The Success Principles
Under the series ‘Read & Grow,’ MMA organised a panel discussion on the theme of the book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” authored by Jack Canfield. Mr Sreenivasan Ramprasad, Director, CADD Centre Training Services led the conversation with Mr Umasanker Kandaswamy, Co-Founder & Senior Vice President Sales & Relationships, AVTAR Group and Mr Deepak Shankar, Founder and CEO, Mirabilie Design.
Ramprasad: Let me begin with some of the key takeaways from the book. If you want to be successful in life, you have to take 100% responsibility. You have to be clear about what you want. Your purpose should be well-defined. For example, in CADD Centre, we enable the students to realise their dreams by providing them with world-class training. That is our purpose. We have control over only three things in our life: The thoughts we think, the images we visualize and the actions we take. If we manage these three things effectively, we can achieve whatever we want. In the book, ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ Napoleon Hill says that whatever the mind conceives and believes, it can achieve. Complaining is an ineffective response to an event and does not produce a better outcome. We must learn to replace complaining with making requests and taking actions which will help us achieve our desired outcomes. Think what you can do differently to make it happen.
Make a list of thirty things you want to do before you die. Most of the professionals who want to be successful don’t know what they want. If you want to create a balanced and successful life, your vision needs to include the following seven areas: work and career; finances; recreation; health and fitness; relationships; personal goals and contribution to the larger community. The world pays you for what you do. Overcome your limiting beliefs. These are some of the points highlighted in the book.
Deepak Shankar: It talks about an equation: Event + Response = Output. It also says, ‘Plan your day the previous night, not on the same morning.’ I have found this very useful. When we start planning, we think about the things that will happen in the future. Based on that, we can respond to those scenarios.
Umasanker: We are all craving for success. First, we must believe that we are all successful. There is no one formula to be successful. According to me, it is a continuous process. You need to work on it again and again, follow some of the successful people and see they have done for themselves. It’s all about consistency.
Ramprasad: I recall a story from a Wayne Dyer’s book. A person steps out of his house when it is dark. His key falls down and he searches for the key in the dark. Unable to find it, he goes inside his house where there is light. When asked why he is searching inside the house when he knows for sure that he has lost it outside, he replies, “Because there is light inside.” For most problems, we don’t look at inside of us but outside.
Placing Second-Career Women
Umasanker: Being persistent and purposeful are very important. We started Avatar way back in 2000. It’s about 22 years that we have been running this organisation. We started off with recruitment as our objective. But there were so many people out there and we thought how we could be different. We decided to take up talent which is niche and wanted to empower them.
We looked at women who were taking a break in their career for maternity or for other social responsibility. When they come back after the break, they are not treated well. We wanted to place such women. Two decades ago, when we approached organisations, they were not ready for this idea and we always returned empty-handed. But we kept on persisting because we had a strong purpose.
After five to six years, one company—Thomson Reuters—decided to give it a try. They hired one woman from us. After that, we were able to touch upon a large multinational bank—Standard Chartered Bank. They asked us if we could place people for their 125 seater office. We took it as a challenge and the entire team worked on it. We placed 250 women. 125 women worked for half-a-day with half the salary and the other 125 worked for the rest of the day. It was a win-win for us and the company that engaged our people.
So far, we have placed 100,000 second-career women. For the next five years, we have kept a 5x target for our sales team—that is, to help five lakh women. Now we are impacting about 2,000 organisations across India. We want to impact one lakh organizations in the next five years. We know it’s a very audacious goal. Simply put, there are about 1.5 million women who have taken a break in career. Give them at least Rs.20,000 salary to all these women. In the next one month, India will become a superpower. This is possible. Our vision is to make sure that in India we have 50/50 gender balance.
Deepak: My Company is US-based. Our story of persistence is similar to this. Maybe we don’t impact lakhs of people. We have a much smaller and focussed business. When we started the company in the US, we were just three of us. We sat around a dining table and wanted to start an innovative product company. We didn’t want to be a services company. But at that point, US was heading into a recession. Nobody wanted to buy a product from an unknown company. We were getting a lot of lucrative consulting engagements but we turned them down.
Finally, after a lot of struggle, we got a call from Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Trivandrum. They wanted us to do an analysis of the Chandrayaan-1 and find out the likelihood of that rocket failing. We had built a tool for that. Because we waited all the time, we ended up getting a chance to be a pure product company.
Then we got offers for the Mars Rover, F16 flight and a whole bunch of other stuff. But those initial days of being focused and sticking to our goal to be a product company, really helped us. We live in an extremely high-priced neighbourhood in San Francisco. Without orders in the initial days, paying massive mortgage, travel and other bills was very challenging. But we still stuck on to our goal.
Ramprasad: When I started my career with CADD Centre, it was a small organisation. Today we have about 700 centers in 28 countries and every three minutes, a CADD trained person is coming out of a centre. But when I joined, we had only two branches—Chennai and Bangalore. I joined them in Bangalore and I was just 23 years old. Since I was from BITS Pilani and I lived in Delhi, almost every day, I was pushing my boss, who is the current chairman of the company, that we should open a branch in Delhi and that we should be a national company, not just a Madras-based company. These two branches together were just making Rs.7 lakhs per annum, which just covered our expenses.
