Letter From the Editor: The Slippery Slope of Success

Arvind Rao's sudden downfall has not only damaged the firm by eroding much of its enterprise value, but also dented the firm's reputation

Published: Jul 20, 2012 06:00:34 AM IST
Updated: Feb 27, 2014 11:48:52 AM IST

Here’s a poser: Just how often do you hear of stories about sudden career implosions, especially of high-achievers on top of their game, with an incredible track record of academic and professional success, who commit a momentary ethical lapse to find their careers hurtling down a precipice?

So, why do such over-achievers trip up? This is a subject that seems to be perennially on the minds of many CEOs I meet these days. And it isn’t just a theme that makes for salacious cocktail party gossip. It needs deeper conversations that help us get to the root cause.

By consensus, such ethical lapses significantly hurt the cause of high-impact entrepreneurship. As Rohin Dharmakumar’s gripping inside story on OnMobile demonstrates, co-founder Arvind Rao’s sudden downfall has not only damaged the firm by eroding much of its enterprise value, but also dented the firm’s reputation, apart from leaving behind organisational scars that will take a lot of time to heal.

So Rajat Gupta, who achieved the pinnacle of success in the Western world, isn’t just an isolated example. In Bangalore, as a co-founder, Arvind Rao had had a blinding run, creating the country’s biggest and most successful enterprise in the value-added telecom space. Earlier this month, Rao was forced to resign from the board and the firm under a cloud of controversy, accused of allegedly misappropriating funds.

To deepen our understanding of this burning issue, we’ve invited our columnist and best-selling author Subroto Bagchi to bring his wisdom to bear. Bagchi has spent considerable time studying and mentoring many such high-impact professionals in his role as a co-founder of MindTree, one of the country’s leading software firms. He’s also explored how high-performance entrepreneurs deal with success through Zen Garden , his hugely popular column in this very magazine. I’d strongly recommend that you read his exploration into the psyche of over-achievers on page 46. It is a must-read for all professionals who want to stay on the fast-track to corporate success.

Also make sure you follow our coverage of the same theme on forbesindia.com, where Bagchi and my colleague Rohin have gone on to explore all the various complex strands in an audio podcast with our intrepid partner Abhishek Kumar, the co-founder of The Indicast , a specialist podcast content firm.

And as always, we’d love to hear your views on this subject.

Indrajit Gupta
Editor, Forbes India
Email: indrajit.gupta@network18online.com
Twitter id: @indrajitgupta 

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(This story appears in the 03 August, 2012 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • P V N Rao

    The slippery scope of success can be compared to a person who has a winning hand at playing cards. After a series of successes he gets a funny idea of putting all the money he got by winning in one round and then he looses all he won. This phenomena may have something to do with over confidence by not realising that every day is not a Sunday.

    on Jul 24, 2012
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