Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Parents Meet Pele – Another “Magical Moment” in my Professional Career

Working within the Indian football industry is not always fun, easy or gratifying.  There are many challenging conversations, pointless meetings, egotistical people, corruption, bureaucracy and hordes and hordes of emails / phone calls which no one responds to (for no particular reason).  To be honest, there are many times when you ask yourself, “Is this really worth it? “

Then there are these “magical moments” when all the long hours, sleepless nights and heartburn seem to disappear and you can’t imagine doing anything else in your professional career. For me, one magical moment was when I stood on stage and officially announced the partnership between my client Conscient Football and FC Barcelona to establish FCBEscola India – a first of its kind partnership in India.  Another magical moment was when I stood on stage and announced the partnership between my client DSK Group and Liverpool FC to establish LIFA-DSK – another first of its kind in the country.   

Now I’ve recently just experienced another magical moment: taking a picture with my parents and Pele in Delhi. Now for me taking a picture with any celebrity would not be considered a magical moment, but in this case it’s the context behind the picture which makes the moment as rich as it is.    
5 months ago my company was appointed by the Indian Air Force to serve as Management Consultants for their flagship sports property the Subroto Cup. One of our deliverables was to identify and secure a celebrity to serve as Chief Guest for the Subroto Cup Finals.  We explored multiple options but eventually settled on Pele who quickly became the unanimous choice for all stakeholders involved.  The selection process was the easy part, the challenge was the next 4.5 months of contract negotiations, countless emails, late night / early morning conference calls, daily mini road trips to Delhi, etc… to actually make it happen.  Thankfully, everything got complete and the legend boarded a plane for the nation’s capital on 14 October. 

Also 5 months ago, my girlfriend and I were discussing how much we loved each other and how fun it would be to get married.  We decided that this is what we wanted to do and, in typical Indian fashion, we involved our parents to ensure they were a part of our decision.  While I was back in the US over the summer, I had multiple conversations with my parents about travelling to India in October to meet Avantika’s family, a time when we could possibly do a Roka Ceremony which is like an engagement party.  Even though they were not planning to visit India until 2016, they agreed to my request.

It then turned out that both of my projects, Pele and my parents, were set to arrive into Delhi less than 24 hours apart from each other.  Rather than get stressed out about the situation, I looked at it as a wonderful opportunity for my parents to get small taste of the type of work that I do in the country of their childhood. 

What actually happened was beyond my imagination.  Essentially, we were able to carve out 15 minutes in Pele’s schedule for our Libero Sports team and close family to spend time with the legend.  The time for the meeting was set for 4pm and my parent’s international flight was scheduled to land in Delhi at 2:45pm.  I prayed to all Gods that their flight would land on time and we would get to the Leela Hotel in time for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

My prayers were answered and they walked out of the gate by 3:30pm giving my driver 30 minutes to maneuver through Delhi traffic to get to the Leela by 4pm.  We arrived just in the nick of time and my surprised, confused and slightly jet-lagged parents were rushed straight to a lounge near Pele’s room where they were greeted by my colleagues and eventually the legend himself.  We had a few words with Pele and were able to take a beautiful family photo with him. One thing I can say for certain that even at 75 years of age, Pele still has the same charisma only seen in true greats like Mohammed Ali, Frank Sinatra or the Dalai Lama. 

So my two 5 month projects converged into this one picture and it was just perfect.  Also, fitting was that a few days later, my girlfriend and her sister had the opportunity to meet the legend in his hotel room just before he left for Brazil thanks to a series of fortunate circumstances which I won’t get into. 

These “magical moments” are truly special as they not only validate the efforts we put into our daily lives, but also fill us with the energy we require to work hard towards the next “magical moment.” I pray that I continue to remember to appreciate what I do professionally and that, along the way, I experience many more of these “magical moments.”
Best picture ever 

Pele with Indian Air Force Chiefs

Pele wishing the finalists good luck before the match

Pele handing over the Subroto Cup trophy to the AIFF captain

My girlfriend and her sister chilling in Pele's room before his flight to Brazil
What a moment!!!

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