25 April 1998, does anyone know the importance of this day? It is neither birthday of my current girlfriend nor wedding anniversary of my past girlfriend. It is just a random day to grab everyone’s attention. An attention grabbing beginning is essential for a great writing, correct?
Let me stop kidding, that was an unforgettable day in my career life. On that day, I had my first performance appraisal discussion with my manager. I was excited; my salary hike was going to be decided based on that discussion. But my manager had different plans; he didn’t allow me to talk on that meeting. Instead, he bombarded me with advices. The essence of the advice was – ‘Manoj, we are living in a global village. Be a global citizen if you want to survive in this industry. Be ready to embrace other cultures. You are compared against the engineers from other countries’. When my manager paused for breath, I informed, I’m ready to embrace anything and anyone if that leads to a salary hike.
Immediately I started searching in Google for books titled, ‘Global citizenship in 24 hours’, ‘Global citizenship for dummies’, but couldn’t find any. I searched, searched and searched until Google was tired. At the end, I developed my own four steps plan to become a global citizen. Though none of the universities had offered me an honorary doctorate, I was pleased with my findings.
Here starts mission Manoj++.
As first step, whenever I had an opportunity to cite an example during office meetings, instead of using names like Rajesh or Suresh, I started using Brian, Charlie, Monica. My own wordings preceded with, ‘Brian mentioned’, ‘Charlie stated’ and ‘Monica proclaimed’ was very well accepted by my teammates. Frequent usage of such names gave an impression to the team that I was started thinking like a global citizen.
I heard my friends murmuring; ‘Manoj started thinking globally…’
Second, I made a revolutionary observation about Indian office premises. I wrote a detailed e-mail to senior management about their lack of vision in making Indian employees think globally. The unavailability of toilet papers in India office toilets is blocking Indian employees to think from a global perspective. To initiate any cultural change, I know, the best way is to lead by example. I bought two rolls of toilet papers and kept at my desk. During team meetings, I promoted myself as a marketing executive of toilet papers.
I heard my friends whispering; ‘Manoj started thinking globally…’
Third step was to marry a foreign lady. That was the best way to demonstrate spirit of a true global citizen. I published my profile in different country’s matrimonial portals. Hollywood heroes are muscle men. Before meeting my prospective brides, I joined best available gym in Bangalore. First day, I was confused with wide range of devices available in the gym. I approached master of that gym and stated my requirement, “I want to impress a foreign lady within two weeks’ time. So which device can I start using”? Master took me near to the window and showed a device on the ground floor and informed, “You start using that device to impress a girl either from India or from foreign. With lot of expectations I rushed towards the ground floor, but to my surprise, it was as an ATM. After that I dropped the plan to get married.
As part of fourth step, I changed my eating style. I’m from a small Indian village where my house is surrounded with paddy fields and toddy shops. As part of our culture, I’m comfortable to eat with my hands. To become a global citizen and to march towards a salary hike, I decided to change my eating style.
One fine morning I met my manager in office cafeteria. I took a nearby table and kept all devices collected from the counter – four types of spoon, two forks and a knife. I brutally cut idaly into twelve pieces, took one piece of idaly on a fork, dipped it in a bowl of sambar then took half t-spoon of chatni and carefully rolled it over idly, with the precision of Picasso moving his brush over a canvas. I was enjoying the color combination of sambar mixing with chatni on an Idaly canvas. How beautiful was that? I was about to eat it, but my manager had already moved towards wash area. I rushed to his side and exchanged pleasantries.
While we were walking back to our work building, I noticed a short old man at the corner of cafeteria licking his fingers after his breakfast. I felt that was a good occasion to discuss my progress towards global citizenship and to avail the pending salary hike. I told my manager,
look, this old man is still not ready to embrace other cultures like me.
Manager stopped walking and stared at me as if I have two heads. I turned towards the side mirror and checked, no I have only one. I waited there, like a batsman waiting for third umpire’s decision. After few minutes he asked,
do you know who is that old man sitting at the corner?
I don’t know him but I’m sure, he is not flexible enough to adapt other cultures like me.
This time he put his hand over my shoulder and informed,
that is the owner of this organization who brought business from different countries.
Mission Manoj++ dragged me into an isolated stage where I became Manoj–. After all, wisdom comes from experience and we gain experience from our mistakes. The series of mistakes I made in pursuit of a salary hike helped me to reinvent myself. After that, I never changed my character for money or honour. I learned to analyse situation and act accordingly, which gradually helped me to progress in my career.