Ratanjit S. Sondhe was the founder and CEO of the international materials science company, PolyCarb, which he sold to The Dow Chemical Company in 2007. He came to America from India with eight dollars in his pocket to study polymer science, and built a highly successful business on the principles of oneness — the fundamental awareness that we are all interdependent and interconnected with each other and our planet. The founder of Discoverhelp, Inc., Ratanjit is an executive coach, leadership trainer, scientist, philosopher, speaker and author. He lives near Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife, Dolly.
This book provides uncommon insight into the task of business leadership. It reveals universal truths for empowered and resilient living, no matter who you are or what beliefs you hold. The key is tapping into Oneness, the source of inner wisdom that deeply connects us to the world around us. An American success story told with impish good humor, it entertains and instructs in the spirit of the world’s great autobiographies.
A person experiences life as something separated from the rest— Our task must be to free ourselves from this self-imposed prison, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. and through compassion, to ﬁnd the reality of Oneness.
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When I look at America, I always feel that it should be seen as an experiment that the entire human race has undertaken. In this experiment, the world has sent its best and brightest sons and daughters here—as well as the most challenging and spoiled citizens and the most revered and spiritual souls—to see what our human race can accomplish under the circumstance where there is a minimum of baggage, where hard work and innovation are not only rewarded but also respected, where there are no hierarchies or caste systems, where anyone can dare to dream big in a land where dreams do come true. As a result, this nation has been able to build the richest country on the face of
the Earth. However, in the midst of this glitz and glamour, it would be a tragedy if we did not understand and realize the true strength that blessed us with this hard-won status. I feel that what made this country the greatest was not its industrial revolution, its technology, its vast natural resources, its domination in the number of patents granted each year, its nuclear arsenal, or even its leadership or political system. In my humble assessment, this country’s greatest asset is its core value system of basic honesty, working hard, keeping promises made with a simple handshake, understanding what is fair and living by that fairness, believing in people and accepting everyone at his or her face value, helping the
needy without expectations (the United States is the most charitable nation in the world), and, most importantly, measuring success by a person’s character and contribution to society rather than just by wealth and/ or fame. Banks and lending institutions used to evaluate risk via three Cs: Character, Collateral, and Capacity. In today’s world, those Cs have changed to Credibility, Collateral, and Capacity. As a result of eliminating Character as a key criterion for evaluating their own management, as well as interacting with their customers, institutions have not only paid an incredibly high price, but also brought this great nation to its knees.
I came to this country in 1968 as a student at The University of Akron. I still remember an incident at a local grocery store near our campus. I brought my groceries to the checkout counter, and after the clerk presented the tally, I realized that I had forgotten my wallet. The grocery clerk looked at me and said, “Don’t worry. I have seen you so many times that I trust you. Please take your groceries and pay me the next time you are here.” Such trust and honesty have been the cornerstones of America. When I started my business here, I did so not to become rich or famous, but to see if a business could be built on and driven by the core values of trust, honesty, and integrity.
This book is the true story of my business life in America, and, as you will ﬁ nd, these values will not only help you survive, but also help you succeed against any and all odds stacked against you. I thought that in this time of turmoil from corporate corruption, a depressed economy, and the depleted faith of the average American in the fairness of our current system, it would be refreshing to read my story of struggles and survival empowered and supported by these values in action. I feel that if we, as Americans, lose our core value system, we will lose everything regardless of our apparent wealth, power, and technology. Ultimately, a values-based system is not for the world, not even for the success it provides.
It’s for one’s inner harmony, peace and satisfaction, which will radiate outwardly to the rest of the world. Sustainable worldly success is merely a consequence or bonus. Therefore, the task for each of us as individuals is to incorporate the universal laws contained within these pages into the very core of our being in order to gift the world with the greatest expression of who we are—the Divine presence residing within all of us. In essence, it is oneness. Oneness is not a religion, cult, philosophy, or mythology. It is a simple yet profound truth. It means that every being and everything around us is part of an integral, omnipresent single resource and power. Any decision that embraces this thought process can
never be wrong. Not only is this truth always empowering and fulﬁlling, it is also the essential core of every sustainable relationship, endeavor, happiness, and success in life. Oneness is at the crux of this entire book. Without under-standing and aspiring to live in harmony with the profound truth of oneness, a value system is only partially effective, as its focus is on personal needs and desires. Oneness connects us to all of life so that we are no longer about our egos, but about the bigger picture. We are no longer interested in selfish agendas, but in striving to uplift all of life. My wish for you is that you find resonance in oneness and that the nine laws found within these pages will speak to your heart
and soul. Our true wealth is reﬂected in our character. Our strength is reﬂected in our kindness. Our generosity is reﬂected in our gratefulness. Our wisdom is reﬂected in our selﬂessness. Truth is reﬂected when we see one in all and all in one.
