Does the culture of your company matter?

woman sharing her presentation with her colleagues

Today I saw a dance video of a friend of mine. She apparently was dancing with her college gang. Their energy, sync in moves, facial expressions and body language – revealed more than words ever could.

Here’s what my little knowledge of psychology tells me:

  • The people we surround ourselves with determine who we become.
  • Even they didn’t know that their friends play so important role in their happiness.
  • It is the best thing if we choose our people wisely, and if we don’t that’s a doom on us.

But why are we talking about this?

Because I was a star player in my first job because I was nurtured that way.

In my second job, things changed drastically because:

  • I asked a lot of questions, which made my manager believe I am getting too excited and I don’t know anything.
  • I was always happy and booming with joy, which was also perceived as a sign of dumbness.
  • Most importantly, there was once a trainer who was invited to our office. Those days my manager wasn’t talking to me (yes, that also happened!) because I had taken two days off owing to ill health. My work was in sync, so I attended the one-hour zumba session that the trainer conducted.

And damn, after that session it was a guilty feeling that encircled me. The feeling that I should have sat stuck at my desk because my boss would like it – I just didn’t want to be limited by that feeling so I attended the Zumba session. And more than anything else, it was organized by the HR of the company, and I, inter alia, received a formal email from her for attending the session.

This was just one instance, I could lay at least ten such instances that made me feel small in the organisation. Btw, instead of teaching me how to solve difficult problems, my manager used to ask me: “Will you be able to do it?” This wasn’t because I had proved my inability to him, it was because in our informal conversations he always highlighted how he felt men were more apt to doing this job.)

Was I wrong? Yes, in the desire of joining that organisation, I was wrong. Was I wrong in my stint at that workplace? Well, only if curiosity and cheerfulness are wrong.

In a fortunate tale of events, my leader did not like me and asked me to “look for further opportunities” because I didn’t fit the bill of fitting in.

I did get out of the organisation, and it was the best thing that happened to me.

Now, before we conclude, there were some good things in the organisation:

  • They did provide me bread and butter
  • The operations and sales team were driven to meet the customer needs, always
  • We had a break of one month after working for two months (good as well as not so good as all drive was lost).
  • My manager (yes the one who stopped talking to me) was cool and calm (sadly not driving me to performance.)
  • He said he felt bad about the leader asking me to leave, and it was all in good intent. He treated me like his daughter and perhaps because of which never bothered enough to make me bold enough to face the muddy waters of the job which is of the most importance to perform.

But this post isn’t necessarily about what was good in the organisation that I worked with, and what wasn’t. It was more about the culture. All organisations are the best – if they hire the right people

My friend was dancing along with her friends and they all enjoyed it. I danced with my colleagues and my non-communicative manager felt worse because of this. Of course that guilt slid into me. Of course that did affect me.

That is why it is important to review the company and the culture you are working with.

It is going to be hard, but so is it hard for the company to find the right fit for them. If they could do the emotional labour of being patient and going through the difficult stuff, so is it your responsibility to move the needle and go to the place you would be proud to say in your first page interview.

Ramit Sethi’s first Indian talk & an untold story

Last night, as I reached home I quickly dug out Ramit Sethi’s book “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” from my library. Of course, the man himself was giving a talk in Delhi the next day, so it would’ve been a pleasure to get a signed copy.

As the morning would have it, I forgot to carry the book before leaving from home, and as I was driving, I decided not to go to the event. The lizard brain took over and said the excuses it has achieved a Ph. D. in giving:

“You’ve got a lot of work to do dude, do that first!”

“You could watch a ton of his videos online.”

“Sit back and meditate, and radiate good vibes to him.”

All of the above had started to seem so logical, when I was reminded of an instance when Ramit had travelled out of NYC to give an interview with Tim Ferris. Tim invited him for dinner with another entrepreneur, and Ramit instantly got his flight canceled and booked for the next day.

If Ramit could cancel his flight appointments and change his schedule, it made no sense for me to not go to the event being in Delhi itself.

So here did yours truly reach the event, and will share you all the takeaways from the wonderful two hours we all spent together, particularly that part of his which we don’t often get to see online.

Of course we did speak about creating our own versions of rich life, the way Ramit ignores the usual norm of ignoring the trolls, or how he stresses the importance of college education versus taking a course to drop out and make money.

All the above advice is super valuable, and has hugely shaped my perspectives about life, however I wanted to present to you something that you and I, as online spectators, couldn’t see.

Let’s dive right in:

1. The Unseen Side of India:

Ramit shared he visited India thrice in the last two years, and as he shared and keeps on sharing stories about his visits to India, people are pleasantly shocked to see it.

Since he has a global audience, particularly in the US, they never saw this side of India – where he was living in luxury hotels on one side, and exploring the best street food along with it.

When non-Indians look at this side of India and DM him about the fact that they wish to visit India because of these stories, it feels proud to listen this as an Indian. Padhaaro mhaare des! (Meaning: Welcome to my country!)

