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The Voice of every working woman

“Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way”

It’s no easy feat juggling the roles of a parent and professional. And ICICI Bank’s CEO Chanda Kochhar is the perfect example of a woman who does both facets of her life justice.

Now included in Sudha Menon’s book Legacy: Letters from eminent parents to their daughters, Kochhar’s note to her daughter Aarti Kochhar has been doing rounds on the internet not just because it shares the surprisingly simple secrets to a successful and happy life, but also because it’s going to be the most inspiring thing you read today.

Dear Aarti,

It makes me feel so proud today to see you standing in front of me as a confident young woman right on the threshold of an exciting journey through life. I am looking forward to seeing you grow and flourish in the years ahead.

This moment has also brought back memories of my own journey, and the life lessons I learnt along the way. When I think of those times, I realize that most of these lessons were actually learnt in my childhood, mostly through examples set by my parents. The values that they instilled in my formative years gave me the foundation on which I try to live my life even today.

Our parents treated all three of us – two sisters and a brother – equally. When it came to education, or our future plans, there was no discrimination between us based on our gender. Your grandparents always had the same message for the three of us – that it was important to focus on what gave us satisfaction and to work towards it with utmost dedication. That early initiation enabled us to develop into confident individuals capable of taking decisions independently. This also helped me when I started out on my own journey of self- discovery.

I was only a young girl of 13 when my father passed away from a sudden heart attack, leaving us unprepared to take on life without him. We had been protected from life’s challenges so far. But without warning, all that changed overnight. And my mother, who had been a homemaker till then, faced the responsibility of raising three children all on her own. It was then that we realized how strong she was and how determined to do her duty in the best possible manner. Slowly, she discovered a flair for designing and textiles, found herself a job with a small firm, and quickly made herself indispensable to them. It must have been challenging for her to shoulder the responsibility of bringing up her family single-handed, but she never let us feel like it was a task for her. She worked hard till she saw all of us through college and we became independent. I never knew that my mother had such a wealth of self-assurance and belief within her.

As a parent with a full time job, one must not let work affect the way you relate to your family. Remember the time you were studying in the US and the announcement of my becoming MD and CEO of ICICI was splashed across all newspapers? I remember the mail you wrote to me a couple of days later. ‘You never made us realize that you had such a demanding, successful and stressful career. At home, you were just our mother,’ you wrote in your email. Live your life in the same way, my darling.

I also learnt from my mother that it is very important to have the ability to handle difficult situations and keep moving forward in life, no matter what. Even today I can remember the equanimity and calmness with which she handled the crisis on hand when my father passed away. You have to handle the challenges and emerge stronger from them, rather than allow them to bog you down. I remember how, in late 2008, we were faced with a situation where ICICI Bank’s survival was in jeopardy in the face of a global economic meltdown. The situation was being analysed with a hawk’s eye by major media platforms and debated widely in the public space… I got down to work, systematically communicating with all stakeholders – from the smallest depositor to the sophisticated investors, and from regulators to the government – the bank was sound and its exposure to these institutions involved a small portion of its assets.

I understood their concern because so many of them feared that their hard earned savings in our bank could be at risk. I also advised staff across the bank’s various branches to lend a sympathetic ear to those depositors who turned up to withdraw their money, telling them to also offer the depositors a seat and a glass of water while they waited. And though, depositors were welcome to withdraw their money if they wanted to, our staff also took care to explain to them that it would not help them to take their money away, because there was no real crisis situation.

It was during this period that I took a couple of hours off one day to attend your brother’s squash tournament. I did not know it then, but my very presence at the tournament went a long way in reinstalling customer confidence in the bank. A few mothers at the tournament came and asked me if I was Chanda Kochhar from ICICI Bank and when I replied in the affirmative they said that if I could still find time to attend a tournament in the midst of a crisis, it meant that the bank was in safe hands and they need not worry about their money!

It was also from my mother that I learnt the importance of adapting to circumstances and not being afraid of the unknown. While working hard for my career, I looked after my family, and have been there for my mother and in-laws when they needed me around. They reciprocated in kind with their unconditional love and support for my career. Remember that relationships are important and have to be nurtured and cherished. Also keep in mind that a relationship is a two way street, so be ready to give a relationship just as you would expect the other person to be giving to you.

My career would not have progressed the way it did were it not for your father who never once complained about the time I spent away from home. Your father and I nurtured our relationship despite the fact that we were both busy with our own careers, and I am confident you will do the same with your partner, when the time comes. If you had complained and whined about my extended absence from home, I would never have had the heart to make a career for myself. I am blessed with a great and supportive family and I really hope you too will be as fortunate when you set out on your own!

