Book readings

The Golden Ladder – Rise to be Unstoppable

Read Time:9 Minute

There is a commonality that runs across all great organisations. They have a structured set of systems and processes that they have institutionalised as a template—a magical stairway—the Golden Ladder.

Mr Vijay Parthasarathy

Brand Specialist, Mind Coach and Motivational Speaker 

A few weeks ago, you might have seen in the media a story about a young man, 27-years-old, who went to retrieve a ring his sister had dropped on the tin roof. Unfortunately, while trying to retrieve the ring, he got electrocuted and had to have all four limbs amputated. Fast forward a year. He did not lie down in bed but cleared the toughest exam, the CAT, and was on his way to IIM, Ahmedabad. This incident made me realize that we may not have control over what happens to us, but we have 100% control over how we respond to it.

In 2020, thousands of companies collapsed due to Covid-19, and major disruptions occurred. However, there were a select few who weathered the storm of not just one but multiple crises like the Spanish flu, the bubonic plague, and the Great Depression. They keep growing. What is it that they do so different to stand apart from the rest? Having been privileged to be a part of them like Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate Palmolive, The TATA group, Unilever, I recognised that there is a commonality that runs across all of them. They have a structured set of systems and processes that they have institutionalised as a template. I refer to this commonality as the Golden Ladder, a path that leads to being unstoppable.

The Golden Ladder is a magical stairway, ascending which allows organisations to overcome any adversity and calamity.  It has two legs. The left leg, which the majority of the world focuses on, includes education, technology, experience, expertise, products, benefits, features, and money. It’s like chasing a magical rainbow, heading towards the end of the horizon that may or may not exist. Interestingly, most of the world operates on flawed business models without realizing it. They operate on the left leg.

On the other hand, legends of the world embrace a different business model. That’s the first thing they do differently. While the majority of the world remains unaware of the relevance and importance of the other leg, the right leg, it is actually the most powerful instrument we possess without an instruction manual. It is the mind. This mind can propel us to the heights of success or the depths of despair depending on how we use it. The legends recognize the power of energizing, powering, and anchoring these two legs together in a symbiotic manner. This is what makes them ascend the Golden Ladder.

Golden Ladder is a Process

Every single legend that I have talked about in ‘The Golden Ladder’ has been on this planet longer than the combined longevity of the four organisations—Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft. That is the power they bring. Every individual in the world deserves an opportunity to be at a place where he/she can be unstoppable. My objective is that we must try and provide this opportunity. The golden ladder is just a process towards the final destination which is to be unstoppable. 

We would have come across phrases like “the power of visualization” or “the power of the subconscious mind” but it is of no use if we don’t know the exact process to follow in order to achieve them. I have attempted to provide a detailed five-step visualization process that allows you to manifest every desire you have. It’s important to note that I didn’t stumble upon these concepts overnight; rather, I learned from the true masters in every field over the course of several years. I witnessed their achievements and experienced the results in my own life.

I had a first-hand perspective when a company’s market share plummeted from 37% to 7% in just three weeks, only to rise back to 35% within a year. I also witnessed a successful corporate CEO, aged 45, succumb to anxiety disorders and depression, but then bounce back stronger than ever in less than three years.  

There is a commonly held belief that what we experience between the ages of zero to seven defines us. I invite you to challenge that notion. There is a possibility that there could be a secret code capable of reprogramming the subconscious mind, enabling you to achieve the impossible.  I genuinely believe that we owe it to ourselves to constantly strive to become the best version of ourselves and pass that legacy to future generations. By making incremental changes, we can make a significant difference in the world.


 Mr Muktesh “Micky” Pant

Former CEO, Yum China, Washington DC

Many Indian executives have succeeded in America, the most recent example being Ajay Banga. It’s a pleasure to watch the largest technology companies in the world by far—Microsoft, Google and IBM—all being run by Indians. I believe that Indians are good, have been trained in the art of handling paradoxes—apparent contradictions where something is true but the opposite is also true. In many cultures around the world, you’re taught to choose between contradictions. Whereas in India, we live with them. I think it’s a product of our rich history, culture, diversity and everything else.

Vijay talks about three qualities that can give the shield of protective armour and has given examples of Phil Knight, Steve Jobs and Viktor Frankl. The three qualities are resilience; mentorship and coaching; and humility. Resilience is the ability to plough through difficulties. It’s very tempting to give up at some stage. But success comes to those who plough through things.  

