I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Famous words from Marlon Brando as Don Corleone in ‘The Godfather’, that became a turning point in a twenty-five-year-old’s life. Here was this guy with a smacking IIT degree, but getting nowhere with his white-collar- top-dollar dream of working with them big and coveted companies operating from those glitzy buildings. He was so down and despondent, losing faith in himself as he chain-smoked his frustration. The only return mail he got was from companies that had moved addresses or those insincere words of hope. Better luck next time.
One day, following a stray lead like a street dog follows a promising scent, he landed up at a small office that was part of a big international network. They sold dreams there: investment opportunities and ready-made projects for those with the moolah. It seemed the kind of job one had craved for three years while languishing at factories with machines milling around, sawdust in the butt folds, and grease lining the nails.
He spent the day there poring through data to make a sample investment profile as they’d asked him to. The tall dapper boss sent him away with hope, as in ‘We’ll get back.’ Sure enough, they didn’t.
Our guy then found someone who knew someone who knew the company and went back again to check why they hadn’t called him.
‘Because you don’t have a finance degree,’ the affable boss said. ‘And obviously, you haven’t done this before.’
‘Did I pass the test?’ asked the young fella, who had spent months learning investment models and appraisals in wait for the dream job.
‘Yes, you did, but…’
The young man didn’t know what overcame him – desperation, self-respect or divine inspiration, but he said, ‘Sir, try me for free. If I don’t cut the grade, throw me out. There’s no risk.’
The dream merchant gave our guy a laser gaze, his palms steepled over his lips, and smiled.
‘Two weeks. Starting now.’
He was put on a new case – an investment report for a seats project for India’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer. He slogged and pounded away at spreadsheets, working day and night in the office, living on black coffee and Wills cigarettes. He had scrounged his savings to buy the world’s most authoritative but unaffordable books on project and investment finance, books few would have seen in their MBA courses.
On the twelfth day, he was called in.
‘Get visiting cards made. You’re seeing the client tomorrow.’
The youngster was zapped. ‘Sir, I’m still on trial.’
Next day, the young man presented his first visiting card at Hero Honda, things went well and the project was taken. Back at the office, the MD asked him about his last drawn salary. Our guy gave him a number inflating it by half to factor in the months of unemployment. And was stunned when the kind boss doubled it, with prospects for a review in six months. The man went soaring.
It wasn’t a big company, but it was well-connected, the young man got to meet rich and powerful business people, and learnt from their acumen. He got the chance to travel a lot and meet people from different cultures. Years later, our man was now his own master, advising governments, international companies and UN agencies on trade, investment and public policy issue. In domains way different from what his mechanical engineering degree could get him. He still buys and devours the best books on any subject he takes up and learns every day, to deliver what he’s taken on.
Looking back, it was all because he had made an offer that couldn’t be refused. An offer to work for free.
Also because someone took a bet on him – you get that chance only once in life.
So, if you feel you’re worth it and pining for that dream job wherever, make an offer they can’t refuse: offer to work for free, until you get a real chance. You’ve nothing to lose and the world to gain. And then, deliver on the trust someone placed in you by giving you a chance.
You’ve nothing to lose and the world to gain. But then, deliver on the trust someone placed in you by giving you a chance.
For it’s a big thing – putting one’s reputation and butt on the line.
In case you’re wondering who that young guy was, well, that was ….
Best luck my young Indians!