“We have good news, and we have bad news.” My mind was charging about in several directions, apprehensive as to what the news could be. I got that funny sensation in the pit of my stomach when it feels like the rug is about to be pulled out from under me. “The bad news is that POLY-CARB, Inc. is broke—but the good news is that you live in America. You can ﬁle for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy and settle all your debts for pennies on the dollar. We can do it very quickly without you losing your name or the business or accounts,” both men explained, trying to sound upbeat in the face of this dispiriting news.
It was 1980, and I sat thinking to myself that this couldn’t be true—the company couldn’t actually be broke. I’d been working like a fanatic for years, nurturing the company, developing products, marketing, spending weeks on the road, traveling around the country to garner clients, and building a polymers company to rival the leaders in I sat looking at my accountant and lawyer, unblinking, the ﬁeld. My associates and I were continually building our customer base and had long-standing clients. We were busy and had orders in our pipeline. How could we possibly be broke?
I listened to both men, thanked them for meeting with me, and then returned to my ofﬁce, feeling set adrift—no longer tethered to my own company. What was I going to do? Declare bankruptcy? How could I possibly do such a thing? More importantly, how could I possibly create the shift needed to turn the company around? I needed to get a clear picture of how POLY-CARB had arrived at these crossroads after we’d worked so hard for so many years.
That night, I discussed the meeting with my wife, Dolly, who also worked at POLY-CARB. She oversaw everything and everyone’s welfare. There had to be another option besides bankruptcy. From a business point of view, bankruptcy would seem to be the most logical solution, and it is certainly considered a viable and reasonable direction to pursue. But it truly did not feel like the right thing to do. Aside from closing the company down and letting people go, it didn’t feel right ethically.
Bankruptcy was too easy a way out—a cop-out really. Could I just say, “Oh well, that’s life,” and walk away, turning my back? I brought all of the accounts home with me that weekend and analyzed them from top to bottom. I was completely shocked to discover that 90 percent of the sales the company had generated were created by me. I had seven vice presidents and a number of sales managers and sales reps, but the majority of my time was spent helping or correcting their 10 percent of the sales. With all of their expertise and experience, why was I producing the lion’s share?
When I’d ﬁrst started putting POLY-CARB together, I’d followed the advice of business professionals who looked at me with my education two master’s degrees and PhD work—but couldn’t see past my turban. They only saw me as a crazy scientist who had no understanding of business. They told me, “Look, you’re a scientist, not a marketer, and you don’t understand business. You need to surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing.” I heard the same explanation from my accountant, banker, lawyers, and advisers. They all must have been members of the same club. On the surface, they all appeared to be correct, explaining that I needed to hire people with lots of experience.
So I did, hiring people with ﬁfteen to twenty years of experience and resumes that listed amazing past successes and marketing feats. For their positions, they felt they needed titles, ofﬁces, personal cars, personal assistants, etc. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” So I complied. For many years, I thought I’d been doing the right thing—and spending a lot of money doing it—and now the company was failing. What was I doing wrong? I followed the advice of experts and felt I was doing the right thing on the surface, but was I?
How was it that a person like me, with no background in market-ing and business, was generating 90 percent of the sales? What was it in me that was making this happen? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the focus of my inner being was always on adding the highest value to whomever I dealt with—and I always had an inner conﬂict with the language and actions of the experienced people around me. They were purely about making money, whereas my soul was always saying, “Ratanjit, it’s all about adding value, not making money. Your sole purpose in life is to add the highest value you can in all your endeavors.
My priority wasn’t to make a sale, but to provide my customers the distinct advantage of achieving higher proﬁtability, higher productivity, ease of operations, and an even better understanding of their own business. It was ironic that this practice was coming from a person with no business experience. Why weren’t the experienced people I had hired doing this? When I looked deeply into their habits and ways of working, I realized that they worked in silos: they didn’t talk to each other, they were concerned only with their commissions, and no one wanted to help anyone else.
