2015 has been a momentous year for us at Prayag in more ways than one. The year began with a lot of promise as we set our growth plans in motion and started seeing results of our efforts. However, sometimes the best-laid plans get waylaid. Our CEO, Sudha Kumar unexpectedly fell ill midway and passed away in November. While the loss was heartbreaking, however, without skipping a beat, Prayag as an organization continues to carry on its business. Sudha would not have wished for anything else. Not only that, I think that’s the spirit of the organization, deeply ingrained in each one of us, which helped us to carry on.
Having worked with Sudha for 14 years, I was thinking about what I had learned from her. Oh! There is plenty of that. But here are seven standouts, in my view, which have shaped Prayag to become what it is today and will continue to shape our future too.
1. Be brave enough to try something new: At Prayag, we have never hesitated to explore the unknown or work with ambiguities. I remember several occasions where we did not have answers to many questions lined up when evaluating a project. But that didn’t deter us from taking on the project if we sensed that it was something we could wrap our arms around. It was with this attitude we tackled our first website project and in fact won a “Best Vendor” award for our work from the client.
2. Build your confidence brick by brick: During every interview with a potential hire, we repeat this proudly and without fail – we are a hands-on company and everybody right from the CEO downwards is actively involved in the work. Well! It’s true and we firmly believe in that philosophy. Your expertise and confidence grows only when you dirty your hands. How else can you guide your team if you don’t know how to do it yourself? Clients also trust your words better as your conviction and confidence comfort them. So don’t shirk the hard work.
3. Don’t compromise by staying quiet: Never hesitate to offer your view even if it contradicts what your client is saying. Ultimately you may defer to their decision or viewpoint, but not at the expense of compromising on your views and values. Our clients appreciate us playing this role and bringing in the consultant view, fully understanding that our views would be enriched by market knowledge, experience with different companies and insights into best practices.
4.Put in your 100%: I cannot overstate the value of this lesson. At Prayag, we have always given and will continue to give our 100% to every initiative, big or small. There are times when we have expended more effort than what we were getting paid for but did not grudge it. A solid output was the driving factor. Once you get into a project, all that matters is you give it your all to ensure it successfully completes. That counts for a lot.
5. Challenge yourself and move to the next level: What’s the fun in doing something over and over again and staying at the same level? That’s not our style – we are constantly trying to improve what we already have and identify what else we could take on. And yes we do celebrate our successes but don’t spend a long time gloating over it. There’s lot more to be done and so we need to get going, right?
6. It’s the attitude: The only metric that counts for us is performance. It does not matter if you have impressive credentials or are a great articulator. A “can-do” and “willingness to learn” attitude is what we value the most. For it takes you places. Stand out in the crowd by willingly accepting responsibility even if it a challenging one. Just think about this, it’s easy to dole out ideas by the dozen, but difficult to implement them. And if you manage to do both, you have arrived.
7. Stay positive: No matter what issue assails you remain optimistic. We have repeatedly seen that if your intentions are positive, something always works out. By steering clear of thinking up doomsday scenarios, your mind is actually free to work out solutions and fix the issue. Can’t help but be reminded of this old adage – when one door closes, another opens. And to spot this other door opening, your positivity, attitude and mental fortitude come into play.
I hope I have adequately captured the principles that Sudha used to build Prayag. We will miss her for sure. However, the last six months have shown us that she indeed built an organization. Rest assured that we will continue in the same vein and spirit in which it was founded.