotiraditya Scindia spoke verbose generalities of any foreign educated ‘born-with a-silver-spoon’ kind of profile. However Rajiv Bajaj was unusually pleasant. He started management-funda bashing and brought up a few key words which kept him oriented during the difficult times at Bajaj Auto and helped him prove his mettle. Presented below are some of the things which I picked up from Narayana Murthy’s and Rajiv Bajaj’s insightful discussions-
1. Adaptation: Darwin had already declared that it is not the most intelligent nor the strongest, but the species that is the most ADAPTABLE that survives. One of the most important learnings he shared behind this age-old axiom is that in order to remain adaptable, one needs to keep a modular back-up team. Rigid structures kill adaptability.
2. Alignment: ‘Brands manage themselves if defined clear and sharp’. It is easy to decipher the non-aligned energies if the brand focus is sharp.
3. Specialise & Sacrifice: This probably is the problem of all organically grown businesses. One day, they need to sit and take a call on what to retain and what to let go. Specialisation brings retention value, at the same time it also kills some part of the business which could have come your way. I can sense, why Rajiv is not keen on scooters. However, one should read between the lines that Bajaj may not remain the motorcycle brand but Pulsar may emerge as the motorcycle brand.
4. Respect: ‘Respect’ as the core value or the core goal of an enterprise can only emanate from the kinds of Mr. Narayana Murthy. He said, turnover and capitalisation based goals should give way to a goal like ‘respect’. If a company generates more wealth, employees get more wealth and get respect from the people around; they respect their seniors. If a company is seen doing something significant in the social responsibility domain then it generates respect in the society. Higher market capitalisation earns your respect in competitors and the government.
5. Courage: Mr. Murthy was talking of how he took a decision of setting up the office complex at ElectronicsCity, far away from Bangalore way back when the company’s turnover was Rs. 33crore and 20 crores were spent on this. He said, everyone, including the HR team was against the decision to go so far. His idea was simple- people get 8 hours of fresh air, better food, more space and hence better productivity. According to him it is NOW called a visionary step, but all it took was to have COURAGE to follow the instincts in the face of adverse opinions.
6. Simplify: ‘You must be able to speak the value offering in one simple sentence.’ If it takes too many lines and too many complex words to say, then you are really not focused. You brand message is fuzzy and soon you will be a commodity. Narayana Murthy’s advice on simplification of value offering was bang in line with Rajiv Bajaj’s advice on specialisation. Different wrappers, same chocolate...one coming from products company, other coming from a services company.
7. Will at a time: This one is what AnuragKashayp shared. How his fixation with CONTENT and not STAR POWER got him laurels, young fans, big offers but NO money. He shared how financers withdrew at the last moment from projects, putting unacceptable demands but he carried on using some borrowings from friends on day-to-day basis. Anurag was humble and spoke from the gut. He said, “After DevD’s success, I am being offered money to do DevD2 and DevD3, but that’s not I believe in.” Kudos to the strong beliefs and will power in the kinds of Anurag and Shekhar Kapurs of the world. They show us the way on how will power can transcend the establishment.
Lastly a confession from Narayana Murthy- it really feels scary sometimes, to give away a giant like Infosys into the next cadre’s hands, as Mr. Murthy confessed. He said that it was natural. Despite having seen success from so close and building up a structure that could take care of close to a lakh people working across the glo