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Top 6 Sneaky Signs of ‘Corporate Fekus’ at Your Workplace

Ever felt like your MBA classes were preparing you more for a trivia night than the boardroom? Enter The Practical MBA by Sandeep Das — the book that bridges the gap between textbook theory and real-world hustle. From decoding the characters known as ‘Corporate Fekus’ to mastering the skills that truly count in the real business world, this book is your crash course in surviving (and thriving) in today’s cutthroat corporate jungle.

 

Read this exclusive excerpt to learn how to outwit the office ‘Fekus’ and turn your career into a blockbuster!

The Practical MBA
The Practical MBA || Sandeep Das

***

Raghavan, a senior professional, seems to be successful at work but poke a level down—there seems to be distrust in his team with consistent underperformance, stress and a deep sense of misery at his place of work. However, his bosses absolutely love him.

 

Welcome to the age of the Corporate Feku.

 

It is never easy to work with someone who is always building a narrative, either to hide his underperformance or put someone down or to overcome a deep sense of personality complex. The associated stress, shame, guilt and general misery can be overwhelming for most people. However, such people tend to be successful at their place of work. They are blessed with deep political acumen along with the right blend of sociopathic and narcissistic attributes. Following are some key traits of the Corporate Feku.

 

1. Always Builds a Narrative, Often a Fake One
The Corporate Feku barely performs on most business metrics. However, what they are good at is elevating their role and positioning it as something very big. They will often associate their roles with words including radical, industry defining, path breaking, transformative, undoing years of poor work. In addition, before every critical board meeting, they are capable of building a fake narrative of a beautiful future to take people’s attention away from the existing gloom and doom.

 

2. Always Creates the Right Impression
In addition to building a fake narrative, a tactic that is often employed by the Corporate Feku is to carefully manage his own impression. The age-old adage of coming five minutes before your boss and leaving five minutes after your boss is carefully implemented. In addition, there is a conscious display of rigour when very senior professionals are involved. When his bosses are around, the day starts at 7 am and goes well until midnight. When nobody seems to be around, Pooja Hegde’s pictures on Instagram are consciously devoured over.

 

.3. No Respect for Diversity
The Corporate Feku will drive to ascertain domination in the area of thought leadership. Whatever idea or efficiency improvement his team or his peers might come up with, he will always retort with a ‘I had already thought of it earlier’. It is an altogether different problem that very little seems to have been done by him to take care of that idea. An associated corollary employed by the Corporate Feku is the lack of respect for women. Although they will proclaim themselves to be champions of gender diversity, they will often pass snide comments about their make-up, facial expressions, lack of seriousness, dressing sense, waistlines.

 

4. Psychologically Manipulates His Team Every Day
The Corporate Feku, blessed with a high emotional quotient and sociopathic skills, is immensely competent at manipulating his people to work for him without question. A combination of shaming, humiliation, putting people down along with an occasional praise is generously employed to make his people always seek validation for themselves. The classical behavioural psychology that is often employed is the Stockholm syndrome, where the victim tends to sympathize and cheer on his/her perpetrator. One of the most common ways to shame people is to ask them to do a job which is 2–3 levels below their hired level. Another way to drive requisite behaviour is to reward people who blindly support you even if they are underperformers.

 

5. No Respect for Anybody’s Personal Life
A narrative that elevates the Corporate Feku’s job is built on making his team work brutal hours. Most of the Corporate Feku’s team would be working very long hours with limited personal downtime. Such a conscious creation of work and never-ending reviews is carefully crafted to create a perception of industry defining work to everybody else. The focus is often on quantity of work rather than an element of quality or efficiency. In case of any grievance aired, the retort
is immediate, ‘when I was your age, I would only work and do nothing else.’

 

6. Creates Interpersonal Tension in His Team
The way to build incredible loyalty among disgruntled emotionally manipulated workers is to create interpersonal tension within them. In case a direct subordinate doesn’t agree to your targets allocated, call up the subordinate’s subordinate and get him to say yes. Then force the subordinate to agree and give him feedback on his people management skills that people under him are extremely unhappy and have complained against him. An additional way is to say something controversial about a team member in someone else’s presence and if he diplomatically avoids it, consciously play that comment in that teammate’s name on other public forums.

 

In behavioural psychology, such animalistic behaviour stems from deep-rooted inferiority complex, either due to a lack of formal education or a ghastly firing from the previous job. The ruckus at work is carefully crafted as a conscious display of power. This behaviour can go on for decades without any check or balance. It is difficult for companies to diagnose or counsel such behaviour especially in countries like India where upward feedback is largely symbolic. However, the best course of action for any company is to relieve such characters once they have been suspected of such behaviour.

 

In case you are stuck working with someone who resembles the above character sketch, may God bless you. The Corporate Feku is singlehandedly responsible to build a work culture which is bland at best and toxic at worst.

***

Get your copy of The Practical MBA by Sandeep Das on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Here’s Why Following Your Passion Can Be the Best Decision You Ever Make!

