Sadhguru on Family-Managed Businesses in India
Sadhguru was interviewed by the Mint newspaper about various topics relevant to business in India. We highlight some of the questions he answered about family-managed businesses.
Questioner: In family-managed businesses (FMBs), is there a breakdown of trust between generations? The younger generation wants a Google kind of culture, while the patriarchs see it as an infringement. How can this chasm be crossed?
Sadhguru: I won’t bring trust into this. The younger generation inherited a business that got successful by using certain methods. The patriarchs trust that method because it produced results. As you get older, you don’t want new things. This is because there is a certain depletion of the mind and a lack of integrity in the body.
The younger generation is usually trying to imitate someone else’s success. You said “of the Google kind”, but at Google, fun is on the surface. Otherwise it is dead serious. For instance, there is a formally designated “Jolly Good Fellow” of Google. He is a jolly guy who talks to you about nothing around work. But this is to soften you up before you go in for a meeting.
Being cool is fashionable. Whatever is fashionable in America becomes fashionable everywhere. But in America the “Thank God it’s Friday” culture pervades. That means nobody likes the five days they work. The culture of “weekend is life and the rest of the week is torture” has gone deep into the American psyche. This culture is growing in cities in India.
So if the younger generation tries something for the sake of it, it can be disastrous. But if they really have a better way of doing things, they must be allowed to do it. They will either transform their parents, or themselves, or perhaps just quit their inheritance and find some ways to do things that work for them.
Questioner: If there were a tool kit that you could offer the older generation at FMBs, what would it be?
Sadhguru: There are no formulas to success. What has worked in one situation will not work in another. As an entrepreneur, you must show interest not just in your business, but in everything. You pay attention indiscriminately to everything and provide the same level of attention to everything you see. It is very important if you want to craft something of significance.
If you have to become a successful entrepreneur, this is something you have to cultivate. Only then are you an unprejudiced being. If you have different levels of attention to what is yours and what is not yours, you’re gone. Yes, there are some you have to do more with and some you have to do less with. But in terms of attention, there should be no discrimination. That is when your life will be a continuous process of growth.
Questioner: Is there a uniquely Indian way of doing things for FMBs that we have not looked at?
Sadhguru: How business transitions in India is very different. In the West, it transitions from the first generation to professionals. In India, it generally moves to the second generation whether they are fit for it or not. They don’t know how to professionalize because they don’t trust anybody other than their blood. So the purity of pedigree creates certain problems. This is a very small resource you are looking at. If you have two or three children, you are trying to find a leader within the three instead of looking at 500 and picking up the best.
In the past, Indian families used to groom them in-house, at least the boys, when they were as young as 7-8 years old. They’d start writing accounts and observed everything, but never got to touch the money until they turned 18. By then, they understood the ins and outs of business. These are not processes that can be written down in a book because every business is run secretively in India. It is changing now. It is being corporatized.
Questioner: When FMBs come to you for advice, what strikes you the most?
Sadhguru: I have met enough people from the older generation who have worked hard to get to where they are. Those who created have a different sense of everything from those who landed into comfort.
It is very important that the older generation seeks sensible cooperation from the younger generation. There is always the risk they may fail. But the risk of failure also existed when you started. It’s just that you succeeded. But if you don’t create a challenge, they will not understand what you are talking about. Only then, they will become entrepreneurs. Otherwise, they will become landlords. They need to be on their toes, not on their backsides.