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'Success is a game of persistence, not intellect'

Last updated on: March 25, 2011 18:19 IST

'Success is a game of persistence, not intellect'

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Prasanna D Zore

What do you do when you have 12 years of experience working as a corporate manager? You become an entrepreneur.

And what do you do when you have worked as an entrepreneur for four years? You write a book.

Kalpana Bansal, President, Talentpro, a company that delivers end-to-end HR services, fits the description to the tee.

After working for top-notch companies like Tata Unisys, STAR TV, Watson Wyatt and Mudra, Kalpana quit Mudra to start her own company Beanstalk. And now Kalpana has authored a wonderful book Up The Beanstalk that deals with HR and entrepreneurship.

In an email interview with Prasanna D Zore, Kalpana talks about the challenges faced by a start-up company, her success mantras, five avoidable mistakes that working professionals should know and offers useful tips for first-time job seekers.

What inspired you to write Up The Beanstalk?

When I was setting up Beanstalk in 2007, my mentor and I were discussing various name possibilities. Beanstalk was one amongst many choices. Given that the business was in skilling and employability and to some extent, a social entrepreneurship venture, my mentor, Sandeep Singhal, suggested that I go with Beanstalk as "Jack could go up and get the Pot of Gold".

That stuck in my mind, and later when I started putting incidents and thoughts together, the statement became the inspiration for the book.

You were an executive vice president when you quit Mudra five years ago. Tell us what motivated you to quit such a high-ranking job and start out on your own?

It was not as much about motivation as it was about boredom and a feeling of claustrophobia. I felt that what I was doing was not intellectually challenging and made demands of me as a person that did not fit in well with my value system.

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Image: Book cover of Up The Beanstalk; Inset: Kalpana Bansal

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'Drive and aspiration are directly proportional to deprivation'

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What challenges did you face as a start up? How did you overcome them?

Lack of capital, poor understanding of basics of finance and lack of support from family and friends all contributed to a shaky start. I do not think that it has been as much about overcoming the challenges through conscious decision as it is about keeping the momentum going. When you keep moving from one thing to another, life gets going and problems solve themselves.

You've raised some money from a hedge fund How did you make that happen?

I raised some money from a hedge fund and it is probably the worst decision I have made on the journey. Network helps in fund raising but personal credibility has a lot to do with it.

What are your success mantras? What drives you to juggle different entrepreneurial initiatives at the same time?

Success in business to me is a matter of staying long enough to make it happen. It is a persistence game, not an intellect game.

I have always felt that drive and aspiration are directly proportional to deprivation. The more deprived you are or have been, the more the drive to ensure you do not get back there again. Unhappiness is a huge driver to sustain enterprise.

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Image: This illustration is used only for representational purpose

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'The youth of today should not to take things for granted'

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What would be your advice to India's young who want to start out on their own?

The one and only lesson that the youth of today need is not to take things for granted. They are born in a world where they all operate out of a paradigm that they deserve to be rewarded because they exist.

What is the key to one's career success?

Sustained effort and being energetic and accessible to people. Nothing matters more than the relationships that you build and only commitment and consistent behaviour get rewarded in the long term.

5 avoidable mistakes that young working professionals make

  • Trying to get there too fast, and adapting short cuts
  • Not being realistic about their limitations
  • Constant outside comparisons, without ever looking inward
  • Not having fun on the way
  • Lack of discipline in their habits

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Image: This illustration is used only for representational purpose

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'Looks are important, but they do not matter much after the first five minutes'

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Your advice on how to stay passionate about one's job

Passion is either there or not there. If one has to put in effort to stay passionate on the job, then one is not in the right job!

How should one handle frustration at work?

It's important to have channels to let out the frustration. Also, it's important to have things other than work that define your identity, then work does not matter as much.

10 tips for first-time job seekers

  • Appear serious about wanting a job
  • The world is not waiting for you to arrive to make things happen, learn to adjust
  • Try as many different things as possible before deciding where you want to be long term
  • Maintain a sense of decorum and propriety at all times
  • Work hard, instead of spending time chatting on social networking sites
  • Be careful what you post online, it may work against you
  • It is not about the start, it's about the finishing line. So it is important to moderate pace and expectations
  • Looks are important, but they do not matter much after the first five minutes. Build yourself within
  • Whatever you do, do it for yourself, not for the world. The difference in attitude shows in everything that you do
  • Live each day for the present and do the best that you can, rest falls in place

Image: This illustration is used only for representational purpose

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