Imagine inheriting $10 million in debt when you are 18 years old. What would you do?
In February 2012, I traveled to a city called Trivandrum in the southern state of Kerala (India). There, I met a soul friend in Rajmohan Pillai – the son of a cashew baron. But he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth – I was amazed to learn that he had inherited $10 million in debt at the ripe young age of 18!
Rajmohan graciously agreed to talk about his spiritual journey for an episode of Follow Your Fetish. Check out the interview for more than the words – witness the calm matter-of-fact energy with which one can calmly accept and slowly tackle a seemingly impossible task!
This interview is not a lesson in finance or debt consolidation, it is a chance to observe the spiritual attitude that is needed to get through a long-term obstacle or commitment. Rajmohan’s persistence is admirable in its longevity and his equanimity is inspiring in its authenticity. Instead of complaining or feeling sorry for himself, he focused on the commitment and made the best of his situation. And the ultimate feat - he came out of this long journey more financially stable and fulfilled than many who never started off with such a debt! (Continue reading below the video to see some interesting facts about his life)
12 facts about Rajmohan:
1. When he took over the company at age 18, he also inherited 175 legal cases, 50 of which were critical (meaning that any one could topple the company).
2. His father told him not to take on the debt yet his mother wanted to preserve the family honor. Rajmohan chose to protect the family name and took on the debt.
3. He was fully committed to the repayment of debt even though he didn’t know how it would happen.
4. Despite initial skepticism, he built people’s trust in his vision and in the growth of the company (creditors, buyers, sllers, employees, etc)
5. Growing the company’s success was his key strategy to repay the debt.
6. At age 44, he completed the payment of the debt and interest.
7. He is now running a 2.5 billon dollar company which employs approx 25,000 employees.
8. He has capped his own salary at 7 times the lowest salary in the company.
9. He considers himself simply a trustee of the wealth for all the employees.
10. One in every 3 cashews eaten world-wide comes from his family’s cashew business.
11. He has written 3 books – including one about his brother’s tragic rise and fall.
12. He usually gets up around 3:30am to start his day with a puja (Hindu ceremony) and some tennis (one of his greatest passions).
Spiritual advice from Rajmohan’s life experience:
1. Do your work without expectation of results.
2. Play your part in the world as best as you can – be fully committed to your life path (to your dharma).
3. Understand that everyone has similar levels of trial and tribulation regardless of their chosen work or life.