I’m from the corporate world and then delved into entrepreneurship. Today, I’m going to talk about something which is relevant in the marketplace where the rubber hits the road. When you get to the marketplace, it’s a different ball game altogether. So I’m going to cover four areas and then we’ll see how it blesses each one of us. One is the marketplace, which is both the corporate and the business life, and the kind of people that influenced my life and made their life become a story in my personal life.
One of the things that we started to do in 2008 was to revive old hymns and the impact of hymns on the lives of people across the globe. Social action was part of my earlier vision, but we started doing something very clearly after COVID started. And so we call it the SLOT project, which you will hear about later.
First, I’d like to start with the RRR. My RRR is what I want to leave with you: “But those who revere my name,” the Lord says in Malachi chapter 4, “he will rise with healing in its wings, sleep like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked and they will be ashes under the soles of your feet when I do these things,” says the Lord Almighty. That is the RRR in the corporate world that we need to live on – revering God’s word, and you will rise because the Lord son of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will be released, and you will have all freedom to be a witness in the marketplace.
#1: The HOW Principle
The person who really influenced our life was LT Jeyachandran. His Bible studies and his encouragement in the scripture were so deep and so encouraging to many people that the one hour that we spent in Bible study, wherever he did a Bible study, we were there. He developed a module called the Biblical Management Principles. I’m going to share a few of them and one of them is called the “HOW” Principle. Everybody knows about the story of King Solomon when he asked God for wisdom. You know what God said? He said, “You ask anything.” He said, “Give me wisdom.” When we say somebody is very wise, where do you look at him? You look at his head, right? That’s where everybody thinks wisdom is present. But the Word of God says wisdom is in the heart. The answer to the question “HOW” is in the question itself.
India’s motto is: Satyamev Jayate” (let truth always prevail). Solomon says, “Give me a discerning heart that I might distinguish between right and wrong.” Today, the world, the corporate world, the business world is trying to make the wrong look right and we are all falling prey to that. We need to ask God, “Lord, give me a heart of wisdom” because it’s so difficult. Sometimes, you are put into a job position where you cannot do things which they want to do.
I’m from a shipping background, and so it is quite a complex setting there. In the Kendriya Vidyalaya where I studied, they taught me: Asato mā sadgamaya,tamasomā jyotir gamaya, mrityormāamritam gamaya.” The phrase, ‘Asato mā sadgamaya,’ means from untruth to truth. That is about how Jesus brings from untruth to truth.
#2: The DEN Principle
The second principle that I learned was from the life of Daniel, which is the DEN Principle. It also matches with the theme of LeadTalks: purpose, excellence, and integrity. In Daniel chapter 6, it says Daniel distinguished himself as an administrator. He distinguished himself. Daniel not only distinguished himself, he had exceptional qualities. He was neither negligent nor corrupt. Integrity, which means to be neither negligent nor corrupt. How do you use this principle? He was 75 years old when he was in this situation. But of course, we all go through that. But what happens just exactly after that? You see, in the next chapter, he landed up in a very critical situation. He was in the den. It always happens to us in the corporate world.
People around you will strive for all kinds of things, and that’s what happened to Daniel’s story. He was put in a very critical situation. We could be in the same situation. It’s not the actual den, but it is the kind of complex situation that you will be put into.
Then because of that, over the period of years, we developed a module called the SLATE. We wanted to bring up young, talented people from underprivileged backgrounds who were very sharp and dynamic and wanting to do something for the Lord in the Nation. We wanted to encourage them. So we developed this module called SLATE, which means Servant Leader Aiming Towards Excellence. I will tell you why the servant leadership module came up because of the influence of Mother Teresa in my life.
#3: The WALL Principle
The next module is called the Wall Principle. The Wall principle says, Nehemiah Chapter 1-4, it talks about how Nehemiah wanted to do something to build that wall. When you are in the corporate world and you want to do something in your workplace in your corporate life, you will find all kinds of opposition, all kinds of opposition sometimes from within your own department, from within your own circles, and all kinds of situations. What Nehemiah did is what I’d like to leave with you, which I did in my corporate life. At one stage in my life, I was asked to take up a responsibility of handling India operations for logistics and all kinds of complex situations landed up. They wanted me to move here, move there, and all kinds of things. I used this Wall Principle at the time, because on my knees, the Lord opened the eyes of my understanding. Nehemiah wept in the presence of the Lord. If you read Daniel chapter 1, Nehemiah wept in the presence of the Lord. It is very nice to share in the corporate world, it is nice to share with so many people. To send a prayer request to all kinds of people is very good.