2. Ask, and you shall receive:

Ramit didn’t plan to have a meet-up in Delhi before flying off from the States. He bumped into a friend, and when he asked if Ramit was planning to have an event in Delhi, his answer remained the same.

While checking on his Instagram stories, I happened to DM him to organize a meet-up for Delhi people.

Today at the event, he said when 10-15 people sent him similar DMs, he finally decided to have an event.

Here’s the back-story: If you and I and a bunch of other people were those 15 people and we wouldn’t have DMed him, chances were, this event won’t have happened.

Do not question your actions if you are doing something good. You may never know how much of an impact it could make.

Also, don’t take a no on behalf of others. If they say yes, great! If they say no, no worries Bro, chill!

3. The Family Values:

One of the most intriguing things about this New York Times bestselling author was he brought his family along to the event.

That’s the real definition of an Influencer: who, in the process of influencing the world, does not take his family for granted to sitting back at home.

Maybe meeting us, his readers, was a part of his rich life, and he wanted his family to take the ride with him, instead of see him at a distance.  

This may be an incomprehensible thing for a lot of us, especially for those who are not so close-knit with their families.

Maybe wearing their shoes and respectfully, showing them our side decisions, maybe that could move the needle. Family matters, and let your favourite influencer’s actions tell that loud to you.

Left: Ramit’s wife, Cass. In the center: Ramit’s Mom

4. The higher you rise, more humble you become:

The man was extremely polite and listening to all of us with patience

What’s new, you ask.

I’ve been to a ton of such events with people having way less followers and even money than what Ramit Sethi has, and they reply with anger and sometimes even rudeness.

Their body language does not show respect for the other person, maybe because the other person hasn’t achieved as much as they have.

Fortunately, you couldn’t see a trace of that rudeness in Ramit. He was listening to every one of us. Even if his mind he didn’t agree with someone on what they said, he didn’t take that as a license to be rude.

He even thanked someone who had purchased two of his online courses. (PS: He has a massive business with millions of readers, he didn’t need to thank. However, he did. Because it came out subconsciously. Because he meant it in the first place.)

Humanity is what you get to exchange first, and that should be an inevitable part of everyone’s rich life.

5. What’s the cost:

This is the question Ramit gets asked the most, for the luxury vacations he takes. In response to that, he invited us to consider:

What if cost was not the #1 thing on your priority list?

What if you did what you always wanted to do?

What if, it was really possible to turn the knob and learn to use money in a way you actually want to?

Here’s offering you a different perspective:

I’ve taken one of his paid courses, and in that, he also disclosed his hourly rates of consultation. Contrary to his huge rates, today’s event was free, with mandatory registration. And it was not a “B” grade event; rather it was in a co-working space in Saket, one of the costliest places in Delhi NCR.

If someone would’ve still considered cost, maybe they won’t have even swiped up on Ramit’s story to fill in the registration form.

If something is important to you, you find a way to get there.

You make the best of opportunities, you give away enormous value to your customers, and you make your version of rich life a priority instead of chucking it out altogether.   

These were the visible things which everyone learnt in today’s event. On the top of it, here are some unspoken things that were more than appreciable:

1. Learning is a choice:

Had a small conversation with Ramit’s Mom, and she told me she settled in the US after getting married. All four of her kids were born there.

Here’s something she said that really hit a huge mark.

She said, that she also tried understanding and learning about the culture of US along with her kids; along with instilling family values in them. She and her husband didn’t try to impose everything from Indian culture to their kids, nor did they give up on teaching the tight and important knot of family values of Indian culture.

And today here she was, proudly telling me she is a ZTL student and also a blogger, because of her son. It felt powerful as well as touching to have this conversation about staying open, with no compromise on your core values.

2. Care at the core:

While I was having this conversation with Ramit’s Mom, Cass, Ramit’s wife walks up to us and hands over the cake which he had just been cut. This small gesture of kindness by Cass showed so well, of paying attention to people who are most important to you.

Not out of any selfish reasons, rather because you love them and you care. So you dig out a moment to do that extremely adorable gesture of giving a piece of cake.

In fact, Cass also flew down Ramit’s parents from California to New York when his picture along with his book made it to the Times Square in NYC. Love and care, over and above business lessons, was one of the most fascinating takeaways from today.

3. Fitness is superpower:

Ramit and Cass take damn great care of their health. Even though in some of his stories he posts about having paranthas or enjoying different meals, the couple still looked lean and perfectly fit. What I mean by this is, even when they are trying different cuisines and exploring different cultures, health does not take a back seat. Talk priorities. Talk rich life.

These were some of the visible and invisible lessons from today’s event, that was totally fun to be around.

And of course, event was followed by some selfies and book signings and winning the second edition of the book.

It’s powerful when you shut down your lizard brain and get into a room with such powerfully minded people. All the small things about people and things and checking social media, take a back seat, and out emerges a mind more focused on creating its own version of rich life.

One such event happened on a Tuesday (a.k.a. working day) at 3PM in New Delhi. Here’s to having many more such powerful events.

Till then, let me know which part of the event you liked the most and why. I’d love to see your side of the story.