Modern business has lots to learn-and lots to learn from. Management education is getting better and more accessible. There are more management books and journals today than ever before. Then there are business magazines, like this one, that not only inform but also attempt to guide and educate. With so much of wisdom on offer, it strikes me as odd when successful people I meet don't quote a publication or a course as the source of the most profound advice they got. The advice they most cherish is usually the one they got from their parents, mentors or bosses. I guess this has something to do with the advice as well as the adviser. There is something enduring and distinct about a blunt and definitive advice given by a person we personally admire and respect.
That's why for this special 17th anniversary issue of Business Today, we decided to give you a break from the regular news and opinion and strive for something unique and valuable. We asked the who's who of India Inc., and a few achievers from other fields, to share with us the best advice they ever got. The result is a compilation of 60 most profound pieces of advice you will ever find between the covers of a magazine. The most fascinating part of these anecdotes is that the best advice that some of India's most successful businesspersons and professionals received is not a business advice. It's an advice on life, but one that changed the course of careers and businesses significantly.
For instance, his father's words that "out of every 10 men who are born in this world, nine men work for the tenth" opened Tata Sons' Director J.J. Irani's mind to plan his future as a leader. "Stop running around the world and work for a home-grown start-up" was his uncle's advice that led Deepak Parekh to leave a cushy job with Chase Manhattan Bank in the mid-1970s and join the then upstart HDFC. Mother Teresa's words to Dr Devi Shetty, "hands that help are holier than lips that pray", inspire the philosophy of Narayana Hrudayalaya. This collection of larger-than-business advice acquires special significance in times like these when extraordinary events have created unprecedented challenges for businessmen and professionals.
There are several other specials in this issue. We spot 9 trends that will shape our economic destiny in 2009. There are 10 New Year resolutions for companies that should help them fight the current difficult times and emerge stronger in 2009. The importance of intelligent cash management is one of the biggest lessons of 2008. A BT-McKinsey joint study highlights the significance and explains the procedure for building a cash lab in Indian companies.
We have truly lived through the best and the worst of times in 2008. Incidentally, the best advice I ever got is very simple: "If God wanted you to look back, he would have given you eyes at the back of your head. Always look forward, never look back." Wishing you a very happy 2009.