Mr Mohit Chobey, a business leader, TEDx speaker and someone who has competed in the Ironman competition joined NewsX in a special segment, NewsX A-List to talk about his journey. Mr Chobey has also written a book, which is titled ‘1000 KMs to Leadership’.
Mohit Chobey gave some very important insights about his life, and how he arrived at the point he is today. Talking about his journey as an author, he said, “I have been informally writing in terms of blogs, but I think the formal process of getting into an authorship happened pretty recently. I had a plethora of writings, which I had put together, many of the experiences in terms of how I saw myself evolve as an individual, as a person, a human being, in the process of becoming an endurance athlete. So one of the most impactful events which happened to me was when I undertook this journey to South Africa, and participated in something called the Comrades Marathon, it’s more than 100 years old, and it is the largest and possibly the biggest ultramarathon in the world, it’s 90 km distance over 12 hours.”
Mr Chobey said, “During the process, the way I evolved, I think the articulation of that into feelings was something very difficult. So over the years, I kind of put together my thoughts. And eventually, it forced me to come out with a book and not just a book, it’s a series of three, this is just the first in the trilogy, called 1000 KMs to Leadership.”
Mohit comes from an army background, so he obviously has that resilience. Talking further about his background, he said, “I think it always plays a role, genetics, and the environment in which you’re brought up makes a difference for me, since my father donned the uniform for 38 years, and I’ve been to some very interesting escapades and adventures along with him. He was a national-level hockey player and I think to that extent, at least, the athleticism and the sports element was ingrained in me. And very early from in my life, I think sports was an integral part of me. So it will be very, you know, kind of apt to say that part of the upbringing, which was, you know, kind of, eventually helped me become an athlete.”
Mr Chobey added, “Some other traits, which also got developed as a part of the same process was that you end up residing in different cities, and going to different schools, that allows a certain amount of versatility and adaptability. And I think to that extent, that helped me become a much better and stronger business leader, and to be able to manage situations much better.”
Mohit Chobey was able to soak in the metropolis of the country of India as well as get an insight into what rural India or Bharat is basically all about. Talking about the same, he said, “My first few years in the corporate world were with FMCG companies, and they further ensured that my understanding of India was not limited to the metropolis, but to the last mile, to the hinterland to the villages. And it is a matter of fact that this entity, this nation of ours, is actually a conglomeration of different aspects to be merely being able to see it from one city. You really have to dive deep into it, dwell into it to really get the holistic understanding of the nation. And I think early in my career, that’s something which happened to me. I’m very grateful for that.”
Not too many people were informed of the Ironman competition before Milind Soman completed it. It’s basically a 3.8-kilometre swim, typically in open water, might be a lake or river and ocean. It is followed by a 180-kilometre bike ride and culminates in a full marathon of 42.2 kilometres. The overall distance is 226, which is expected to be covered between 15 and a half to 17 hours depending on the terrain. “For me, I think the trigger point was after I became a fairly serious endurance athlete in the running space. I was exposed to the idea of Ironman and as I believe challenges help us evolve as individuals, this is something which I was really looking forward to, I knew it was not really my domain, because swimming in the open water kind of takes you into a different level altogether. I’ve tried to capture some elements of it in my second book, but the challenge is something which I thrive on”, said Mohit.
Talking about his 2nd book, Mr Chobey said, “The second book’s title is ‘Coming Back to Life and there is a figurative element, and there’s a fair amount of factual element in the title of the book. But that’s something which the viewers will get to see, maybe three, four months down the line.”
The first time Mohit competed in the Ironman competition, he was disqualified. That disqualification worked as a catalyst for him. “It taught me a lot. Incidentally, as I said, swimming is my Achilles’ heel and I actually had a life-threatening experience while I was training for Ironman. I actually had to be pulled out of a lake in Faridabad before I really went down the third time, and possibly the final time underneath the water. We thankfully had a lifeguard with us who pulled me out. And that day, I realized that I really needed to kind of break the barriers in my mind, I really needed to cross that Rubicon. But sadly, the first time I competed in Iron Man that was in France and by the time I came out of the water because I had meandered so much, I ended up missing the cut off for 10 minutes. And I realized that you know, sometimes No matter how much effort you put in, things don’t work out the way you would want them to be. But that’s okay. The point is very clearly, are you ready to take it up, ready to pick up the conflict and have another shot at it? Incidentally, it so happened that once I got back into a mental frame to do so I ended up doing five Iron Man in a matter of 12 months, three full Ironman and two half Ironman across three continents in the world,” said Mohit.
Talking about his 2nd book, Mr Chobey said, “The physical powers and the motivation elements are the add ons to it but the book is about a life journey, it’s about a professional journey. So anyone and anybody out there who wants to look at life, and wants to see some elements of their life that resonate in a book, and go through the travails and challenges what life throws at us, should pick up the book. Incidentally, the background or the context is running, and in running, specifically, the ultramarathon comrades which I had mentioned. But if you are a reader, you’re looking at some roller-coaster journey into life, into professional life and you want to take have some interesting takeaways from that, I think you should pick up the book.”
