In the fitness of things

Friday, 21 March 2014 - 10:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

He's just back from a trip to Rishikesh, and appears calm and collected as he goes about his familiar routine at Birla House. The mountains have always helped restore Yash Birla's equilibrium - he calls it his constant fount to "recharge" his mental and emotional energies.

Back in Mumbai, there's much buzz about the twin Tardeo buildings he owns going in for redevelopment, the speculation being that the joint venture with a real estate firm will provide the liquidity he needs to settle the nerves of jittery depositors.

According to some reports, around Rs 214 crore is owed - this single project alone will bring him an estimated Rs 200 crore. In a way that also puts into perspective the Birla scion's ability to sort out his present troubles. For those who know the man better, the delay in activating the contingency plan seems more the result of a moral dilemma rather than any unwillingness to effect a swift and fair settlement.

Things may be now firmly on the fast track to normalcy again, but neither is Yash keen to discuss the nitty gritty at this point nor do we see the point in wading into it without notice.

Years ago, even when businesswise it seemed appropriate to hive off one of the divisions of his steel company to mop up additional capital, the decision had been a painful one for Yash - even though he agreed with it in principle. He eventually gave in, even if unhappily. "It hurt, but I told myself it was worth it. To win some you have to lose some - sometimes," he had summed up in his recently released memoir, On a Prayer.

It's the first time he's bared his soul so completely and publicly and despite his essentially introverted nature, Yash has found the experience liberating. He tells us that he's been busy sending across copies with personalised messages to each and every one mentioned in his memoir - which incidentally was something completely different when it was first conceptualised.

"There was an article on my fitness routine in a newspaper some years ago with pictures of me in my gym for which I got a lot of positive feedback. One day Shobhaa De called me suggesting it would be great if I were to write a book on weight training and health. That's how it started, but as we progressed, more and more about my own personal life and experiences came in. By the end of it, it became something completely different, but we decided a book purely on fitness can be done later, separately," he says.

While he's quite satisfied with the style of presentation, he personally had wanted more emphasis on his spiritual journey. "It was felt that this would slow the narrative so finally all the things I really wanted to share - about my learnings, my personal belief system - went it was added as an epilogue," he says.

It's there that we found his Gibran-like distillation of his personal philosophy crystallised over the years - about family, health, life and business. He wrote these lines a long time back, but they ring true for him even today - and probably answer all the questions we didn't ask.

"Being at the helm of a company comes with its challenges. You will be blamed for the mistakes made by others, but it is your responsibility to take ownership of the actions of everyone under you. The world, the press and the people may think you have wronged them, though you may have done nothing. From every mistake there is something for you to learn. Focus on that and you will eventually succeed..."

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