Google Maps… and RMLB

Friday, March 25, 2016

“In 50 metres – take a left towards Borivali Station Annexe…”

Google Margadarshini… the Indian woman’s lithe voice on Google Maps… waxed eloquent… this Wednesday evening…

I was on my way to pick up my parents at the Borivali railway station… I was going about in circles for the last 5 minutes and I looked forward to the Annexe in 50 metres… amongst all the humdrum of 20 auto rickshaws lined up ahead of me in 4 haphazard lanes… when there was space only for a lane and a half available…

About 500 people and a BEST bus that loomed large in front of me… blocked all visibility of this left turn that I needed to take… towards the Annexe…

“In 10 metres – take a left towards Borivali Station Annexe…”

I was inching closer… Yesss… I could see the left turn now… and I almost turned…

…Into a lane in which there were two fat buffaloes walking in a single file… as they would not fit into the lane if they walked next to each other tail in tail… and a young man on a motorbike right behind the second buffalo…

I am sure the buffalos and the bikeman were going to receive their kin at the Borivali railway station… and they were definitely being guided by Google Margadarshini too…

——————–

“You tell me what needs to be done… and I will blindly follow the instructions… I have to get into this role as a Trainer into your team”…

I had said to Apurva Sharma… my first Boss in the Training, Learning, Development line of work – almost 19 years ago…

Apurva had rejected me the first time the role came up in his team… and after 6 months again when he was expanding his team… I was relentless in throwing my hat into the ring…

Perseverance… you may say… I guess, a dogged wanting to be in the Training zone kept pushing me to pester Apurva… I had already served Card customers for 2 years at the American Express Telephone Service Centre… and then 2 years in the Amex Travel Service… I was good to give back to the communities that I worked with…

After all… when you can’t DO… you TRAIN…

Gifted with some passable gab… this time around, I could convince Apurva… who put me through a half hour walk through explaining a Cardmember system screen… that was the easier part… but this was to a bunch of 10 seasoned Card Operations professionals who knew the system inside out… now that called for some preparation…

I passed the muster… got into Amex Cards Training… July 27, 1997…  

I had promised Apurva… I would be diligent in crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s… he just needs to tell me what, where, when and how…

There were occasions when I did not believe in what Apurva thought or did… at least, initially… and as my Boss he always had these two options – one, that of bullying me into doing without believing… and the other – which was so unique to Apurva… demonstrate what needed to be done and create that unflinching belief…

Apurva called that RMLB – “Role Model Leadership Behaviour”…

That was Apurva’s very early version of Google Maps… when Google was just about born and was walking its baby steps…

RMLB has stuck with me ever since… what was worth doing… was always worth doing well… but of course, I could never get closer to the way Apurva exemplified this through his own behaviour…

I recall I was very reluctant to go to Rishikesh on the first TeamExpress – the Team Building workshop which Apurva conceived… which eventually became a legend at Amex… I did not believe – primarily because I wasn’t sure taking people out for 3 days into wilderness would most likely feed them on weed but will never really bring them back transformed…

And in all his humility Apurva claimed he conceived this along with the team (of which I was an antipathetic part)… but the truth was… much of the thinking and the fundamental building blocks of TeamExpress were laid by Apurva…

The first workshop that he led in March 1999, was a complete eye opener for me… Apurva was a magician and he created what was expected of him… magic… and one of the magic potions that he used, converted me… into a believer and a doer…

If you are a principled taskmaster… you would train your Maps on yourself first… and Apurva was one who would always be willing to be in the test environment… and most importantly, as the creator of the Maps… he needed to know the lanes and the by-lanes… every nook and corner of RMLB…

Apurva was my Boss for 4 years… and in all those years we created a bond between us… a deep understanding of human emotions and behaviours… and as they say… familiarity breeds contempt… there were occasions when I did not follow the Maps… maybe took him for granted…

Like on this occasion… that Wednesday…

(Almost) every Wednesday we used to go to the venue of the TeamExpress in a bus… 2 trainers and 20 participants… Wednesdays were formal dressing for us and I would change into comfort casuals for the bus journey in the afternoon just before boarding the bus…

It has been some Wednesdays now… all of us knew the drill and the dress code… and it was a sacrilege that I turned up on a Wednesday into work, dressed in comfort clothing straight from home…

Maybe familiarity with Apurva meant – in my own mind – a blessing… a hope… a possible pardon for that offence…

Apurva looked at me toe to top as I entered our work area… that one glance had RMLB etched clean on it… a clear disapproval of the Maps that he had not written… the Maps that were not to be… the t’s were not crossed on this occasion… and the i’s were far from dotted…

I went to the nearest shop at Basant Lok and got myself some clothes that the Maps prescribed… saved some grace for myself… but equally importantly, upheld a workplace practice that Apurva approved…

After all… to me, my Organisation has always been my Boss… to start with…

——————–

Apurva celebrates another Birthday this week… a disciplined life… with Maps charted for many lives that he touches… like mine…

I did not take that left turn suggested by Google Margadarshini this Wednesday evening… it was another Wednesday in my life… but this time… I thought I would follow the Maps that Apurva Sharma had taught me to create for myself if Google fails me… chuck your male ego and ask people around for directions…

To one of the best cartographers in my life… and my mentor in life for 19 years…

Happy Birthday Apurva…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

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One thought on “Google Maps… and RMLB

  1. What a great birthday gift to your boss..he must have done something…err so many things right!!! So my takeaway from the story is …don’t use google maps and but fancy phones…rely on people even if they confuse you ..”After all… when you can’t DO… you TRAIN”…while the rest are busy doing …their job …👍🏽

    Like

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