Rajan Bala
A soul-stirring first novel…could well be the first of its kind in India written in English …
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Meenakshi Mukherjee
It is a novel difficult to put down.

Charu Sharma
What can I say? Take a bow Hari.
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Dear students,
Let me first thank you all for taking the time to be present here for this talk on ‘Recognizing Excellence Within’. It is a pet subject of mine and something that I wish to share with you all management students.
One or two things that I share today may make a difference to the way you go about with your career and your life. And if that is achieved I think my coming here had achieved its purpose.

My career was a clear case of going around not knowing what I wanted. For 13 years I did it before I identified this writing bug. I quit in 2004 and wrote my first book which got published in 2007. The Men Within is India’s first cricketing novel in English and has hit bestselling numbers. Now it is touted as a self-help, management book in the guise of fiction. It is about how to achieve dreams.
I wrote it for 4 audiences. One of which was the corporate sector. I always felt cricket had great life lessons but when I joined the corporate sector I realized there were corporate lessons too. How someone can have a seemingly impossible dream and achieve it? I put these down in a step by step fashion, telling the story through the protagonists – the school boys who need to win a championship to save the school. It is actually a step by step guide to achieving your dreams as I see it.

The question is – do dreams come true only by default or can we design them? There are no defaults in the business world. We try to plan the outcome – want to set up a steel plant, I don’t end up setting up a poultry do I? So why are these defaults in our life?
A bad decision can cost much. Let’s see how things, seemingly impossible things can be designed. The big dreams!

Is your life by default? You are MBA students who are looking to manage the world – do you have a plan for your life? What’s your dream? Have you tried to implement what you learnt in your life. In a small way. Do it. If something goes wrong with the project it is expensive, if something goes wrong with your life, it could be more expensive than that.
So let’s do what we are trained to do. Manage our lives better. Is that okay?

The Men Within Story – ABOUT EXCELLENCE
TMW is a story of school kids who have to win the championship. Problem 1. tough goal, limited resources. Will you take it?
They are to their coach a raw material that is far from desirable, he would have liked to play with Dhoni’s team. But his brief is clear, win with these boys. How does one motivate someone to die? What’s the cause? What will you do?
Win – or it’s off with your head.

Easy. Humans love to be good, to excel. Everyone has the streak in them. Only problem is that most of us want recognition, fame and money before we excel. Right?
The coach appeals to the excellence within. The men within the boys. The tiger within the kitten. The potential within you. It all comes down to you. How good are you? Are you good enough for this? And then something awakens. Yes. Then boundaries are stretched. Limits are pushed. Excellence is touched. Magic happens. Someone becomes a Shahrukh, a Dhoni, a Tendulkar..Let us see how the coach does it. Extrapolate it to your life, your business decisions.
To making dreams come true!

First we need a dream.
I. Dreams. Do you have any dreams? Can you see your dreams? Can you feel your dreams? Are you scared of your dreams? How big are your drams? Are they your own? Get clear about it. Tell me your dreams… And as you go, make your dreams clear. Why am I joining this company? What am I achieving? When you see your dreams you will realize how limited we are even in our thinking. The same dreams, the same limited dreams. Is there anything new? Do you have new dreams? If Reliance is a 1 lakh crore company, can you imagine a 1000 lakh crore company?

- Dream and dream honestly. Not about small or big but your own dream. Your signature dream,. It must make you feel go YES, it must make you feel full, of life, of yourself, it must scare you enough, cause enough discomfort, but it must arouse a mad passion, ITS MINE. As an MBA, don’t be vague – set your dream – which company, an enterprise, an NGO? Be clear. Dream.

- Take ownership for it. Can you tell others about it? Mad people they say but we need more.

- Then YOU start putting a plan together. All the details. Numbers, time, people. So detailed that there is no chance of a mistake. Let’s take one dream and start working on that…Even thought is an action (not thinking about thinking, thinking about an action is action)

- 100%. First touch your outermost limits. When do you know it’s enough? When you have given 100%! When do you know you have given 100%? The YES factor. As we do in appraisals. In accounting. In maths. And then the most important item. When was the last YES factor you had? Have more. Have one everyday. You are growing. (Figure of person growing upto 100% and then onwards)

- Action. No excuse for no action. In fact action itself can take you far. Most times our thoughts and plans come to naught because of no action but sometimes bad plans are fruitful because someone dared to act.

