My FIRST JOB… By Josy Paul

12 Oct,2012

Every Friday, we run a ‘Personally Speaking’ space on MxMIndia where we invite senior industry captains and practitioners to reminsce… about their first accomplishment, the relationship with a sibling in the same profession, some unforgettable sermons or simply how they unwind. On the second Friday of the month, we carry ‘My First…’ and this time we have Josy Paul on his first job…


By Josy Paul


I lost my first job in two months.

It was just after college and I was working for the branch office in Mumbai of a large agency that was headquartered in Delhi.


I was hired as an account executive, not as a copywriter. But I was doing all the creative writing for the agency. My local boss was a big-talking happy-go-lucky chap. (He is now the well-known head of one of India’s biggest independent agencies.) Any way, the Chairman of the big agency where I began my career was also the owner of the company. I had never met him but I had heard he was a bit of a tyrant. He rarely visited Mumbai, but everybody in our tiny branch office near the Old Custom House, was scared of him. I was told he was a big influential man in Delhi.


One day, after a couple of months of random writing and creative work, I received a call from the Chairman on the landline. He asked me about the outstanding payment of an important Mumbai client. I didn’t have a clue. This bothered him a lot and he began to yell at me. I forgot my position and began to shout back at him on the phone. He lost control and started to abuse me like crazy. I lost it too and I let loose a volley of ‘gaalis’ at him, loudly. There was chaos in the entire office. People got so frightened they ran out of the place. They did not want to be an eyewitness to this abusive exchange. The elderly Chairman was dumbfounded by my words. He slammed the phone on me. I remember I stood there all alone wondering what happened. This wasn’t me. I left the building unable to look at any one. Just a couple of months into my first job, and I was already on the run.


I called up my immediate boss (the guy who is now the head of India’s biggest independent agencies) from a street phone and told him what had happened. We decided it was best that I disappear. A few days later I got a call at home, at my parent’s place. It was from the sons of the Chairman. They wanted to meet me. I thought they had come down to Mumbai to beat me up for screaming at their father. I decided to meet them. Because I wanted to apologize for what I had done. To my surprise they brushed aside the incident and invited me to join them for drinks at the rooftop of the Taj Mahal Hotel near the Gateway. It was a longish drinking session. Totally drunk we attended an award show – the Ad Club awards – where the brothers asked me to go up on stage with them to collect a trophy. They were being so good to me. They wanted me back. I wondered why? But I was ashamed. I didn’t deserve such forgiveness and generosity. Sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. You’ve got to work your own crap out in your head. So I thanked the brothers and decided to move on. My first job taught me so many powerful lessons, and I am grateful to all these wonderful people who believed in me so early in my career.


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