"Hello! Haan Manoj*? Arey yaar wo us chemical ka kya kya naam hai jo tum 1 crore me bechne wale ho? Oh Achha... haan yaad aa gaya.. ok.. thank you.. bye!"
In a class room full of amused faces, Prof. Sunil Handa disconnected the phone and went on to explain how and why one should go about being an entrepreneur. Mixing hindi with english in a very identifiable Gujrati touch to his accent, Prof. Handa carried out what I term as one of the most inspiring talks I have attended. To say that every ear in that room was impressed would be an understatement.
Addressing people by their names and siting examples from their and his own perosnal lives, he ensured that the session was vivid and interactive. A master at public speaking as he appeared to be, he used various quotes, jokes and anecdotes to support his ideas. He was sharp and straightforward. And believe me, he was effective like anything. I could already see many eyes in the room dreaming of their own ventures.
How do you decide what business to take up?
"I never get it when people say that they don't want to continue with their family business", he said. Stressing on the fact that one can easily learn on the go, he suggested that the best option for a person is always to join his father's business and add new dimensions to it according to his personal interests and competencies. He also explained how one can identify the growth sectors and rising industries and try and exploit that growth. To B school students he had a very clear message - that the summer internships are one of the best opportunities to learn about a business and identify oppportunities.
When to start?
"Can you name one successful person whose reason of success can be found in the later part of his life?"
When Prof. Handa reeived no answer to this question, his mesage was clear. The best time to start is now. Now, when we are young, ambitious and energetic. He said that all a man does after the age of 30 is to reap the crop that sowed in his twenties. He also said that according to him one year wasted now was commensurate to 10 years at his age in terms of productivity.
While entrepreneurship was his prime focus he also touched upon the topic of leadership as entrepreneurs have to eventually prove themselves as leaders in orer to be successful. Using a mix of story telling skills and theatrics he beautifully brought out the example of Alexander as a great leader. He said that if entrepreneurs could be great leaders, attrition would never have been heard of. Be it your subordinates or your peers, to be successful as an entrepreneur, you must be a champion at relationships and thats what maketh a leader.
On the topic of choosing subjects during MBA, he stressed on taking up subjects dealing with soft skills and behaviour sciences as he feels those are the subjects that would prove to have the most practical relevance for an entrepreneur. He also gave ideas on scaling up a venture and identifying the weak spots. There were many more topics and many more examples to suit them. Overall it was a session that left many people including myself thinking seriously about starting a venture as soon as we pass out of this institute. He expressed great interest in helping anyone who had a serious inclination towards entrepreneurship. The best part of his talk was that he got very personal and yet did not lose connection with the overall audience. And most importantly, while he agreed that you need lady luck by your side to become an Ambani, he definitely showed a few roads that could lead to her and one of them is the right outlook. Let me tell you, it is extremely rare for me to get impressed by a professor but even I think that the standing ovation he received at the end of the session was justified.
*Name changed as I don't remember the real one he took..... :)