Pic.: Nirmala Sundar
Several years ago, one night, I was watching the TV show ‘Rendezvous with Simi Garewal’. The guest was Anil Ambani. The initial part of the interview centered around the legacy of Dhirubhai Ambani… Anil revealing how his father had started it as a petrol pump attendant in Eden (Egypt), and how, there, he had dreamt of starting, one day, the largest refinery in his homeland, India… The humble childhood in a chawl at Bombay’s Kabootar khana… the one-room house, the common toilet… the brothers sharing their clothes and cricket bat… playing on the streets and feasting on roadside pavbhaji or Udipi food…
When asked about the MBA in Wharton, Anil said that it was an enriching experience interacting and learning from such an international class… but said that his and his brother Mukesh’s business education had begun at home right since they had turned teens… They would spend more than half of their day in office or factories helping their father to build the Reliance empire… It wasn't that, one fine day, he would walk into the Reliance head quarters to crown himself as its M.D… He agreed with Simi that he and his brother couldn't have a better bushiness-teacher in life than their father Dhirubhai Ambani…
I had watched these show years ago. But, what has stayed etched in my mind is an incident shared by Anil to tell us as to how Dhirubhai would teach his sons to be self-confident and self-reliant in life. Here it is…
Anil was 15. The family had been on a trip to the U.S. and driven from New York to the Niagara Falls. On the way back, Dhirubhai had stopped the car at a petrol pump for a while. Anil quickly got out of the car to fetch some water; when he returned, he found the car-doors were locked. He knocked the door wanting to get in. “Absolutely not,” the father said rolling down the glass, “Here are ten dollars… See you in New York!”
Anil recounted how shocked and worried his mother was… But, the father would not relent. “Find your own way,” the glass rolled up and the car sped off!
After two-three days, when Anil walking into the hotel room in New York, the only thing the father said was this: “I am happy that you had the self-confidence to do it on your own!”
There are many, many parents, teachers, bosses, coaches and mentors around us and they believe in – and practice - this kind of teaching, training and grooming, even now. Vikas, who is about to complete his final C.A., is a young-man with loads of initiative and enthusiasm… He is, always, willing to ‘find’ new ways of doing things, and ever ready to go ‘the extra- mile’. Though he hasn't done any special training in computers, I am amazed by his computer skills. The other day, when I asked him as to how he could master so much, his eyes sparkled. He told that he did not know anything about computers except for some basic functions. When he joined the C.A. firm for his article-ship, he landed in a very peculiar situation… His boss would give the fresh trainees work relating to audit and tell them "I don’t know how to do it; you find it out yourself!”
“The boss doesn't know? Well, then how does he expect us to know? It is funny, ridiculous… outrageous!” Yes, Vikas and other trainees would go through all these thoughts… Some would feel frustrated, angry and quit… and some would stay back, stay late… trust in their hidden powers and explore the unknown… and, yes, ‘find their way to the New York City’!
Vikas is one of those trainees who chose to find his way to his hotel room in New York City!
Today, Vikas’s heart glows with pride when he shares with me what his boss feels about him... The boss tells Vikas the same thing which Dhirubhai had told his 15-year old son:
“I am happy you had the self-confidence to do it on your own!”
* Video courtesy: YouTube
* Video courtesy: YouTube