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Walking the Talk in Well-Being is the Only Way

What happens when a 60 plus industrialist meets a 27-year-old yogi? Excerpts from a discussion between Harsh Mariwala and Sarvesh Shashi at Thrive Global’s India Leadership Summit.

What gives you confidence to start out on your own? And once you do, where do you get the physical strength, after the intensely demanding nature of running an enterprise, to look after your own well-being? These were just a few of the deliberations that industrialist Harsh Mariwala, who founded Marico Limited, one of India’s leading beauty and wellness consumer products companies, in 1990, and Sarvesh Shashi, the 27-year-old founder of yoga studio chain Sarva, engaged in at Thrive Global India’s inaugural India Leadership Summit. Here are some of the life lessons we picked up from their conversation:

1. The importance of routine

Speaking at the first panel of the day on the key Thrive pathway, Well-Being, their conversation set the tone for what was to follow. Underlining the direct connection between well-being and performance, Mariwala shared snippets of his daily routine and how manages to incorporate self-care in his schedule (he works out 365 days in a year and takes no off days from taking care of himself!). Switching workout routines to keep it “interesting and not lose his momentum”, and finding ways to exercise even on days he was travelling, the Marico chairman has a solution for all corporate excuses. “The day I cannot workout and I have to travel, I like to go to the airport early and walk for an hour,” he said.

2. Make well-being a way of life

For the Sarva founder who found his vocation very early in life, well-being is clearly defined. Shashi began his journey as a teenager (“Going to a yoga class at 17 with my dad changed my life. There’s a before 17 and after 17 for me”). He revealed how he meditates for nine hours daily and follows the five steps his guru set down for him at 18 years:

1) Saying no to intoxicants

2) Non-violence

3) No mental or physical stealing

4) No lying (including no white lies)

5) Celibacy

It has been nine years, well past the stipulated seven years that the guru had asked for and, “I haven’t broken any of these promises till date and it has now become a way of life for me,” he said.

What was interesting was his description of mental stealing or covetousness. Wishing to own something owned by another is mental stealing according to Shashi.

3. Learn to be more mindful

Shashi stressed on the need for mindfulness or “living in the moment” and being grateful. “Our mindsets are what make us or break us,” said Mariwala, so the focus should be on good thoughts.

4. Making the workplace friendlier

Discussing the work ethics at Marico, Mariwala shared how the company trusted its employees and sick leaves are not numbered since one cannot work if unwell, and employees honestly honour this trust placed in them. Building trust between employer and employees is key to the success of a business, he felt.

(With inputs by Sanjana Agrawal)

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