The book has been very well translated by Saroj Kumar.
Chum Lo Jahan Ko will take the message of the original to a much wider audience and I am very happy about that. After all, it is written for young people from the other India. Meanwhile, like all of you, I am waiting for “The Professional” to make its debut and I hope all of you will let me know what you think of it.
When I was writing the book, I reached out to a set of professionals whom I deeply admire: doctors, managers, software architects, bankers, journalists. These are people I call “professional’s professional”. I had asked them for three things:
1. Qualities they think essential to be a called a professional
2. A positively uplifting anecdote of professional behavior and
3. One negative anecdote they have come across in their dealings with other professionals
In response to my request, Scott Staples, co-founder of MindTree and currently CEO of our Knowledge Services, had this great story of a rookie salesman:
Ethylene Glycol is widely used in the manufacturing of plastics, but most people are not aware that this is also the key ingredient for manufacturing automotive antifreeze. In the late 1980’s, the U.S. had a number of issues at plants that manufacturer Ethylene Glycol and hence a spike in pricing for automotive antifreeze occurred due to a lack of product in the market. Automotive antifreeze and other automotive after-market products are primarily sold in the market by local distributors. But the manufacturers of these products also sell in a limited direct channel as well through the use of manufacturer’s representatives. Jeff Lang was a direct salesman for one of these manufacturers. Jeff was new to sales, new to the business world, and just 23 years old. Normally, local gasoline (petrol) stations buy their products from the local distributors, but occasionally the manufacturers run direct specials and people like Jeff go and push these across their territories. One summer, Jeff was asked by his boss to push automotive antifreeze to local gasoline stations as the price had skyrocketed and there were fears that it would go much higher. Since antifreeze is typically sold in the fall and winter months, it was a perfect time for local gasoline stations to start stock-piling product. The manufacturer was offering some discounts to entice buyers, but the product had to be bought in bulk (by truckload) and that is a lot of product for a small business owner to invest in. Jeff had convinced a local gasoline station owner to make this purchase before the fall set in and the price went up higher. The man owned three stations and could probably push 1/2 of a truckload in an entire season, plus he needed financing, and a place to store it. Jeff contacted another station owner nearby who was also interested in making this deal but had the same constraints. Being a good salesperson, Jeff got them to split a truckload of antifreeze, found them a small warehouse to store it in, and arranged financing. He made this deal happen and walked away with a signed contract. He had only sold one prior deal (much smaller and not antifreeze) for his new company, so this was big news. His boss was ecstatic and Jeff was happy to finally be making some commission money. He had a signed contract, but had not yet submitted it to the home office as all orders were sent in on Fridays and this was still early in the week. Later in the week, Jeff got some astonishing news. A very large Ethylene Glycol plant was coming back online after being down for a year with damage from a fire. The price of automotive antifreeze would dramatically drop because product would now be available. He immediately thought of his two small business owners who had a huge investment in a product they could now not sell. They had made the deal at absolutely the worst time possible and they would have to sell the product at a loss. This would mean financial ruin for them as they were way over-exposed. Jeff had the contract in-hand and it could not be cancelled, but he had not yet submitted it to the home office. He immediately tore it up and called the two business owners to let them know what happened. He would make no commission and his boss was furious. Jeff made the ultimate professional decision, because a bad deal is not good for anyone. He saw his business on a larger-scale and determined one bad transaction was not worth his reputation in the market and his professionalism. This was not an easy decision for a 23 year old kid looking to make his mark at a new company, but it was a decision that propelled his career because from that point forward he chose to be a professional, not a salesperson.
In the days ahead, I would like to share with you all, a few more such stories from the lives of everyday people who are worthy of being called professionals.
That tag does not come with a degree or a diploma: it comes from the way we conduct ourselves. The Professional, soon to be in your hands, is all about that.