b-school, Business, MBA, Thoughts

The MBA way of life of… Ram Charan

Ever heard of Ram Charan? A search in Amazon retrieves books like:

And a search in Wikipedia will tell you that he was born in India. He earned his engineering degree working in his family shoe shop, then his MBA at Harvard.

He started being a consultant in 1978. He has taught at Harvard and and Kellogg, consulted firms as Bank of America and General Electric, and of course, written a lot of books.

Surely impressive. A new book wouldn’t be news. So what’s new with Ram Charan? Yes, there’s something. At 67 he has bought his first home.

“I go to India on the Friday of the week before Thanksgiving. I am Sunday morning in Bombay. Monday morning I am in Delhi. Wednesday I’m in Bombay. Thursday I’m in Bangalore. Saturday I’m in Trivandrum. Wednesday I’m in Johannesburg. Friday morning, at seven, I am in New York. I have a two-hour meeting with a CEO who has flown in to see me. I have two more meetings and I fly out that night to Dubai. I am in Dubai on Sunday and Monday, then I come back here. On Thursday night I fly out to Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Then I come back here. Tuesday morning I have a whole-day schedule in New York. Tuesday night I go to Milwaukee. I came from Milwaukee last night. They diverted my plane so I had to stay in Pittsburgh. I had a meeting this morning in Philadelphia. I had three meetings here in the afternoon. And I’m here tomorrow, with GE. Then an hour-and-a-half phone call. Then I’m going out tomorrow night to West Palm Beach. Monday morning I have a breakfast meeting in New York. And then I’m flying out to Perth, Australia.”

Ram Charan lives in hotels. He’s never had a home before. No wife, no kids, no hobby of any kind (as Theodor Adorno, Durkheim’s follower said, hobbies are just disguised forced labors. I read Adorno long ago and I still have to blog about that). Another night, another hotel.

He doesn’t buy anything himself.  His laundry? sent by courier to and from the office. He has an office, in Dallas. It’s the address of his passport. But he has never been there. Mondays, wednesdays and fridays are the days for his collaborators to pack everything he might need: from toothpaste to new clothes (his sizes are kept in a file, so we have to assume he is not getting fatter, which is another important ability you have to master if you eat out every meal).

100% work, 100% efficiency. We could say that is not a life, but maybe that’s the life he wants. No sundays, no frills. Music? no thanks, it can distract you. A life totally dedicated to work. Impressive. (Find more here)

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6 thoughts on “The MBA way of life of… Ram Charan

  1. necromonger says:

    Wow. Nice post about Ram Charan — impressive but would I (you) want to live like that? Some time ago I read about the CTO (I think) of Home Depot (I think..I don’t remember exactly anymore) . He hadn’t taken a vacation is many years and often worked 16-20 hours a day. But you have to hand it to their dedication – and I think that’s what they enjoy, and that’s what they do it, sounds perfectly fair to me.

  2. I don’t think either of us would like to live like that. Although he might be happy with it, he’s missing a lot of nice things in life. I mean, you can choose whatever you want, but first you must get to know all the options. Otherwise maybe you’re simply too scared to have a family, too scared to not succeeding in your personal life too, too scared to move away from what you know best.

    Working as a consultant I had to be at the office certain weekends. That was long ago, cos I just decided to stop doing that kind of things. I was there because there was some work to be done and the schedule was too tight, or because I was too easy to compromise, whatever, but I’d always met the same people there. And some of them even had free time to help me, which was great for me, of course, but what about their families? their children? I always thought they were running away from them.

    And then I met the Ram Charan story. Taken to the limit. Impressive.

    Best regards 😉

  3. Pingback: Desconnectar?

  4. Pingback: Jordi Favà » Blog Archive » Desconnectar?

  5. sanity says:

    Missing out on all the fun things in life is no life. I’m not suggesting “balance” all the time, but definitely balance some of the time. It is ironic that someone who mentors businesses on how to leverage their resources and to take multi-dimensional risks is unable to do so in his own life and in his own business. Feel sorry for the guy. One can almost guarantee it that he will get to that point in his life (towards the end) where he will have more regret than gratitude.

  6. Keep up the great work! Look forward to reading more from you in the future. I think it will be also nice if you add “send to email” tool so people can forward the articles to their friends easily.

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