imageAn advice to all ardent and young people, who are in search of jobs and go to interviews or are prospecting for business.

Many who have been in the corporate world will recognise this statement.

“I am so passionate about this brand, growing it and taking the brand into new areas which it can expand into. I want this to be my legacy.”


This is the typical fluff we all con ourselves into believing. It is a statement, which one hears in many interviews, from hopeful candidates. Can you really be passionate about a commercial product, which has been created to attract consumers, with the sole motive to make money. Is this what your life is about? Not Allah and spirituality, not your family, or your country, nor the poor and underprivileged? If you have to descend from these high moral passions, then at least let it be the arts, or the sports or some lighter comic stuff.

When we were kids or in our teens, do you ever remember anyone ever saying they would die to be a Corporate President or a Marketing Director, or a Sales Director. Why? Because the young are real and say things which are reality. They do not have to be hypocritical and mush their stuff with constant fibs.

The truth is that as adults we need money for our present day existence. So we all have to earn it (Unless we are one of the very few, who are born with the proverbial silver spoon). Therefore, when we have to earn it, then we have to work hard at it. I personally think search for the legal tender, is not natural to us humans, but we compromise because its needed. So then lets be truthful and accept that we are doing it perforce, rather than putting up dramatic, oft repeated, idiotic statements, which most HR people actually never believe. You are being hired for your ability, experience and perceived integrity, not on seeming to be passionate about your role. We all know that given a ‘better job’, almost all of us (including the interviewer) will move on.

Now to understand the aspirational side of living. Most of us require higher aspirations, rather than just earning money (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). There is a time and place for that definitely. The way to do this, is to have a larger vision in life and in the business, ie a method of achieving a higher moral stance in a business. That larger vision should drive us and if you are living that vision and are really passionate about it and work as a team, then the business will succeed also. When the business succeeds, it means that profit will happen and careers will do well. This will be the side effect. Allah works in strange ways. You work sincerely on a higher purpose and he will provide you with worldly success.

So next time when you are in an interview and asked about your motivation, then say that you are working hard because you need to do well in your personal life and ambitions. At the same time, you hope to do well and benefit those not so lucky as yourself. It works like magic. Because its the truth! So be passionate about the truth.

* this picture is from…a free picture site.

These Conferences!

imageOne day, a friend called and suggested I should attend this brilliant conference, which was dealing with some very important issues.  It sounded as if it was the best thing since sliced bread and useful too.

So I enquired, “why is it useful?”
“There are so many important people attending this event.”
“I do not want to meet these important people!”
“That’s your problem. You will never get anywhere without networking. Ok, then at least have the goodness to do your duty.”
“My duty?” Astonishment in look and tone. 😮
“Yes, you have been lucky to accumulate experience. It is incumbent upon you, that it is passed on to those who are still learning and need a helping hand.”

That was it! This is the moment when suckers are born. Sigh! I ended up saying “yes”.
Next thing I know, Mr X calls. Reluctantly, I listened to a gush of enthused statements, about a topic I was not interested in. AND agreed to speak at it and made all the right noises. After all, I owed society!

Skechy details notwithstanding, I arrived at the conference. It was all suited, booted individuals, alongwith volunteers from the local universities. Some of these faces seemed familiar, or maybe faces like them. It was dejavu! I had been here before. Luckily, a few attendees were people one personally knew. Throw in a couple of old colleagues and bosses, and I did not feel totally out of place.

The conference commencement was inevitably delayed and the technology also failed at crucial moments; so it was not clear sailing. In came our competitors CEO. Now, I really could not walk away from this event. They were even one of the many sponsors of the event. I definitely felt quite a bit better, at this stage. The competitor CEO made the key note speech. All I could do was smile, as he was saying similar words to what I might have said. They had actually paid money to convey their inane message. When I looked around it felt even better. Almost everyone in the audience was already glassy eyed and the clapping was slow and low intensity. It had not gone past 10.30 and they had lost the audience. Then a grand lady took the stage and gave a  speech. Soon she was complaining that her own voice feed, via the mic,  was interfering with her delivery. The whole thing was really quite entertaining in its buffoonery and lack of quality.

Finally, I did get my hour in the sun on the stage, to add my own two bits to this cocktail. Nothing special to add. I am fascinated that for such simple words and ideas, people have paid a conference fees or companies have provided sponsorship. My part came to an end. Phew! Great relief. I slipped out quietly, but alas was accosted by the event manager. He wanted to know whether I enjoyed the day. Gosh! I glared at him and slipped out. What a wasted day.

