What can the story of a sexy housewife turned radio jockey teach an aspiring CEO?
If you’ve watched ‘Tumhari Sulu’ you probably know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t , go see it now. It’s the story of Sulochana aka Sulu, the desperate housewife. Sulu is desperate – for a career, a job , or the chance to be an entrepreneur.
Her work experience extends from ‘Winner – Mummy dance show’ to ‘Final round audition Asli mummy contest in Goregaon East’. And she’s failed Class 12 three times. But she makes it, in the big bad world of media . A world of chrome and glass and the right appearances, where the hip young workforce says ‘dude’ and ‘bro’ and nobody, but nobody, would ever dream of bringing a tiffin box from home in a shabby oversized bag .
So what can an aspiring CEO learn from this Bollywood feel good film ? Here’s 5 big things
1. Learn to spot talent : Radio Wow boss Maria sensed a talent in Sulu and took a risk employing her. And the risk paid off. Sulu turns out to be an amazing RJ. She has a rare empathy and the ability to communicate with all sorts of listeners. Dial in requests pour in and the show becomes a hit . Lesson 1 : Take Risks with talent . Because talent can come wrapped in unlikely packages, and the ‘sari wali bhabhi’ who prattles about ‘ladies log’ may have more empathy and ability to communicate with your customers than anyone else in your organisation. So take a risk and hire her.
2. Reward Persistence – It’s Sulu’s enthusiasm for the job that gives her the energy and commitment to make the show a success. She is persistent and badgers Maria to hire her. So while we don’t recommend encouraging would- be employees to call five times in a row , putting a premium on persistence is good strategy. Lesson 2 Someone who really wants the job desperately is more likely to work hard and make a success of it.
3. Let the Kids come to Work : Sulu has no one to leave her son Pranav home with one night and so she brings him to work. The office accepts him happily, he even gets to play a table tennis game. Watching his mother at work makes the young boy the biggest supporter of his mother’s career. Later, when the family gets into trouble it’s this experience that turns the tables in support of Sulu’s career. Lesson 3 : If you want the support of the younger generation, welcome them to the office. You needn’t have a TT table – though that would help !
4. Be an accessible boss – Wow boss Maria is accessible. She sits in for the audition of newbie Sulu. She spots first hand the enthusiasm and persistence that Sulu has. She’s available to discuss any hesitations that Sulu’s husband may have. And she spends time training Sulu. It’s no fluke that the radio show Tumhari Sulu becomes a hit . Lesson 4 : As a boss, invest in your employees. Have an open door policy , share your cell number and be accessible.
5. Be nice at exit interviews – When problems on the family front get really hard, Sulu is forced to think about quitting her radio job. For Radio Wow , it ’s a case of investing in an employee who is now quitting on them. Producer Pankaj is livid. But Maria is sympathetic. And it’s because of this attitude, that Sulu does come back. And sooner than anyone else would have expected. Lesson 5 : Understand employees need to do other things. As Oscar Wilde would say, Set them free. If they truly love you they will come back . This holds for millennials, mommies and anybody who would like to take a sabbatical !