Book House

“Limitless”: In this book, Edelweiss CEO Radhika Gupta offers straight-talking advice on how to multiply chances at achieving success

Author Radhika Gupta
  • The book “Limitless: The Power of Unlocking Your True Potential” by Radhika Gupta consists of deeply inspiring stories and sharp, practical counsel will provide you with all the motivation you need to discover self-confidence and live your best life.

  • The insightful and empowering book draws on the personal experiences of the author and other achievers to give tips on overcoming adversity and attaining success.

  • The world is full of possibilities. Each of us has infinite potential to fly. This book tells you how to soar.

  • Read an excerpt from the book below.

Like most kids growing up in the nineties, my brother and I watched the Tom and Jerry cartoon show regularly on television. Both of us loved Jerry. While Tom was the big cat, constantly on the mouse’s trail, Jerry, at a fraction of Tom’s size, always found a way out, leaving Tom frustrated and irritated. The mouse knew that what he lacked in size he could make up in agility and intelligence, and he played a smart game – retreating when the time demanded it, charging ahead when he was on stronger footing. Each of us encounters our own moments of being a little Jerry taking on a bigger Tom, but to have a shot at victory we have to start by understanding ourselves. To have a real chance of getting where we want to, we need to understand where we will stumble.

As we grow up, some of our schools put us through self-assessment tests that are supposed to tell us about our strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully shape our choice of further studies and careers. I took a lot of these tests and, unfortunately, didn’t pay much attention to what they were saying. I now know I should have. For one, I would then have been aware that my single biggest weakness is ‘maps and directions’, and perhaps I would not have failed two driving tests or crashed into a car in a client’s parking lot on my first day at McKinsey!

I got my first so-called training on answering the ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses’ questions during campus placements. The standard advice was to prepare a long list of strengths and handle the weakness question with a ‘clever’ touch. In the case of the latter, try to get away by being funny, by saying something like, ‘My weakness is dark chocolate’, and then if an interviewer really pushes you, give a strength packaged as a weakness, like, ‘I work too hard’ or ‘I struggle when other people don’t work as hard as I do on a team’.

This standard advice, I’ve learnt, needs to be taken with a spoon of salt.

Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle once wrote, ‘The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.’ Packaging or hiding weaknesses may sound practical during campus placements, but your career will demand that you understand your weaknesses and acknowledge them. Of course, admitting that there are things you are not good at, to yourself and then to the world outside, is hard. Yet, the sooner and the more brutally you start doing it, the quicker you can start working on yourself and moving up the pole. I learnt this for the first time in 2016, a few years after Forefront had been acquired by Edelweiss, when I sat down to have a career-related conversation with my boss.

We were building up the hedge fund business (called ‘Multi-Strategy Funds’) after the acquisition, and I felt settled and connected. But by now I wanted to do more. So he and I sat down in the rather crowded Edelweiss cafeteria (someday I have to ask him why he chose the cafeteria for this conversation and not his office!), and he asked me what I saw myself doing in five, 10 and 20 years. ‘Don’t tell me. Write it on this piece of paper,’ he said. I had been asked this question for the first time, and instinctively I wrote down, ‘Run a bank. Run an insurance company. Become CEO of a big financial institution.’ He told me that it was great I was this ambitious and wanted to be the CEO of a large retail financial services business, and added, ‘Now, on the other side of this paper, write down the skills you think this CEO needs to have and think about which ones you have.’

This ‘chit exercise’ is scary, because on that tiny piece of paper you clearly see what you want to be and at the same time it becomes starkly apparent how much remains for you to do to get there. Among other things, the first quality I had written down was ‘people leadership’. Pretty obvious, because anyone who runs a large institution manages thousands of people. The fact was that until then I had, directly or indirectly, managed a total of six people. The exercise made me realize I still had a lot of work left to do to achieve my goal. I needed greater exposure to working with different kinds of people at various levels of seniority, winning their confidence and trust, and managing them through sticky situations. The question was how was I to make this happen.

Excerpted with permission from Limitless: The Power of Unlocking Your True Potential, Radhika Gupta, Hachette India. Read more about the book here and buy it here.


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