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Book review: Shuaib Ahmed’s Personal Business: Using the ASA Way to Build an Inspired, Purposeful Team

Shuaib Ahmed

Shuaib Ahmed’s immigration story is much more than a rags-to-riches parable. Instead, his instructive tale of an early childhood spent with grandparents in a slum in India and then joining a family he no longer remembered in the US whose expectations were excessive and corporal punishment the price he paid for falling short, serves as the origin for his “ASA Way” (corresponding to his ASA Law Group). At its heart is the need to nurture the whole person in the workplace.  

Ahmed asserts that, rather than expect employees to check their personal lives at the office door, employers must strive to allow alignment within both professional and personal aspects of their lives. Authenticity must take precedence if people are to apply themselves in a completely confident, secure, and satisfying manner professionally.   

The hard-knocks lessons from his youth led Ahmed to realize that perpetual kindness, such as his grandmother showed him, allowed him to thrive even in the deprived conditions of a slum, while his parent’s aggressive and all-consuming struggle for success drove him to estrangement and severe depression.  

He writes of his grandmother: “She was charitable, loving, kind, forgiving, patient, and a living, breathing paragon of what being an incredible human means in every faith, religion, and country.” Learning to emulate her approach is a way to counteract the robotic, automated behavior expected by authoritarian “superiors.” Ahmed underscores this necessary mind shift if employers wish to curtail the perpetual job hopping happening today.  

Pointing to research that reveals some 83 percent of workers in the US suffer from work-related stress, Ahmed condemns the workplace environments demanding that employees adopt a persona disjointed from who they are at their core. Such cultures can carry ugly repercussions — particularly as employee burn out is reaching a fever pitch. The ASA Way sets out to embrace employees for who they are without expecting them to smother their inner lives.   

A premise of the ASA Way is that every aspect of a person’s life is inter-connected and can’t be separated or compartmentalized. “The very notion of expecting people to magically transform into model employees who meet your every expectation is old school and dated,” he writes. “There’s no cookie-cutter employee; each person, employee or not, is unique and comes with their own flaws, attributes, and idiosyncrasies.”  

Executives can promote a positive workplace environment by keeping the well-being of employees front and center. This involves inquiring and understanding what’s going on in employees’ lives in an effort to put them in the best position to succeed. If a colleague has a sick child or is going through a divorce, for example, it’s tone-deaf on the part of the employer to heap excessive responsibilities on them. Ahmed believes conversations should start with, “How can I help?”  

Being empathetic and caring, he says, should be inbred in any company. Focusing on value-driven decisions pays off in the end. And while acknowledging that business leaders must also consider the bottom line, Ahmed emphasizes that values and sustainable margins should work in conjunction. He advises that focusing on the long-term return versus maximizing short-term profits yields better results in the end.   

For example, to help create a culture that alleviated much of the stress on his employees, he eliminated a main culprit in law offices: billable hours. Ahmed lowered attorney’s billing requirements and made up the difference by reducing overhead. Lower caseloads for his attorneys meant giving up revenue in the short-term, but in the long-term he gained an appreciative, productive team of top talent that gives back through their strong allegiance to the company.  

Personal Business: Using the ASA Way to Build an Inspired, Purposeful Team tells the story of what one employer has implemented at an organizational level to promote employee well-being while also improving the bottom line. It’s an enlightening example of how to promote true success, happiness, and satisfaction in both employees’ private and professional lives — which will always be intrinsically interwoven. 

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - Book review: Shuaib Ahmed’s Personal Business: Using the ASA Way to Build an Inspired, Purposeful Team
Ladys Patino
Ladys Patino is a writer and book reviewer who specializes in titles on organizations, management, leadership, and communities. Ladys is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.