Lessons in life come in various forms; sometimes it is an incident, sometimes it is a book, sometimes it is a movie while sometimes it is a person. For me it came in the form of Mr. Sharad Patel, owner of I-care Optics Limited.
My first meeting with him is still very deeply imbibed in my mind as it was truly what you can call an unforgettable encounter. I had been requesting him for a meeting since past 6 months when one fine day God was kind enough to bestow me with His blessings in the form of a meeting with Mr. Patel. Equipped with loads of investment brochures and tons of positivity I set out to meet him unknown to fact this was going to change the way I viewed things.
From the moment I reached his factory premises I experienced respect and warmth at every corner starting from the security to the receptionist who finally led us into his cabin. There seated on a plush chair in a huge spacious glass cabin was a 60 year old wizened man with the most congenial smile I had ever witnessed. He was surrounded by his 3 huge dogs by his side adding to the cordial atmosphere.
As we began with formal introductions he introduced me to his pets too which I found to be very adorable. The conversation started flowing freely and suddenly he received a phone call in between. He excused himself before answering the call, leaving me alone in his cabin for a moment. I began to observe the grandeur of his palatial cabin when my eyes fell on the numerous award certificates and trophies which adorned his office walls. Apart from being awarded the best manufacturing units award a couple of times I observed he had been receiving the President’s award consecutively for the past 3 years for having the maximum number of handicapped people working in his factory. This feat was truly commendable I thought and waited for him to come back to discuss this.
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The moment he was back I could not resist asking him about it. He simply smiled his charming smile and said, “I come from a very poor family. My father was a school teacher managing to earn barely enough to make ends meet. But the biggest lesson he taught me was to never forget our roots when we looked at the sky to make a flight. This is something I have grown up with. Even in those circumstances he reminded me that there was at least one person at that moment who would have been happy to swap places with me and that fact in itself was enough to keep me grounded till date. I think like that even now and it helps me stay balanced. Otherwise all this name, fame and riches can actually make anyone sway.
The day I tasted success for the first time I realized the power that had been placed in my hand. I had two options either to use it or misuse it. And I choose the former simply because I could not list a single way to misuse it. I also grasped that there are many unfortunate people out there who don’t have a chance to make a living of their own for no fault of theirs. That day I decided to hire maximum number of such unfortunate people and give them an opportunity to prove their worth. Initially it was not easy as we had to design process keeping in mind their weaknesses but gradually it all fell into place. Today we are like a large happy family where we celebrate festivals together, have food together, laugh and work hard without any discrimination.”
All that he said that day reflects in the face of each and every employee who works there. The satisfaction which comes from giving your best and getting appreciated for it in return is purely visible to the naked eye. Not to forget the success which his company has gained not only in our country but across the globe as well. Every employee cannot get enough of singing laurels for him as they feel they have a father figure heading a family owned business and it is their responsibility to make it a success.
Innovation is the key word in his company as each one of them tries to come up with various innovative ways of making work easier. To give you an example his entire office is centrally air conditioned which runs on steam. Surprisingly enough steam is the remnant that is generated by his factory that manufactures optical lenses. He got this designed as he wanted to make the optimum use of the available resources and not waste any by product which could be re-used.
The first meeting was overwhelming as I learnt the ground rules to success. Today it has been 3 years that I have known him and met numerous times. But till date his charisma is still as magnificent as it was then. The number of awards and certificates has definitely gone up in number and so has the profit of the company. The only thing that has not changed is his sparkling smile and conviviality. Truly an unforgettable lesson in giving and living!
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