Two years ago, Anupam Gupta and Saurabh Mukherjea were sitting in a café at Lower Parel, discussing what makes successful professionals in the corporate world, successful. Eventually, they realised that the drivers of outsized success were common across promoters, CEOs and fund managers. As Mukherjea, founder of Marcellus Investment Managers, puts it, “So, the skill set required to be an Aditya Puri at HDFC Bank is actually very similar to the skill set required to be a Warren Buffet. As we drank more coffee, we realised that that’s also what is required to be an outstanding author, musician or martial artist.”
The result of this epiphany was The Victory Project (Penguin Random House India) which released last month, where the authors outline six steps to attain the maximum potential in whatever you do by interviewing experts from all walks of life including Harsh Mariwala of Marico, Raamdeo Agrawal of Motilal Oswal group and Apurva Purohit of Jagran Prakashan Ltd. The book is replete with case studies, too, and the approach, in contrast to many management books, isn’t esoteric. To achieve peak potential, the authors have coined a “simplicity paradigm”, which is a six-step framework that entails the following:
The authors have cited Steve Job’s vision, evident in Apple’s clean design sensibilities, as a prime example of simplicity
1 Specialisation: Mukherjea and Gupta look at specialisation as a fundamental concept to assess what your ‘peak’ is. In accordance to Robert Greene’s Mastery framework, Gupta, a chartered accountant, investment research consultant and podcast host, shares that you not only must pursue what you love, but also put in the hard work required to convert that into mastery. “There needs to be an outcome, too. Peak potential is to be extremely good at what you love and be recognised for it in the market,” he says.
2 Simplification: With examples of Apple and Amazon, the book suggests two categories for this step: simplification through 1) habits and 2) principles. The former category involves setting up a routine in your lives and then, rewarding yourself for your hard work. The latter implies incorporating originality, deep thought and de-cluttering. This can be illustrated via a case study of Purohit’s views on simplicity. For instance, for a young person embarking on a career, citing her own example of a young IIM-B graduate who opted for advertising, she suggests prioritising the non-negotiable and then choosing jobs that deliver those factors.
3 Spirituality: The authors urge the reader to identify specific practices that can help them to connect with their purpose. This could be achieved through meditation, and deeply focusing on your purpose as opposed to being self-centred. “If we pursue this individualistic, Ayn Rand-style path of me, myself and my progress, it’s not going to lead to outsized success but will make you unhappy. You have to subsume yourself in a larger goal,” Mukherjea asserts.
4 De-cluttering: Busyness and a crowded diary is not the recipe for success, and the pages from Mariwala’s diary in the title show you that. “Many of us think that maxing out your diary — doing 25 things in a 24-hour period — is the definition of success. But the message that hit home, while writing this, was to reduce everything,” says Mukherjea.
5 Creativity: This is a component that according to Gupta, will “unshackle the boredom.” It requires you to eradicate pre-existing notions and not work in silos. Creativity also isn’t something that comes to you at the blink of an eye, so don’t worry about procrastinating.
6 Collaboration: In an interview with the authors, entrepreneur Manish Sabharwal, quotes Paracelsus and says, “The dose makes the poison.” Bringing together diverse groups of people to fulfil a common goal is key, and so is finding the right balance. As Gupta clarifies, “If you have too much medicine, it’s going to kill you. If you have no medicine, it’s going to kill you.”
Saurabh Mukherjea and Anupam Gupta
Key takeaways during the pandemic
According to Gupta, the pandemic has made a bigger case for implementing a routine as that is the only way to distract yourself from ‘doomscrolling’, a term that refers to excessively scrolling through bad news. “Now we know that there is a risk out there but we can’t quantify it. All we can do is keep ourselves safe. Follow a routine that helps you to realise your goals,” he says.
Every expert interviewed in the book was a voracious reader. The authors also quote businessman Charlie Munger who once said, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time — none, zero.” So, Mukherjea says, “Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, given the easy access to reading material now through the Internet, there is no excuse now to not read. Even better if you can make that reading diverse and focused on your speciality.”
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