Find the Fire: Great Teams Need Passion


You might call it ambition. You might call it determination. You might even call it passion. I call it fire in the belly. Whatever name it goes by, though, this characteristic is far and away what I look for in every one of our employees as we build our organization.  Of course, every organization needs good people. High-tech supply chain and logistics organizations, though, need them even more to keep up with the fast pace of change and the need for responsiveness.

You know these people when you see them. If the person has fire in the belly, all you have to do is point to the path. This worker not only finishes the work, but does it in a very impressive way. This worker grinds out the project, and gets it done impeccably. Somehow, they possess insatiable grit. Without fire in the belly, the sense of urgency is gone, the drive to succeed fizzles, and the give it all you can attitude is gone. These people count the dimes, but lose track of the dollars. A team filled with this type of person will find it difficult to build a great company. Especially in a startup, it’s all about execution and execution comes from fire in the belly.

We are fortunate. We have employees with that have red-hot fire in the belly. I show them what to do, and they get it done. These leaders are the ones that find solutions for the problems that appear. They reach out to senior experts in their area, build relationships with them, and eventually count them as mentors.  For those that don’t have the fire, my challenge is to do what I can to inspire them, light that burning desire to contribute, and hope they step up beyond what they have normally done. Sometimes, it works. They get rid of the aloofness, get out of their comfort zone, and go the extra mile, where the real magic happens.

In the culture where I come from, a teacher is supposed to light the fire in the student’s mind. Education is not filling that pail, but lighting the fire in the student, creating that burning desire to make something of themselves. I was lucky, because I did meet such a teacher in my 9th grade. This teacher taught me about history, but even more, he taught me about transformation and the way that great leaders go about making a difference in their countries. I guess that was the origin of my fire in the belly.

Another person that inspired me so much was the founder of Manhattan Associates, Alan Dabbiere.  He always talked about three kinds of people:

  1. The people who, given a set of directions, cannot do the job
  2. The people who, given a set of directions, will get the job done.
  3. The people who, given a set of directions, will not only finish building that hill, but also put a flag on the top.

This third type of people are the ones we need to build organizations that transform the industry. Where do you find them for your organization? How do you keep the fire burning? Let us know in the comments section below.

Puga Sankara
Puga Sankara is the co-founder of Smart Gladiator LLC. Smart Gladiator designs, builds, and delivers market-leading mobile technology for retailers, distributors, and 3PL service providers. So far, Smart Gladiator Wearables have been used to ship, receive, and scan more than 50 million boxes. Users love them for the lightweight, easy-to-use soft overlay keyboard and video chatting ability, data collection ability etc. Puga is a supply chain technology professional with more than 17 years of experience in deploying capabilities in the logistics and supply chain domain. His prior roles involved managing complicated mission-critical programs driving revenue numbers, rolling out a multitude of capabilities involving more than a dozen systems, and managing a team of 30 to 50 personnel across multiple disciplines and departments in large corporations such as Hewlett Packard. He has deployed WMS for more than 30 distribution centers in his role as a senior manager with Manhattan Associates. He has also performed process analysis walk-throughs for more than 50 distribution centers for WMS process design and performance analysis review, optimizing processes for better productivity and visibility through the supply chain. Size of these DCs varied from 150,000 to 1.2 million SQFT. Puga Sankara has an MBA from Georgia Tech. He can be reached at or visit the company at Also follow him at
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