The following is an email that I took out to my team of managers when a pretty senior manager quit during a transition period in my company. We had just promoted a long-timer to fill his shoes. The transition was basically a move from being just a stationery products company to a baby and children’s products company. There was a lot of pressure on the teams to get out of their comfort zones and start thinking like a start-up. There was pressure on managers and leaders to understand, align teams and deliver in unfamiliar territories and product categories. I felt the message in the letter is very important for every leader in today’s challenging and uncertain markets. It’s more important to people who shift jobs at the drop of a hat and likewise companies that hire and fire. Stability in teams, innovation and sustained action is what sets Great companies apart from the Good ones.
I have changed all names in the letter to protect identities.
Subject of Letter (Email): Quitting is Easy
Firstly I would like to congratulate Sachin on becoming an Area Sales Manager. Sachin has not become a manager by default due to Hari’s exit, but because of his ability to solve important problems for the company, and his go-getter attitude. Sachin was a deserving candidate because he has a positive attitude and has shown the behavioural characteristics of a leader, with the ability to embrace change while sustaining and growing the heritage business also. At Bril, we try our best to give people within opportunities to grow, and as managers and leaders all of you should be looking at grooming future leaders. Make sure you are encouraging people below you to grow. Identify the guys who are ready to walk the extra mile and give them added responsibilities. Allow them to fail as long as they are diligently and ETHICALLY taking action. Sachin, so far you have done well to get where you are, but I sincerely hope you realize that this is the beginning of your journey. Do not allow this promotion to get to your head. Stay focussed, grounded and positive. Think big, motivate and work with your team to take this company into the future successfully.
You must be wondering why the subject ‘Quitting is Easy’?
Yes, the point I want to make through this email is that Quitting is the easiest thing that all of us can do. True leaders, in fact the greatest leaders of today are people who didn’t quit when there was pain, when times were tough or when there was change or transition. Steve Jobs was thrown out of his own company, but he never gave up pursuing his dream. His positive attitude and drive made the universe conspire and give him back his company on his terms. Apple nearly went bankrupt at one point, but Steve Jobs knew it in his heart that one day it would be the best and most sought after company in the world. He never stopped working on his dream and the rest as they say is history. Ask anybody who has worked with Steve Jobs and they will tell you that he was a tyrant to work with, but the people who stuck on have become millionaires (Some even billionaires), because they kept a positive attitude in the toughest of times and kept taking action day in and day out for many many years till success was inevitable.
Leaders of tomorrow will be people who sense an opportunity today, in times of change, maybe even adversity and take it as a challenge to seize the opportunity that every change or adversity brings along with it. Bril today is at an inflection point of tremendous growth. All of us are fortunate to be in the positions that we are in today, as I believe in my heart that this company and brand is going to scale unimaginable heights. I include myself in being fortunate, as it is only divine grace that puts us in a place of opportunity and surrounds us with people who are going to create the future. This is a time that I am going to be harshest on the people who I believe can deliver, but are being pulled back by their negative mindset or maybe lack of systematic action. I will be harsh if I sense that you or people in your team are not pulling up your socks and working your butts off (Pardon my language). I will not tolerate excuses; I will not take NO for an answer. The products identified as the future of the company HAVE to be sold, and sold in the tune of several hundreds of crores in the years to come. This has to happen without sacrificing on or while achieving growth in the stationery business. What does it take? More number of hours of work, supreme time management abilities, dealing with more rejections in the market, motivating the right team members and good old dedicated action (New distributor appointment, Primary, primary primary, secondary, secondary preschools, apartment complexes, flier distribution……..again and again and again focussing on the new products daily and making it a part of your and every team member’s daily routine like they do for stationery products and more). So in this mail I want to make it very clear to you that when I scream at you, I scream for YOUR growth, so you can achieve your full potential and make the company grow. A parent only screams for the benefit of their children, a guru only reprimands the brightest of students (There is no ulterior motive!). Please don’t prove me wrong, as I believe that this team is the brightest and most capable team we have ever had at Bril in all these years. During this time, those who are weak hearted and cannot see a bright future here will leave. That is fine, but what I would like to emphasise is that QUITTING IS EASY. It is the easiest thing any of us can do. Believe me that I will not rest till Bril is a huge force to reckon with- I believe that this is my life purpose. Stay here, if you share the same passion as I do, or we can be good friends and you can move on. Having said this, I honestly believe that each and every one of you I am mailing today has the capacity to lead their respective teams and this company to great heights. I sincerely hope you believe in yourself too. Who says there will be no problems along the way? Great leaders are those who love the challenge and convert problems into opportunities.
So, the message I would like to drive home in a nutshell is……
- Quitting is easy- that’s why quitters never grow. They normally start and quit all the time so they never really achieve success in anything they start (Most ordinary people are quitters). Leaders are persistent and keep DOING till they achieve their goal (No matter how many months, years or lifetimes it takes).
- You fail only when you Quit.
- Believe in yourself
- Always have a positive attitude
- Genuinely be good to people. Show them you care, but reprimand when it is due. Be fair even when you reprimand.
- Don’t lose that fire in your belly EVER!
- Great things happen when small actions are taken on a daily basis
- Don’t wait for that big deal. Win a small deal everyday
I am hoping and praying that this is the dream team that will take Bril to stratospheric heights in the years to come.
All the best.
Managing Partner – Bril
Managing Director & Chief Dreamer
ELSA Learning Private Limited
This post is as important for children, who will be future leaders, as it is for adults. Not quitting, and being persistent will surely Make Living Fun in the long run. As parents, let us try to instill resilience and a Never Say Die attitude in our children.