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Saurabh Mukherjea on 4 factors that lead to outsized success

Crux of outsized success is specialisation, simplification, creativity and collaboration, says the Founder & CIO, Marcellus Investment Managers.

Let me understand the idea of this book — The Victory Project. Here you are talking about how we individuals with practice and a plan, can go about unlocking our own potential. How did the idea come to you for this book?
A couple of years ago, my friend Anupam Gupta and I were having a cup of coffee in Lower Parel and we were discussing how great companies in our country evolved. Companies like Asian Paints or HDFC Bank or Info Edge, the company Sanjeev Bikhchandani founded 30 years ago. The stories behind them are very similar, especially the stories of great promoters, great fund managers and successful people in many other walks of life.

There are common threads that you can join together in terms of what drives creativity, what drives outliers success across a variety of fields. That was the backdrop of that cup of coffee we had two years ago in Lower Parel and that led to this idea that we can write a book which tries to encapsulate into 100 odd pages what are the five or six things which are very common to outsize success across the range of fields.

Given everything that is happening in our country in the last six months, we gave it an upbeat name — The Victory Project. Victory here is about hitting your peak potential. All of us are born with some unique talents. How do we get the most out of our talents? How do we do justice to our talents whether we are a promoter of a very successful company like Info Edge or whether we are a journalist or a media broadcaster? How do each of us get to the top of our game? The Victory Project is basically trying to get the heart of that conundrum.

You have talked about Krishnadevaraya and how disciplined he was. How do you explain the importance of discipline, importance of habits and how they shape and mould great leaders and unlock their full potential?
What we have tried to do in the book is create a simplicity paradigm. Choose an area you want to specialise in, simplify that discipline, come up with some simple thumb rules to success, build an element of spirituality so that you are not perpetually spending a lifetime saying me, me, me! Ramp up the creativity; figure out how to collaborate amongst a group of talented people and that is the simplicity paradigm.

So simplifying complexity, do it the way iPhone does. iPhone has 5,000 parts worth $ 400. It retails for $ 1,100 because they are simplifying complexity. In all humility, I have to claim that we at Marcellus are trying to do the same for our clients in the stock market. We are simplifying stock market investing using my preceding book Coffee Can Investing. Crux of outsized success is first to specialise. Specialisation leads to simplification. Combine the simplification with a degree of creativity, work and collaborate with a group of talented individuals and you have the recipe for mind blowing success and you are doing full justice to yourself and your own potential.

“Do it the way iPhone does. iPhone has 5,000 parts worth $ 400. It retails for $ 1,100 because they are simplifying complexity.”

— Saurabh Mukherjea

In order to achieve this objective, how important is it to declutter your mind?
If you simplify, you will have deep insights into a complicated subject. If any of us are going to seek deep insights into complicated subject, it obviously helps if all other clutters in your life — be it mental clutter or having to do too many things in a compressed work day or physical clutter — are gone. The less clutter you have in your schedule, in your mind, in your lifestyle, the more likely it is that you will get laser-like focus on what you are trying to do.

How can one go about really unlocking one’s creativity to the fullest? How constantly do we need to come up with ideas to improve performance at our workplace — be it businesses or start-ups?
As Anupam and I were writing this book we made it a point of reaching out to individuals who had proven creativity over several decades. Not just Sanjeev Bikhchandani, we spoke to Mark Mobius, Harsh Mariwala sab in Bombay, Professor Bakshi in Delhi and what we found was that among creative people, five things are very common; the first is reading a wide variety of material from a variety of sources. As Charlie Munger memorably says he has never met a smart person who does not read nonstop.

The second is a variety of experiences. So travel, do a variety of things in life. Between 1990 and 1997, when Sanjeev was putting the basics of Info Edge together, Naukri together, he held onto four or five jobs. Doing a variety of things in life juices up creativity.

The third element is a high output rate. You would not find too many creative people who have produced one creative work in five years. Most creative people are going at it all the time whether they are movie directors or venture capitalists or promoters.

The final element is the ability to convince other people to join him or her in this journey. That this is a fun journey, an interesting journey. The ability to collaborate with like-minded creative souls is another hallmark of creativity. So reading, a variety of experiences, high output rate and collaboration amongst other like-minded souls are hallmarks of creative people across professions.

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