‘I Have Failed.’ CCD Owner’s Last Note Reveals His State of Mind
“I have failed as an entrepreneur.”
“I am very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me.”
“I am solely responsible for all mistakes.”
The last note of VG Siddhartha to his Cafe Coffee Day family is devastating. More devastating, though, are the feelings it exhibits - the emotional state it reveals of a man who had had enough.
It’s heartbreaking to know that the man who founded Cafe Coffee Day, who gave the newly liberalised India its first taste of coffee, and who gifted many of us who came-of-age in the late 90’s memories over shared cups of coffee with first loves and childhood friends; decided against sharing his own financial troubles with friends and family.
The man who corporate India is calling cheerful, positive, one always with a ready smile, was hiding so much underneath.
It’s so easy to forget that the people who we presume to be doing brilliantly well in their lives, could also be suffering from other issues. The oft used ‘lonely at the top’ trope comes to mind.
Dr Samir Parekh, a psychiatrist at Fortis Hospitals believes this happens because they are often discouraged from help-seeking (professional, or from friends and family) and are expected in a stereotypical way to take care of their problem themselves.
Despite having a supportive family and a shared camaraderie within the company and with fellow corporate leaders, VG Siddhartha did not share his financial vulnerability with his auditors, family, or team.
While a good leader often takes the fall in case something goes wrong, where does one draw the line between taking responsibility and being consumed terribly by self-guilt? In the case of VG Siddhartha, the scales tilted more towards the latter. But as Anand Mahindra rightly points out, entrepreneurs can’t let business failure destroy their self-esteem.
VG Siddhartha in his last note wrote that he had failed as an entrepreneur. And that his intention was never to cheat or hurt anybody. He also sought forgiveness.
Failure hurts all humans. Whether it is failure in business, or relationships, or personal expectations. But unfortunately, this unaddressed feeling can have terrible consequences. And no one is immune from it. Not the farmer with a failed crop in Vidharba, neither the man who could have lost his empire.
“Caste, gender, socio-economic condition, problems don’t look at these angles. Every time we hear of somebody who is better known or perceived as doing well: whether it is Hollywood celebrities, or entrepreneurs and business men, we end up seeing those as a separate case because we perceive faultily that position, money, or stature are in some way immunising you from problems that any human being may experience.”Samir Parekh, Psychiatrist
VG Siddharartha’s Words
“I fought for a long time but today I gave up as I could not take any more pressure from any one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares, a transaction I had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend.”
The bottled up frustration, and the desire to keep things to himself, ultimately proved to be too much to handle.
The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 now mandates companies to start focusing on mental balance sheets as well.
“I think it’s also time that corporate India realises the value of mental health outcomes as a parameter to measure how well the organisation is doing. Beyond the EBITA and bottom and top lines, mental health outcomes and well being needs to be part of the agenda. Especially in high pressure jobs and at a time when work-life balance is largely warped.”Dr. Samir Parekh
The note of the CCD owner is out there. He is no more. It’s time the corporate world acknowledges the mental health crisis that is booming in offices.
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