Learning Business – The Pink Floyd Way
After many ups and downs, trading-off between B-schools and overcoming the anxiety to leave home for the first time I landed up in NITIE the ‘Mecca of Supply Chain’. I have always been attracted to the pedagogy of B-schools, the case-based discussions, group projects, and what not. So, I was all set for my first class waiting eagerly to start my MBA journey.
To my great surprise, I saw a middle-aged man walking enthusiastically towards the classroom wearing a T-shirt over a Shirt, a Gandhi cap, a stuffed khaki bag in one hand and a mysterious red and yellow cubic structure. The man was Professor Prasad aka Professor Mandi who was supposed to teach us Business Communication for the coming few months. He put down his heavy bag, cubic structure and removed his sandals. I sensed that he would not be anywhere close to the conventional professors and I certainly expected it be more than a mere lecture. Life was going to throw another surprise at me.
Well, the class commenced with an introduction by everyone and then the professor made an unusual request to play a song. He told, “He has been started the class with the song ‘We don’t need no education’ by Pink Floyd for the past 12 years.” Everyone was amused. He requested us to sing the song and started explaining each and every line of it. Every single bit of the lyrics resonated so much with every single fibre of my being because like every normal kid I always dreamt of a time when I no longer would have to study. Finally, I felt like a free man after 22 years of schooling!
But, the proceedings also got me wondering why a professor of a top B-school was propagating the gospel of no need of education through this song. I got my answer in the latter half of the class. He brought his red and yellow cubic structure to our desks and asked what we thought it was. None of us, the top minds of the country, had any clue of it. Then he went to my friend and asked him the formula of a^3 – b^3. My friend hesitated but fortunately, he managed to recall the junior grade mathematics. Even then we couldn’t understand what the mysterious cubic structure was. The professor said that the education in the present world is just about mugging up things and vomiting into the answer sheets. The cubic structure could be transformed to obtain all the algebraic formulae up to the third degree by rearranging its parts. It was so simple to understand how the formulae worked through that cube.
Though I was intrigued by the class till then I was wondering how all of that was related to Business Communication. Well, picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!
The professor went from one student to the other and asked each one to sell the cube to the classmates. We stammered, we blabbered, we laughed, and we struggled. But no sales. Then the professor revealed the real secret behind it all. How could “Business Communication” be complete without learning the art of selling ones ideas!
We were all supposed to sell numerous products in NITIE’s one-day flagship event called “MahaMandi” by going to people in their homes, in the streets, in the markets, in the local trains, in the high-end colonies of South Bombay and in every nook and corner of Mumbai that we could imagine. “This is how you would learn Business Communication, by building the ability to sell stuff, to convince people, and to negotiate” exclaimed the professor.
The class concluded with we all listening and cheering to the “MahaMandi” song and promoting the event on social media. To my utter delight, a rain of comments, likes, and calls from my friends back home started and I was just letting myself sink in the euphoria of that moment, the moment of being in a b-school where schooling was not just about books and cases but about selling in the streets.
I am eagerly waiting for 11th August, the day of MahaMandi, when I will be a salesman for the first time in my life. There certainly would be rejections and put-downs, and shouts and shrieks but above them all, there would be lessons for a lifetime, lessons on bringing money and merriment, and smiles and sales!