When you weep in the presence of the Lord, he will be able to give you wisdom and understanding to address the attack from the opposition. The attack from the opposition rests on people like Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. Sanballat and Tobiah were very, very close people to Nehemiah, they were just watching his moves and making complex problems by putting stumbling blocks. We must know that when we are doing something like this, we must let the Lord do a battle for us. Let the Lord do the battle for us. If you go to Nehemiah 4:20, you will understand that you should let the Lord do the battle for you, then lasting success will be ours.
#4: The FIG Principle
Next is the FIG Principle. When Jesus walked past the Fig Tree, he was very hungry and wanted to eat. He cursed the fig tree, not because of any other reason, not because there was no fruit on the tree, but because it was giving deceptive information. A fig tree which is full of leaves must bear fruit. So bearing fruit in season will not only be instrumental in your life but in the growth of others.
So, we once were in a place called Poovar Beach in Trivandrum, and I saw a fig tree. It is full of leaves and it has fruits. Our lives in the corporate world are to bear fruit for the Lord in the marketplace, not in just anything and everything that you see.
I’m in the shipping and market business, and after corporate life with the Tata team in the Tata NYK and Logistics heading into operations for many years, we moved into our own business. One of the things that we do is project cargo. We carry all kinds of heavy equipment moving from different parts of the world to India or moving out of India, which is more than 400-500 tons of equipment and the windmill blades and those kinds of things. But one of the things that happened is about the coastal RORO business. RORO means roll-on, roll-off, which means a vessel which we had where you can drive your vehicle into the ship and bring it out. One day, my partner told me, “I think the Government of India wants to start the RORO coastal business,” which means if you want to move your vehicles from south of India to west of India or east of India, instead of taking it all on the road by the huge trucks, we can move it. Chennai being the main hub for automobiles and the manufacturing units, we started the RORO business here, and we worked with the Government closely. So we started giving three solutions for the automobile manufacturers, and we gave some very unique, very simple solutions because God gave us wisdom. He allowed us to make it happen from our side for the first time.
One of the things was that Ashok Leyland was moving trucks from a place in the factory in Karnataka all the way driving down to Mumbai and then shipping into Colombo. I said, “It’s very simple, you just bring it to Chennai. We will ship it for you,” and we cut the cost for them. And these are things that we did, and we moved Ashok Leyland trucks from here to Bangladesh which they used to drive and take about 20 days to go on the road. We did it in about three-four days by allowing them to bring into Chennai, driving into a shifting. So what the government wanted is to basically reduce the carbon footprint on the highways. Because, if that many trucks are driving on the road, that much more carbon footprint will happen. So, we reduced the carbon footprint, and then when we first inaugurated the movement, the Government of India wanted to recognize it, and they came along and were with us.
Some of the people that influenced my life were JRD Tata, Narayan Murthy, Mother Teresa, and Abdul Kalam. Since I was in Calcutta, I had the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa and be with her, meet her very closely. It was not a big deal for Mother Teresa because meeting a rickshaw puller on the road or the Queen of England is the same for her. So, we had the opportunity to meet up with Mother Teresa and get influenced by her lifestyle. Mother Teresa’s life was the servant leadership principle that I learned, and I got very greatly influenced.
SLOT project is an initiative by a group of business people mainly from the shipping fraternity since June 2020. It’s in the worst-case scenario slum called Rajiv Gandhi Nagar near Perambur flyover and the main aim is to bring transformation with a focus on education. So, we have tuition centres for about 100 students, and the study centre and the library. We have medical camps, we do cleaning of the place and beautification, and in that also, we have anti-truck campaigns. In August 2021, we collaborated with the Greater Chennai Corporation and the scheme called the ‘Nammaku Naame Thittam’ in which we were able to participate in beautification of a fountain area, and where we got the entire place beautified. We use that as a source of inspiration for the children in the tuition centre. We got them to cut the ribbon and told them the moral of the story – how a dirty-looking place can be made beautified by all the efforts that we put in. In the same way, if they study well, their life and their entire future will become as beautified as the fountain.
One of the things that we did last was the Classic Games from 2008. We did about 14 albums. We did 250 Voice Square. It’s about 14 albums, and in the last four years, we found that 25 million viewers have watched Classic Games across the globe.