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What you should do to win at work and in life

In his book Catalyst: The Ultimate Strategies on how to win at work and in life, Chandramouli Venkatesan, CEO (Special Projects), Pidilite Industries Limited, lists what one should do to succeed in their careers and life and how to go about the same

Catalyst, the book, is a product of Chandramouli Venkatesan’s many travels. A frequent flyer (due to work of course), Venkatesan, CEO (Special Projects), Pidilite Industries Limited, decided to use the time he spent in the airplane to jot down the recipe for success he had come to learn from the people he has met and known.

Venkatesan is quick to point out that the book is a product of his experiences and his beliefs and is not a scientifically method proven to attain success, as there is no one recipe for success. In his book Catalyst: The Ultimate Strategies on how to win at work and in life, Venkatesan, lists what one should do to succeed in their careers and life and how to go about the same.

The book argues that Career Growth = Real Individual Growth +/- Environmental Factors. Here, real individual growth refers to how much you grow as a person and the environmental factors are the forces that are beyond one’s control and what life throws at you.

Chandramouli Venkatesan

“A very philosophical way to explain this proposition will be to quote Bhagvad Gita. In the book, Krishna says, “Karam karo phal ki chinta mat karo”. Now, I believed this quote quite ironic coming from Krishna who was focused on the end goal no matter what the path to the destination entailed. But I learned to interpret the saying in a manner which suited my sensibilities. My interpretation is that Krishna was probably asking us to focus on how to get to our goal rather than the goal itself. He was not saying that the result is not important but rather that the probability of getting the result increases when one stops focusing on the result and starts focusing on the deed,” explained Venkatesan.

Venkatesan lists out some areas that people need to focus on to improve their real individual growth, which ultimately will convert into success, both at their workplace and in life.

Converting time to experience:

Venkatesan argues that merely spending time at work and doing your job doesn’t necessarily convert itself into experience. One first needs to understand the concept of experience, what counts as experience and then spend their time gaining it, instead of just spending time at work.

“Time is just a measure of how many hours you have spent doing your job. It is not a measure of how much experience you have gained,” said Venkatesan.

Career management:

Vekatesan then moves on to explain how it is important to make the decision of quitting a job or joining another job wisely. Taking the analogy of a marriage, Venkatesan says that one does not walk away from a marriage because you find someone more attractive. And therefore to quit a job just because you have a better offer might not be the best decision to make. He says that there must be valid reasons for quitting a job and if there are no reasons to quit, then there is no need to quit. He points out how considering taking up another job should be just as carefully pondered upon. The cornerstone for making both these decisions should be one’s personal growth.

Win where it matters:

According to Venkatesan, everyone’s career is divided in a first half and a second. There is no definitive answer as to what divides and defines these two halves. Suffice to say that, the first half is when you need the company more than the company needs you and the second half is when the company needs you more than you need the company.

Venkatesan believes that most people succeed in the first half of their careers but only a select few manage to win in the second half of their careers and that is what ultimately divides the crème de la crème from the others.

Work-life balance:

Venkatesan is of the view that the impact of work on life is miniscule, while the impact of life on work is significant. Therefore, Venkatesan urges people to take up hobbies which are not just recreational but require certain strife to achieve. This in turn, he advocates, will reflect on one’s career achievements.


Venkatesan has an interesting take on values and Indians. He says that Indians define values as what is acceptable instead of what is right.

“A good example of this can be seen at traffic signals. If everyone stops at a red light, we will also stop but if everyone breaks the red light, we will too,” said Venkatesan.

He also delves on values and their payback. He says that most people are wary to do the right thing because they believe nothing comes out of it. But Venkatesan is of the view that while people shouldn’t worry about payback when doing right, it is also true that honesty and integrity have extraordinary impact on leadership.

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