On Strength In Silence. And Dads With Defiance.


“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life”  – Stephen King.

At the end of each day, at 10pm – I receive a call from an 1800 watt-powered 86 year-old man…my Dad. “It’s mom’s booster time” – you’ll hear that often when the phone rings and I retreat into my room for the ultimate energy reboost.

Last week, Dad called in after watching me on CNBC on a panel discussion, “I saw you speak; you’re not yourself. What’re you holding back? No one can tell your story, so tell it yourself. Go out there and live on your terms – no holding back”. 

Damn – how did he know? I was bruised; needed to heal and seeking strength in silence. Trying to find ways to forgive my past but couldn’t. I was also toying with my dream of building a House of Purpose. A place where anyone with a dream, a passion, a purpose could just walk in and find a way to channelise themselves. A platform to connect seekers of purpose with providers of purpose. What a wonderful world it would be – if we could raise our kids and build our teams to seek purpose in what they did – rather than chase the moolah.
What did the money get us anyway?
I had to write and get the angst out of my system.


I almost did lose it as most leaders in the corporate world with its shenanigans lose their spark. If not for dad’s upbringing…

Dad made sure the women in the house kept the madness alive. He was a chain-smoker his entire adult life and although his lungs were filled with smoke, he made sure the house was filled with sunshine and laughter. I grew up with the laugh of a hyena and the royalty of a princess. Born to a king who never needed a crown.

When I decided to marry, Dad didn’t want to know what my husband-to-be did or earned. Mom was paranoid and wondered how I would manage if he wasn’t a millionaire J

Dad     : Are you sure he loves you enough?
Me       : Yes Dad
Dad     : Will he stand by you no matter what happens?
Me       : Yes Dad
I looked him in the eye and he saw the confidence of a warrior.
Dad     : What are you waiting for?
And the rest is history.

How many parents are secure enough to trust their upbringing?
How many leaders are true enough to let their best branch out and build?

Insecurity in the life of a leader undermines loyalty in the life of a follower
My biggest lessons in parenting and leadership have been around trust. If we played our role right as mentors and parents – we wouldn’t raise questions of doubt. We would assert with confidence our faith in our best to grow and surpass what we did
That in my opinion is true leadership. And true parenting.

Chasing up the wrong tree
In my career, I chased numbers harder than dreams; acquired clients faster than learning. Harvard was on the cards but never happened…

But Dads always know don’t they? When I was appointed CEO, Dad’s 10pm words were, “Enjoy the ride for now”. He knew it was transient.
Enjoy the ride I did; building a business for 12 years, making sure the owners of the business continued to make profits – despite everything around their life.
Until I realised…it will never be enough.

Build. Fail. Rebuild.

Dad was a horse-owner, a gambler, a St Xavier’s A Grade college dropout and all things rebellious; yet famously known as “Baba with a heart of gold”.
He built a business on goodwill, heart and loads of hard-work.
His clients loved him just because they loved him. They would rather pay a premium and work with him than with anyone else in the business.

The day I felt my loyalty had lived its life and my learning needed newer grounds, I stepped down and relinquished the CEO title that seemed to define and hold me back. And the 10pm tip-off rang in:

Dad     : Are you sure you’re ready for the bumpy ride ahead?
Me       : Yes Dadda
Dad     : Do you know what you want to do?
Me       : No Dadda. But there’s a lot to learn and I’m willing to start all over again.
Dad     : Fantastic! Go right ahead. I am with you.

With words like that to lean on, nothing stops you from dreaming. I wanted to be in content – what and where, I had no clue.

Within a month, I was invited into the leadership team of Discovery Channel to build mass Hindi content in the General Entertainment space. I couldn’t have asked for a better transition. At a time when opportunities were hard to find, I got exactly what I was wishing for : experiments in content.

I also got what I hadn’t asked for : #rogue leadership, digital platforms, agency-sales, a crazy bunch of friends and a back-to-school photo-shoot! But wow – what a journey….

As I embark on a new ride yet again – I know in my heart that no matter what people tell you – passion and purpose can change the world.
As can the defiance of Dads.

– Dedicated to fathers who believe

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Vision or Passion? Gut or glory?

Vision or Passion, Gut or Glory

With the number of people moving out of their comfort zones into their own free spaces, I’ve had to answer this question to many new kids on the block. What should drive decisions?

Vision or Passion? Is there a bigger strength in Gut or Glory?

Having lived my entire life on passion and passion alone, it is now that vision is raising its hood at me and saying – ‘C’mon baby! Get that niggling thought out and water it! Let it grow into something larger than you, than the organization you represent and the causes you stand for‘.

Robin Sharma, best known for his book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, puts it aptly: “Never lose that sparkle in your eye, the fire in your belly and the steel in your character“.

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Tutors, mentors, tormentors.

Mentors or Tormentors

What would I do without you!

My 1st blog is a tribute to paying back to all those wonderful people who stepped into my life and made a difference

Come to think of it, what is mentoring all about?

  • Is mentoring about being a guru?
  • Is it about grooming the next breed of leaders or creating a band of docile followers?
  • Is it leading by example or nit-picking on personal styles and choices?
  • Or is it about workplace culture and organizational issues or getting personal and intrusive?

When I started my career in advertising 20 years ago, there was no structured Mentoring program. We were not taught or coached. We would simply look up to our seniors and follow their ways of working and sometime their mannerisms too. They often led by example. Our leaders displayed through their behavior and conduct what could never be imparted in formal training or coaching sessions.

But then, the world is not the same anymore. Complex business environments call for a better aligned workforce.

Mentoring is a program, a discipline. And rightly so.

      • Mindtree, for example has a well-rounded mentoring program designed to address the physical, digital, intellectual and emotional aspects of becoming an engineer of tomorrow.
      • Google is using mentoring to get over racism and bring in a more diverse hiring practice. The global tech giant now runs mentoring programs in Historically Black Colleges and Universities to increase the number of Afro-American hires.

These are interesting efforts and in the right direction. But more often than not, mentors have a tendency to turn tormentors. How do you differentiate a mentor from a tormentor? What really characterizes a true mentor? If I can sum it all up, a mentor focuses on the mentee, equips them to face organizational challenges and helps them develop critical faculty to be a leader. A mentor does not take over and does not bring down. Mentors lead the way, they don’t interfere. They direct and not dictate.

Sure, we need mentors. Mentors mend our ways of thinking and allow us to develop a well-rounded perspective, unlike tutors who drill in a very narrow world-view.

I picked this rare quote that depicts clearly the essence of my context. Lord Charles Allen, on being mentor to the Chief Executive and the Global Radio Board said, “In my role as chairman, I am the mentor and the tormentor to the chief executive and the board.I am there to support them (the execs), ask them to look at things again, get things on the agenda but I’m not there to make decisions”.

If you have interesting mentor or mentee challenges and confessions, do share them here.

The article appeared on Bizztor

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