‘Best Advice I Ever Got’ Series 09 - Vivek Paul, Former CEO, Wipro Technologies

January 30, 2024

Vivek Paul

“The best advice I ever got was from an elephant trainer in the jungle outside Bangalore. I was doing a hike through the jungle as a tourist. I saw these large elephants tethered to a small stake. I asked him, ‘How can you keep such a large elephant tied to such a small stake?’ He said, ‘When the elephants are small, they try to pull out the stake, and they fail. When they grow large, they never try to pull out the stake again.’ That parable reminds me that we have to go for what we think we’re fully capable of, not limit ourselves by what we’ve been in the past. When I took over Wipro in 1999, we were the first to articulate that an Indian company could be in the global top ten [of technology services firms]. As of 2004, we were.

“Don’t limit yourself by past expectations.” - Vivek Paul, 46, Former President and CEO of Wipro Technologies

“The second-best piece of advice was something I learned from Jack Welch on one of his trips to India. He was commenting that every time he lands in New York he imagines that he’s just been appointed chairman and that this is his first day in the role, and the guy before him was a real dud. He said, ‘Every time, I think, What would I do that was different than the guy before? What big changes would I make?’ I took that seriously. You should always think, ‘How do I regenerate myself?’ I don’t do it religiously every time I fly internationally. But over Christmas break time, I set aside a day to zero-base myself. I force myself to do it every single year.

“But the person I rely on most in terms of advice is somebody in my Young President’s Organization group: John Donahoe [former managing partner at Bain & Co., now president of the eBay business unit]. John has been a life coach for me, helping me sort out the many conflicting business and personal priorities. He has given me great advice about raising high school kids. His suggestions are invaluable.”

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3 Responses to “‘Best Advice I Ever Got’ Series 09 - Vivek Paul, Former CEO, Wipro Technologies”

  1. Josh Bickford on January 30th, 2007 4:11 am

    The elephant-wow, that’s powerful. So sad that people are much the same way.

  2. Vikram Chandna on January 30th, 2007 7:27 am

    As I think about what Vivek shared in this article, esp. the 1st learning, it is actually very true. More than anything else, I think we get so engrossed in our day-to-day work that we miss taking out time to think on how we could get better.

  3. Sameer on March 10th, 2007 12:37 pm

    I think I too small to comment on such a great personality
    I just want to in touch with such persons

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