By | Prabodh Sirur | In search of Postitive Intranets at In search of Positive Intranets
I am happy to share the small investments I made in three young folks. This story is about investing your belief in someone. I found a nice title for my article – Amar, Akbar, Anthony, a movie from my younger days.
(Some information for those who do not know what Amar, Akbar, Anthony is –Amar, Akbar, Anthony is a Bollywood film made in 1977. The film is about three brothers separated from each other in childhood, and raised in three different faiths, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.)
We used to have monthly ‘Last Friday blasts’ in our company and we got to see some amazing dancers. Kaushik, a young software engineer, was one of them. He was a poetry on the stage.
One fine day I saw an ad from Shiamak Davar dance school. Shiamak Davar is a big name as Bollywood choreographer. They were starting a short-term dance course near our office.
I asked Kaushik to take out his bike. I took him to the class, paid the fees and enrolled him.
Kaushik did well and also became part of their core team and once travelled to the middle-east with the group for live performances.
Our company had a software project in France and Kaushik was selected for the project. I wanted him to be famous there too. I got a promise from him that he would teach Bollywood dance to the inmates of the French old-age homes. I remember, a day before he travelled, we sat together to google all the old-age homes in the area surrounding his office. I don’t recollect the details of how many homes Kaushik visited there, but I knew I had planted a seed in his mind.
After a while, Kaushik left our company. He became a celebrity in his new company too. Once we invited him to take a dance workshop in our company. Everyone was happy to see our good old Kaushik. Last heard, he is somewhere in Singapore. I have no doubt he will use his talent in Singapore and help people to appreciate the ecstasy and to add to the brand of his organisation.
I have never met Noor. But I had heard about him from the Chairman of his company. Noor, a software engineer then, has an amazing talent for sketching. You will definitely agree with me when you see the sketch below.
(Photo credit – Noor)
Looking at Noor’s talent, his Chairman (none other than Mr. Ashok Soota, the doyen of Indian IT industry) once asked him to sit in a Client meeting where he made sketches of the visitors. The company framed the sketches and gave these Thank-You gifts to the Clients. When Ashok shared the story, I was in awe of Noor’s talent. I was also in awe of Ashok. I couldn’t imagine how this big man finds time to identify talent of his employees and put them to amazing use.
This story made me feel like doing something to appreciate Noor. I was not sure how Noor would treat a gesture from a total stranger. But the fellow agreed. I offered to pay for a life membership for him in the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bangalore. With this membership, Noor could use the institute’s exhibition hall free for fifteen days in a year for the lifetime to showcase his and his friends’ cartoons. I think Noor is now somewhere in Hyderabad and am sure he must be nurturing his talent there for himself and for others. Someday I will meet Noor, I am sure.
I wanted my treadmill to be repaired so I went to their shop. They sent a young man, Antony Prashanth, with me to do the job. During the journey, I found out that Antony was passionate about machines.
He was a shy young man and answered my questions in monosyllables. But when I asked him about what he loves to do, he opened up. And how. Antony comes from economically poor background. He is currently pursuing graduation in mechanical engineering and helps his father in his car repair workshop.
When I asked him about his dream, Antony spoke at length about a bike that he wants to build (can’t reveal more information about the bike. It’s going to be a secret project?). I also found that he is an expert repairer of racer bikes. It was such a pleasure listening to the young man. I asked Antony to come to my office the next day where I got him to meet Sudhish, our R&D Head. Sudhish was so pleased meeting Antony that he told him to join his department the very next day as a part-time trainee. I thanked Sudhish and requested him to give away a present that I had brought for Anthony. My present was the seed capital for his secret bike project.
You may wonder why I did all these things? Here are my answers to some of the questions you may have.
Why did you make these investments? What’s in it for you?
I guess it was more about saluting the talent of these young folks, about saluting the efforts they were putting in a gift that almighty gave them.
Now I feel that someday when these young men become big, they will replicate my act of saluting a talent in their next generation. And the chain will go on.
In the words of Adam Grant (author of the book “Give and Take”), the long-term success of givers has two aspects: relationships and motivation. From a relationship perspective, givers build deeper and broader connections. From a motivation perspective, helping others enriches the meaning and purpose of our own lives, showing us that our contributions matter and energizes us to work harder, longer, and smarter.
Where do we find the money to invest in people?
Firstly, what I gave them was not money; it was a mark of belief in their capabilities. These young guys could easily afford the money that I paid for them. Yet they accepted my gesture with humility; I think they wanted me to feel happy.
Secondly, we do not realise that we are rich enough, especially when we can manufacture money. Surprised? Look at my ways of generating money.
- Discounts – I am not a keen discount shopper. But whenever I get discounts, I keep aside that amount for future use. I used this fund for Kaushik‘s dance class.
- Budget more, spend less – I had budgeted for air travel for few of my personal travels; but I chose to travel by bus and saved that money for Noor.
- Save the windfalls for a cause – Sometimes you get money unexpectedly. Once I was invited to be an external examiner in a business school. It was a back-breaking exercise of reading all the project reports and then conducting viva of the students. How much I enjoyed it! I got to meet so many young folks with so many new ideas! The business school paid me for my effort. I never expected this windfall. I used it for Antony.