In today’s world, choosing a career can be confusing with so many options, but fear not! Pavan Soni’s Design Your Career offers helpful advice from his experience leading over 550 workshops in five countries. Soni aims to help you understand your talents, encourage you to follow your dreams, and find fulfillment in your career.

 

Read this excerpt to discover how pursuing your passion can be the best decision you ever make.

Design Your Career
Design Your Career || Pavan Soni

***

Till about a few years back, talking of ‘following your passion’ in an Indian context would have been futile, for you really didn’t have much of an outlet for what you liked doing. But that’s no longer true. The market has truly opened; people are willing to back you, especially in tier-1 cities, and your mistakes can be overlooked, at least by others. But all this still demands excellence. And excellence, my friend, is in doing the boring stuff well.

 

Following your passion starts by knowing your passion and as Robin Sharma quips, ‘People who study others are wise but those who study themselves are enlightened.’ So, let’s delve deeper into this seven-letter word.

 

Here’s my definition: Passion is anything that you do without any external motivation. Put differently, passion is something that you don’t get tired doing. It doesn’t have to be profound or noble. Watching movies, gossiping, cleaning your house, chatting with friends, window shopping—any of that could be a passion. The interesting thing, however, is that ‘passion is blind’. While it can drive you, it can also quickly exhaust you.

 

Passion without reason can certainly waste you. A teacher is passionate and so is a murderer, but for entirely different causes. Said Khalil Gibran, ‘Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.’ While your passion propels you, your reason directs you. Passion comes from heart, reason from mind. We need both, especially a true, internally inspired passion. ‘Passion that is not the result of some commitment or attachment, passion that is not lust,’ suggested Krishnamurti.

 

Your passion can be infectious—for your team, organization and even customers. Identifying himself as someone who is excited by ideas and grounded by empathy, Satya Nadella is passionate about putting empathy at the centre of everything he pursues.16 As he took on the leadership at the struggling Microsoft in February 2014, the company was deeply fragmented, characterized by a ‘know-it-all’ culture. But over the years, Nadella turned around the once-pioneer into a technological magnate and into a ‘learn-it-all’ culture.

 

Nadella deems a company as a vehicle to channelize individual passion for the larger good, and in the case of Microsoft, it’s about building products that empower others. So, you see, passion is not just a private affair; it can rally troops, provided you display it viscerally.

 

Kalanithi was passionate about writing, for he always contemplated between excelling in neurosurgery-neuroscience or becoming a full-time writer. But the diagnosis of cancer at age thirty-six changed his calculus, and what he produced in his last few months is arguably one of the finest pieces on spirituality. His memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, left Bill Gates in tears. It’s almost of the same gravitas as Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

 

But let’s see what passion looks like towards the end of your otherwise very promising career. On Kalanithi’s writing regime, Lucy, his estranged wife, remembers:

 

Paul wrote relentlessly, fueled by purpose, motivated by a ticking clock. He started with midnight bursts when he was still a neurosurgery chief resident, softly tapping away on his laptop as he lay next to me in bed; later he spent afternoons in his recliner, drafted paragraphs in his oncologist’s waiting room, took phone calls from his editor while chemotherapy dripped into his veins, carried his silver laptop everywhere he went. When his fingertips developed painful fissures because of his chemotherapy, we found seamless, silver-lined gloves that allowed use of a trackpad and keyboard. Strategies for retaining the mental focus needed to write, despite the punishing fatigue of progressive cancer, were the focus of his palliative-care appointments. He was determined to keep writing.

 

Only passion can take you through the most difficult phases of your life. Passion gives you a sense of joy, a drive to pursue something bigger than yourself. And this joy is very much personal. Others may wonder at your enthusiasm as unwarranted, but don’t bother; you don’t owe anything to most others. While I play my guitar at street corners for it delights me, most passers-by don’t bother with a first look. Perhaps that’s how I developed a thick skin.

 

Here’s a real testimony of passion. Twelve North American writers have won the Nobel Prize in Literature between 1901 and 2015, and yet none of them had an MFA (Master of Fine Arts). Four of them never even got past high school. Neither Quentin Tarantino nor Christopher Nolan, two of the finest directors of our generation, ever went to a movie school. Maybe that’s why. ‘I’m a self-taught filmmaker. I never went to film school. I never studied filmmaking,’ admits Nolan. ‘I started making films when I was seven years old. Making films using my dad’s super 8 camera and action figures doing stop-motion films. A little bit of animation and a certain amount of live-action and I just carried on making films as I grew up and, over the years, they got bigger, hopefully better.’

 

Acknowledge that passion drives the purpose, and not the other way around. If you are driven, then you will find the means, including expertise, if necessary.

***

Get your copy of Design Your Career by Pavan Soni on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Is Failure the Ultimate Path to Success? These Outliers Say Yes!

Here’s your chance to defy the ordinary with Against the Grain by Pankaj Mishra, a book that celebrates those who dare to be different. Through engaging conversations with notable outliers like A.R. Rahman, Uday Kotak, and Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, the book shares real stories of success, failure, and the pursuit of dreams.

