It is About Me!

Author: Anjan Lahiri
President and Co-CEO, IT Services, MindTree
And that would be completely wrong. What we seek always is fulfillment and happiness and according to the Economist magazine true happiness can only be found by people who are 'intensely' focused on the happiness of others’.

But why do I talk about this in ‘SmartTechie’. Due to the 'Smart' part; it is never about technology, about the next greatest innovation, or about what that innovation is going to do to bring fulfillment and happiness to others. If we can all focus on the ultimate outcome, the rest of the path becomes easy. Probably never before in the history of the industrialized world have such a large number of people joined a single knowledge profession in such a short time of less than two decades. Moreover, the people joining this profession do not come with a history of similar careers in their families. Hence there is no frame of reference for people to take decisions, no shared social memory which helps us in charting our careers. Our own ‘Me Inc.’ companies have to fill the void where society and social memory has left gaps.

If you browse the business section of any bookstore, it seems to be overflowing with books roughly on the topic of ‘how to be a great CEO’. Much less is written about how to ‘be a great middle manager’. How do I advance my career, how do I take decisions in the course of my work, and how do I resolve conflicts in my mind? In this article I pick up just three traits which I think are useful to be a great middle manager. These are not exhaustive, but three that come to mind now. They are:
1. Challenge boredom,
2. Embrace patience, and
3. Create a network of help

Challenge boredom
Boredom is a topic that has always interested me. Why is the bus driver who drives the same route every day not bored to death, why is Fidel Castro not bored of the same speeches that he has been giving for the last 40 plus years, why is Rupert Murdoch not bored of all the acquisitions, and why is the railway signalman not bored of raising and lowering the signal dozens of times everyday throughout his life? Why is the Java developer not bored of getting into yet another project norming for yet another project which supposedly was to be delivered yesterday and for which the requirements are not yet ready? Why?

Let me give my take here. If you are bored, you are losing it; you are not getting ahead in life. I am not saying that if you are bored, you should do something to get rid of the boredom – get into a ‘more challenging project’, ‘a more exciting company’, or a ‘more cool technology’. I am saying that banish the word ‘bored’ from the English dictionary, at least from your vocabulary. How can anyone be bored? Thankfully there are always things that are there to be done and it is only our imagination that limits us. If you are bored, and if you feel that the answer to solving your boredom lies ‘outside of your own self’ you are mistaken. You are your master. You determine your destiny and only you can control your own actions and your mind. In any company there are a zillion things to do – the limitation is your ability to work with others and the ideas that your mind is capable of processing. So you fix it, and challenge boredom.

Embrace patience
How many people have you met in your circle who do not know their ABCs or cannot do simple addition and subtraction? Now, how many people have you met in your circle that do not know how to be liked, cannot communicate, cannot create an atmosphere of positive energy around them, and lack the soft skills that are largely the determinant of long term success.

Always be aware that there is a lot to learn in any environment. The things that matter take time. Today’s young and impatient Indian professional is keen to move from one assignment and one job to the other. But this will bite you back in ten to fifteen years when you will realize that the soft skills that really matter have not been picked up by you while you have been perfecting your ABCs and your additions and subtractions. To perfect the real things one requires introspection, a patient mind, a submission that you do not know and need to learn, and a thirst for learning from every person and every opportunity. And all these require patience, years of patience. Embrace it.

Create a network of help
It is a fact of life that we all need help, in small and big things. In personal life we have our circle of relatives and friends to reach out to. In professional life, you have to create this network by yourself. But the catch is that you need to create this network of help ‘before’ the need for it arises. In other words, once you realize you need something, you cannot go out and seek the association of the person who can help you. You need to create that association long before the need arrives.

But how do you know that you might need the help of this person. You don’t. So you need to be a person who just creates a circle of interesting and interested people. You must take a genuine interest in all people, all the time. Then, when the need for help arrives you will have your circle ready, and a lot of friends too. But the key to a successful ‘network of help’ is that you cannot go out creating that network in anticipation of the need for future help. You have to create that network because you love to meet interesting, good, and engaged people.

