“An unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates.
As powerful and radical as this statement was over two thousand years ago, it rings of a universal truth that is more applicable today than ever. From warrior to statesman, visionary to entrepreneur, the definition of a leader has always packed a bouquet of rarefied qualities. Looking inwards is not the least of them. In an often disorderly world, we are inspired by men who set an example by how they pause to indulge their passions, and not just their professional achievements.
Balancing some of the most high profile businesses with a commitment to their passions, these CEOs knock the ball out of the park when it comes to romancing the pause. From running to racing and shooting to filmmaking, they pursue their passions with an extraordinary zest that is as inspiring as their business coups.
When it comes to taking time out for themselves, our five favourite corporate czars show that ‘romancing the pause’ recharges them, making it possible to multitask their way to the pinnacle of success.
MARATHON MAN: ANIL AMBANI
Twelve years ago, one of India’s most successful businessmen decided to change his life when a deeply personal issue, his weight, staggering at over 105 kilos — turned into a topic of discussion at a conference in New York. Today, the Chairman of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group is a serial marathoner; clocking in 100 kilometres per week, in tandem with a strict vegetarian diet. Ambani’s fierce dedication to an endurance sport like marathon running has inspired many and draws strong parallels to business, long term planning, big goals and conviction. Yet, for this Ambani, running is about “connecting” with himself. “It has become an addiction,” he confesses. In a nutshell, India’s fourth richest and fittest billionaire proves that money can’t buy health… it’s an achievement you have to pause for and pursue.
ON THE FAST TRACK: GAUTAM SINGHANIA
In the sprawling multi-level garage of his lavish home in Mumbai, the Chairman and Managing Director of the Raymond Group has a sign on the wall: ‘A Man’s Home is His Castle, but His Garage is his Sanctuary’. Apart from luxury yachts and speedboats, the avid racer’s collection includes some of the most exquisite wheels in the world, a Honda S2000, a Lotus Elise convertible, a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Ferrari 458 Italia and a Nissan Skyline GT-R. For Singhania, this is a passion that gives him his ‘pause’ moment and it certainly moves beyond covetousness. In 2009, he founded the by-invitation-only Super Car Club, where members traverse the unexplored majesty of regions like Ladakh, Kashmir and Rajasthan, with as much joy as speeding on a Formula One track in France. Camping together, waking up at dawn, clinking wine glasses around a deep blue at sunset and ditching their high powered lifestyles for a taste of the outdoors, this elite group of pause partners characterizes Singhania’s drive to experience the best life has to offer.
SHARP SHOOTER: NAVEEN JINDAL
The Chairman of Jindal Steel & Power (and two-time MP from Kurukshetra in Haryana) is known to be a fearless risk-taker, whether it is business or politics. It’s a personality trait he imbibed as early as age six, when his father gifted him his first horse. An accomplished polo player, Jindal, an instinctive decision maker, thanks in part to the sport, swung back on the saddle two years ago, after serious injuries. This determination and focus is exemplified by his other passion, shooting. A national record holder in skeet shooting, Jindal has been trained by Peru’s renowned Juan Ghia Yarur. Dividing his time between his business empire, state work and twin sporty interests, this Renaissance man inevitably hits the bullseye when he’s romancing the pause.
CELLULOID VISIONARY: ANAND MAHINDRA
An abiding passion and belief in the liberal arts as life-altering has also shaped the business interests of the Chairman and MD of the Mahindra Group. A filmmaking graduate from Harvard, he has always professed more than just an interest in photography, film and music. His media and entertainment company, Mumbai Mantra Media, is resounding proof of his commitment to world-class cinema. He is also privately invested in a new film production company, sparking hopes of seeing the Twitter-loving business magnate wielding the director’s baton himself. His love for the Blues led to setting up one of Mumbai’s finest music events, the annual Mahindra Blues Festival, in 2011. Having made a $10 million endowment to the Harvard Humanities Center, Mahindra is clearly a man who puts his money where his heart is. For him, romancing the pause is about art and creativity being the very soul of existence.
PUTTING IT UP: RAHUL BHATIA
An electrical engineer from the University of Waterloo in Ontario and an IBM alumnus, Rahul Bhatia has chartered his family’s modest travel firm, InterGlobe, to unprecedented heights in the fields of aviation and hospitality. Taciturn and low profile, he is known to have a sharp instinct, a trait attributed to his love for golf. When he isn’t romancing the pause on putting greens across the world, Bhatia helps his quirky and much-loved domestic Indian airline (IndiGo) to soar in a sluggish market. As the owner of three restaurants in Gurgaon, his foodie passions are also well-known, but it is the former Chairman of the Delhi Golf Club’s ability to fight handicaps with tenacity that fuels his skyrocketing success. Like any pro, his consistent swing, focus control and understanding of the landscape has translated into incredible success off the golf course too.
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