In an inspiring interview, Girish Rao, shares with us his lessons from early childhood, his upbringing and how he has learnt to learn something from every person, and to convert challenges into opportunities. Always looking at the bigger picture in life and in career, Girish’s career graph is an inspiring lesson to every person who wants to make it big in life.
Here is Girish Rao in his own words:
Born and brought up in Mumbai – the city with a ‘never-say-die’ spirit, there were several early lessons for me, that have shaped me into the individual and the professional that I am today. Just like the transformation of a cocoon into a butterfly – I have imbibed several qualities and traits that have helped me transform from a child born into a family with a never-say-die spirit, into an individual who sees every challenge as a stepping stone that will lead him to a bigger opportunity or goal in life.
Challenges have always encouraged me, rather than set me back. Some early lessons in life came from my immediate family, and these lessons have proved to be invaluable in the larger context of life – personal as well as professional.
Childhood was fun for us, but challenging for my parents who aspired and worked extremely hard to provide us a decent education. Though we stayed in a small house and had economic limitations, our parents ensured that our ambitions and aspirations were never suppressed. I have been fortunate to have parents who were forward looking and wanted to ensure that their children got educated in an English-medium school – even while realizing that it would impact their financial condition in a huge way. I was a little above average student academically, and Geography, Science and Maths were some of my favorite subjects.
My first big lesson in life came from none other than my mother – perhaps that’s one reason why the role of a mother is so important in a child’s life – as thoughts of your mother shape your life and your future too. Early on in life, I used to observe how my mother used to manage everything in the house with limited financial resources. I always used to observe how brilliantly she used to manage within the limited resources she had. This changed my thought process completely, and even today, when I am presented with a problem or a challenge, I look at how I can make the best out the constraints that are in front of me. ‘Doing more with less’ was a mantra I learnt from my mother years back, though today, this is a common mantra often repeated by management gurus.
DR or Disaster Recovery may be an often repeated term in management circles, and even a regulation today – but my first understanding of a DR plan came from my mother. Contingency planning came naturally to my mother, who used to always reserve and keep a backup from the minimal resources she used to have at her disposal. I also learnt some early lessons in ‘contingency planning’ from my mother, who used to make traditional savories at home to earn some extra money. This money proved to be useful for emergency purposes. I would observe and participate in preparing the same, even today whenever I feel stressed, I take to cooking to de-stress myself.
Music in the genes
We come from a family of musicians. My grandfather was a musician, and my father wanted me to be a tabla player. I started early and was well versed with playing tabla at the age of 9. I have played tabla with well-known Ghazal singers. As Indian music is all about improvisation and creativity, this helped me to ingrain a value of innovation and improvisation in whatever I do. I always feel that there is a better way to do things — one has to just discover the same.