Ratan Naval Tata has been called many things. Quiet. Reticent. Humble. A businessman par excellence. Tenacious. And a tiger, when pushed to the wall.
As we all witnessed when it looked like the controversy about Singur, where the Tata Nano was to be manufactured, looked like escalating instead of dying down.
The 70-year-old roared, "If people say that that we will protect our investments irrespective of anything then they are wrong. I will not bring in my employees to Singur if there is threat of them being beaten up. Tata will do whatever necessary to protect its employees."
It was a statement, not a threat -- a statement that Ratan Tata will not hesitate to execute.
Here are some more inspirational words of wisdom from a titan of India's business world:
On courage: I am, unfortunately, a person who has often said: You put a gun to my head and pull the trigger or take the gun away, I won't move my head.
On successful people: I admire people who are very successful. But if that success has been achieved through too much ruthlessness, then I may admire that person, but I can't respect him.
On leadership: It is easy to become a number one player, but it is difficult to remain number one. So, we will have to fight with a view to remain number one.
On Nano: This project (the Nano) has proven to everyone that if you really set yourself to doing something, you actually can do it.
On the need to think big: We have been. . . thinking small. And if we look around us, countries like China have grown so much by thinking big. I would urge that we all, in the coming years, think big, think of doing things not in small increments, not in small deltas, but seemingly impossible things. But nothing is impossible if you really set out to do so. And we act boldly. Because it is this thinking big and acting boldly that will move India up in a manner different from where it is today.
On risk: Risk is a necessary part of business philosophy. You can be risk-averse and take no risks, in which case you will have a certain trajectory in terms of your growth. Or you can, while being prudent, take greater risk in order to grow faster. I view risk as an ability to be where no one has been before. I view risk to be an issue of thinking big, something we did not do previously. We did everything in small increments so we always lagged behind. But the crucial question is: can we venture putting a man on the moon or risk billions of rupees on a really way-out, advanced project in, say, superconductors? Do you restrict your risk to something close to your heart?