These days, Swamijis are regulars on the podium at corporate events. They speak with vim and vigour, leaving the audience in splits even as they slip in their motivation mantras. And, so it was at the recent National HRD Network conference in Bengaluru. Gaur Gopal Das, a monk who calls himself a personal coach and motivational strategist, sizzled up one such session. “Do you know what an oxymoron is?” Gopal Das asked? “Words like pretty ugly, happily married (a roar from the audience!). Well, business ethics is an oxymoron,” he declared. In today’s world, valuables have become more important than values. Ethics and morals have been thrown to the winds, and the corporate world is full of scams, he said.

Quickly clarifying that he was not against capitalism or profits, Gopal Das said businesses should not be just about making money but also add value to the world. “Gucci suits won’t bring you satisfaction till you bring a smile on someone’s face. The good wishes of the person can do more for you,” he said. Conscious capitalism is what businesses should practise, he exhorted. “Earning with integrity, spending with compassion is conscious capitalism. It will add values to your valuables. When you find that purpose you will love your work, otherwise work can be a drag,” he said.

The monk, who was an engineer at HP before renouncing corporate life, talked about the pressures of performance at the workplace. “In this world it’s all about money, mechanisms and markets, but businesses ignore the most important M: Manpower,” he said. If your manpower is not inspired, then they cannot commit. You need managers and people with a sense of purpose, he emphasised. What matters to many people is reward and recognition, not just money. “We have to move from HRM to human asset motivation (HAM). We have to treat people as assets and motivate them beyond just earning money,” said Gopal Das. Sharing the allegory of Hanuman, who needed to be prodded by Jambavan to make the giant leap across the ocean to Lanka, he said, “Every individual has the potential and every leader has to stoke the potential. But people are insecure. Jambavan did not want the credit, he was not insecure; those who are credit-driven can never be leaders but managers as they have to keep their jobs secure.”

In conclusion, Gopal Das said, “Life is like surfing, sometimes waves will toss you up; similarly, people will respect and honour you and sometimes there will be failure, neglect and rejection. Those who only surf will be affected by the ups and downs of life, but there are divers who swim beneath and no matter what the ups and downs they are not affected by the turbulence.”

The key takeaway – Don’t live on the surface, be a diver.