  1. The only question I ask when people don’t have results is this…have you given your 100%? If not go back. Give your 100%. And then look at it again, plan again, go over each step again and you’ll find what you missed. And then you will get your results.
  1. Preparation. To me all action is nothing but preparation. Good preparation is the job well done. What is preparation? Getting ready for the next level. Be ready to hit the ground running. To be as good as your boss in one month. Most important.

Don’t restrict yourselves. Whatever you do, put your heart and soul, your signature behind it. Tomorrow, people must say, hey, this was done by x. normally we are scared to sign on anything because we don’t want ownership. But that’s a quality you will be asked. To know, to discriminate, to say a yes or a no, to communicate it as clearly.
You have done all that will make you feel good. You have increased your worth in a way. Now you have dreamt, planned, worked hard. Nothing has happened? What next?

2. Belief. The difference between those who make it and those who don’t is belief. In yourself and in your dream. One belief. One strong thought. You have had it in your life. Is it different from what your heroes have? Look at any of them. They have enough reason not to be there. But they believed in themselves and stuck to it. Another wonderful word that will come up many times. I guess we can talk about belief all day and we won’t be done by evening. But then what we lack is belief that we are good. The heroes believe that they are. So how do we earn the belief? By knowing. By being there. By pushing the limit.

What do you know?
Do you believe you are the best? Can we sustain this belief? Normally you can with some work. But we all need outside approval. I say, you don’t. Go on till the YES factor and you know you are good. Follow the dream in the above sequence and chances are you can’t go wrong. You are hitting the zone.

What then is excellence? It is being the best you can be at any given point of time. Now is that hard. Is that possible. Is that a choice or some boon that god must give us.
Excellence is a choice.

So choose now to be the best you can be. The 100% you, the best you, the tiger, the potential..


  1. Continuum. Pick yourself. Same as the heroes. It is not luck. Push the right hand side.
  2. 3 buckets. Mediocrity. Average. Excellence. Excuses. Champions do not make excuses. Scale the third wall. Keep pushing until the KBC factor happens.

To me there is only one thing. An excuse or a result. Our stopping is because of you. Not anything else. So if you choose your spot, it’s your choice. Do it with that in mind. Not because you never had the opportunity. If you make up your mind you can.

  1. The 100% example. It will teach you.

Why we don’t achieve excellence? Now we have established that excellence is within us right? We have established that we can reach it. Now it’s pertinent to wonder why we are not. Fear. Most of us believe we are not good enough. This is where belief comes in. when others say things we choose to believe them. If 9 people say you’re a purple pig we believe them. We set up for failure, for a passing mark, for floating along aimlessly. Be default. We may look at failure and worry and say I don’t want to fail. But there is a bigger fear.
More potent.  Fear of success. It will keep you in failure all the time.

First and foremost we need to believe we are good. We need to increase our own opinion of ourselves. Your self worth. Because that decides what you take to the world outside. And how you fare. Think now.

Let me quickly run through how we can stick to the excellent part.
First by identifying excellence when you had it. Your moments of success. Your YES factors. Your unique success formulas. Drill them into your head. Two days ago there was a new item about how athletes perform better when they watch videos of their winning.

Then perpetuate the same thought.
You must have felt really good. You must have felt the YES factor. In these times it does not matter whether anyone is applauding you. You are doing it for yourself. Do it again. Stop looking over your shoulder. Before anyone else certifies you YOU MUST CERTIFY YOURSELF. Have I done my best? Is there anything more that I can do to improve this? This QC makes the biggest difference.

5 questions – before your interview, your jobs.
Who are you?
What do you want?
How do you think you can get what you want?
How prepared are you now to get what you want?
What is the value I am taking with me? (What are your guiding beliefs, values and ethics?)

It is about YOU. Not what anyone else is saying. Know yourself. My suggestion. Stick to knowing your strengths. Ask your friends and family.

