Today, after making it to the reputed BPR (Branding & Public Relations) committee as a blogger, I feel I have an opportunity and an obligation to voice your soundless thoughts that goes beyond what transpired between the Gladiators and the Spartans in the last month during the Convocation and Sangamitra.
You will never see me in the class; I am the back bencher, who likes to believe that he is invisible. Although the professors might think otherwise that we the back bencher are the disinterested lots, in reality it goes beyond the first impression that we transmit. For me, the job is to play the cop, the detective who smells your pain, fear, anxiety and happiness. I am the writer, the one eyed guy in the blind eye fraternity of competing individuals who is doomed to observe the dirt and realities. The others have freedom to form opinions and ridicule my work but then this is my chosen life sentence and I shall live it.
“I quit my job and joined Green peace, an NGO as an activist. I am a distance cyclist and am in a process of training myself for a half marathon.”
My first encounter with a Spartan opens with exchange of the above pleasantries, words that at first glance were hearsay and could have been casually categorized as self marketing tripe. But when I introspected, I realized that maybe I wasn’t looking; these were first signs of things to come.
Family business, consulting, education, FMCG, IT, advertising, marketing, merchant navy – you name it and the variety was there in a small group of anxious individuals who were caught up in the crossover mania, some switching domains while others looking for a role change in their chosen line of work. For the batch of Spartans, planning and meeting up in their cities, taking time out and visiting the campus of Great Lakes before joining the course exemplified a sense of expectation, as when discussing a major life change. But when no sense of uneasiness is attached to the situation, anxious isn’t the best word. In such scenarios, it displaces a word that might have been considered its opposite – namely, eager. Weren’t we all eager to start our MBA life!
Something akin to panic sets in my limbs when I read the autobiography of Steve Jobs, of how he borrowed the “snow white half of the apple” and created a kingdom. At Stanford commencement, he was asked to address the graduates. In his speech he talked about connecting the dots backwards, of how during our course of journey we fall upon various opportunities to express and explore.
Out of sheer curiosity he took calligraphy classes. He learnt about what makes great typography great, the artistically subtle experience was just a hobby then but 10 years later when he was designing MacBook, it all came back to him; the multiple typefaces or proportionately spaced fonts are results of his learning, not guided by the course curriculum but by his own personal choice.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only do it looking backwards…. you have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life and keep doing things that interest you” words from the legend himself.
Now I will connect the dots and tell you why I mentioned all this. It is because I genuinely believe in what some of our seniors, the flamboyant group of Gladiators mentioned. The seniors educated the group on various committees. These committees are the lifeline of GL as it helps the administration to be less central but be consistent , helping college not only to be less bureaucratic but also have people aligned in particular direction, helping them to be a coherent coordinated team that is self motivated with common vision.
There were innumerable topics that our well versed seniors mentioned but I would like to end this edition of “CWC bulletin” by touching base on KarmaYoga project and the work it does in GL. To me, apart from adopting villages and inculcating values in every individual, KarmaYoga extends the notion of “Sarvodaya”, a famous philosophy that our father, Mister Gandhi practiced. It is the belief that an individual has certain responsibilities towards the society first. Now many here including yours truly thought that these cannot create business opportunity. Having worked in an NGO sector for the last year or so, I beg to differ my own understanding on the subject now. The personal value and principles, gives you autonomy to look in your local markets and see what is consistent with your corporate and innovate.
It isn’t just values, it’s defining the purpose of the business in a way that triggers innovation because there are always problem to be solved and the onus lies with us to identify and use our resources and technology to solve them. Even a company like Diageo (of the Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff fame) has created a beer which by using clean water and regulated technology has helped to reduce river blindness in Kenya and Africa!!!
The dreaded farewell is the one inevitable remainder at the end of one’s travel equation. If connecting amongst Spartans is an engaging opportunity, we have to grapple with the reality of letting the Gladiators embark on other journeys in their lives. I like to congratulate the Gladiators for having successfully completed their MBAs. On behalf of the Spartan fraternity, I also like to thank our seniors for taking time out and interacting with us.
The key is to feel the heartbeat connection as we share an embrace. Sirs and Madams – “fair-the-well” – may you all do well in life!
~ Shashwat Rai