Corporate Lessons from a Comedian!

Sometimes comedians can make serious sense! The other day I was watching an interviewwith Vadivelu by Divyadarshini (popularly known as DD) in the famous Koffee with DD show in Star Vijay. Vadivelu is a legendry comedian in Tamil movie industry and is an institution by himself for the space he has carved out with audience through his unique wit and humour.

While the intention was to get entertained by Vadivelu through his humorous response, I was suddenly stuck by something that he said in the middle. When queried on what are the three things that he learnt in his 25 years of acting in Kollywood (Tamil film industry), he responded as follows:

  1. I learnt my acting while in the industry

  2. Never trust what people say in front of you

  3. You can sustain only so long as you produce successes. You are out once you fail

Let us run through this in the corporate world and see how much it resonates.

Lesson 1: Learn while you earn

The corporate world expects you to have sufficient qualification and experience before being trusted with a position. It expects you to come totally prepared so that you can fire from day one. Hence this clamour for credentials from superior institutions (IIT’s and IIM’s) and the craving to have star names in your CV. The corporate world perceives the function to be a job and a process to be driven smoothly. If only it is wired along the lines of the movie industry where it is tolerant for someone like Vadivelu to learn while on the job , it could have produced many more leaders today.

Lesson 2: Never trust what people say in front of you

Vadivelu opines that it is nearly impossible to decipher the true intentions when people say something to you. In other words, they may shower laurels and praises about all your past achievements just to appease your ego, while on the back they may shamelessly bitch you according to him. The challenge lies in detecting that and find your winning ways. While this applies to most fields in our lives, it is particularly evident in the corporate world especially as you climb higher in hierarchy. However, the intensity of such false allurements may be less in the corporate world especially in surroundings where professionals are engaged. The need to be ethical may force few to be upright in terms of feedback and may not resort to “back biting”. But that would be a minority I suppose.

Lesson 3: You can sustain only so long as you produce successes. You are out once you fail

In other words, only performance and performance alone matters. Legacy cannot support you even one bit. I see this apply in several other fields like sports, medicine, etc other than government bureaucracy! In such a scenario, learning from failures becomes equally if not more important than to clock success.

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