When the Chips are Down, Get Up & Get Going

By: Rajiv Tewari based on an interaction with Veer Sagar the Author of Failure is Not an Option.

Veer Sagar was sacked by his boss for suggesting an out of the box solution of going down the value chain for increasing profits. He had signed up with a healthcare organization in USA for creating online solutions for backroom operational processes in the early nineties when information technology was in its infancy. His boss did not like this surprise and Veer lost his job.

Instead of brooding over this incident, Veer decided to go ahead and take the entrepreneurial leap by creating an organization. Veer succeeded in this venture in the first phase but was soon challenged by poaching by his partner who had much larger resources. Many of his employees left him and most of his well-wishers advised him to exit the business. But then Veer was Veer (Courageous) so he decided to face the challenge in-spite of a big risk of losing all that he had earned in his life. This failure too was overcome through several out of the box solutions and is still being run successfully. For full story please click to subscribe and read his latest book Failure is Not an Option.

Veer Sagar in his over sixty years of practice in the world of business has learnt several key lessons which can be used to succeed against all odds. No one can control the events of life but we can certainly control our response to the challenges in our lives.  I am taking this opportunity to share some of the key points I picked up during my brief interaction with Veer:

  1. Managing the boss: Bosses do not like surprises so it’s very important to first of all to keep your boss informed. Sharing new ideas or solutions to current problems with the boss will make him or her a part of the process. Any surprise in these areas may be understood as undermining the line of command. Keeping the boss informed and making him a part of the process in a way which promotes his image and performance will increase your value and increase your chances of getting his support too. Veer lost his job by surprising his boss and created a new future out of this event but many others may not be so lucky.
  2. Managing your career: In the absence of a 5 to 10 years horizon with a clear positioning in the job market which can attract a premium for unique skills.  Many professionals get trapped in short term gains with roles which may not help in managing growth in the long term.  Veer’s stories in his book teach several valuable lessons in networking without expectations, making yourself dispensable and by associating with people who are better than you and whose knowledge can add value to your own learning.
  3. Do not fear failure: Not taking a decision due to fear of failure is a bigger block on the pathway to success then taking a decision and failing.  The dictionary meaning of the word failure is that the way you did it was wrong so simply put success is all about several failed attempts. The fear of not taking a decision should be bigger than the fear of failure and then it would be easy to choose. Veer has shared his experience of how his friends and well- wishers advised him to call it a day when his company faced an existential challenge from a formidable organization which was hell bent on destroying or buying out his business.
  4. We can optimize only one thing All of us are gifted with a unique capacity and once that is recognized then all that is needed is a sharp focus on that uniqueness and build around it. The important question to ask is what is it we love doing. Once the passion area is discovered then energy flows in to inspire us and invisible resources begin to appear in our lives. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do” said Steve Jobs. Unfulfilling jobs can demotivate even the best performers in today’s world so this is one of the most important learnings from Veer’s book. Veer loves out of the box thinking.  By focusing on this uniqueness he succeeded where many would have simply quit.
  5. Change the way we work: In the early eighties India was a closed economy and very organizations had begun to realize the impact of Information Technology on businesses. Those were the days when young Indians had just begun to learn the computer basics. Veer was very well settled in a good job with Dunlop, one of the most prestigious organizations in India. He realized how the way we work will change because of IT and took the plunge in this space. He was not a techie but had understood how technology will impact all businesses and how a shift to this space can open a new door of growth for him. As an out of the box thinker this new area excited him even more as the room for experimentation was huge provided a person was willing to learn and adapt.  Veer would have retired from Dunlop had he decided to remain in the comfort zone of the working system at Dunlop in the pre IT era in India.

For full story please click to subscribe and read his latest book Failure is Not an Option.