Did you notice that a majority of people who rise above the rest of the crowd tend to be rule-benders? They navigate through unpaved paths by building an undiscovered road for themselves.
The title already indicates who I am referring to. You could say this is another article about Indra Nooyi. But, this is an article that reflects my core beliefs about early childhood education and how it is apparent in her life.
What is her parenting saga?
Her Childhood is the Foundation
Indra Nooyi often acknowledged that ‘a person’s ability built over years is largely shaped by their parents’. In most of her interviews and public addressing, she quoted that her mother played a major role in shaping her character. While her father traveled often, it was her stay-at-home mother who designed each day in her life during childhood. While her mother used some carrot and stick policies, she also motivated her with inspirational stories and by being a ‘role-model’ herself.
Her childhood included playing cricket and the guitar, for a rock band; apart from excelling in academics. This reminds us, how much a multi-disciplinary environment for learning contributes to a person’s success in the later years of adulthood.
Cognizant of the kind of role parents play in a child’s life and its success, she sent letters to parents and spouses of all her senior executives, working with her.
Empowering and Not Mere Assistance
When it was her turn of parenting, it turned out to be a rule-bending affair with heartaches, but no regrets!
According to me, she wrote an algorithm for parenting too. It is just about how much you can digest and how far you can believe. Anyone who follows Indra Nooyi for inspiration would have heard this story …
With Indra Nooyi’s work schedule, extensive travel is imperative. During one such scheduled travel, her daughter called the office to ask for permission to play Nintendo. The receptionist would know the routine and ask: “Have you finished your homework? Have you had your snack? OK, you can play Nintendo for half an hour”. She then left a voice message for Indra saying “I gave Tara permission to play Nintendo”.
In her own words she always mentioned, “In terms of being a mother and a corporate executive, the role of mom comes first.”
As a working mom, her mindset embraced the larger picture. She looks at PepsiCo, her work as an extended family.
While these stories sound so inspiring, she had her downs too. This was when her 4–5-year-old daughter sent her a note, “I love you more if you came home. Please come home, Mom.”
The Swearing Ceremony
What has all this got to do with Indra Nooyi swearing-in as the next Indian President?
She had already visualized it. In her own words,
“Every night at the dinner table, my mother would ask us to write a speech about what we would do if we were president, chief minister, or prime minister — every day would be a different world leader she’d ask us to play. At the end of dinner, we had to give the speech, and she had to decide who she was going to vote for.”
What can we as parents learn from her childhood? We should help our children visualize — unimaginable possibilities of themselves using positive affirmations…
Originally published at mylearningyantra.com on August 10, 2018.