... member of a small but commercially adept community whose Zoroastrian forebears fled Persia to escape religious persecution in the eighth century.
Shortly after Natarajan Chandrasekaran turned 44, his doctor diagnosed him with diabetes. As the chief operating officer of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest IT firm, Chandrasekaran (who insists that everyone call him simply Chandra) led a hectic life consumed by long work hours, innumerable client meetings, and constant travel. But his doctor minced no words. “He said to me, ‘You’re an intelligent man. Don’t be stupid about your health,’ ” Chandra recalls. “ ‘You need to get some exercise.’ ”The next morning, Chandra, a computer engineer and lifelong math geek with no prior penchant for athleticism, laced up his shoes, stepped into the sweltering heat of downtown Mumbai, and began to run. Months later, he stumbled across the finish line of his first marathon. In the years that followed he kept running, completing all six of the world’s major marathons (Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York, Tokyo). As his running times fell, Chandra’s corporate star ascended. In 2009, two years after he began training, he was chosen as TCS’s CEO, and he proceeded to transform the consultancy into one of India’s most valuable companies, with a market capitalization of $71 billion. Now 54, he runs at least one full marathon and several half marathons a year, and he claims to have beaten diabetes without the help of medication. “Running has made a world of difference for me,” he says. “It has made me calmer, more reflective, and given me more perseverance.”Chandra will nee...