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Tell us about three of your accomplishments (600 words).

1. B-School guest faculty at 17:

I have been an avid reader of two of the best global publicationsThe Economist and
HBRfor the last 25 years. When I was 17, during a discussion with a friend whose
father was a professor at the best B-School in North India (FMS), my globalization
outpourings eruptedI ranted for hours in praise of capitalism. I was asked to deliver
the same ideas to the B-school's students, who, according to my friend's father, didn't
know even five percent of what I did. Addressing people far senior to me and possibly
far more informed sent a momentary chill down the spine but I knew I could pull it
off. I spoke for more than 3 hours. My lecture was hailed as something
unprecedented. I spoke about World Economic Scenario, Global Polity, Emerging
Markets, The Future of Mankind, and the whole paraphernalia of knowledge I had
gathered in so many years. I received a thunderous applause with requests for more
such lectures. This was an outstanding achievement for someone who, as a child,
wouldnt say boo to a goose.
2. Dropping out of the best B-School of Asia:
Immediately after my undergraduate studies, in 1996 I got admitted to IIM,
Ahmedabad. To my chagrin, the whole experience reeked of a complete anticlimax.
The curriculum laid no stress on leadership, entrepreneurship, excellence, branding,
raising an exceptional organization etc.far too much emphasis was on Quantitative
Subjects. The school was not raising maverick leaders who could take on the world.
In the first week itself, I decided to drop out. The mere mention of dropping-out was
preposterous for everyone around me. Everybody implied as if I were making the
most monumental mistake of the century. But my stand was clear: Why should I do
something for which my heart wouldnt skip a beat? For me it was just like leaving a
movie-theater in between if I didnt like the movie. Only others thought I was doing
something unconventional or taking a risk. I didnt think I was doing either; I was just
following my heart.
I consider this my biggest personal achievement because my hitherto untested selfbelief that I will follow my heart no matter what! got tested, challenged to the hilt,
and eventually vindicated beyond a shade of doubt.
3. Parallel School:
Why dont most people manage businesses like Jack Welch or Andy Grove, or play
golf like Tiger Woods, or play the violin like Itzhak Perlman? Why is it that most
people arent awesomely, amazingly world-class at whatever they do?Geoff
Colvin in Talent is Overrated
Intrigued by the essence of these questions, in association with DPS chains of schools
in Delhi, I conceptualized the idea of Parallel School in 2002. I convinced parents

that their children were just being prepared for the battle of grades, not for the battle
of life. The most essential success ingredients: courage and risk-proneness, tough
decision-making, emphatic communication, candor, empathy, rational thought,
positioning, humility, teamwork, flawless command of the language, logic, and
mathematics etc. were avoided like plague. My offering was simple: I (with a team of
more than 100 teachers) would provide bi-weekly classes to grade 7-9 children in the
aforementioned areas. The apropos product the right positioning hit home with
schools and parents alike. The students liked the courses so much that what started as
a three-school project was soon implemented at more than 200 schools. The schools
were able to make a lasting impact and raise more than $20 mn in revenues over 3

Why do you want an MBA? (400 words)

For 15 years, I have been an entrepreneur/freelancer in Test-Prep, Corporate Training,
Management Consulting, and Life-Skills Coaching Industries. To expand my businesses, I
have always wanted to hire the smartest people with who both parallel and complementary
skill-sets, but largely to no avail.
With heavy broadband penetration, the archetypes of conventional brick-and-mortar
classroom models have been greatly challenged. If people can learn on their laptops / smartphones in the comfort of their homes, without, in any way, compromising on the quality of
learning, they are going to be more and more averse to travel to learn. For a trainer like me,
nothing can be more exciting. Someone who felt too hemmed-in to be able to help because of
distances can conveniently offer his training in audio-visual format using cloud-computing
with the same knowledge workforce of one. I can reach out to the whole world without
diluting the quality that I have been synonymous with for the last 15 years.
I see this venture as both opportunity and service; for me, nothing could be more gratifying
than helping people realize their dream of an Ivy-League or an equivalent education. I wish to
create the best Social Media Platform addressing the needs of SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, and
LSAT aspirantsa potential clientele of four million customers across the globe.
I want HBSthe best business-strategy school in the worldas the breeding-ground for the
successful execution of such a platform. Innovation in business and societythe unwritten
code at HBSis what draws me to it. In specific terms, it will fulfill the following strategic
1. Cross-cultural learning needs: The individual experiences of 3000 students (from
more than 80 nationalities) as to how they prepared for the SAT, GMAT, or GRE will
mean an unparalleled strategic insight.
2. Strategic partnerships / global network: I would like to forge alliances with likeminded individuals who are ready to come on board with me for such an exciting
3. Venture capital / Valuation: I plan to go public by 2015. The value of an HBS MBA
cannot be overemphasized in this process.
4. Vibrant global community: Access to HBSs unrivaled global community is a
treasure for a lifetime. I want to learn as much outside the classroom as inside.
With 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur, I will have as much to contribute to the HBS
class as I will get to learn from it.

