Life’s Lessons | Prashant Panday: Be intellectually honest

18 Oct,2012

By Prashant Panday


Such pieces tend to be nostalgic. They may even feel cheesy to some. But they are always written straight from the heart. And they are always truthful.


I like to think of two defining moments in my life. One that made me a better human being; the other a better professional.


There was this time when I was in school in Ahmedabad. As many people may know, households in Gujarat store foodgrains for the year. Come the wheat season and the whole family gets down to cleaning, oil-polishing and storing the grains into big aluminium or steel drums. I distinctly remember one such year when after helping clean the wheat, I was relaxing. An old lady helper was storing the grains into the large drums. Given her age and the condition of her back, she was finding it difficult to bend down, lift the heavy load and dump it into the drum. Instinctively, I relieved her of that responsibility and took over. Now this is something I think any normal human should do. I really didn’t think much of it. But what was destiny-defining for me was when my mom applauded my action and told everyone how proud she was of me. That impression that was created in my mind – the purposeful encouragement to the softer aspects of one’s personality – was permanent. Today, I come across numerous situations – in personal and business life – when I am guided by that same lesson. Help the needy. Help those who are already under centuries of burden. Don’t be too demanding. Be a little kind. It goes a long way. An adjunct of this lesson is the need to be intellectually honest in dealings with others. That is what makes leaders, leaders.


The other defining moment made me a better professional. And this I say unabashedly (it’s a little cheesy to praise one’s boss!) about my previous mentor and boss Mr Parigi (just called APP in Mirchi). My job in Mirchi was the first one I did in a “horizontal” capacity – a general manager of sorts. Before this, I had largely been a marketing and sales guy. My people skills were rough to say the least! My vanity in the field of Marketing was profound and my disdain for people who couldn’t be intellectually savvy was huge. Not surprising then that in my first year at Mirchi, I rubbed several people up the wrong way! APP helped me chisel off my rough edges; become more sensitive to people issues. He rejected my hypothesis that being pushy with goals necessitated being pushy with people. He also spotted a certain ability of mine to absorb new things very quickly (quick learner). I know I have a high degree of intellectual curiosity, but APP’s endorsement of that furthered it. My team knows my determination; the determination that unless I am satisfied, I will keep asking questions; keep probing. Sometimes, people feel I am too aggressive, but this aggression helps get to the right answers.


Like I said, some of this may sound cheesy. But then, it’s the real truth! (therealtruth is the name of my blog on politics. It appears on


Life’s Lessons is a part of MxMIndia’s ‘Personally Speaking’ series which appears every Friday.


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2 responses to “Life’s Lessons | Prashant Panday: Be intellectually honest”

  1. Himanshu Agarwal says:

    Mr Panday, thanks for recounting both the experiences.

  2. Lynn says:

    very well said, prashant, love both the stories ….they are so you!

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