Read this exclusive excerpt to discover how the Chandrayaan-2 mission turned setbacks into breakthroughs, capturing the true essence of resilience and innovation.

 

Against the Grain
Against the Grain || Pankaj Mishra

***

The concept of ‘successful failure’ resonates deeply in the story of India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission. It was a bold leap, aiming to explore the uncharted south pole of the moon. Despite the setback in the landing phase, the mission wasn’t a loss. The orbiter continues to gather valuable data, contributing significantly to our understanding of the moon. More importantly, with lessons learned from Chandrayaan-2’s challenges, Chandrayaan-3 could land successfully on the moon.

 

This journey transcends the bounds of space; it’s a metaphor for outliers—to find poetry in problems and to reach for the moon, quite literally, even when the first leap falters. And that’s what I love about these conversations. These outliers talk about their failures with the same pride they have for their wins. Because, let’s face it, owning your failures is a kind of success.

 

When you sit with someone like Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, you can’t help but feel the gravity—no pun intended—of his experiences. Here’s a man who’s been to space, but what’s more fascinating is his down-to-earth wisdom on failure.

 

‘If you can be yourself and not feel that you have to measure up to some image somebody else has of you, that’s liberating; it frees up a lot of energy for you to do
other things.’ —Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian in space.

 

Rakesh’s words resonate deeply with me. The freedom to be yourself, to not be confined by others’ expectations, is liberating. It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me throughout my journey.

 

How has life’s unpredictability played a role in your journey, Rakesh?

 

Rakesh Sharma: ‘I must tell you that I am blessed and extremely lucky, because I got a chance to do everything in life. I was barely twenty-two, and the air force decided to run an experiment. We had just got the MiG-21 supersonic aircraft—they wanted to catch young guys, and I got a chance. I joined the air force young, and before my twenty-third birthday, I had flown twenty-one operational missions in the 1971 war. Then, I got selected for the test pilot course, and despite not being all good in academics, I managed to become a test pilot. A fighter pilot and a test pilot—fit and young—and I then got a chance to go to space. Things have happened to me.’

 

Rakesh, how do you view failures in your life?

 

‘As far as failures are concerned, it depends on how you are looking at them. For example, most people think that when they set the bar for themselves and do not achieve it, that is a failure. But when you have constantly striven to get what you set [out to achieve] for yourself, and even then if you fall short, you will, in the process, improve yourself, right?’

 

Indeed, striving itself is a form of success. This is a perspective I’ve often found comforting.

 

‘So, I made mistakes during combat, and that’s part of the learning—I wouldn’t really put that down as a failure. That is just a learning experience. As a test pilot, I have had the chance to eject from an airplane because the engine backed up, and I would call it learning, not a failure. The important thing you need to ask yourself is: How do you remain invested? Do you have the passion for the job you are doing?’

 

Passion is a recurring theme in our conversations. Rakesh, how did you deal with the daunting tasks in your career?

 

‘In my case, whenever I looked at a daunting, challenging task, my first reaction was, “Hey, I will not be able to do this.” At each stage during my flying career,
when I went from slow to medium to faster to supersonic aircraft, at each stage, I felt, “Oh my god, this is too fast. There is no way I can hack it.” But when you actually get into it, you find that things are not half as difficult as you imagined them to be!’

 

You know, this idea of passion being the driving force, it’s something that has come up time and again in the conversations I’ve had. But hearing it from a guy who has been to space and back just hits differently. It’s like all those talks I’ve had over the years suddenly get this extra layer of, well, gravity. Rakesh, you echo something we all know deep down but sometimes need a nudge to feel. It’s fascinating how we often overestimate challenges.

 

‘So, when opportunities come your way, don’t get intimidated. Of course, be prepared that you might not hack it, but no need to get intimidated. Either it will
happen or it will not happen. After all, when I went for the selection as a kid, there was no pilot aptitude test. Now, there’s a pilot aptitude test, and if you fail it once, you will never become a pilot in the Indian Air Force, so there is tremendous pressure on you. If you have it, you have it; if you don’t have it, you approach it like that—you can’t prepare for something like that!

 

Indeed, some aspects of life and career are beyond meticulous preparation.

 

‘Similarly, when you are doing test flying, the best you can do is your best. You can read up all there is to read. You can de-risk, but you signed up for it. You are honourbound to go and do it. Even if you are scared, you go and do it as best you can. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out—that’s part of the landscape you have chosen to be in.’

 

Choosing our landscape, our path, comes with its own set of challenges and rewards.

 

‘So, this is one life lesson we really need: never back off! Failure is not the end of the world. Pressure is something that we bring upon ourselves. We should give it a bash. Just be yourself!’

 

So there you have it—wisdom from a man who has seen the earth from a point most of us can only dream of reaching. But what strikes me most is how grounded his insights are. ‘Just be yourself,’ he says.

 

Simple, yet profoundly liberating.

***

Get your copy of Against the Grain by Pankaj Mishra on Amazon wherever books are sold.

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