Mohit spoke about the challenges he faced during his journey, he said, “I faced challenges and most importantly, the slotting of the book. So like who is the book for and straightaway the two thoughts which cross your mind are in terms of motivation and in terms of physical progress. And I had initially a tough time trying to convince publishers to understand that it’s not about that, it is merely the canvas of running, but the painting is about life. And that, you know, movement or moving from one domain to the other is something which eventually I was able to convince invincible publishers, I did have another publisher who was comfortable and eventually understood the idea of publishing this book, out of the timeframe wasn’t suitable for me. It took some convincing for me to get people to understand that it’s a very broad-based book and does not merely stick to a specific domain.”
Addressing Physical Fitness notions in India, Mohit said, “I guess I’ll quote an example and maybe use the Hindi idiom “Sathiyajana”, which is basically somebody turning 60. The fact is that when somebody turns 60, that’s what the term you use and the underlying notion behind that is basically your mental faculties and possibly your physical faculties are not at the same level. Now, to give an example, when I did the Comrades the first time, the 90 kilometre race over mountains, one gentleman was 63 years old, and he finished 30 minutes ahead of me. I think it was a Eureka moment for me, it was a life-changing moment for me.”
Mr Chobey further said, “Age is nothing but just a number and possibly the reason is that our parents were so involved in putting bread on the table to explain expand your horizons into physical fitness and mental robustness, they were not able to spend the time. But the current generation, I think they have enough and more time to be able to understand the need for it not merely in terms of physical health, but how it also impacts mental health. And I think that’s a very relevant topic right now, going around that physical activities do not merely help you keep your body fit up, it also keeps your mind robust, and positive.”
Mohit Chobey is also a business leader and has been a TEDx speaker. Talking about that aspect of his life, Mohit said, “I think all of us are multifaceted and it’s up to us to understand which are the strong points which we have and we can shine them and chisel them enough for it to be, you know, really sparkling. For me, I have been in the corporate domain for the past 22 years now and I was given responsibility a bit earlier in life. I think so I was hitting a business when I was nearly 29 years old, it was unheard of at that point of time. So 17 years across multiple industries, whether financial services, banking, the FMCG space, or across hospitality and hotels, e-commerce, so I’ve kind of done it all. And incidentally, I was having a conversation with one of the groups on SRCC yesterday, and they said, so why do you have such a broad-based experience? And the simple answer was, as business leaders, what we need to understand is the levers of the business, you cannot create a high level of finesse in terms of subject matter, expertise beyond a certain level. It’s like saying, I’m going to sharpen the pencil, but the pencil can only be sharpened to a certain extent. After that, the lead gets broken. So for me, my adaptability, which I think was a part of my growing up years, is something which has held me in good stead and made me a leader who’s adaptable, not nearly to industries, but to surroundings, to people, and to situations. And I think that really helps to bring the best out of me, in consonance with the endurance sports which I’m involved in, creates and enhances the gravitas, which is expected from a business leader. Lastly, as a TEDx speaker, I think, for me to be able to share my story across a broad spectrum of viewers and listeners that a lot of things can be possible and nothing needs to be straitjacketed, it does require resilience, it does require effort, but you can ensure that your multiple facets can really shine out and bloom.”
Mohit ended up writing an article on the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. He said, “It’s called ‘Opportunity in adversity. Too many times we end up getting so overwhelmed by the change in fortunes of situations that we do not see the opportunity which presents. To put it into perspective, the very fact that I could come up with my book was possible because of COVID. I’m not undermining the kind of global impact it has had. The fact of the matter is, it created certain time availability. For me, I was able to dedicate more time, my transition time, like transit time was not there anymore. I could allocate without not compromising either in my fitness or in my corporate responsibilities. So I think that’s something for each one of us. Anytime situations change, we do find opportunities for doing something new. I was very surprised and pleasantly surprised that the Bhagavad Gita mentions the same. So I was like, okay, there’s something right, I must be doing because a sacred text seemed to be resonating the same thing.”
Giving a piece of advice to the young generation, Mohit said, “I think the most important thing is being honest. Honesty to yourself about what you want, honesty to yourself about what you are, and honesty to yourself about what you aspire to be. If you’re able to have that honesty about yourself, at least you’ll be able to baseline yourself with in terms of traits, skills and, if you’re clear about what your direction is, not necessarily the destination, the destination keeps on evolving, if you’re clear about the direction, I’m sure enhancements in physical fitness, enhancements in your mental prowess, and overall happiness quotient will naturally come to force. And that’s my simple advice, be honest, and just ensure that you make a meaningful difference and start moving forward in the same.”
As Mohit mentioned in his 2nd book, he is aiming at a trilogy. “So I have actually put together elements of four different books right now. One is a trilogy, and one is a bit more on the emotional side. But the trilogy is basically evolution for me as an athlete, as an individual, and as a leader because every time within the leadership scheme of things, we take up bigger responsibilities, we look at adversity, the kind of difficulty we end up facing seems to only increase and you need to find different ways and better ways to be able to manage that. So I think so, as the journey unfolds. The same will be told through the three books, which are in the offing.”