As you succeed in your professional life, you succeed in your personal life. By making your journey not about yourself, but about the ten people around you, by not thinking of your success, but about the success of your team, and by not taking the time communicating to your boss what you have done, but by quietly doing his work and not even bothering to take credit for it. In other words, by intensely focusing on the work and happiness of others.

At MindTree we have a system of values which we call the ‘CLASS Values’. CLASS stands for Caring, Learning, Achieving, Sharing, and Social responsibility. I love our values and what they stand for, but one of the things that I like the most about our values is that it is not about increasing profits and cycle time and reducing waste, it is about caring for others, learning new things, achieving the goals, sharing one’s knowledge and feelings, and a responsibility about the society we are all in. It is largely about things external to the company and it is about how each individual can have a better relationship with the people around them. It is about focusing on others and that is the only thing that will lead to the attainment of long term goals for oneself – the attainment of fulfillment and happiness.

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Reader's comments(20)
1: From: Mrs. Mary David

This mail may be a surprise to you because you did not give me the permission to do so and neither do you know me but before I tell you about myself I want you to please forgive me for sending this mail without your permission. I am writing this letter in confidence believing that if it is the will of God for you to help me and my family, God almighty will bless and reward you abundantly. I need an honest and trust worthy person like you to entrust this huge transfer project unto.

My name is Mrs. Mary David, The Branch Manager of a Financial Institution. I am a Ghanaian married with 3 kids. I am writing to solicit your assistance in the transfer of US$7,500,000.00 Dollars. This fund is the excess of what my branch in which I am the manager made as profit last year (i.e. 2010 financial year). I have already submitted an annual report for that year to my head office in Accra-Ghana as I have watched with keen interest as they will never know of this excess. I have since, placed this amount of US$7,500,000.00 Dollars on an Escrow Coded account without a beneficiary (Anonymous) to avoid trace.

As an officer of the bank, I cannot be directly connected to this money thus I am impelled to request for your assistance to receive this money into your bank account on my behalf. I agree that 40% of this money will be for you as a foreign partner, in respect to the provision of a foreign account, and 60% would be for me. I do need to stress that there are practically no risk involved in this. It's going to be a bank-to-bank transfer. All I need from you is to stand as the original depositor of this fund so that the fund can be transferred to your account.

If you accept this offer, I will appreciate your timely response to me. This is why and only reason why I contacted you, I am willing to go into partnership investment with you owing to your wealth of experience, So please if you are interested to assist on this venture kindly contact me back for a brief discussion on how to proceed.

All correspondence must be via my private E-mail ( for obvious security reasons.

Best regards,
Mrs. Mary David.
Posted by: mary lovely david - Monday 26th, September 2011
My Name is Tata I was impressed when i saw your profile at and will like you to email me back to my inbox so that i can send you my picture for you to know who i am.i belive we can establishe a long lasting relation ship with you.In addition,i will like you to reply me through my private e mail box (
This is because i dont know the possibilities of
remainning in forum for a long time.
Thanks,waiting to hear from you soonest.
Posted by: tata tatababy os - Friday 30th, October 2009
Posted by: Barun Ghosh - Sunday 07th, December 2008
4: Whenever I performed any activity to prove myself to me or the world ,I failed miserably.whenever I felt fulfilled and whole and performed any activity,it added to the overall happiness.
We are whole and perfect ,there is no manufacturing defect in us.Thanks for the thought provoking article.
Posted by: narayana swamy - Monday 13th, October 2008
5: Its a thought provoking article; in fact, every well-meaning Indian, whether hailing from middle class or the lower classes, has the innate feeling about doing good to others, as best as he can

