Monday, May 19, 2014

How I met Kapil Dev at Asian Paints

Just a while back as I was watching comedy night with kapil, I could not help recall a memorable experience in June/July of 2006 I had as a Brand Manager at Asian Paints. It was annual sales of Asian Paints where all the people in sales and marketing team across India gather in a 5 star hotel to make strategies to win markets in the upcoming season, and leave with lots of inspiration and action. The star attraction for us was THE KAPIL DEV - the cricket legend I used to adore for years!
Photo - Who am I - the 5th from right/left in the back row, next to me is Andrew Williams, my dear friend who used to head the corporate communications function, and currently the Marketing Manager.

The experience with Kapil paaji was awesome! The man who brought the world cup home for first time, and a successful cricketer turned entrepreneur (he owns a hotel in Chandigarh) and he was most down to earth while interacting with all of us at Asian Paints that time. He wasted very little time about his own story, and directly switched on the audience, urging them to ask what they want. Someone in the sales team asked him, "How did you feel when you ran 20 yards backwards to catch the ball to get out Viv Richards out (this was the turning point of 1983 world cup final)?" And quick came the reply, "Bhai, sochta kaun hai? I was just running and caught it. There is no time for thinking on the cricket field, just action. The ball was in the air, I just had to get there :-)".
Photo - The great man, Kapil Dev in this picture is on 2nd row, and to his right is CEO of Asian Paints, to his left is Deputy - CEO (earlier VP of Sales and Marketing) and extreme left is the founding family member of Asian Paints.

Kapil ji's witty and candid answers carried on. Someone asked him why he used his left arm to rub and shine the ball (Indian cricket fans are crazy, then can analyze everything!). Kapil solved the puzzle for all of us, "I use all my strength from right hand to bowl the best, and do it six times an over, for 10 overs in a match and about 25 overs in practice sessions throughout the year. This makes my right side strong, but left side gets neglected. I have to strengthen left hand too, so I can have a balance, hence, I always use the left hand to shine the ball against my trouser." Wow, that was a revelation for me.
Photo - In front row of this pic are Vivek Subramaniam, VP - Sales that time (he was the one who took my interview at IIM Indore campus), and sitting with him are Rohit Malkani, Vinay Bhopatkar (stalwarts in AP marketing team)

Kapil's aura is so much that we were all impatient to have a snap with him but he was in no hurry and obliged each of us as his own. One thing about a sales and marketing organization is variety - you have all kinds of people asking all kind of questions. One of the serious types asked Kapil, "Why does India not have a sports culture?" Kapil asked him back, "do you have a pair of sports shoe?". He asked the same thing to almost 600 of us in the conference. Hardly 10 hands went up. Then he asked another question, "How many of you have a pair of formal shoes?" Every one of us raised our hands, and realized the answer for lack of India's sports culture the next moment.
Photo - Many more of my friends in this picture - Praveer Shrivastava (who is the Head of Marketing at Unitech now), Vivek Neb (who is the Global Head in Integreon) and Pranoy Kapoor (who is Regional Manager in Asian Paints) (Tag more if you recall)

Well, I spend a little less than 2 years with Asian Paints, and had the best of experiences in those years. And shaking hands with Kapil Dev was a dream come true.