Lessons From The First Mission
We have completed our first mission in Bombay, and quite successfully I have to say. We put in quite some work and effort to produce quality documentation and financial models that will help LeapForWord achieve their growth objectives. It has been a motivating mission with fascinating goals and achievements. During a feedback session with Pranil, the CEO of LeapForWord, I made a mental note of the “Andile’s Key Take Aways” from this mission, and here it goes:
Pranil is the captain of this ship. He really leads by example and is well respected and appreciated by his staff of five. He makes sure everyone knows what is expected of them, and give them freedom to accomplish their goals without any interference. I really liked his authoritative style of leadership. I guess as a small team, it’s quit difficult to be hierarchal, but knowing Pranil, I know he would prefer the paternalistic leadership style even if his team were to grow from 5 to 500. He is committed to his cause, and is passionate about supporting children in learning English. He is a humble guy, never fancy and prefer a simple life. I have never seen him presenting in public, but I imagine him to be the guy you would want to listen to, just because of his honest face and hunger behind his mission.
Being inspired by their captain, the LeapForWord team is dedicated to the cause. In fact, they live this course, their lives evolve around making a difference through LeapForWord. One can wrongly misinterpret this as “having no life”, which is not the case as these guys are truly committed. They work long hours and sometimes (actually most of the time) even work on weekends. The team knows what is expected of them and they never disappoint to deliver. This makes work quit easy for Pranil as he knows he can trust each and everyone of them with their work and doesn’t need to check up on them, which explains his paternalistic style of leadership.
- Good and Transparent Intentions
In the recent years, there have been a lot of village schools being closed down due to the high growth rate of private “English Medium” schools, NGO run schools and thus insufficient learners from the public village schools. The problem is due to the lack of quality English teachers. Most teachers can barely speak English themselves, let alone teach it. LeapForWord’s mission is not to take advantage of this situation but rather to offer a complimentary service to the troubled government system. LeapForWord offers training of English teachers from government school, and if they are still kids who fall through the cracks, LeapForWord then offer classes outside school to help those kids. This is important as they are not against the government system, but rather with it in fighting the good cause of learning English together.
With these lessons in hand, I am ready to move on to the next mission in the health sector in Pune. It will be interesting to see the differences between these sectors, and the next mission promises to be just as challenging and interesting. The next organization is a bit more experienced and has a proper organizational structure. It will be interesting to see changes from the “entrepreneurial” LeapForWord to the next mission.
Outside work, I have had the pleasure to watch the organized chaos and observe the day-to-day lifestyles. As with any other country, there are things India should be proud of and there are others not so much. Sticking with my optimistic side, I have witnessed an extremely tolerant culture amongst Indian people.
The Love of India
It’s the kind of tolerance that just glues people together. It’s an impeccable character that hinders hatred from the diverse tribes of India. Its the purity that allows mosque, churches and temples to be located several meters from each other, that allows slums to be positioned right next to five star hotels. It’s the fondness that enables Punjabis, Tamils, Bengalis and Kashmiris to tolerate each other. I call this glue, the “Love of India”. You see this love everywhere, from the wives wiping sweat off their husband’s faces using the edges of their shawls, from rickshaw drivers allowing other guys to squeeze in a tiny space in front of them without questioning them and you see it from the passion people like Pranil dedicated in making their missions a success.
With over 120 major languages, 29 states and 1,2 billion people, it’s the love that keeps this cricket mad nation together. I have experienced this love myself. A couple of weeks ago I went for a haircut. Not realizing that it was lunch time (Indian lunchtime start at 2pm), I entered the barber shop and found three men sitting around a small table, hands cupped like spoons and dipping chapattis into a small plastic container with a what looked like a mutton mince and gravy sauce.
Upon realizing this, I quickly retreated, “Sorry gentlemen, I didn’t realize it was lunchtime, I’ll come back in an hour.”
“No, no, no, please sir, have a sit and join us,” the gentlemen at the far corner responded.
“No, I just had lunch and I am full, so you guys go ahead and enjoy your meal”, I insisted trying to escape.
“Ok then just have a taste my friend, it will be our pleasure as my wife cooked for us”.
There was no escape and I wanted to be nice, so I took a small piece of chapatti and dipped it in what I later learnt was mutton keema matar sauce, and indeed it was delicious.
‘Is it good?” the husband asked.
“Yes, it is”
“Ok then, have some more”, he commanded as he pulled a chair for me to join them around the table.
I tried to protest, but it didn’t work. If there is one thing I have learned in India, it’s the fact that you can never say “no” to an Indian. So before I knew it, I had a full piece of chapatti and dipping it in the delicious keema matar gravy. Fifteen minutes later after being served water, banana and had washed my hands, one of the guys finally asked, “So, what’s your name and what can I do for you?” I was so humbled by this experience as what they shared with me was food that was barely enough for three people, yet they couldn’t suppress the love, and they made space for another mouth without thinking twice about it.
As we move to Pune for our next mission, I hope I meet people like my barber. I am looking forward to experience a different city. I am looking forward to starting a new mission and helping a different organization. I will update you, once I am settled and well on our mission. Until then, be safe and please adopt the “Love of India”.
Till next time, namasthae 🙂