An Unconventional Corporate
At about 9.30 a.m., they left for the office in Whitefield. Just when they were about to leave the house, Brahma said, as if in deep thought, “You know my office is in Whitefield. Many people do business or live in Whitefield but nobody questions why the place is named so. “We have a habit to accept the present world automatically as long as it doesn’t impact our personal lives adversely. Only if it is an obstacle or an opportunity, we try to know it or change it; otherwise we are fine with whatever that is around us, we choose to become oblivion. We usually live in a certain inherent state of ignorance that keeps us in the game of misery or in the game of this world.” Daksh and Anahad nodded and remembered how many times in their lives they had chosen to do only what is required and forgot to even observe some important things that were happening in their immediate environment. There was a great deal of truth behind Brahma’s statement and it hit them like a wave. After about 45 minutes of heavy traffic, they reached the office.
While climbing into the lift in the RAGA building, Daksh asked, “Brahma, I have been into business all my life but have always wondered what kind of people work in big unconventional corporates like yours. Mine was a small one so I never got an answer to it.” Brahma replied, “You know, people have very different concepts regarding corporates. Some think that it is only the nasty, aggressive, competitive people who can survive in such a fast changing market. Some think that only those who are very jealous of each other or are very competitive can become successful here. Some think that only skilled people can climb the corporate ladder here. But in my experience, I have seen all kinds of people climbing the corporate ladder and yet no one is really happy. Their work gives them pleasure for some time and that is all that sustains them.” Anahad said, “If I accept your concept that corporates are a nasty place to be in, even for some people, then why do you think they are continuing?” Daksh replied, “Because corporates have been able to provide the concept of working in-group which, in my view, has given them the reason to survive and grow. We, as humans, unknowingly enjoy human interactions and if we are made to work in groups, we begin to identify ourselves as the group and not as individuals. The common energy created, keeps employees working. Office becomes your second home and you get into a comfort zone that is not very easy to leave. “Also, the feeling of being free and financially independent as a youth, and being away from any parental control are also some of the things that keep them going. Some people join big corporates to live a life, some join to earn a lot of money, some join just to pass time and some join to learn. They have acted as an inlet for all the requirements. The company, in itself, is a living entity. It finds its people. Just like in colleges, people learn here too. But the only difference is that you have no option but to work and perform. ”
“Or switch,” quipped in Anahad. The lift reached the top floor. Brahma’s secretary stood up and greeted them. Brahma took them to the office and said, “Do you feel a sense of liveliness in this office?” Daksh said, “Yes, there is a sense of direction and freedom. I think Vaastu shastra is the reason behind this.” Brahma said, “Exactly! This has been built according to Vaastu. Humanity has reached to a point in time where we don’t sell land anymore; we sell space. By this I mean that all the thirty-six floors in this building are built on the same small piece of land. The people here are paying for the empty space above the land and not for the plot of land.” Sitting down, Anahad asked smilingly, “Tell us, Brahma, how do you do what you do?” Brahma smiled and answered, “First I will tell you, in brief, about the company’s vision, it is based upon three basic principles:
1. Profit sharing
2. Empowering people
3. Profit generation for social cause or upliftment
“Tendencies like money hoarding and gaining authority over others cannot build a strong business. As for operations, we have our associate factories that manufacture medicines in Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Shimla, Gangtok, and Imphal and internationally, in Kathmandu in Nepal. They manufacture different categories of medicines depending upon the demographics and availability of raw material. The people heading them are my colleagues from college time who are also committed to creating holistic alternatives to modern medicine. Even the work culture in these factories is very different. All the workers, before starting their day’s work, do prayers. We have our R&D department in Varanasi as well as Bangalore. The reason of setting it in Varanasi is to look into the scriptures and talk to religious leaders as they often live in or visit this city. What we learn in Varanasi, we pass on to our Bangalore division, to help them improve their processes and products. Basically, our approach is science with spirituality. Our complete marketing department is in Delhi and it looks into the national and international sales. Our central HR and payroll department is in Bangalore in this building and our IT, Customer care and finance department is in Mumbai. We are basically present in all parts of the country. “The other major product we work with is music; music for healing and relaxation. That also takes its directions from the R&D department in this building. We hire people from IIMs and IITs as managers and sound & vibration engineers and give them a conducive and creative environment to work. Our retention rates with our employees are close to 90 percent which is the highest in the country.” Anahad asked, “How is the retention rate so high?” Brahma said, “As I told you earlier, we give them higher salary packages and more flexibility and freedom in work. We have no fixed time to punch in attendance; they can come at eleven in the night and go back at four in the morning, and we have no problem with that. Flexibility and employee welfare are the keys to good governance for a company. That is what I have tried to follow.” Anahad said, “Wonderful, I really like your way of working. The companies where I have worked have been very stringent toward timings and cared the least about employee welfare. Following your philosophy, each and every employee will become a creative center and will automatically contribute toward the company’s growth.” Brahma said, “Exactly. That is what we are aiming at. “Okay, I will finish my work in two hours or so and then we can have lunch and leave for Mumbai.
