Friday, 3 July 2015

Why we actually need more Rahul Yadavs!

Over the last couple of months, a very frivolous storm took shape in the Indian startup community. With the Bansals still holding reigns at the top and with Ratan Tata and Softbank funding more and more promising ideas, Rahul Yadav, the founder and erstwhile CEO of, has been doing the rounds of the Internet with his trolls. He actually developed the reputation of being a bit of a bigot months ago when he resigned as the CEO while lampooning his own board members as not being worthy of working with anymore. And while later on he was reinstated on the top, everyone knew that he and the board were at loggerheads and that his ultimate removal was a mere inevitability. So while Mr. Yadav has been dubbed 'arrogant', 'haughty', 'senseless' and what not, here's why we should actually have more like him! 


While it's right on our part to be hypercritical of Mr. Yadav and his obvious lack of temperament, he is exactly how talented and qualified folks have to behave to curb the hegemony that exists in the work culture of our corporations. While all companies still tout themselves as being harbingers of 'open' and 'collaborative' work cultures, seniors secretly expect the juniors to address them as 'sirs', and the one odd guy ends up breaking his back while many others rejoice at the pub! In a nutshell, we all are a little too afraid to say a 'no' to our bosses, and when we become the latter, we are conditioned to not accept noes ourselves. So while Rahul Yadav may appear as a mischievous leprechaun, he has made it a habit to say 'no' when he means it, with a blatant disregard for the consequences. And one who is going to be under the media scanner all the time, really has to be very bold to say noes and get away unscathed. But in reality, if we know how and when to say noes, we're likely to get lesser woebegone and more interested in our work by the day. Do we do it? "Boss se pange nahin lene yaar!"


One of the biggest criticisms of Rahul is that he doesn't seem to be following the book. But it's a little too stupefying to expect someone to follow the book when the very provenance of a successful startup is to nullify all that's in the book written by the big boys. There are clear cut differences between him and his board members, and so much that there is no scope of any reconciliation anymore. But that's largely because while the board might expect the business to be founded on fundamentally sound principles, a heretic guy may not see any value in them. Yes all businesses have to follow some well defined ground rules, but Housing currently operated in a domain that's not well defined. So unless someone takes the onus of experimenting and seeing what works, no one shall ever find the right way. And yet some of the biggest corporations take pride and vanity in their structures, and processes and operations, without being privy to the fact that every 10 years 50 from the  fortune 500 companies disappear! 


We Indians often confuse this much needed trait with an ostensible disregard to hierarchy. People at top positions have an appetite for having an aura around them. So they deliberately try to make themselves inaccessible, so as to reaffirm everyone's faith that they are exclusive. Rahul Yadav tried to abnegate that by reaching out to the employees, and also portraying himself as being as whimsical as he was, which I believe is the most unsullied characteristic in a nascent organization. The "Media Cocktail" mail which saw the final nail in the coffin for his supplanting, was addressed to everyone. He didn't like the status quo with the media, and he wanted every guy and gal in the company to know what they were in for. This was so very unlike the typical Indian CEO who'd send out collective admiration mails at the end of the year, citing only achievements, and never saying a word about the 10 different things the top leadership failed at. 
India is a country obsessed with the concept of being 'Adarsh'. Everyone at a position is expected to adhere to a select list of rules and caveats. And while we have no reason to believe they're hallowed and sacrosanct, we just seem to be too infatuated with them to try out anything new. Rahul soon is going to become a pet example of how a brilliant guy screwed his life. I don't even know if Rahul was as brilliant as people say he once was, but I know for sure that his attitude is precisely what the youth of this nation lags. We all will follow the path till the end, and only a handful would be genuinely happy. But we'll be happy that we did everything as per the rule sheet. While we don't even know who created the rules and if they're really worth following or not. At least someone tried changing that! 

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