I remember the day your board exams were about to commence. I had taken leave from work so that I could take you to the examination hall myself. When you realized I was coming, you told me how you were used to going for your exams alone for so many years. It hurt me to hear you say that, but I also think in some ways, having a working mother made you much more independent from a very young age itself. You not only became independent, but also stepped into the nurturer’s role for your younger brother and never let him miss my presence. I learnt to have trust and faith in you and you have now grown into a wonderful, independent woman. I now use the same principle at work to make our growing population of younger talent take on larger responsibilities.

I believe in fate but I also believe that hard work and diligence plays a very important role in our lives. In a larger sense, we all write our own destiny. Take destiny in your own hands, dream of what you want to achieve, and write it in your own way. As you go ahead in life, I want you to climb the path to success one step at a time. Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete.

As you go forward, you will sometimes have to take difficult decisions, decisions that others might scorn at. But you must have the courage to stand up for what you believe in. Make sure you have that conviction to do what you know is right, and once you have it, don’t let skeptics distract you from your path.

Aarti, there is no limit to what a determined mind can achieve, but in achieving your goal, don’t compromise on the values of fair play and honesty. Don’t cut corners or compromise to achieve your dreams. Remember to be sensitive to the feelings of people around you. And remember, if you don’t allow stress to overtake you, it will never become an issue in your life.

Remember that good times and bad times will be part of your life equally, and you have to learn to handle both with equanimity. Make the most of life’s opportunities and learn from every opportunity, and challenge that life brings along.

Lovingly yours, Mumma

Chanda Kochhar’s letter to her daughter is a must-read for women everywhere

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Promise

Promises are such things.

That if keep them, they would b such energizing things.

Like bf said he would juice for me last night. And I went to the kitchen this morning and saw a little mess made out of juicing, only to discover this vibrant red of organic beetroot, Apple and carrot, which when I sipped, had a warm gingery emotion that I liked.

  

He kept his promise. That made me very happy. Extremely happy. 

I like people who keep their promises.

And I can understand how wretched one was to be if promises are broken.

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To read in the morning and at night

Morgens und abends zu lesen

Der, den ich liebe

Hat mir gesagt

Da er mich braucht.

Darum

Gebe ich auf mich acht

Sehe auf meinen Weg und

Fürchte von jedem Regentropfen

Da er mich erschlagen könnte.

To read in the morning and at night

My love

Has told me

That he needs me.

That’s why

I take good care of myself

Watch out where I’m going and

Fear that any drop of rain

Might kill me.

Bertolt Brecht

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 Bangkok 

上一次到曼谷已经是好久以前了。沁芝还在肚子里。

daddy的建议。

假期,从挑衣服的时候开始。不穿平日穿的。

   

非常开心! 
坐飞机,开心不变。像是孩子那样。变成孩子。

Once in a while, we got to rise from the mundane and take a look at ourselves from here.

   
         
下榻Metropolitan by COMO。之后我们去issaya吃晚餐。 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  


早上,daddy跑步,我就在房间里。看着一杯茶,在玻璃窗映上热气。那真是奢华。

 

COMO的早餐是我们非常喜欢的。高水准。鲜榨果汁、健康选择。

   
                

 

然后去拜拜。

再 去小小逛一下。去买水果、一定要去吃的MK、去买沁芝的纸尿片 

    

  

  

  


晚餐去了酒店附近的Baan Khanita。相当传统正宗的泰式料理

   
            
然后去了一家在Ekkaimai丹麦人开的craft brewery- Mikeller。

非一般的酒吧布置,很有家的感觉。还有让人直接瘫坐在草上的坐席。

这家酒吧藏在住宅区小巷子里。没有德士喜欢进来。喝完酒我们就在清风下慢慢散步在曼谷的夜里。

  

  

 

隔天早餐

   

  

  

  然后就回家了。

飞行是一种美妙的体验。更是乐趣。

总是不了解,那厚厚的云盛了那么多水分,怎么还能在天空中。那么自在无忧?

那人呢?

要如何装载厚重的同时无视那沉重和厚度?

  

  但最大的学习是

地面上看云那么美

在空中如果搭飞机遇上,美丽反而成为一种负担和危险。

有云的天空里,远看很美,靠近一点就是阻力会造成飞行的不稳定,甚至于有危险。

人生就是这样的吗?什么都是relative的。相对的。

或者,是看自己愿意设多少的距离,在哪里看待事情和自己。

我一直以来都是无条件地给。

但至少,要给在对的地方。