Your dream. Go for it. For yourself. Not for me, for any one else. It must make you feel good. That’s why people climb the Everest, run the marathon, race, act, dance…whatever.
What’s your plan? For yourself, for your life? For your dream?

What’s the level of your preparation? Where do you stand? Knowledge, presentation, public speaking, people skills, organizing skills, managing skills, computer skills, technology…are you ready to hit the corporate world running. You have time, so prepare. Push yourself. Dot it once. Know your limits.

Know your formula. How can I be the best myself? Normally it’s about your process, your training, your preparation. How well you have prepared at practice is how well you’ll perform on the ground, or in the job.

Your values and ethics. Girls how many of you believe that this is a cruel world. That business is a dirty place. It’s not. Believe your value system, what your parents taught you, what you believe in.
As you get more clarity about yourself your Self worth increases. We are increasing our self worth along the way. We are increasing our confidence. YOU KNOW YOUR WORTH. Your market value.
What then is your price? How much are you worth? Do it because that’s how you get salaries. Because you put a self cap. Improve self worth through your pursuit of your excellence. Be the potential you are – you’ll never know it but try and get a number there.
Be fully prepared. No excuses for that.
Know what is your best.



Do something that pushes your boundaries, discomfort. Be comfortable with discomfort. But the moment you do it, you have grown a bit. You have set new limits. Remember these are the things you will remember. So try and do something new everyday. In small ways. Push those limits. When you have two choices, do the one that is uncomfortable. Face the fear. It dissolves. Else it becomes bigger.

All of us from the outside know you are capable of moving the world. But do you? It is a commentary on our own self worth. So all that we do must be addressed at that. Even if the whole world says you are lousy, your self worth must be so good that you still say I am the best. Flattery, criticism will not affect the person who is clear about himself and what he can deliver.
To improve that self worth, we choose excellence. We push 200%. We feel new limits. We see perfection. We understand. We figure out the details. We always do a good and pucca job.


Tomorrow you go to the workplace. What is it that you are taking there apart from your qualifications? What is the value you are adding? Do you know what you are there for? Just a salary. A meal. A tag.

  1. You are there to make a difference to this world. Believe in that. Take a dream. To be the best you can in your job. To take complete responsibility for your job and to stretch all your limits. The yes factor. Don’t be another paper pusher. Make the difference. Be the difference. In the best team in the world.
  2. Do not link your work to money. To appreciation. Do it for yourself. Now you have touched an excellence within you. Sweepers do it. Washer men do it. Barbers do it. Why cant you? Be the pro you are within. Give 100% without looking at salary etc


There will be times when you feel like this not working. Remember perfection is already within you. Rock and sculpture. Don’t look out. Find it within. Excellence is a choice. Action is the key

  1. A good attitude, always a YES for difficult jobs, that’s what people avoid, DO them  - Learn to be the expert, its hard work but it’s the only way
  2. Prepare to be in the next guys shoes – be ready to handle that, when he is not there, when his boss is not there, even when the top boss is not there, learn more, about the company, the industry, the customers, your mission/vision, balance sheet, projections
  3. Know your role, you team goal, take pride in it, no one will tell you. As a team member you must believe that you are making a big contribution to the team
  4. Good ethics, values, honesty, transparency – always pays. Women score high on commitment, on clarity, on rules and procedures – they are great managers.
  5. Don’t ever say you don’t know the rules, Find out, even If it takes all night.
  6. Don’t sign without knowing the implications - Make every job a signature job – your masterpiece. Take your time. When in doubt be doubly sure. Verify again.
  7. Know where you want to go and then plan to get there – don’t just float aimlessly
  8. As a leader you cannot blame your team – they reflect you. As a leader the only job you have is to bring the best out of every member of your team


What are your apprehensions?
Top 10 CEOs. 21 top CEOs in India head some really powerful positions including that of the President. Lijjat Papad is a great story  Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad. 1959, 7 women, 4 packets, 300 crores, 40000 women.

Every one of you can do it. Someone becomes a banker, someone makes papads. Whatever it is make it the best and make it because you want to do it.
Success is guaranteed. You choose, how big. How much of a difference.



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