Till then I will ask Jeet to show you around. You will understand better when you yourself see our company’s working. Later, I will share about our social entrepreneurial systems in the car.” Jeet took them around to take a look in different departments located on different floors of the building, first taking them to the R & D department, on the 33rd floor, saying, “This is my favorite place in this building. It’s the most happening. I simply love it.” As soon as they entered in to the department, they felt as if they had entered in an elite university’s reading and recreational room. It was a luxurious, lavishly set up hall with people sitting in pairs or in groups on sofas. Some were sprawled around on the futons or floors, reading and some were standing in the balcony, enjoying the view. There were all kind of recreational facilities like an indoor swimming pool, a gym, a table tennis court and even a small lawn tennis court. There was a running track going around the floor. Daksh pointed his finger toward a door, which said, ‘meditation room’, and spoke, “Now that is typically Brahma’s idea for relaxation.” Jeet replied, “Yes, absolutely. He comes here once or twice a week and leads them through guided meditations. In fact, the people here wait for those sessions.” Anahad said, “Wow, I am jealous! Why didn’t I work in such an upmarket, creative culture in my life? We spent all our energies doing the same routine over and over again and the remaining energy in climbing the corporate ladder which was not at all fulfilling even when I reached the top.” Daksh said, “I’m thinking the same thing, my dear. But time cannot be reversed. Let’s talk to these people about their experiences and learn more.” Jeet took them to the HOD (Head of the Department) and introduced them. He also requested the HOD to share his own experiences. The HOD agreed. He started, “I joined this organization when Brahma had just returned from Haridwar after ten years of sanyas. “He must have been in his early forties. He had acquired the knowledge of Vedas and medicines from sages in Rishikesh and Haridwar and wanted to create something tangible out of it for the benefit of the society. At that time I was working for an IT consulting firm as R & D head and I met him at one of his lectures on our campus as a guest faculty. I was so impressed by him that I immediately decided to join him, and I have never regretted since. “I don’t know why, but he chose me for research and development for ayurvedic medicines and asked me to list all kind of physical ailments that people have. I had no such experience but because of his faith in me, things started falling in place and I was amazed about it. He gave me the money he had saved from his tenure as a professor in a premier engineering institute of the country. So, we founded this company in 1990. Guess what would be the first department that a company generally launches?” Daksh said, “Production if it is in manufacturing sector. Marketing or operations if in service sector.”
The HOD said, “In our company, the R&D department was the first one. We had only one cabin and we used to do just this all day long, study and research about ayurvedic medicines and find harmless ways to cure human ailments.” Anahad said, “I’m speechless! That means that the foundation of such a creative culture was laid back then.” “Absolutely,” the HOD beamed. He then took them to each and every chamber of the department to show them all the product lines and their techniques of researching. He also introduced them to some of the most talented researchers recruited from India and abroad. Daksh said, “You are telling all this in brief but even then it is so complex. My God, it is one hell of a job!” Jeet said, “No, sir! One heaven of a job.” And all of them started laughing. Suddenly Jeet’s cellphone rang. It was Brahma. He asked him to bring both of them to the car, as they were ready to leave for Mumbai. When Jeet told both of them that it was time to leave, they were surprised at how fast the time had passed. They thanked the HOD and took his leave. All three packed into the car and were set to leave. Daksh, being a businessman, asked a very important question, “Don’t you ever fear to leave your office and travel? I mean don’t you feel insecure about mismanagement in the operations or finances in your absence. You may have trustworthy people but nothing can make up for your own physical presence.” Brahma replied beautifully, “First, this question proves that you are or were a businessman; that is why it struck you. And secondly, the secret is to streamline your operations to the maximum extent possible, with appropriate usage of technology coupled with human resource, turning it into an autopilot mode. After that, keep the business running automatically by just attending to the lapses that come after the initial run. Also, along with all this, be dispassionate about your business. Your selfless attitude toward the set-up and promoting your staff above you, so that they unlock their hidden potential is the answer to your question. In short, just being patient and selfless.” Anahad replied, “You make things look so simple, Brahma.” Hearing this, Daksh asked, “Brahma, why are you doing so much for us, I wanted to ask this from Vashisht but then he sent us to meet you.” Brahma replied, “Because you are human beings; or in more literal terms, living organisms. Why do we always want something in return, some favor for whatever we do for others? Just look around you. Does nature want anything in return for whatever it is giving you? Nature does not tax you for vegetables, fruits, sunlight and water. The nature of nature is simply to give and that is what we are all here for. It’s just that we were sent to change a corrupted, selfish system but, somehow, we ourselves became a part of it. Freedom only means this realization that we are here to serve others in any way possible.” Daksh and Anahad said, in one voice, “Absolutely, boss!” They were traveling from Bangalore to Mumbai. Brahma intended to stop at Pune, on the way to meet one of his old friends.
“Is there any specific purpose of meeting this friend of yours? I mean what is his profile?” asked Anahad. Brahma replied, “He is a retired director from a premier M.B.A. institute in Pune. Now, he does part time consulting with educational institutions on various aspects like educational pedagogies, teachers training etc. and the important part for which I want you to meet him is that he runs our entire social enterprise network in India. In short, he is the man who taught me how to professionalize and corporatize social service. “You know there is this thinking that you need to professionalize and corporatize your work only when you are making profits out of it. The social service domain has always been kept as an optional work and for amateurs. This man taught me how we can create systems based on voluntary mechanisms both in terms of people management and wealth generation, which will keep the social enterprise systems sustainable and efficient. He named it as ‘Reverse thinking’ and that is exactly what the society needs today.” Daksh replied, “Another interesting man! How do you find such interesting and intelligent people?” He replied, “When you have common interests, nature will plan for your congregation. He also met me in Haridwar when I was there for about ten years or so.” Anahad replied, “Yes, your HOD told us about this. We would also like to know about this experience of yours and your coming back to this world. Many of your employees are people you met there. There must be something extraordinary going around with you at that time.” Brahma replied with a sense of secrecy, “Sure. We will talk about this too, someday.”