I and J – Reflections on teachings of ‘First Love’

Warning – The reading of this post needs some contextual background !

Consistency

October 1994

It is about 3 in the morning and I was not sure whether we were late for dinner or early for breakfast and the only thing my mind was wandering was what the guy was going to bring to eat and when will we go to sleep ( I have never seen anything outside of idly/dosa and was getting used to some ‘hard chewing’ with something called ‘Roti’). Two persons (MKJ and MS) were in some heated technical discussion about which I had no ‘clue’ either that time or now. I was watching MKJ moving his ‘silver ring’ pensively up , down and closing the ‘discussion’ by uttering some thing like ‘We have to be the best’. At that moment I was just wondering what kind of person is this. Here we are awaiting that desperate ‘roti’ in god forsaken hour and !!!!.  I had a feeling what the heck ???
October 2007
I was standing near MKJ’s room and with certain degree of pride keeping a article of ‘jB5 – Another Mobile Web Browser’. He silently sneaked behind me (I have realized that he has that ability to ‘be present’ everywhere) and in a microsecond gesture peeked at what I was reading and stuck out the ‘Another’, wrote ‘The’ and just kept going into his room. I had the same feeling what the heck ????
13 years have passed and the message has not changed. ‘WE HAVE TO BE THE BEST’. I have seen this ‘message’ unconsciously being ‘woven’ into the DNA of whoever I have been closely associated with “I” (AT,Dr.G.,MS,RK). Sometimes I wonder whether these ‘janmas’ have no sense of ‘appreciation’ built into them, but over a period of time have realized that they ‘Raise the bar’ time and again.


Leadership

There are countless incidents that can be narrated but the message I have learnt is that very simple and so very hard to follow. The only way to Lead is ‘By Example’. It is really as simple as that. No complex books/articles/analysis/surveys/behavioral studies.  During the troubled times of 2001 you could always see the lights on till 3 AM and when you see people working so hard you cannot go home and sleep over it.
The simple advantage here is that it is impossible to say ‘NO’ to that kind of leadership as you are sure that if you are not going to do it they will be doing it and you will never be asked to do ‘something’ that they themselves would not consider doing.


Being ‘there’

You will always know that you had a room to walk in if you had any problem of any kind. No appointments, no outlook calendar accepting just walk in and walk out anytime. They have that innate ability to call you up sensing that you would be in trouble. Scheduled to Visit Israel during war time I get a call saying that ‘If I did not want to go’ ,’I do not have to go’. Whatever little hesitation I had in mind was ‘cleared’. We were in a big mess in a customer site. The customer had threatened that if we did not achieve certain performance we would have get thrown out and three of us who were already there with all our knowledge and capabilities could take it only up to a certain level up but still not to the expectations of the customer. MKJ was recovering from some kind of operation. Well I have never known him to be ill so that news itself was surprising to me. Around midnight we were still out of ideas on how to meet the expectations and lot of nights were sucking the energy out of us we get a call from MKJ which said simple things ‘I would have been there if the damned doctor has not put a stop to my travel. AT is on his way to Pune.  He will be there with you guys tomorrow ‘. AT came , did his usual magic and in the next couple of days a SMS was internally passed among all orange folks. “The J guys seems to have done it’ !.That in a sense was a significant turning point in that ‘Product’ for many reasons but I consider that call was a defining moment to me because the words that were never said but actually intended  was ‘Do not worry. We are not going to let you fail’.

Reward Failure

You get promoted when you screw up big time.
Doing the RightCD->WriteCD product CLI version I missed out doing a ‘Close Session’ in a particular path and this messed about 500 CD’s. Each CD was expensive that time and data recovery was next to impossible that too in a mission critical document management software. The next thing I knew was Dr.G was in chennai with my ‘Promotion’ letter, took me out to a hotel near central station, got me ‘DOSA’ and never ever uttered a word about ‘Me’ Screwing up. But ‘Remember’ to own it up.

Out of the ‘Box’!.

All problems have a solution. Be it solving the LPD TSR at AI in a novel way or giving way to the now ‘etched in stone’ worker queue or improving the performance of XML parser you always can find a solution when you step out of your stereotyped thinking. Well the ‘box’ here is your own mindsets and ‘Out’ is walking into Dr.G’s room and define the problem. But you will have to give him one night though. The next morning when you come to office you will have the problem solved and you will have one ‘a.c’,’b.c’ and ‘c.c’ ,….. giving the path ahead.


Use Humor

In a world where relationships are on the ‘stress route’ as we take ourselves too seriously. I have seen humor being repeatedly  used as a tool to ‘defuse tensions’ of any kind. That humor would be spontaneous, Instant and most times self deprecating. It serves as a wonderful antidote to our day to day miseries and gives a fresh perspective on the challenges that we face. Only talking to few people you feel lighter and if a person can do that with amazing consistency it speaks volumes about the person.

When you spend more than half your ‘so called career’ with a close set of people the emotions that we carry cannot be ever captured in text or speech.

I ‘owe’ to “I” for me being what ‘I am today’ and I have not ‘hated’ that. I owe many things but most of all for having persisted with me, nurturing the rebel with me, patient with my instinctive lack of integrity, and above all for allowing ‘me’ to be ‘me’. I am not sure if I am today like that but I can vouch for the past 13 years I have enjoyed a freedom of expression that I have never enjoyed elsewhere.

The feelings out of the memories that I have are deep and one day I would be able to refine the Journey from ‘Osmanabad to Barcelona’ in a more consumable form.

“I and J” shall remain my ‘First Love‘.  Those of us who have experienced ‘First Love’ might agree

“Like an old photograph
Time can make a feeling fade
But the memory of a first love
Never fades away.”

Also on the lighter side I would like to give a shehari or something (I know nothing of Hindi when I joined ”I”). I have troubled people many times with my constant questioning about vision , mission , Management by Objectives and related BS but one day it occurred to me ‘Jab Kudh ka vision nahi eh tho Kudaah ka Vision kyun mangu!!.

Stay Tuned and Have Fun.

PS1 : Though I have moved onto “C’ I am still learning from it and that shall be a different post at a different time. Anything takes time to have an lasting impact.
PS2 : The abbreviated forms of the names of people and companies are intended
PS3: Incidentally yesterday was MKJ’s daughter’s marriage and it was heartening to see all the lieutenants of the last two decades from all corners of the world ‘Being There’. ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ !