I bumped into him at one of the F1 races. It’s never difficult to spot him. And I’d add it’s not because of his golden mane or simply his flamboyant persona. Over the last decade Branson has come to be known as the entrepreneur’s guide. The man who has been there, done that. Tasted success. Tasted failure. This is what India Inc admires him for. Just earlier this year I caught up with Gary Player – another story of grit, passion and risk. If there were a golfer I think could be called the entrepreneur equivalent of Branson, I would think it to be Player. He is among the biggest golf brands with two grand slam victories under his belt. He has designed 300 golf courses, runs a successful horse breeding enterprise in South Africa and has a signature real estate business for luxury homes. And how did he start? As a miner’s son with a borrowed golf set which was rusting at the edges. He famously said, “the harder you practice, the luckier you get.”
Branson would later lament at the obsession about how media and people tend to slot successful leaders under the umbrella of being ‘lucky.’ He wrote in his column Entrepreneur, “Businesses and entrepreneurs that are generally considered to be more fortunate or luckier than others are usually those that are prepared to take chances and experiment with new approaches — and to fall flat on their faces every so often.”
Golf has often given me fodder to think about some of these ideas. Branson, a passionate golfer himself has learnt some of his valuable lessons on the course.
When they say fortune favour the brave and most, there’s more to it than just success stories. Entrepreneurs and CEOS who trust providence are more likely to be worse off than those who believe they can change their future. Not only has this been true of the new startup generation but also of some of the stalwarts of India Inc. Look at Gautam Thapar, who may be busy selling off select businesses right now but started out with a set of nearly-defunct family units in paper. He turned them around and built some serious valuations. Ratan Tata introduced his group to new businesses in automotive, food and produce and others. Simply by having the empire fall in his lap, didn’t mean he wasn’t entrepreneurial. He was bold. He stepped out. You don’t always have to be an entrepreneur to take risks.
Look at Gautam Thapar, who may be busy selling off select businesses right now but started out with a set of nearly-defunct family units in paper. He turned them around and built some serious valuations.
Kalpana Morparia, Chairperson of JP Morgan shares how her life was little like she envisaged. For someone who admits being initially lazy to work to becoming a go-getter, it was almost as though the latent energy and ambition in her was waiting to be kindled. Opportunities knocked, she took them up and this led to the transformation of an individual who had to be pushed through school and even college. With a storied career at ICICI and then a pivotal role in JPMorgan’s India success, Kalpana has worked through the two respected organizations. ‘My life is all about the time I spent at work. I strongly believe that if you really want something to happen, you can make it happen. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.’