Integrity or Stupidity?

I met a friend a while back. He was coming back after getting his watch repaired. Here’s the conversation we had:

Friend: the businessman was stupid?
Me: why?
Friend: when i went to the shop this guy said he would charge me 250 for the repair. Today he told me that it actually cost him 550 rupees but since he had committed 250, hence he would charge me only that much.
Me: (interrupting him) Wow!
Friend: wow? How stupid!!!

We didn’t pursue the conversation any further. While I was thinking, what great integrity, my friend must have been thinking what a stupid businessman. I think both of us are thinking right. Lets see how.

Stupid businessman: Ideally he should have said something like, “I am sorry, I underestimated the issue and the part that had to replaced was way expensive than what I had thought. It actually cost me 550 bucks so it would be nice if you could pay me the same.” My friend would have argued a little and maybe after some fuss he would have given 550 or maybe negotiated for 500 lets say. The business of a business is to do business. Which means he should not suffer a loss knowingly and should make every possible attempt to assure profitability for his business. Perfect business sense. But since he did not do so, hence a stupid businessman.

My opinion: By telling the truth and still not asking for the extra (actual) money, the businessman showed his integrity. For him his integrity mattered much more than 300 bucks! If I was there instead of my friend, I would have insisted and paid him the entire amount, not sure whether he would have accepted it. More importantly, I would have shared the incident with other friends and would have recommended in case they were looking for watch repair shops (in the same vicinity). Actually, I have still shared the story and would still recommend ๐Ÿ™‚ Eventually, it *might* get him more customers. However, I feel that’s not important. What’s important here is the self respect for the business owner. He would have had a good sleep that night, which, in my perspective, is far more important than anything else.

Like The Bhagwad Gita says, there are no right or wrong answers, there are only perspectives.

What’s your take? What would you have done?

My encounter with Narayana Murthy: Indian IT’s Face

I dont know how to describe it. In a really really rare unexpected, exciting and i don’t know what moment, i met the baap of IT industry in India.

Standing in the airport check-in queue i couldn’t actually believe that he was standing up there. Its only when another guy standing behind him, looked at me, smiled and said “believe it or not; its actually him!” Its only then i relaxed and said to myself “its ok, its not only me” as i gave that guy a smile back.

Till the time of his security check, i kept an eye of his movements. In fact i was quite flabbergasted when the security personnel asked him to open his baggage as there was something suspicious in his briefcase. Felt like telling them, dude he’s the one who has got your city on the World Map, how dare you question him!!! But then realized, after all they were doing their job.

Narayan Murthy

And then i lost his sight. As soon i was through my security check my eyes went desperate looking for him. I saw the book store and somehow got a feeling he might be there. Sneaked in and bravo! he was there! I thought not to disturb him and wait till he came out. In the meantime thousands of questions started rising in my mind as to what should i talk to him?

How does he maintain such a simple lifestyle?
Should i ask him about his down to earth nature?
Should i ask his thoughts about business ethics?
Ask him how he built this empire?

And then i realized, this is one moment, i might not meet him again in my life, lets ask a question which might help me reach a meagre 0.01% closer to his stature!

As soon as he came out from the store…my heart started beating faster! No i wasn’t nervous but it was a feeling i just can’t explain.
Gathered courage and walked upto him:

Me: Sir, sorry to disturb but can i ask you a question?
NM: Yes
Me: i am a budding entrepreneur, setting up a venture in Gurgaon, if there is 1 advice you would like to give me what would it be?
NM: You have to assure that your product/service is giving something to your customer? Are you adding value to them? Are you reducing their manufacturing costs? Are you helping them increasing their profits?

And then he sealed it with this statement of his:

“Make sure you can explain your service in 1 line, if you can’t, its not worth it”

Me: [amazed] i had thought he would say something generic or something that can be found in the books. But no, probably thats why he is The Narayan Murthy.

As i write this i am still shivering in my flight and still reliving the moment and ruining the fact that i didnt take a personalized autograph of his ๐Ÿ™

What i did after the answer?

Me: Sir, may i seek your blessings?
NM: Sure
Me: bowed down, touched his feet and waited till i felt his hand on my hand as he said:

May God be with you