The year was 1997, just after the Asian financial crisis — and I had just descended into a Kafkaesque world of my own — when I discovered the works of M Scott Peck. In them, he described a journey on the road less traveled and he also came up with a concept he called Community Building in Business. I found resonance with his works and so I pored through every book he had written and I got in touch with his organization to look for clues to unravel the Gordian knot I found myself tied up in.
A few short months before, I was flying on top of the world. Expense account, penthouse office. I was the group corporate director of a multinational construction and development company. My job was to secure deals. I reported directly to the Chairman who was also the majority shareholder. I had a legal department who would run background checks on people I was to meet — what was the level of their authority, their company’s background? I lived in a world of smoke and mirrors and my job was to peer through the fog and to get us the deal we wanted. So I suffered from the delusion that I knew a fair bit about business.
Just before the crash, I received information from my network that certain people were moving vast amounts of money around and a storm was coming. I knew my company was overextended. So I went on overdrive and secured a deal that could possibly save us. I then waited to bring the deal to the Chairman who had been away in Laos for over 3 weeks. When I got to the meeting I knew something was wrong. The Managing Director was present along with the Chairman and I was accused of double-dealing. The Chairman rejected the deal. And 10 days later I got a call from him — the company had collapsed and he was moving to Laos.
And I found myself facing possible bankruptcy. What happened? What went wrong? I was reeling. Who benefited? The Managing Director himself lost his post and over 400 people lost their jobs. A behemoth of a company I thought was a mountain had become sand virtually overnight.
I was intrigued by Scott’s work but I didn’t get the answers I needed. Deep inside I knew the answers I sought lay within a deeper understanding of business. In the practice of Business, one learned the thinking skills to distinguish reality from fantasy. If ‘successful’, it goes a long way towards ameliorating the constant anxieties of financial insecurity. And in Community one begins a journey towards a life of meaning.
So many disconnected parts. Deep inside I knew the answer lies somewhere in the business model but I couldn’t see it. And so I began my first tentative steps on that road as a Ronin, selling my services as a deal maker to other companies, helped structure an online design company, became a chess coach and organizing chess tournaments for pocket money. Until someone approached me about an idea which I will relate in an upcoming post, The Nusantara Story… where I began ‘rejoining’ the dots.
Till next time. Namaste.