Nine years, 16 comebacks, and he still leaves individuals spellbound. Murali Karthik, the left arm spinner and powerhouse, was at the concluding day of Techsparks 2015 to tell us how similar the game of cricket is to that of entrepreneurship.
Coming from a humble background, Murali narrated his personal journey. Belonging to a family of bankers, Murali's parents helped individuals get loans. He recollected how they would come back from work and explain how they helped individuals get loans.
He fondly remembered the two trajectories that he wanted to take as a kid, either a genetic engineer or a sportsman.
At the age of 12, Murali was sent to a coaching camp which got his interest in the sport kicking. He began to consider the idea of a career in sports (cricket).
On a parallel note, for entrepreneurs too it all starts with an idea. "The idea is of paramount importance. And all that matters is where you take it," says Murali.
Around that time, he used to be a left-arm seamer and a batsman. However, being lanky and not as tall and strapping as a fast bowler needed to be led him to switch to spin bowling. From being three-down he went to being to seven-down in the batting order. The fact was that he had to adapt to further his career and keep up with the competition. And that’s how Indian cricket gained a talented left-arm spin bowler.
Drawing parallels he says
"Change is constant. Be that in the entrepreneurial space or cricket for that matter. And so I changed because that's what the situation demanded."
But, change in dynamics didn't deter the spirit for this cricketer. He says
"In cricket we call it working smart. Whatever we have to do we have to do within the time we have to practice. I had to unlearn and relearn a lot of things. The idea was that I needed to play cricket and to do that I had to change certain dynamics."
It is similar in an entrepreneurs life. The dynamics might change but the vision doesn't. He asked
"In a country of 1.2 billion how many people have played cricket? You need to make sure that you are ahead in the right way." According to him, it is the idea and conviction which any sportsman carries.
Principles and austerity
But when this cricketer says the right way he means principles.
"By principles I don't really mean just the rules of the game but also your conscience. If you work within your conscience it might take two days more, two years more, or 20 years more, but by the end of it you will be much happier as the person."
The issue I have is that everyone has a conscience, but we still let it slip. Listening to your conscience might hold you back, but that’s not reason to take shortcuts.
Asking the audiences he says "Aap cricket dekhte hai. Sabko lagta hai ki yeh kaise khel raha hai team mei. (You watch cricket. And even you question as to how is someone playing in the team)."
Thus, it is not just merit. "Jo meri kismat ke liye khela! Maine apne liye khela (However, I was destined to perform, I performed. I played for myself)."
"I am glad that I'm not playing because I said 'Good Morning to someone!’"
He urged the audience of entrepreneurs to stick to their core beliefs.
While showing is genuinity to the audiences, Murali shared his final learning saying that in time of hardships one needs to believe. "Agar ek ka wicket nahi mila ya ek ka run nahi bana then it’s a bad day for everyone. (It's a bad day for everyone if even one player doesn't perform.)"
He claimed that in cricket they call it the 'arm around each other'. Similarly, in a corporate team everyone needs to believe in each other and have the faith to push together as a cohesive team.
So like any other quintessential founder, did Murali have a pivot point?
He definitely does. While travelling to London, with his mentor Bishan Bedi, he happened to get the legendary West Indian batsman Kalicharan out stumped.
After the match, when he was introduced to Kalicharan, the great batsman told the young Karthik "You need only a little talent to play international cricket; what you need is a lot of heart."
Surely, we would want to say that this bowler even after retirement definitely left us wanting more, wanting to see what he gets up to next.
A big shoutout to TechSparks 2015 sponsors – Sequoia Capital, ICICI Bank, Money on Mobile, Microsoft, Signal Hill, IBM Bluemix, PwC, Atom Tech, Teamchat, Govt. of Karnataka, Intel, Rabbler, Dailyhunt, Reverie, Loginext and PayUBiz; Partners – Duff&Phelps, Taxmantra, Dineout, Exotel, 360ride, Yoga Bar, Chai Point, GWC; and our Media Partners – TV9, Fortune India, RedFM and Deccan Herald.
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