GMR Chief to Speak to EO New Delhi

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The story of G M Rao, the Founder Chairman of GMR Group is truly inspirational! He was born in a small town called Rajam in Andhra Pradesh to a small scale jeweller. The origins of his business empire can be traced back to a single Jute Mill which he invested in, in 1978. From then on till the 1990s, he indulged in opportunity driven business building, entering 28 businesses as a serial entrepreneur. He exited most of them when the economic reforms of the 90s allowed for newer opportunities.

As a part of the post liberalization baby boomer generation of entrepreneurs, his consequent moves were entirely driven by strategy and made with a long term horizon in mind. He eventually settled his focus on the core infrastructure sector. The result is a robust GMR group that is active in 7 countries and has business verticals in Energy, Roads, Airports and Urban Infrastructure including SEZs. He is also the owner of Delhi Daredevils!

Mr. Rao’s personal journey has been an interesting one. He has evolved from a student leader to a trader, to a manufacturer, to a banker and to an infrastructure developer. Over the last 35 years, his company has grown into the one of the most recognized brands in the country. G.M. Rao is India’s 15th richest person and a Forbes Billionaire having a net worth of $ 3.2 Billion (2010).

His management principles too are unique! He believes that “Family must be run like Business and Business must be run like Family”. The GMR Group Vision also states that the “GMR Group will be an institution in perpetuity that will build entrepreneurial organizations making a difference to society through creation of value”. Mr. Rao also has a strong belief in giving back to society, for which he has set up the GMR Varalakshmi Foundation to improve education, empowerment, healthcare, livelihood and community development in 22 locations in India and Nepal. To ensure that his legacy lives on, Mr. Rao made a significant endowment to his Foundation; namely his entire personal wealth!

G.M. Rao’ will be speaking to the members of EO New Delhi in a must attend event on 18th December 2013 at 7.30 pm at Ganga, Shangri-la, New Delhi. Please RSVP on Facebook or via SMS to Nishtha Bakshi (Chapter Admin).

Once in a life time experience in EO

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My EO journey started in June 2012 when I joined EO New Delhi as an Admin. This was the first of its kind job for me, so I didn’t know what to expect from it. What came my way seemed normal until our last EO event – “Walk on fire with Helene Liu”.

I had attended the same event before organized by another ‘O’ organisation, and was the first time I attended an event outside of EO. To put it simply, it was nothing like our event… there was this DEAD silence at this event, no networking, no interaction, and very unlike our own EO event, only 35 people attended. It made me realise how engaged and integrated our members are – they get so involved, cannot stop asking questions and adding value in their own way to the events – which essentially happened at the Walk on fire event too!

At the EO Walk on Fire, the event started with Walking on broken glass. As soon as Helene was done showing the demo, there was a rush of volunteers to walk, it was difficult to stop the members and their families (including small kids) to walk on glass. Helene said later that evening, “this group is so energetic and fearless, I’ve not seen a group like this in a long time”. The Glass walk went on for about 30 minutes and we then moved towards FIRE, the main event of the evening.

Helene gave a little brief on the “Dos and Donts” and then walked on fire herself. Before she could even turn around and say something, one of our tenured members, Rajiv Bajaj and his son walked one after another BOLDLY GO’ing. I was shocked, I think so was Helene –  they showed no fear!

In my journey of 17 months with EO I’ve seen and organized many events and some really brilliant ones, that scored more than 9 ratings but what I saw and experienced on 17th November was nothing compared to anything that I had experienced before. The Family bonding across the entire chapter!! The scene of a daughter/son and father walking together on fire was too emotional and priceless not only for them but also for people watching. Forum bonding! ID Musafir’s forum walked together. I didn’t get a chance to ask them about their experience but the enthusiasm said it all. This was nothing like that we’ve ever done before… it was exceptional!! We MADE A MARK!


The event went on.. one after another there were lot of amazing moments, fathers walking hand in hand with their young daughters, forums walking together, couples walking together.. by the way all of them are walking on FIRE, but the ease and calm they did it with did not reflect it was such a daunting task. And then came my turn, I was so scared.. I went in front to start and then backed off a couple of times and then Akash Khanna (another EO New Delhi member) came forward, took off his shoes, held my hand and said “I’ll walk with you, just look straight and walk”. Thank you Akash, I owe you for this one. Just when I thought this was over, Helene came running to me and said “Amarjeet, you have to walk with me”. And I walked on that fire again with Helene!

