This is the story of a simple woman, a story of an Indian girl, born into a conservative family in Chennai, who went to the US to pursue higher studies and who while studying also worked as a receptionist from midnight to sunrise to earn money. Finally, after a lot of hardships she passed out from Yale University and got her first call for a job interview. She struggled hard and somehow managed to scrape together $50 to buy herself a western suit. Not having much idea about western wear, she landed up for the interview wearing a trouser that barely reached her ankles. She was rejected. Dejected and disheartened she turned to her professor at Yale for help, support and advice, and she got the simplest, yet best possible advice – “Be Yourself”. She wore a sari for her next interview and got the job. Today, Fortune ranks her as the most powerful woman in US business.
Yes, you guessed it – she is Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo. And the Indiaborn Nooyi has been named as the most powerful woman in the US business for four straight years now. This Queen of the business world, and my personal favourite, has shown the world how if you need to survive you need to change; you need to adapt and reinvent yourself. Today, if she continues to sit pretty at the top spot, it is because she has consistently changed and reinvented herself, in tune with the times. Her secret – “being visible”. According to her, people need to know that their CEO cares about them and has a realistic vision. She feels the need to see and be seen. After becoming CEO, Nooyi’s goal was to visit 80 countries in her first five years as CEO so that she could see and also be seen. This strategy seems to be working for her. It was during her visit to China that she saw the resurgent trend of people eating according to traditional Chinese medicine. She immediately knew she had to find ways to incorporate Chinese medicine into Pepsi- Co’s products. China is such a huge market after all and one could not ignore it at any cost. Clearly, just ‘being there’ can work wonders for you and your organisation and help you choose the right path.
GET OUT, GET NOTICED
It is a highly wired world that we are living in today. Technology is doing all it can to help you stay connected. Be it SMS or e-mails, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, or the latest craze – Twitter – all these have made ‘staying-in-touch’ easier. Yet, while searching for excellence decades ago, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman discovered a very simple and effective trick that great leaders and companies put into use extensively to manage people and work. They called it MBWA – Management by Wandering Around. The strength of an organisation lies in its informal communications. One needs to know who they work with, what drives them, what their passions are, what are their fears, their dreams – everything. You need to stay “intimately in touch,” says Tom Peters, “if you want to manage well.” E-mails, Twitter and others of their ilk fail here.
In 2004, Peters was asked to give a talk to retailers. He talked to experts, searched the web and prepared a beautiful speech. But it took merely two hours of wandering in and out of shops, for Peters to scrap this speech and write a better one. Those two hours helped him understand the retail environment better. His advice – get out of your cubical. The ability to go out and talk and understand is the most important skill. If you are just relying on e-mail, it’s time you stopped and pondered on the importance of human-touch. Excellent companies are a vast network of informal, open communication, which is only possible when there is an environment of trust. Walk around to build that environment. When people see you, they will know you better and trust you more. Read More....
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