Their number-one priority was generating higher commissions for themselves with no interest in helping or even knowing the customer. On top of this, they often sold the wrong product with the excuse that they weren’t chemical engineers and didn’t know the difference in products. They were just salesmen, they said, and what they really needed was a technical-support person to accompany them. Instead, I tried to train them and give them a basic understanding of chemistry, but it was like talking to a brick wall.
Their pet response was that if they’d wanted to be a chemist, then they’d have gone to school to be one. But their interest was in being a salesperson; that was why I’d hired them. Consequently, I ended up spending a lot of my time and resources correcting their mistakes. Right now, though, bankruptcy was staring me in the face. I thought long and hard about the company, disturbed by its ﬁnancial situation and equally disturbed that my accountant and lawyer were advocating bankruptcy. This kind of thinking went completely against how I’d been raised and educated.
I didn’t sleep for two days as I tried to find a way out of this predicament. What was I going to do? How could I lower my overhead? What could I do to retrain the staff? Determining my course of action was going to take some deep contemplation and an examination of all the events over time that had landed me and POLY-CARB in this present quandary. Deep within me, I felt something quiet yet dynamic beginning to bubble up into my consciousness. I instinctively knew that within me were the keys to resolving my dilemma—keys that were more than just the usual steps to success in methodologies, technologies, and systems.
What I was sensing burgeoning up in me were understandings about life—fundamental, essential, immutable, and intrinsic wisdom—that applied across the board to any ﬁeld and, actually, to every human endeavor and our very character and being. It dawned on me that life never operates in silos, but is an integrated one that encompasses our personal, business, social, and spiritual lives. I began writing, trying to encapsulate this wisdom. I knew that codifying it would get not only me and POLY-CARB back on track, but also every other aspect of my life. Bankruptcy was not an option.
There was a way out of this predicament; I just needed to regain a higher and more elemental perspective of reality and rediscover the real rules of the game. The tangled web I was caught in was merely a temporary state of confusion and illusion. As I pondered my situation and studied the inner workings of life, work and how success is achieved in all human endeavors, I realized that there was, deep within my core being, a truth I’d lived with my entire life. But, as life has a way of doing, I’d let the demands and pressures of everyday survival and the so-called expertise of others overshadow that truth.
That truth is that the foundation of this wisdom, which simply, yet comprehensively, encapsulates all of life, is sort of a Prime Directive: “For true, sustainable, and stress-free success and happiness, every thought, word, action, and decision must be completely immersed in oneness.” This truth—the wisdom of oneness—was deeply embedded in me, yet I had managed to let it fade into the background. The upshot was that in order to attain “true, sustainable, and stress-free success and happiness,” I needed to jettison everything I’d done up to this point and embark on a path of re-awakening and grounding to this wisdom—and I needed to enroll everyone in POLY-CARB, too.
It was going to be a formidable task, yet it was the only option that would ensure success at every level of my life and for those around me.
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The book has an amazing authenticity to it and very easy to read, without technical jargon that is usually associated with business and entrepreneurial books. From bankruptcy to unbridled success….Ratanjit brings to life the values of Honesty, Integrity and Trust in the Business world. Through his story he shows us that we are all connected and ONE with the Universe around us. We learn that titles are not important…values are! Simple writing interspersed with humor makes this book a very interesting read. This is a true story of success with values, that you do not want to miss!
‘Profound’ is the best one word for me to use to describe Dr. Sondhe’s remarkable approach to business as he discovered when his accountants and attorneys told him to consider filing bankruptcy because company was out of funds. The implementation of the highly unique insight he was given during the weekend following this mind boggling blow allowed Ratanjit to see his company develop into a multi-billion dollar corporation. This book, which is a chronicle of this development, belongs in the curriculum of every business course offered and a must-read by anyone involved with business.
This memoir-inspirational-business-how to book spans so many different genres. It is a uniquely powerful book that marries spirituality with success psychology in a practical, refreshing and authentic way, using real-life examples from the author’s experience. Though a fast and easy read, it is deeply affective, with real sticking power, demonstrating how a change-of-mind that brings your inner self into alignment with Universal Law truly does change everything.
This book is excellent. Ratanjit is profound and has a winning style and winning way. Those who choose to read How Oneness Changes Everything and follow his secrets will have life-long happiness and prosperity.