This is what EO gave me and all those who attended a “Once in a lifetime experience”. I will not forget this event till my last breath and am sure a lot of you fell the same!

Amarjeet Kaur
EO New Delhi

Deeper impacts of walking on Fire and Broken Glass

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The sun set that evening, only to give rise to a majestic full moon shining over the sprawling lawns of a fellow EO members farmhouse. 50-odd EO families gathered together with growing anxiety and fear. My kids had mice running in their stomach as soon as they were invited to light the log fire. Each of us were asked to make a wish. Suveer, my 11Yo son, wished that no one should get burnt or cut. Such a simple yet impacting wish, and a far cry from some of the other material wishes I hear. Well done son !

Anshana and Ruheen (my 8YO) daughter had declared to me earlier that there would only be a 50:50 chance that they would walk on fire that evening, By now I could see that slowly progress towards a sure-shot ‘NO WAY’.

EO resource, Helen Lui,  broke us into forums to discuss our individual intentions to do the walk. By this time the fire was burning fiercely, almost like a Pyre under the glow of the moon. We discussed one aspect that each of us wanted to leave behind and focused on a future goal that was dear to us. Some joked that this was Agni Pariksha, a test to separate the pure EO’s from the un-pure ones.

Armed with these thoughts and only High-Tea to keep our courage levels high, the group proceeded for its first circus act of the evening. It would be a while before alcohol was served………

ACT 1 : Broken Glass Walk – The Mind over Matter.

The walk started with a few brave souls volunteering to demonstrate the EO Core Value – ‘Boldly Go’. The walk way was set with 60-70 broken champagne bottles spread evenly over a white sheet. Helen showed us the way – keep your head high – focus on your end goal – do not look down at minor distractions , the broken glass – it will only distract. Before we knew it every one including kids as young as 6-7 YO joined in to walk on glass. It was one of the most empowering moments I have ever seen.

Key Learnings:

1) The glass walk demonstrated that mostly fear is only in the mind. Your achievements are limited by this fear. By over coming that fear, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things (without alcohol).

2) If you focus firmly on your goals (outcome) and you have the determination to achieve them, nothing can stop you.

It was truly mind over matter !

ACT 2 : Fire Walk – A Risk Mitigation Strategy :

After having braved the glass walk, the fire walk seemed like a piece of cake. Armed with disbelief (of walking on glass) our anxiety gave way to a wave of positive energy. EO Families held hands and walked over burning embers in a grand show of faith and commitment to each other. Save a few chickens, who did not like the idea of being grilled on a tandoor, 90% of EO’ers present walked on the fire bed multiple times.

Key Learnings :

While I watched this amazing feat being performed by fellow ordinary humans, I put my thoughts on the science behind this act. Why didn’t this logic defying feat, burn us ? The answer lies in the risk mitigation strategy used.

Though walking on fire seemed to be a suicide mission, I saw that if you can consciously plan for every major risk that you can conceive in advance, the task becomes much easier to execute. This is very much like what we use during own business execution processes.

Here’s what I observed :

1) The length of the fire walk was kept at 10 feet, there by containing the maximum damage to a few blisters. (this came from Helen’s experience).

This way she had already covered our maximum down side.

2) The grass on either side of the fire was soaked in cool water, there by creating a thin membrane of wet soil on the sole of our feet. This way by the time it started getting hot underneath, we were already more than half way through.

On the other side, again the presence of wet grass cooled the already hot sole plate, giving immediate relief, thereby preventing any blisters on our feet.

Needless to say none of this could have been possible without a ‘Coach’.

I am grateful to Vibhas Prasad and Karan Bhatia (Eo New Delhi Learning Chairs) for organising an event which had such deep impact on how we go about mitigating risks while relentlessly pursuing our goals. The Learnings from the event can be applied to personal as well as professional growth.

Going EO360 with you,

Hameet Sawhney

EO New Delhi