That this has happened to me a dozen times these past few years, is the sad truth. My own weakness and fault. These conferences are frequented by people, who wish to pass on their experience, which only makes sense within the context of their circumstances. Its impossible to convey the importance of such actions in meaningful words, when there is no connect to the context of those actions. So we get an endless stream of conferences, where audiences listen to what must be French, get bored, and time is wasted.

My resolution once more. Never to waste my time at these places. Till the next time when I am unable to say no.

To be or not to be, an Introspection

To be or not to be, an Introspection

In recent months whenever I have gone to society gatherings, I have received two sorts of reactions. There are those who meet warmly and perhaps more so than normal. Then there are those who are more withdrawn, maybe embarrassed to be in the same space. That is fine, as it is the destiny of life to divide all things into pros and antis. The warm handshakes denote respect and in some cases envy. The withdrawn ones indicate perplexity and contempt at the voluntary abdication of an influential position.

My decision to walk away from corporate life a few months ago, from what people would consider a peak of career in the early 50′s, has been examined and conclusions are drawn according to the inclination of each individual. It is not as clear to people, like another friend’s very recent departure into politics. That is dealing in blacks and whites as he is going to correct the wrongs of Pakistan, Inshallah; much more cut and dried and with a clear goal in mind.   My decision has tones of grey in it and therefore is less palatable. Is this the musings of a wandering minstrel?

Well, as a first benefit of my decision, take this fact, that I would never be able to write in Borderline Green so openly, if I was CEO of a large corporate. The value of that freedom alone is something which I have not tasted these past 28 years and makes life worth living again. At least I am not a hostage to fortune anymore.

My career went through its chronological mental stages, best described as:-

– “need to do this because everyone does it”

– a feeling of importance and finding one’s own feet

– interesting work, I am mentally engaged

– “I need to do this for my family”

– “oh I am a CEO” (very short satisfaction period!)

– then “what a burden of responsibility this is”

– to “why am I doing this?”

– “my work is done; others will do the job now and I will live a better life Inshallah”

– Lastly, relief at a job finished and freedom

The problem was the feeling of “I am in this for myself only“. I think it was prevalent in the background throughout this 28 year period. It was a battle within, fought continuously and never overcome. For all one can imagine a larger purpose to one’s career, the reality is that you are doing it for yourself and not for society, country or other altruistic reasons. Unfortunately, there exists a very human tendency to fool oneself into thinking that it is worthwhile, because “I am doing it for others”.

Not for long though. Eventually the dreaded question comes back in the silent beat of the night. Why? Why this soul-killing regime of travel, meetings, hours of useless discussions, putting on a mask, and acting a role. And if you happen to work for an MNC, it becomes worse. At best I found MNC, as real phooey work. The most senior of CEOs operate within a strict band of authority. It is like that dog who uselessly runs besides a speeding car, barking at it. All bark no substance.

You are actually serving a master called the international stock exchange and you will never humanize that in a millennium. Profit and share price are the only operating goals, though you might think it is CSR or building capability or globalization etc. You are fooling yourself and others. What you are now applying is another bugbear, which is ever present at various stages of a career. Our ability to provide “spin”, to this lifelong exercise. Many do it expertly, others reluctantly and some are never good at it. But the truth is that your career prospects improve, if you have learned to apply “spin” to your corporate presence.

So good citizens who are reading this diatribe, sometime in the night over your career you will hear a call, and that voice will ask in ever more urgent terms: “why?”

You can choose to fool yourself, stay addicted to social edict or you can start the intense self examination on whether you should open the door and walk out to something more fulfilling. If you choose not to do anything, then it is no different to 99% other humans. Fine! But know that when you are 80 and look back, there is almost certain to be massive regrets at not taking action. A life uselessly spent in the search of the legal tender and position in society.

If you do decide to do something, don’t kid yourself by putting bandages on your wounds. That is time and money spent on a fool’s errand. Better to do it wholeheartedly. It could be that the eventual result is failure. That is always a possibility. However, if you succeed, then also understand that there is no better feeling one can have in this life. To really live for the larger good is the true purpose of existence, as shown by Prophets, religions and great reformers.

I know there are many of you out there, as you speak to me regularly. Open the gate and go out. Inshallah you will be in an adventure and will not regret it. Just reclaim ownership of your life.

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