I read Mr.Bagchi's recent book; I feel its a reflection of all average middle class Indians: its a different story that each one of us feels less motivated than the other, in making it big
Posted by: Shankar Sundaram - Monday 22nd, September 2008
6: sir
to day we have to think not just few people
but whole of india
how can you do that
let us do some thing to spin india into the robit of super civilization
men of your caliber can do a lot on this
please see my web
yours sincerely
prof keta meera sahebu
Posted by: Keta Meera Sahebu - Friday 05th, September 2008
7: hey anjan
Overall a good article, but can u plz tell me one thing. I am working as a bus driver for a corporate and i m really getting bored out of this job doing the same things everyday...can u plz let me know how i can come out of this? Do u suggestme to take a different route everyday and as a result take good lessons from the shift supervisor for not getting the employees reach on time?
looking forward to hear from you
Posted by: rajneesh shrivastav - Friday 29th, August 2008
8: Sharing , learning ,caring, achieving is very good value to emulate ,but politice ,cast/language/region/religion is taking its toll.In cut throat competion and over ambition ,people are restless and ready to do any thing to achieve as per their ambition by hook or crook.
No moral left ,no human values, highly self cetred for fulfinnilg their own till age of 70 or more .More desire for money,power ,at cost of others .Many become blind in power and crush others who have tried tro revlot or shown problems towards dictatorial attitude of few mighty and their super power group.In our country we can not find equal treatment ,justice,forgiveness ,professional attitude,check and balance .We dont want to do job ourselves by by others , which also is hoghly centralized in hand of very few ,who dictate terms and hold our life at theri mercy .Job/dedication/qualification/experience has no value .

How a qualified senior and mature person can behave so irrationally year after year without any check.Is inner concsious is dead ,are w eso much effected with blackmail and threatning tactics.

Cosensus ,transparency,faith,trust,fellow feeling,mutual harmony seems to have diappeared from our life.more later .

You have mentioned about life time patience , how mny people can really pracrice world wide.In India we are too much patient ,tolerant and adjuting that way much more then any where in world , but was it in right context.How uch patience is good, that is also debatable.
Posted by: JAYANT ROY - Wednesday 20th, August 2008
9: I endorse his view point of helping. As that the way to remain wealthy and happy. Every information,experience,relationship will only add to your confidence, trust and goodwill which is more powerful form of wealth, which may come handy some time in life . I have experienced my Grand dads good Samaritan attitude sorted out long pending issues of mine which could not be sorted out by father. What you give is yours. It is deposited in your goodwill account , the ultimate account. Regards. Vasantha.
Posted by: vasantha machaiah - Sunday 17th, August 2008
10: Good article I am impressed but when it comes to create Network of help I am not very much agreed with you, most of the time its happens that You end of helping person what ever way you need to but when you need some thing positive no one got time for you every one looks their benifits this may be wrong but my exp. in this Industry.
Its only depends on person to person their attitude some people always try to help to others with out looking any benifit but few always enjoys taking help and never change their out look.
Posted by: Mallika Ahirrao - Thursday 07th, August 2008
11: Hi Lahari,

Lahari what a great definication for class. Its just like a lahari of ocean.Thankq
Posted by: Roja Reddy - Thursday 07th, August 2008
12: Its really great.....
Posted by: Ashish Thawait - Friday 01st, August 2008
13: It is all about me what I would call the first discipline

Posted by: Joseph Manuel - Monday 28th, July 2008
14: Inspiring article, very good.
Posted by: Mousumi Mondal - Tuesday 22nd, July 2008
15: The article has really inspired me. Good one!
Posted by: Shalini K K - Wednesday 09th, July 2008
16: Good article...

Thanks a lot for sharing g8 article..
Posted by: satosh kenguva - Tuesday 08th, July 2008
17: good article
Posted by: suganya subburathinam - Tuesday 08th, July 2008
18: Good; but nothing new in this.
Posted by: Rajan V K - Monday 30th, June 2008
19: Its really a excellent article.
Posted by: Yashpal Gaur - Saturday 28th, June 2008
20: Excellent article..
Posted by: San V - Saturday 28th, June 2008
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