I remember when I was thrown into the world of management, we were getting two distinct streams of advice. One stream of advice said that you must listen to everybody, learn from everyone, ask a lot of questions, see what others are doing and copy the best behaviours. Equally, in the discipline of marketing, we were told that we must have a point of view, know what we’re doing and be firm. These are apparent contradictions. In Western and other cultures, people will often choose one or the other style. In fact, they are not contradictory. At the highest level, they’re complementary. You develop resilience if you have both a good point of view and the ability to listen to other people.  

Work on the Strengths

Humility is recognizing that we are not perfect, that we don’t know everything and that we should not be afraid to change our minds. But we do need a strong working hypothesis of what we’re going to do.  From my personal experience, when it comes to running a company or a brand or dealing with people, there are broadly two approaches in any situation. The first approach is to take the strengths that are working and to build on those. The other approach is to identify the problems and fix those problems. In my experience, the first works and the second fails.

Strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin. I’ve had many executives who are for example, creative and they’re not analytical. You can say they’re not analytical and it’s a weakness. They can never make a CFO but they can make a very good marketing manager because they are creative. If you take that person and send them to courses to understand analytics and to teach them how to be more organized, it often fails. If you have a rabbit, don’t try to teach it to swim. Find somebody else to do the swimming.

I found that in life and also in brands, particularly when I was running KFC. Everybody used to criticise me—from my family to my friends—as to how I can sell fried chicken that is supposedly bad for the heart. I told them that Colonel Sanders who invented KFC at the age of 66, lived to be 90 and he used to eat it every day. He had heart trouble and it was 60 years ago when heart medicines were not that advanced. The fried chicken’s strength is the great taste and the weaknesses is the health implication. If you remove the strength, you lose the weakness also. So I realized that instead of focusing on the weaknesses, I must focus on my strengths. We must have an idea of what we want to do, but we must be open to other’s coaching and mentorship.  

Mr Supratim Bose

Global MedTech Leader & Management Consultant, Former Company Group Chairman Johnson & Johnson, MedTech Asia Pacific, Singapore

When Ted Lovett wrote the seminal essay on marketing myopia, many people, for the first time, were prompted to ask the question, “What business are you really in?” I have come from a company that was well diversified like Johnson & Johnson. Today, I am the CEO of a robotics company. When I look at the robot, the first thing that comes to mind is, “What business am I in?” The robot looks exactly like what you see in Star Wars movies. It has forearms and assists surgeons in performing surgeries.

Coming from the medtech industry, initially, we focused on the technical aspects of the product, trying to understand its features and how it would outperform others. However, as we delved deeper into understanding our purpose in this business, we started asking, “How does the patient benefit, and what do patients say when using medtech products?” We were accustomed to speaking with the surgeons who used our products and hospitals where our products were implemented. At J&J, they say, “We are in the business of saving human lives and restoring the joy of life.”

Now, think about it. When you perform surgery on a patient or implant a device, you are essentially working to restore the patient’s joy in life. This is closely tied to emotions. When you visit a hospital and see a child about to undergo surgery, simply holding the child’s hand and providing reassurance that everything will be alright—that is the business we are in. This mindset should be applied to every child seen in a hospital, transforming the way we perceive our own businesses.

For many of us coming from scientific and technological backgrounds, the IQ aspect is well understood. We can utilize various formats and graphs to explain things. However, it is crucial that we train our people to understand the human aspect. By doing so, we will quickly identify the true nature of our business. Surprisingly, the product features and benefits should only constitute about 5% of what we do. The first step is to create awareness and convey that the person is in the best and most capable hands because we are in the business of saving lives.

It is the responsibility of medtech companies to train physicians, and robotic surgery training is one of the most critical aspects that must be undertaken before anyone can perform robotic surgery on a patient. The next step is to explore how we can extend these benefits to more people. We must adapt to healthcare systems worldwide. In the US, healthcare expenditure accounts for almost 18% of the GDP, while in India, it is around 3%. However, we must remember that we continue to do this work because we want to create better outcomes for patients. Affordability becomes a factor to consider. In short, for each one of us building a business, if we answer this question of ‘why we are in the business?’ correctly, we will ensure the long-lasting success of our endeavours.