#30daysofgratitude: Success Means Pushing The Envelope

If you know me, you’ll also know that I am very critical of most people’s managerial capabilities. But ever since I saw (again) Mathew McConaughey’s oscar winning speech, I thought about it again. As we grow into jobs and roles a few things begin to change. We see things from new perspectives. It’s not the age, but indeed the damage that helps us mature. The good news is this: you don’t necessarily need to be damaged to learn more. Deep seated goodness adds a great deal of value too. There are people who’ve time and again helped me review my definition of success. I’m going to send across deep felt gratitude to two immensely different but amazing people. By being who they are, they showed me success means pushing the envelope consistently and trying more.

Day 18:  For Mark Lobo because there is always a new way of pushing the envelope

I met Mark on the first day of McKinsey. He interviewed me. In my nervousness I said a lot, and he kept asking pointed questions with no real distractions. It was 8 years ago. He was already the boss of my boss, so sometimes when they had to scare me, they’d say, this isn’t right, even Mark knows about it. And I would think things have really become serious now. A few years ago this would seem like gossip, but it isn’t. Everyone has a different style of leadership and many used fear tactics making Mark sound like someone I should be scared of. With his 6’3 frame, that wasn’t hard. But I was genuinely more curious than fearful.

30daysofgratitude success means pushing the envelope Mark Lobo

Later when I changed my team, Mark interviewed me again for a brand new client set up we were piloting. Our interactions went up, and soon even with my limited social abilities, I was a part of a very special group. Naturally, it included Mark and these girls. We slogged like there was no tomorrow including weekends, national holidays and till 11 in the night on new year’s eve. They had to do nothing to convince us to work like that. The team culture was just conducive and felt special. Often, Mark would take time out to review our documents hours before they were to be delivered. We stayed up late nights in Korea reviewing presentations and ensuring things were perfect. It was a tough year, but all I now remember is absolute conviction and awesomeness. We had fun like never before. I’m naturally an individual contributor, but the whole spirit of a team that was created in the first few months was extraordinary. I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that again professionally.

Personally, I had a tough few years during that time span. And Mark could essentially move from mentor to team chef (boss) to the most approachable person I knew. He’d keep us ambitious and quality focused for work and play. No one can come close to the team outings, Busan, the Himalayan hills, Turquoise Cottage and most definitively Mark’s Bombay. I have a long way to go before I come close to his ability to stay structured, focused and yet be able to chill in the most friendly way. Many leaders struggle with the extremes of bossing around and being friendly. Mark’s openness and personal access makes him one of the most secure leaders I’ve ever known. From professional to personal struggles that I’ve gone through, his advice has always been direct and real. He makes me feel I’ve done something good to deserve his time. At no point in my life will I ever be able to do any gratitude projects, if I didn’t have Mark as a big part of it.

Oh and he can chill like a cat. I was drawing and I thought of his Ananda trip 🙂

Day 19: Anuj Chopra because nice is a wonderful journey

30daysofgratitude success means pushing the envelope Anuj Chopra

I met Anuj on the first day of his McKinsey career. I interviewed him. At first I wasn’t sure. We all discussed the case and thought about the skills, attitudes we needed for a new hire. And I got a sense on how hard it is to identify all that in a short interview. We hired Anuj and there’s nothing I am more certain of, as I think back. He was essentially my favorite new hire into the team.

Anuj joined as a group of new joinees that I led on various projects. We worked on multiple new topics and very rarely have I met someone so friendly, nice and hard working. I loved working with Anuj. Every time during our meetings I’d feel like I wanted to contribute more, create more opportunities and share better work with him. And it’s amazing how I’d overexert in his case, purely because he was so genuine. The more I work, the more I realize that niceness, hard work and a great attitude trumps all else. This is the kind of team member you want to work with and push yourself for.

It’s too easy to be cynical and I’m grateful that I met Anuj who showed me why.

PS: I read who moved my cheese years ago, but as I was drawing for Anuj, I remembered the power of consistent hard work which inspired the illustration.

It’s Diwali soon, so I hope you all have a wonderfully kind year ahead 🙂