Often the question posed to me was, “why do you choose to work in the nights?” Little did they know that I didn’t have a choice. When I established Thyrocare, I was the only employee in my organisation for the first couple of months and I had to carry out the testing as well. If I did the testing during the day, then obviously I could not attend to the marketing needs. Hence I used to meet the laboratory owners between 10 am to 8 pm and do the testing at night. In my marketing experiences, one gentleman, Mr. Shah, a B.Sc. DMLT, stood apart in my memory and I would like to narrate about the same now….
In the western suburbs of Mumbai, in the year 1996 when I started my operations, one person got my special attention solely because of the size of the illumination board he displayed. I thought I must visit him and I used to start out early to meet and convince him to procure some business from him. One young, beautiful Malayalee girl was working as an assistant with him. For two consecutive days in her typical Malayalam accent she told me, “ saab abhitak aaya nahi!” I did not give up that easily and I asked “Swati” (name I could manage to or dare to ask her) about his usual timings. She explained that being a busy share market operator he rarely came for around two hours. After making 6 attempts, I was fortunate to see him once in his cabin and Swati was happy that finally I could make it. I gave my visiting card but soon she came out and said he was not free. I asked for an appointment for the next day if he was too busy then. Swati confided that he was not busy at all but he preferred not to waste time with anyone who came to meet him. As I put pressure on her, she dared to go in again and seek an appointment for me. Soon I heard his raised voice and through the glass cabin saw him throw my visiting card on her face. She finally emerged and stated that he had no interest in meeting me. I felt sorry for putting that girl in distress and I too lost interest in meeting him.
It was exactly 10 years back and in these last 10 years, what I have never done is ‘refusing to meet’ any person. I have never gone home if someone was waiting for me. Be it an employee or a franchisee or a supplier or for that matter anyone who seeks a few minutes of mine and at times ends up talking for even an hour, I have never ever turned them off on the pretext of being busy. I feel I am enriched by these meetings.Meeting people and talking to them helps one to see and understand life, society, business and relationships better. It makes for a complete and confident human being is my view.
Last week, I was travelling from Coimbatore to Mumbai and as I checked in, I heard a stranger who greeted me “Hello, Dr. Velumani, I am honoured to meet you.” I did reciprocate but I was trying to recall where I must have met him. Inside the flight he did not sit in his seat and asked my permission to sit next to me. I did accede to his desire and he then started talking to me. I thought it has to be some laboratory man or a doctor since hardly anyone knows me outside this industry. I was very reluctant to ask, what his name was and I tried to find out indirectly. I asked him a lot of questions gathering clues but it did not work. Finally I asked him, what his good name was and when he said his full name, I did not have to ask anything further except asking, “how come, you recognise me even when we have not met before?” He said, I am a fan of your Khatti Meethi Baatein. I only asked him where Swati was nowadays, and he was shocked to know how I remembered her. I was thinking that he would now ask me a lot of questions on quality, cost and speed of my operations or on tests or technologies and a lot on what my future plans were. But, not surprisingly, he just enquired, “When will Thyrocare come out with an IPO(entering the share market) and at what rate could he get 1000 shares of the company if he wanted it now?” While he was waiting to collect his baggage at the airport he insisted and took my visiting card. I gave him an additional one and told him to hand it over to Swati.