Quotes by some of the most influential leaders of Indian origin

The global leadership landscape has undergone immense transformation in the past few years. Individuals from the Indian diaspora have elevated themselves to some of the most pivotal positions in leading conglomerates. From IT to policymaking to FMCG, we as a global powerhouse, have covered the entire gamut of the economy. This has changed the worldview, and earned for the nation new found respect.

What drives the very finest of the lot to keep the torch of excellence ablaze? It’s their ability to not rest on their laurels, but to keep pushing the envelope of excellence further. Let’s hear it from a few of them:

Satya Nadella

Satya Narayana Nadella’s life is a classic rags-to-riches folklore. An Indian American business executive, he rose from the humble, middle-class background of Hyderabad to become the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of Microsoft, succeeding Steve Ballmer in 2014.Before becoming CEO, he was Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group. A son of a civil servant, his staggering rise documents a phenomenal work ethic, unfailing perseverance, and real grit. Some of his gems:

“Success can cause people to unlearn the habits that made them successful in the first place.”

On the importance of staying level-headed when met with success. The process is sacrosanct, and cannot be compromised on.

“Learning to fly is not pretty but flying is.”

Again, he speaks about how we must respect the journey, which makes arriving at the destination all worth it.

“The importance of putting your team first, ahead of your personal statistics and recognition.”

Always a team player, here, Nadella elaborates on the importance of personal sacrifice to enable team goals.

“Passion, toil, and training can help you to soar.”

There’s no substitute to hard work. Each of the true greats will vouch for this, and he’s no different.

“Our industry does not respect tradition. What it respects is innovation.”

In a culture of change, Nadella emphasizes on the value of placing innovation over sentimentalism.

Sundar Pichai

Pichai, the CEO of Google Inc.and formerly the Product Chief of Google, is yet another sparkling example of how determination can help you rise like a phoenix from the proverbial ashes. What began as a personal quest in a two-bedroom apartment in Chennai has culminated in a worldwide movement. His musings are enlightening:

“Wear your failure as a badge of honor.”

Your failure acts guiding lights, so wear your scars with a grin and learn from the mistakes.

“A person who is happy is not because everything is right in his life, he is happy because his attitude towards everything in his life is right.”

About having the right set of values and a good attitude in place, as fundamentals to ensuring sustainable happiness in life.

“At Google, we have an ambitious approach to things we do, we call it Moon shots.”

‘Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star,’ said W. Clement Stone, another great. Here, Pichai refers to the loftiness of the aspirations at Google, which makes it a standout company.

“We try to work on things which billions of people will use every day.”

On the importance of working on things that people care about, can relate to, get affected by, and get inspired by.

“Good companies do whatever it takes.”

Borrowing from the Google experience, here he refers to the key differentiator: the willingness to go past obvious avenues and try new way of exploration, which sets the ‘me toos’ apart from the pioneers.

Ajit Jain

Born July 23, 1951 in Orissa, Jain is the Vice Chairman of Insurance Operations for Berkshire Hathaway.Raised in India’s coastal state of Orissa, the once-small-towner is now the protégé of Warren Buffet. Enough said? Here are a few of his most memorable quotes:

“To have a boss like Warren [Buffett], is even better than having no boss at all.”

His adoration for his idol is evident here, while he explains how one can completely get transformed when guided by a virtuoso.

“Once we’ve made a deal, we’ve made our bed and we have to lie in it.”

How responsibility is all about taking complete ownership of your actions.

“It’s very easy to work for a human being who’s rational and very clear about what is it that’s important…”

On the importance of possessing clear-headedness as a vital quality to ensuring success.

“Lots of capital, patient capital, and a real stomach to put that capital to risk.”

On how one can go about building a business empire. Aspiring tycoons, kindly take note!

“It’s the ability to make a decision in spite of the uncertainly, to act and move on…”

Jain underlining that the ability to shake off disappointment, fend speculation and act decisively can play a key role in your growth.

Indra Nooyi

Nooyi is yet another luminary from the rich legion of Indian-born Americans who head global bigwigs. The Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue in 2006, she has consistently ranked among the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. A few of her thoughts:

“I am a mother first, then a CEO and then a wife.”

- The lady with a fizz

Defining her primary ‘human’ role as a creator, before being an entrepreneur or a partner.

“Turbulence is the beginning of a fruitful process of transformation.”

On accepting pain and tribulations as essentials to the process of growth.

“You cannot deliver value unless you anchor the company’s values. Values make an unsinkable ship.”

About how getting aligned to your company’s philosophy can help you become unbeatable as a unit.

“As a leader, I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody; however, I am very caring because I want people to excel at what they are doing so that they can aspire to be me in the future.”

On how she balances her professional and emotional quotients to get the best out of life.

“We are not guided by elections. We are guided by potential of India. We are not waiting for any election results to invest in India. We are investing in India for its economic story.”

On her staunch pro-growth, non-political stance.

Ajay Banga

Ajaypal “Ajay” Singh Banga, an Indian American business executive and currently the president and CEO of MasterCard, is a renowned expert in the investment sector. His life insights are pragmatic and profound. Here are a few:

“We have the internet of everything. But not the inclusion of everyone.”

He vocalizes his views on the paradox of universal access, and how the exclusion of some people affects lives globally.

“People will value you for your transparency, your decency and your sense of purpose.”

Your integrity is everything, and that’s what you will be respected for, feels Banga.

“First, you can’t go it alone. If we’re going to have a true impact on financial inclusion, we must work together on behalf of the 2.5 billion who are currently excluded.”

On financial inclusion, and how all-inclusivity can ensure a fair society.

“I believe that data is the new oil. I am saying it in this country because I believe that the prosperity that oil brought in the last 50 years, data will bring in the next 50, 100 years if you use it the right way”

His take on the Big Data and IoT explosion is an interesting one, and so is the analogy he draws.

“You can change the entire feel and look of a company by making people realize that they’re not empowered to say no. They’re empowered to say “yes, if.” It changes the bureaucracy, the culture, the passion, the purpose, it changes everything.”

On how being proactive and not reactive, works in favor of the individual and the organization as a whole.

The writing is on the wall

The disarming simplicity and humility of these legends and the utmost discipline with which they lead their lives will continue to act as guiding lights for us, to help us find our unique path to greatness.

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