The Shaping Ages

Boxing an Inspiration…

Generally speaking, the popular management anecdotes revolve around entrepreneurial ‘“wonder years”—the years an entrepreneur learns to ‘walk’. There are not too many case studies that delve on “shaping years”—the years when a successful founder learns to ‘run’ as a CEO. What is the difference, you may ask. Well, the difference lies in the firing engines. When you are learning to walk, it is your heroic ‘resolution’ that keeps pulling you up after every fall until your instincts figure out the art of balancing. But when you start running, the right ‘technique’ takes precedence over ‘resolution’. If you want to be a professional runner, it is not important how fast you can sprint from day one; rather, what matters is whether you have figured out the right technique first.

For an amateur athlete, this learning of the right technique requires a well-shaped professional coach. However, when you are a professional entity, learning the right techniques, fascinatingly, requires amateur coaches! A battalion of them! In all shapes and sizes—customers, employees, vendors, extended friends and families, and society in general. Shaping you up with 360-degree stretching exercises! Of course, it is for each individual CEO to decide whether to shape up by exercising to build power, stamina, flexibility, and resilience; or just continue sitting on the executive chair relying purely on genetically inherited IQ and common sense to stay professionally fit! An option to choose between a coach and a couch!

Interestingly, regardless of whether the CEOs come from a coached or a couched background, they all share one thing in common when it comes to bestowing credit of their professional success. This credit is always bequeathed only to two categories of “influencers”: sung heroes and unsung heroes. These praises are extended in many forums, particularly in vote-of-thanks speech opportunities. In these speeches, the names of the sung heroes are invariably explicitly mentioned first—big customers and partners, executive-level employees, and often the immediate supportive family members! A fashionable corporate commentary is never concluded without a lion’s share of very touching credits showered on all the unsung heroes representing the overwhelming core of the nameless army. This makes a classic debate topic: Who deserves more credit collectively for having influenced an organization’s mindset and success—a smaller group of stars who have individually made a ‘deeper’ impact, or a larger group of masses who have together made a ‘wider’ impact?

Unfortunately, somewhere in this classic “deep vs wide impact” debate, the identity of the true “Impacter” of the corporate executive think-tank gets squeezed! You see, all these sung and unsung heroes are just a metaphorical representation of coaches—all coming with their share of good and bad baggage. The real coaches are the interactive “incidents” involving these flesh & blood beings, a series of random instances that one remembers for years to come. Many of my blogs are an attempt to pen down guiding incidents involving real people connected with me. I have made a conscious attempt to stick to either current incidents or only those ancient episodes that I still vividly recollect as if they happened just yesterday. The hypothesis is … if I can still remember such events without digging out from memory annals, they ought to have shaped my CEO thought-process; therefore, somewhere they got imbibed in my personality and perhaps even ended up becoming an integral part of the Cybage DNA….

Original, Team, Style


  1. Good one …

    A simple question ….
    “Who deserves more credit collectively —A smaller group of stars who have individually made a ‘deeper’ impact, or a larger group of masses who have together made a ‘wider’ impact?”

    What’s your take on this?

    • Politically correct ‘take’ would be larger accredition to masses responsible for ‘wider’ impact! For the simple reason – such positioning ensures ‘more’ approving smiles . Though here is some food for thought: the collective masses responsible for ‘wider’ impact draw a lot of their inheritance from a smaller group responsible for ‘deeper’ impact. So if one was to evaluate this debate purely on leader-follower analysis merits, then the individuals collectively responsible for ‘deeper’ impact deserve more credit. Of course, one shouldn’t forget this ‘credit’ has both lighter and darker sides. The individuals who make “deep” impacts are often the culprits to be discredited for the ruin of an erstwhile successful organization!

  2. It was quite amazing to learn about Cybage formatting years and indeed all your blogs have a something to take away with.
    Thanks for that.

    Keep this blog run!

  3. Excellent article Arun. Some really good management fundas…

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The Shaping Ages - Arun Nathani Blog