Gautam Adani On 5 Principles Of Success, And Challenges He Faced

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Gautam Adani On 5 Principles Of Success, And Challenges He Faced

Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani recalled his long journey as an entrepreneur at an event


Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani at an event in Mumbai recalled his long journey as an entrepreneur and shared lessons learned from challenges that he faced along the way. Mr Adani said he worked for four years in the diamond business in Mumbai, and the city taught him to think big, dream big and above all, aspire to succeed.

“Thereafter, just as I was about to turn 19 and was settling in Mumbai, life took an unexpected turn. I was called back by my elder brother to assist in running a small-scale PVC film factory we had acquired near Ahmedabad. The business was challenging due to the scarcity of raw materials caused by heavy import restrictions,” Mr Adani said.

“But all this was set to change following the elections in 1985. Rajiv Gandhi had just become the Prime Minister and he initiated the liberalisation of import policies. Despite having no experience, I grabbed the opportunity and swiftly established a trading organisation and began importing polymers to supply to the needy small-scale industries… This start of liberalisation gave me my first big break. I was 23,” he said.

At present, Mr Adani said, the “journey is only just starting, a journey built on one of the most exciting platforms that has ever existed – a platform called India.”

“If the last three decades since the 1990s have laid the foundation for India to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, the journey towards 2050 will be even more transformative and disruptive. While the past three decades were about opening India to the world, the upcoming three decades will see the world opening up to India,” the Adani Group Chairman said.

“The digital age has democratised the playing field. It has thrown open opportunities to a far greater number of companies. This is the age of exponential growth. And the most striking manifestation of this digital revolution is the emergence of new disruptive tech billionaires. An interesting statistic is that in the 1990s, India had just two billionaires. Today, the number is 167,” Mr Adani said.

“I started my entrepreneurship journey in my teens. Entrepreneurship is about taking risks and being OK with sometimes getting lost, sometimes falling – but every time I was lost, every time I fell – I was still able to find my way back. I was still able to get up. I never feared falling,” he said.

Mr Adani explained five principles that have guided him in entrepreneurship journey.

First, all success will come with its challenges and its challengers. “The greater your success, bigger will you be as a target and the true measure of your success will not be in your achievements but in your ability to rise through the adversities that will come with your achievements.”

Second, the world is complex, and it’s easy to be sold on the theory of simplicity. “While simplicity may be the goal, it is the ability to manage complexity that will differentiate you and make you the ones that can navigate the deep waters as against those that remain on the shallow shores.”

Third, the dynamic model of a fast-growing nation like India needs a flexible approach that is rooted in local models as against models that often emphasise specialisation and core competencies. “The crux of strategic differentiation often lies in recognising the limitations of bookish knowledge and Western centric models. While it is important to source ideas from books and literature, keep in mind that these are after all opinions of brilliant story tellers with great ability to influence.”

Fourth, resilience often requires the ability to withstand criticism. “The higher you rise, the more you will need to prepare yourself to handle criticism. But instead of allowing it to deter progress, you must be willing to be misunderstood, and yet stay resilient. Therefore, it is about cultivating an inner strength that allows you to remain strong in your convictions, even in the face of severe opposition.”

And fifth, the most difficult of all – stay humble. “Your own success will push back on your humility. But humility is the biggest differentiator you can build. Humility is not thinking less of yourself – it is thinking of yourself a little less. True leadership lies in acknowledging your achievements without letting them overshadow the value of self-awareness.”

Mr Adani said the two people who deeply influenced him during his formative years were his parents.

“My mother was the pillar of our household and instrumental in keeping our joint family tightly-knit. Her commitment to hold our large family together laid the foundation of my family values and beliefs. And the second was my father who was in the business of forward trading. In those days, the transactions happened verbally, mostly on the telephone, without any written documents, or contracts. At a very young age I saw that these verbal commitments never failed,” Mr Adani said.

“These experiences from my childhood played a significant part in shaping my beliefs, and resulted in what today are the core values of the Adani Group – the courage to withstand, the trust in people, and the commitment to a larger cause,” he said.

(Disclaimer: New Delhi Television is a subsidiary of AMG Media Networks Limited, an Adani Group Company.)

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