Sometimes a few conversations are capable of changing your life. In the world of Corporate Chatter, most of them go unnoticed or ignored. Whereas, a few of them stay, and probably also change your life!
Here is the story of my life-changing corporate conversation.
It was May of 2013. It was my first month at my first job. I had been recruited as a young Management trainee in a big German Multinational Company. It was my first experience of wearing a crisp formal shirt and a nice trouser. White Shirt and Blue trouser, with matching brown belt, brown shoes and brown watch! Hair neatly combed, a curious 21 year Old Boy is just stepping up to the world of Adulthood. Ready to make a mark in the Corporate World! Delighted to be surrounded by 14 other star Management Trainees recruited from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Staying at the company guest house in the beautiful city of Kolkata, I still remember taking a photograph with a thumbs up outside the Corporate Headquarters. I still fondly remember my excitement, That feeling of growing up!
Although nervous at first, coupled with the feeling of missing my family, home and Vadapav, it was soon replaced by cheer and enthusiasm. I distinctly remember the words of our CHRO greeting us in the conference room ‘ Welcome to the family!’ I still remember the feeling was so comforting. It felt like a family. In the due course of our initial training, me and other 14 curious minds understood how a multi-billion dollar Multinational Company works. How does Sales function, what is exactly marketing, how do products move from plants to our distributors and the final consumer? How do internal administration, HR and supply chain work? We even learnt how to weld metals together! The first 3 months of the job was filled with fascination where every morning we were waking up towards learning something new. Out of all these fun-filled learning days, One evening I distinctly recall. It was an evening where one of the most senior-most executives from Singapore was visiting us. Along with Indian Managing Director and other senior executives, there was a reception held where he wanted to meet all the Management Trainees over some dinner and drinks. I was so looking forward to that evening. I recall buying a new tie just for that evening. After all, I wanted to make a stellar first impression! That evening, we were sitting across a round table, having a nice chatter about experiences so far. I was sitting next to the Managing Director of India and sipping super delicious wine and discussing our learning experiences coupled up with light humour. It was difficult to keep up with his drinking speed!
The Senior Executive from Singapore was also casually chatting with all of us after a brief address wishing us luck for our foray into the corporate world. He came to our table, and after a firm handshake, sat next to each of the trainees and had a small one on one conversation. Looking at such conversations he is having with everyone, I wondered. What would he be asking? Our goals, our ambitions, our just getting to know us better? I quickly started thinking of all the smart answers which I could answer to him. After chatting with a few other trainees, he came and sat next to me for a chat. My legs were shaking, but the wine did help to soothe my nervousness. “So Omkar from Mumbai Right? , Hope you are having a great time at our company’
Most definitely. Loving all the learning experiences, especially when we were learning about…. Omkar, wait. Before you tell me about all that, I really want you to tell me, ‘ What do you feel when you are at your best? What is that emotion?” I was like wow. I needed time to collect my thoughts. This was an unexpected question. He realised my struggle and told me to relax and take a couple of minutes to think about it. While I was thinking, he took a paper napkin from the table and wrote something while I was thinking.
“Hi Sir. I think I know what I feel when I am at my best. I feel very curious. I am in a happy state when I am curious! Interesting. I like the state of curiosity. It is a beautiful emotion indeed. Sir. How about you? What emotion do you feel when you are at your best? Omkar, I feel inspired! I feel inspired when I am at my best. And I am at my best when I am inspired! “
And he handed me that paper napkin which he had written ‘ Stay Inspired’. He patted my back and moved to the next table filled with other trainees. I kept that paper napkin and started thinking, about how to stay inspired and inspire others around me! It has been over 7 years since I have had that conversation with him. It was also the only time I had an opportunity to meet him. I changed jobs, professions, but that 5-minute conversation has had an everlasting impact on me. With my current Startup, where we are building Peer Learning, I constantly ask myself a question. How do you want your users to feel when they use our network? And all routes lead to a singular goal of making our users, our clients feel inspired. Inspired to share knowledge, inspired to learn new skills, inspired to help their colleagues. In fact, in retrospective, that one conversation with him 7 years ago might have just been the first real micro peer learning experience I have experienced. In a casual environment, in a non-structured manner. And that one small dialogue stayed with me, and ‘inspired’ me to start my own Startup. At BHyve, we understand the philosophy of motivating and inspiring employees. Forbes jots down brilliantly about 10 ways to inspire employees and everything circles around giving them a purpose. Driving and guiding them towards a higher purpose, than that just steering them towards making more profits. Funnily enough, I think Micheal Scott from The Office wittingly said, ‘We don’t sell Paper, we sell a blank canvas for people to ideate!’ From a young management trainee to an HR Tech Entrepreneur, one thought which always stays with me is to stay inspired!