At INSIGHT 2013, Bloomberg TV’s Vivek Law discussed business and recession with Sadhguru and Dr. Ram Charan, one of the world’s leading business advisors. Here’s an excerpt.

Tackling a Slowdown

Vivek Law: Let me begin with you, Sadhguru. You wrote that “If you have money in your pocket, it is great. Only if it enters your head, it becomes a perversion.” Right now, there is a real fear that the money is not even coming into the pocket. What do we do in times like these?

Sadhguru: The money is still going into someone’s pocket, though maybe not into a kind of pocket that will use it to create wellbeing and wealth for humanity at large.

When there is a certain slowdown, times hurt because you have prepared yourself in terms of man, material, everything, for a certain speed. Suddenly, when there is slowdown, you have excess capacity and not enough to do. When such a thing happens, normally, most companies in the world go for retrenchment. They want to cut down their staff. There is a difference between cutting down on your stocks of material and cutting down on people who work for you. Modern management tends to treat both the same way.

I would say there is a different way to approach this. Instead of cutting down people, why not sit down with them and let them take a cut on their salary and use the saved amount to retrain them into a new possibility? There may be a slowdown in your current field of activity, but there are definitely other opportunities. You can use such a time to retrain yourself and people around you and retool everything. If, instead of looking at it as recession, you look at it as a period of rest, after a while you could come back into activity with much more vigor. Rest is the basis of all activity. If the business is getting a little bit of rest, it could be a phenomenal advantage – unless the rest lasts for too long.

In the present situation, the rest will not last for too long because businesses are not limited to geographical boundaries. People can always rejig themselves and move to other areas where they could function better. There are many possibilities. But fundamentally, instead of cutting back on human resources, why not bring them in in a friendly manner and ask them to share the burden and keep their colleagues. That way, you can pass through this period of rest with a certain level of bonding and togetherness and be ready for the next level of action.

Global Economic Outlook

Vivek Law: Ram, do you believe the global situation is going to get better sooner than later?

Ram: Yeah. Let me make three points. Point number one ¬– I totally agree with Sadhguru. Point number two – I see by the fourth quadrant next year [2014] a global economy running at 4.5 %. I clearly see the United States economy on the positive track. I am very happy for 7% economy growth in China. I see in India, no matter which government comes, more than 5% growth. Brazil is still in a slump. Germany clearly comes back. Greece etc. are really behind. So, I am very positive but not too bullish.

Third point. I learned this from a chairman in India – whenever there is an adversity, whenever there is a recession, there is a message. Try to find the message. Use it to sharpen your business – customer selection, product selection – and build the future: new innovation, new things. A recession will go one day – you got to come out ahead. Change your thinking from defensive to offensive.

Gender at Work

Vivek Law: Another big issue in corporate India is gender at the workplace. What are your thoughts on that?

Sadhguru: I feel we should learn to make the workplace kind of gender-free in the sense that you look at people in terms of who they are, their activity, and their competence, not in terms of gender. You don’t have to be a man or a woman when you are working. You just have to be a human being who does things. You should be judged by your competence, not by your gender. I feel gender is a big issue right now in the country because women of a certain competence, capability, appearance and style are still new in the perception of the Indian workforce.

Because of the newness, we are trying to treat it specially, but I feel we should level it out and treat every person who works for a particular company according to their competence, irrespective of their gender. We should bring this culture rather than making special laws for women that will separate them as an exclusive group who will always be looked at in a certain way. Leveling it out is more important, though it is easier said than done. It is not going to happen immediately, but we need to gradually shift the culture in this direction so that at some point in the coming generation, almost 50% of the workforce will be women. Making it normal rather than making it exclusive is important.

Editor’s Note: Follow INSIGHT on Twitter and LinkedIn.

This article is based on an excerpt from the October 2014 issue of Forest Flower. Pay what you want and download. (set ‘0’ for free). Print subscriptions are also available.