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My 60 minutes with a billionaire

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3 powerful business lessons to take away

And how do you actually meet a billionaire?

Either you pitch to one, meaning you are a big shot start-up guy pitching to them a la Shark Tank. Or you bump into a selfie moment during some public function.

Or you if you are really influential and have platinum connections you might get introduced or do business with billionaires like art collectors and extremely HNI wealth advisors.

I am none of the above.

Mr. Sajjan Jindal, chairman of the JSW Group is an Indian new age billionaire, made his wealth from Steel. He is a also a big philanthropist, works hard and has his heart in the right place.

He not only has massive dreams of diversifying the group into multiple sectors like power, infrastructure and electric cars but also wants scalable impact to the communities around his assets using CSR and his own Foundations.

Suggested reading: Discomfort is your biggest coach.

How did this meeting come about?

You got be prepared all the time and anticipate the outcome all the time. Luck just shows up.
I am the sale guy that brings in business to our tier 2 bpo centers that employ hundreds of women.

This is one project that Sajjan Jindal and his wife are truly passionate about.

It’s a project about impact, scale and a transformation of women.

My success in this small project somehow wasn’t all lost on Sajjan Jindal however I was waiting for my chance to meet him.

  • In 2014, I met him for 2 minutes when he shook my hand like he did with so many others in a conference.
  • In 2016, he wanted to meet me at his office however the meeting was abrupt because of his pre-occupations.
  • In 2017, he called for a review of my business and once again he was rushing out. And to my horror, he didn’t like that I started the review with a foretell as to how jobs are getting lost due to robotics automation.

Persistence is the mother of all luck

On 15th of May 2018, he wanted a detailed review of my business and was willing to give me a full hearing of 30 minutes.

This was good and now that I really had luck on my side, he set up another meeting on June 3rd for another 30 minutes, to understand a little deeper on some of my ideas on inorganic growth.

So in total a 60 minutes of real world MBA that was unleashed by a billionaire, tycoon and a magnate.

1. Health means everything

Cliché, isn’t it?

He was straight like a rod and made me look like a midget and slob because of all my over- weight.

He runs more than 10 kms everydays across the Marine drive, eats very little and does heavy weights every alternate day.

I met one of his personal trainers, a Polish guy who can make good Indian models look dull and I soon realized he is not investing in his business, he is investing on himself first.

Whats the point in having billions and watching television from a hospital room?

He looks terribly fit for a 59 year old and has amazing confidence in his gait and posture.

Unlike so many family led businesses, who don’t give importance to fitness and health, Sajjan Jindal is a role model to the sporting community and all the 35000 JSW employees who want to look like him and work like him.

It is no surprise that under the JSW group’s auspice so many Asiad and Olympic medallists have been groomed.

JSW group owns the Bengaluru FC team which is the only team from India to reach an Asian football tournament’s finals.

He also owns the Haryana Steelers Kabaddi team and are also the co-owners to Delhi Daredevils.
There is nothing better than a great body. Your wealth can make others feel good but your body will make your feel good.

The lesson learnt: If you can’t take care of your own body, you don’t have lot of hopes in running a business and taking care of others. It starts with your health.

2. Protect your time

What is the most expensive commodity in the world, more priceless than all the diamonds and the oil this world? It’s our TIME.

It can’t be added, multiplied or replenished. All that can be done with time, is use it.

So how do we use the most precious commodity of all — use it where it can generate value or love or both.
Sajjan Jindal, like all billionaires with all their multiple pre-occupations and massive internal drives, carefully choose where they need to show up and spend that precious time.

They ask —

  1. Whether spending that time with a specific person or a group will create value for himself, or his employees or any other stakeholders?
  2. Or will it help in multiplying more love in the form of great family time.

It’s such a simple way of time management.

No more segregation, to do lists or juggling around multi-tasking.

Now that we have committed to give that time to an idea or now it’s time to really filter what is best for the cause.

Sajjan Jindal during both of the meetings never carried his phone, looked at me like a hawk and was drinking deeply to whatever I was saying never interrupting even for a moment.

He never had any of his assistants disturb him with “important” matters — this helped me to get some quality time of a billionaire who was able to give me great guidance and inputs on scale.

Lesson learnt: Be in that moment. Never in the past or in the future. Commit to that time that you have blocked.

3. Invest on great people and team

I’m guessing billionaires hate wasting time more than wasting their money or resources.
Hearing from so many others who have worked in close quarters with him, it’s a common trait in him to get things done, whatever it takes.

If he has spent that time hearing me out and has committed to support me with money, resources, and mentoring me he better get the results.

There is no two ways about it.

If for a moment he feels this job can’t be done by me, he would either drop me and get someone else more capable or drop the project than going through lot of heartburn in salvaging the remains and licking his wounds.

His mantra lies in getting the best rally around him for large projects, people who are fast, agile and will get things done.

He would then empower them with authority, expertise, money and his own time.

Talent spotting comes to those who have worked in the middle of their own men.

No wonder JSW group in a short 20 plus years in one of the largest steel companies in the world and is now poised to beat the biggest in India who have been there for centuries before.

Sajjan Jindal has grown himself by working on the smelter shops, the production units of his steel plant and knows the workings of the machines, maybe better than his some of the workers.

A leader gets respect not when he knows more than his own men but when he is willing to learn from his own men.

Lesson learnt: people mean everything. We are because of the people we associate and avoid. Assemble the best and commit to work with the best only. Don’t compromise ever.

In closing

I would say it was waiting to happen that I would meet Sajjan Jindal.

I had the belief in me.

All I had to do was to really shine in my work and the rest as they luck made it happen.

And now I can safely say –“ I have met some millionaires during my career however these billionaires are a league apart. “

It’s not just the number of zeroes that gets added when you move from a millionaire to a billionaire or the alphabet change from an M to a B, but it’s the choices that we make during the journey.

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