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Marathon Man

Multi-tasking helps Anil Ambani to maintain balance in his busy lifestyle

A MORNING flight from Mumbai, a graduation-day convocation at ISB, Hyderabad, over 200 hands to shake therein, a 60-minute speech followed by a board meeting, and then another flight to Bangalore, another graduation day ceremony where Anil Ambani has to appear as chief guest. Come evening and it's back to business in Mumbai.

The scion of Asia's one of the most rich, powerful and famous family, Anil Ambani is an insanely busy man. Yet, there are no signs of exhaustion - rather, the 44-year old exudes a sense of calm and control that finds a cool reflection in his inimitable winner-takes-all stride, the smile hardly leaving his face.

Multitasking. That's precisely how the Ambanis have programmed themselves. "The ability to execute more than one task at the same time is an inherited attribute from my dad," he says. If one felt living in the shadow of a hugely successful dad can be difficult, Anil is a shining example of a pleasant contradiction. He does all that his father Dhirubhai did, and exercises too. He even listens to Billy Joel.

Five-hours of sleep by the clock, a religious two-hour at the treadmill, 30-minutes of yoga and an after-bath prayer prepares Anil for breakfast and the gruelling schedule that he has. "Do more with less, make more decisions, launch more innovations, and get more stuff done - 24 hours is all one has. And it is not unachievable, if computers can do - why can't we humans who created these machines."

From an overcrowded chawl in Kabootarkhana in Mumbai suburbs where he spent his formative years, to living in the US to get an MBA from Wharton, to occupying the post of managing director and vice-chairman, Reliance Industries Limited, Anil has evolved as a worthy torchbearer of the foundations laid by Dhirubhai.

A vegetarian and teetotaller, he still practises the single most important lesson taught by his father, humility. "With humility one can win all," he says. And how does it feel to have it all? "My dad always used to tell - Wealth whispers, Money shouts. Money, as you know, ceases to be important after a certain point. It becomes only a by-product. What feels great is that I am able to give back to society in my own little way. It leaves me with a sense of contentment and that enhances the quality of my life."

His life certainly underwent a sea change after he lost nearly 40 kilograms (from 105 Kg to 68 Kg) in two years with a basic change in lifestyle. "I realised it was rudimentary to project a healthy image of myself if I were to say Reliance is healthy."

"Besides, it made me feel good about myself and younger, of course," says Anil, who is as much image conscious as his image-conscious Company. And certainly, not on many occasions has an industrialist sidelined cricketing god Sachin Tendulkar and heartthrob Shahrukh Khan to win the MTV youth icon of the year.

The stylish industrialist is meticulous and focussed, a man-about-town who likes to wear designer shoes and clothes - although the designs are mostly understated which speaks about his refinement in tastes. "I would attribute a lot to my running habits. It helps me be focussed," he adds. For a man who runs marathons (42 kilometres) with phenomenal ease as though he were gliding, which has been the toughest marathon of his life? Pat comes the reply, "Building Reliance."


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