You can, if you think you can: Part 1


This is what I roughly spoke at the the SICASA NATIONAL CONFERENCE in Chennai on Feb 5, 2015. Part 1 is here. Part 2 appears in the next blog

Good morning to all of you.

At the outset, let me make a confession. But you must give me a minute, to help me build the confession!

In the course of the last 2 years, I have spoken at a number of places, may be over 50, on a number of occasions. I have spoken to audience of different size, of different type, and of different age group… and I have spoken on different subjects.

A year, a year and a half ago, I spoke to a gathering of 3000 plus 1st year engineering students at the SRM University. And I spoke to them about “How to get the best out of engineering school”. About 4-6 months ago I was at a medical college. Speaking to a graduating class of 300 young house surgeons. And I talked to them about how their profession comes closest to being the profession of God. Recently, very recently, I spoke at a seminar of 250 women chartered accountants and I told them how there is no glass ceiling. And that if they were willing to look up, even the sky would not be the limit. 9 months to a year ago, I spoke at the Good Shepherd International School, Ooty. And there I spoke to 150 boys and girls of Class IX, X and XI about what are the study options available to them post Class XII.

Now let me come to my confession.

While I did enjoy each one of those sessions, and would love to relive them, I get the maximum punch, the adrenalin flows the most when I address chartered accounting students. They have become an integral part of my life. And that’s why whenever I am invited to speak at these gatherings, I accept them with rare speed. That’s why I am here to speak on You Can, if you think You Can.

In the run up to this talk, I the 48 hours leading to the preparation, I went through stories that have unfurled over the last 125 years, between 1890 and 2015, and have chosen some to buttress my points. You will therefore realize that all of these stories that I narrate, ten of them, all of them actually happened and will therefore resonate with you. Let’s begin with the first.

The year: 1963. The scene: a classroom at the hallowed precincts of the celebrated Harvard Business School. A young 32-year-old professor had just asked the class of 300 as to how many of them had written down their goals for the future. Yes. Their goals. In writing. And on paper. Only 3% of the class put its hands up. Yes only 9 of them.

The scene shifts to 1993. At the hallowed precincts of the celebrated HBS, the class of 1963 has assembled for a reunion. The professor, now 62, does a quick net-wealth check done. And believe me, he finds each one of those who had written down goals 30 years ago, had now a net-wealth, which was more than the combined net-wealth of the 291 others. The first step then, Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, in the “You can, if you think, you can is to have a GOAL”.

Let’s move in time and get to my next story. Let’s cut to 2008; to be precise, 26/11/2008. That when India froze; we sat glued to our television sets; as terrorists ran amuck. The day they held Mumbai under a siege.

That day and for the next two, the unsung hero of the unfurling drama was Karambir Kang. The General Manager of the Taj, Mumbai. Holed at a meeting in Bandra, 20 kms away from Nariman Point, he saw the start of the raid on television. And immediately decided to rush to his hotel. His friends told him he was mad. That it was dangerous. But he would have none of it. Even as terrorists took over the hotel, Kang walked in and lead his team from the front working non-stop for the next 3 days, without even going to sleep.

This even as he knew that the terrorists had taken over the 6th floor where his wife and children lived. This even as he guessed that they had perhaps gunned down his wife and children. That night he spoke to his father in faraway Bahrain. And his dad said “Do what you think is right.” And he said, “If the place goes down, I will be the last man going.” His teammates asked him to go home and rest, but he would have no of it. Can you beat that? A man working to save his teammates even as he realized that his private life had gone up in smoke. Once the siege was over, the Tatas made him a generous offered. Offered to move him out to any hotel in the Tata group anywhere in the world or to any other hotel anywhere. But the man said, “No. This is my home, and this is where I will stay.”

The message is simple. If you want to succeed, you must take responsibility. Remember, when you point an accusing finger at another person, 3 fingers point at you. So if you point at 5 persons, 15 fingers point at you. You have the maximum interest in your success. If it’s to be, its up to me, should be the credo. And you need to realize this thing about responsibility and about going beyond the call of duty.

My third story is from this video. Watch this and you will get a feel of it. (VIDEO runs)

The difference between water and steam is just that one-degree. One more push, and we would be up there. We finish second when 1 degree more would have helped finish first.

Recall the traffic light. Suppose the signal is about to turn amber. You could slow down and stop. Or, you could push the accelerator just that shade extra and you could race past, without jumping the signal. And you will find that you would be able to beat all the signals ahead while your friend who slowed down and stopped, stay stuck. The extra push helped. That saying about “at the Olympics, you don’t win silver, you lose goal” cannot be more true.

Put Effort, E for Effort.

Take a look at the picture. That’s Mt. Everest. Amongst the tallest peaks in the world. It stands majestic. 29,029 feet above mean sea level. After one of his many unsuccessful efforts to conquer Sir Edmund Hillary look up at it and said, “I will come again and conquer you. Because as a mountain you cannot grow. But as a human I can.”

Or, take Col., Sanders. He ran a modestly successful restaurant selling fried chickens. And then the construction boom happened and construction work lead to the demolition of his restaurant. He decided to sell his food through other restaurants. No one was willing. In fact he climbed 1018 restaurants. None of them were ready. And then the 1019th guy agreed. The rest as they say is history. Sanders’ KFC is today one of the most reputed food chains across the world. Sanders later said, “the way to success is to stay the course, don’t give up.”

Let me tell you another story. The year: 1938. The man: Karoly, Takacs. A sergeant in the Hungarian army, he was the favorite to win the gold medal in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. That year, in 1938, while at work, a grenade exploded in his right hand, his shooting hand and it had to be amputated. The dream had to go up in smoke. The following year he turned up at the Hungarian National Games. His friends were impressed. They said that it was remarkable that he had come to watch the game that he so passionately loved. He told them, he had come not to watch but to participate. They asked him how was he going to shoot without his shooting hand, the right hand. He told them he would shoot with his left hand, which was now his shooting hand. Needless to say he won the national championship shooting with his left hand. The 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled on account of the world war. And when he came in 1948 to Tokyo and in 1952 to Helsinki he won. “Never worry about what you lost” said Takacs.

That boy is Ambition. A for attitude; A for Attitude.

Lets get to our next story. This one is about a little boy and a little girl. I am sure you will like it. A little boy was playing with a lot of marbles and his friend a little girl who was watching him was eating a lot of candies. The boy wanted to have the candies. So they made a deal. The boy would give her all the marbles that he had in his pocket. And she would give him all the chocolates that she had with her. They did that. The girl gave away all her chocolates. The boy gave away all the chocolates except one large one, which he loved and so retained in his pocket. That night the little boy could not sleep, tossing around wondering whether the girl too like he had done with the marbles, pocketed the best candies. The girl slept peacefully.

This is about Trust, T for trust.

Contd… in next blog

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About Pattabhi Ram

A chartered accountant by profession, a writer by passion and a teacher by accidental choice.
This entry was posted in SPEECH and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to You can, if you think you can: Part 1

  1. ICSE Helper says:

    Reblogged this on Helpline for ICSE Students (Class 10) and commented:
    PART 1
    An inspiring read! Do take time out to read this article. 🙂
    Stay motivated!

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