Tell us three setbacks you have faced. (600 words)

Poor parent:
I have a seven-and-a-half year old son. In the beginning of 2011, my wife shared with me a
rather unpalatable truth: my son started remaining aloof and distant. It emerged that he did
not enjoy his studies and that he wanted to leave school. To a teacher who is acclaimed as a
great mentor and coach to thousands of students (myself), the news was definitely shocking, a
setback that curled me from within. I did an in-depth analysis of his problem and planned a
five-day long vacation with him. He enjoyed every moment of time with me, opening up
about almost everything he felt. He also revealed that he didnt like lagging behind anyone;
even if he comes second, he feels terrible. He has to be FIRST. It finally transpired that all he
needed was a friend in a parent, a guide who could make learning fun, play with him, and,
most importantly, listen to him. I personally started teaching him. When he found that he was
ahead of all the students because he was prepared for everything in advance, he started
relishing his studies, school, and friends. The lesson: Every relationship needs to be
nurtured differently.
I live, eat, drink, breathe, sleep, and wake up entrepreneurship. To become successful and
happy, talented people have to follow the 3 circle-intersection model: one must belong to the
intersection of Passion, Excellence, and Economic Engine to do great things. Spurred by this
extraordinary belief, I launched an extremely ambitious project 5X a program that would
enable participants to look at their careers very differently, help them identify their deepest
passion and world-class excellence (at something or the other), and entitle them to sustain a
robust economic engine. The concept was extremely well-received with more than 1200
people jumping to be on board out of whom I shortlisted 50. I was convinced that these 50
were the true-blue entrepreneurship material. The program earned the ravest of reviews. But
once the program ended, I found that only 14 people out of 50 quit their jobs and took the
entrepreneurship route. This was a setback indeed. I had gone wrong in people selection. I
was nave to believe that people would do what they said they would. The lesson: It is not
necessary that even the best of people will stick to what they have set out for themselves.
(Deleted: cant be shared with students as it involves some sensitive information)
Answer a question you wish we'd asked. (400 words)
My question: What does leadership mean to you?
Bye-bye charisma: We dont need ivory-tower cheerleaders such as Kenneth Lay, Dick Fuld,
Martha Stewart, or Barack Obama; the world needs leaders who can manage complexity,
anticipate variable risk in the increasingly fuzzy and intermeshed world, understand crosscultural work environments, and excite knowledge workspaces of 21 st century, which are
clearly over-managed but under-led.

In the trenches: To me, 30,000-feet is just lame jargon; we need perceptive leaders with an
execution-bias and multi-dimensional perspectives. No big projects happen in silos; the
essential ingredients of businesspeople, product (or service or cause), processes,
positioning, technology, finance, sustainability, and social acceptanceall play out as a
complex, interwoven reality. A successful global leader has to manage all the ingredients with
Think global, act local: What works as incentive at one place may work as a deterrent at
another. Developing markets throw quite different challenges from developed ones. For
instance, the CEO of a large organization in the US should understand what motivates people
in different cross-cultural environments across five continents. Managing and retaining talent
today are possibly the biggest of organizational challenges. Earlier the core-values needed to
stand the test of time; today they need to stand the test of geography.
Redefining humility: Leaders need to be humble enough to take a hard look at themselves,
accept mistakes, and drive organizational change. More importantly, they need to make
themselves redundant by preparing a second-line. Humility also means hiring much smarter
people; the workplace must be a talent powerhouse teeming with passion.
No faster horses: I like Henry Fords quote: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they
would have said faster horses." Leaders have to innovate by trusting their gut, grit, and
gumption. Strategy today is not competition, survival or marketing; it is about creating such
visceral traction about your brand that positioning alone can make customers flock to you.
Marketing is building a church, positioning is creating a religion.
The power of a click: Cult companies such as Nokia, Dell, and Apple couldnt remain
immune to the biggest game-changer of our timesthe Internet. Social-media revolution,
viral marketing, and the newly formed global village mandate that leaders cant take their
eyes off the ball; not even for a day. Wowing the online community is the new services
Talk simple: Finally, leaders need to talkprofound enough to move mountains and simple
enough to get people to do so.