My boss wanted to put an end to my pestering. So he said, “Okay, I’ll agree for the Delhi branch on one condition. The first month you go to Delhi, you should bill for one lakh.” He was very confident that it won’t happen. Technically, it was possible. We were charging Rs.2,000 per student. If we train 12 to 13 students every week, we can bill 25,000 per week. But practically, it was not easy, as we would be new to the place and to establish, it would take time.
It was 1st October 1990. From that time onwards, I started visualising our Delhi Branch as though we were already operating there. Exactly 25 days later, on October 25th, I got a call from BHEL in Delhi asking us to train 13 engineers at their office in Delhi by sending one of our engineers. So even before I went to Delhi, we got our first order for Rs.26,000 and it was amazing.
On 5 November, I landed in Delhi travelling by Tamilnadu Express. Agitations due to the Mandal Commission report were going on and I somehow managed my way to my house. I had very limited time. I had to do another 74,000 to meet my target. Engineers India Limited came to my mind because they are all engineers creating big refineries and other projects. I went to their office.
I was in their first floor of their office waiting to meet the person responsible for CAD. I was sitting outside his cabin and I heard a dialogue from inside. Two people were talking. The first person said that they had completed their supplies of hardware and software and requested for acceptance. The second person said, “You have supplied hardware and software but you need to complete the training.” Then the first person said that they would complete the training before the installation and requested the other to sign the acceptance. The second person said that it was very clearly written in the contract that only after the training was completed, they would be able to release the payment.” The first person continued, “If it was ordinary training, we would have done immediately but this is CAD training.”
Hearing this, I could not resist myself. I walked into the cabin and said, “I’m sorry gentlemen. I overheard your dialogue. I am from CADD Centre and I heard that you were talking about CAD Training. I can help you.” I discovered that the first person was from HCL and he was a senior in my college. Guess what happened? Within the next half an hour, he took out a letterhead from his suitcase and issued an order for CAD training of 28 people, starting from November 19 of the same month. So I got an order for Rs.56,000. I was acting pricey and asked for advance payment because I knew he was desperate. The same evening, he gave me the advance. Now Rs.82,000 was in my kitty.
Two days later, I went to another company to explore the training opportunity. They said that they didn’t need training but wanted the CAD software. I said, “I can manage that.” I knew HCL supplied the software. We were not allowed to sell software at that time. So I took a special permission, supplied the software for Rs.25,000 and exceeded my target by Rs.7,000. That’s how we started our Delhi branch. The lesson here is, if you passionately want things to happen, it will happen. Start visualizing what you want to be. Don’t keep it just as a wish. The universe will work for you. Now, my question is, are the success habits given in the book still relevant today?
Umasanker: They are all very much relevant. The basic principles will stay forever.
Deepak: The principles are the same but they have evolved. For example, many of the work can now be done very quickly as we have many online planning tools. Many of them are available for free.
Ramprasad: How much applicable are these success habits for Gen Z?
Umasanker: Gen Z relies heavily on Google as a teacher. Going forward, information and data is power. Attrition is a major problem now. About 40 to 45 percent of the people offered a job, do not take the offer and so much of effort is getting wasted. We have created an artificial intelligence tool to predict if a person will take the offer or not.
In the younger generation, we have two types. One who are born with a golden spoon and the other, who don’t even have a spoon. We are a research organisation. We have a trust called Avtar Human Capital Trust and studied the percentage of girls who pass out from corporation schools run by the government and join the college. It is just 1%. We have created a project called ‘Project Puthri.’ This project is the brain-child of Dr. Saundarya Rajesh, our founder. We have 500 volunteers. We go to all the schools, sign up and conduct a training program for students of 8th to 12th standards. 40 skills are imparted to them over five years. Through this, we are impacting about 7,000 children.
Most children come to these schools to have food, to use the bathroom and then for education which is only third on the order of priority. We want to change this and we have taken it as a mantle upon us. Many corporates are helping us in this project. India needs to become a developed country and our girls are going to take India to the next level. As a country, we are lax in following the processes. If we follow the processes and if we are persistent, we can achieve our goals.
Deepak: Today, it’s no longer about financial success as most people have a baseline. Processing information around us and evaluating it is very important. Garbage-in comes on WhatsApp University but you can’t have garbage-out. The challenge for Gen-Z is that they have too much information. They need to narrow down. My daughter has chosen podcast as a medium to communicate. She interviews kids from across the world. How did she narrow down to this choice? She did a lot of research. I am happy to share that her podcast is ranked No 2 in the world in the category of ‘podcast for teenagers.’
Umasanker: Just a few words for Gen Z. Whatever input goes into the mind will determine the output. Be conscious of that. Life is very simple. Don’t complicate it. You may have many online friends. But when the Internet is down, they will all disappear. Make sure you are physically and mentally connected with people, apart from connection through the internet.