The highly successful and effective often have certain habits that set them apart; many are early risers, they send out e-mails between 4 am and 6 am, or, they switch off from work-mode in the evenings. For business tycoon Azim Premji, it’s how he remembers things.
Sharad Sharma, co-founder of policy think tank iSPIRT foundation, follows a system inspired by the Wipro founder. The prominent angel investor happened to meet Azim Premji at an event in Bengaluru in the summer of 2004. During their brief conversation, Sharma invited the software visionary to give a speech at his company in Pune.
“Premji promised him that whenever he was in Pune next, he would get in touch. Sharad assumed this was a busy man politely declining another request for his time,” write Infosys cofounder and Aadhaar architect Nandan Nilekani and iSPIRT foundation fellow Tanuj Bhojwani in their recently-released book, “The Art of Bitfulness – Keeping Calm in the Digital World”.
Six months later, in January 2005, Premji’s office got in touch with Sharma, saying the former was travelling to Pune and that he had asked his office to arrange a talk at Sharma’s company, if he was still willing to host him.
“Sharad says he had nearly forgotten that brief exchange and was mind-blown that Premji remembered,” the chapter in Nilekani and Bhojwani’s book narrates.
When Premji and Sharma finally met in Pune, Sharma asked him how he managed to remember and follow up with him after such a long time.
“Premji told him that he aspired to be a man of his word, so he made it a point to deliver on all his promises, whether small or big.
Premji showed Sharad a set of 5x7 index cards he carried, on which he wrote down all promises he made that day. He later filed them in a way that made them easy to recall when he needed them. This is how he remembered a quick promise made in a corridor, more than six months later.”
In 2021, Premji, now 76, retained the title of "India’s most generous" for the second straight year, with an annual donation of Rs 9,713 crore.“The Art of Bitfulness” aims to help readers use their devices better and proposes a collective solution to wrest control back from Big Tech and social media apps, which are addictive by design. There is value in doing something to help improve digital hygiene, Nilekani says. The book, as the authors say, is not anti-tech but pro-you.