Nuggets from Vijay Amritraj
Recalibrating The Notion Of Success
Vijay talks about how he took stock of life at key inflection points during his career in tennis and beyond. He also talks about the distinction between being pedigreed and learning from one’s own experiences through the journey of life. He also talks about how he dealt with the “Astronaut syndrome” (a phrase that Tony Robbins often uses). You have accomplished whatever you wanted to. Now what?
Transitioning from playing sport to commentating
Vijay reflects on how he transitioned to a new career as his family context changed and he approached the end of his active tennis career. He talks about how re-inventing yourself is often like throwing yourself in the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim. Perspectives that could be relevant for leaders who are trying to re-invent themselves given significant shifts in the world of work and in personal circumstances.
Perspectives on Resilience
Vijay discusses how he has dealt with challenging moments when he was on court. He talks about navigating forks in the road where you often have to choose between low risk and decent outcomes and high risk with a potential of making it big. He shares an insight from Billy Jean King who says “Every challenge is an opportunity and pressure is a privilege”. He discusses the frame of mind with which one could approach such crucial moments.
Role Of Coaching In Development
Vijay talks about the role of coaching at various stages of a person’s life and how as a person evolves, the coach that works with you to help you go to the next level might change. He also talks about how much can get accomplished through sheer will power using the fascinating example of Richard Williams who (with limited background in tennis) through his sheer resolve coached Serena and Venus to become world champions.
What does it take to be an Author
In this nugget, Amish elaborates on the one important question you should ask yourself before transitioning to a new profession. For eight years before he switched to becoming a full time author, Amish focused on only three things- his job, his writing and his family. What drove this level of discipline and commitment? Hear on.
Stand-Up: What it takes
“Find the balance to feed your stomach and feed your soul”: that’s the mantra for delivering to your potential, according to Papa CJ. In this nugget he talks about the qualities of being a good stand-up comedian and how these requirements actually transcend profession and time. Listen on to find tips to harness the true power of your potential.
Attributes Of A Great Commentator
Vijay talks about the role distinction between a Broadcaster and a Commentator. He also alludes to the challenge of catering to audiences with varying tastes and appreciation of the game. The challenge is in creating content that appeals to different segments and is not just tailored to the tennis aficionados. Vijay shares some thoughts around how broadcasters could draw audiences in and then keep them there because of the quality of the game.
Framing Good Questions
Vijay discusses how less is more when you are interviewing a person. He discusses the role of brevity and the need for active listening to ensure that you are picking up the cues. He talks about some thoughts around how to navigate such a conversation. He uses the metaphor of Billiards where you are not just thinking about the initial contact of the cue ball with the red ball but are thinking two steps ahead of where all the cue ball might go.
Spotting Long Term Potential
Vijay talks about the role of effort in the context of long-term growth and development. People often get into a debate about whether it is nature or nurture and he makes a strong case for hard work through which people can often make up for significant deficiencies in talent. This is arguably all the more relevant in the world we live in where the half-life of the relevant of talent in a certain area is diminishing with the velocity of change around.
Achievement Orientation to a Giving Mindset
Vijay talks about the notion of “paying it forward” and how that attitude towards life got shaped in his early childhood given the influence of his family. He talks about how some of the things that his parents and relatives did when he was young have had a profound influence on how he goes about thinking about giving back to the wider society. He talks about a specific anecdote where he learnt a lesson about giving from his uncle.
In summary, Vijay talks about the role of passion and enjoying what you do in us producing our best work. He also alludes to a certain mindset with which we could approach life that will help in us playing to our personal potential. He refers to inspiration from Thurgood Marshall and Buzz Aldrin to talk about how we could approach life to ensure that we go as far as we can given the unique capabilities that each one of us has.
Where the seeds of transition were sown
How did Amish Tripathi go from being a banker to a bestselling author? You might think that making this transition would have involved a life altering event. But sometimes, unknown to you, the seeds of transition might be nurtured in your life, through your lifestyle, habits, hobbies or the even the milieu around you.
Transitioning from the Army to the Corporate world
Raghu talks about how we could think about leveraging the pool of leadership talent that the army produces. He compares India to markets such as US, where there have been generations of Corporate Leaders who spent their early years in the Armed Forces. This is not just about providing an education around some of the elements of business. It is a complete rewiring that needs to happen.
Plunging into Stand-Up
“If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.” Hear how Papa CJ took the plunge into the gruelling yet satisfying world of stand-up comedy. A mix of conviction, grit, pragmatism, sacrifice and passion helped him make this journey. This nugget gives us an insight into planning and being prepared for transitions.
Playing hockey to MBA@ISB
We often find ourselves in situations where the circumstances at work and on the personal front have changed significantly over time and there is a need to move onto the next innings. These are uncomfortable phases where there are no easy answers or approaches. Viren talks about how he took stock of life when he was playing hockey for India and the circumstances which led him to pursue an MBA at ISB.
Transitioning from Cummins to Microsoft
Having worked in Cummins and moved up the ladder, Ravi took up the challenge of being the CEO of Microsoft India at just 40 years of age and against the advice of family and friends. This was an industry he knew nothing about and a culture his friends thought he wouldn’t adapt to. How did he make this transition successful? What did he pay attention to? Hint: The anecdote of his interview with Bill Gates is very interesting.
Transition pitfalls - Banking/Consulting to VC
Transitioning from one industry to another are always fraught with uncertainty and risk. Leaders are straddling several sub-transitions - settling into a new organization, flourishing in a new space which requires a different set of skills and mindsets. Karthik talks about the common derailers that could come into play when Consultants or Bankers are transitioning into Venture Investing.
Transitioning from Financial Services to Writing
So you have found your passion but undecided when and how to take the plunge? Hear Amish talk about how he transitioned to being a full time author from a banker. Discover how ‘pragmatism and positive vibes’ guided this transformation.
Transitioning across Cultures
Having moved from the army setup to the corporate world then onto a government organization and back to the corporate world, Raghu has worn many hats in his professional life. All of these shifts have involved transitioning across cultures- some well established, others being established and yet others, desperately needing a change in culture! Hear Raghu talk about how he navigated these transitions to integrate into the organization he joined.
Son of a tea planter, Papa CJ took the predictable path through school and college. Hear him walk us through his early struggles which led to him maneuvering into the challenging and non trivial transition from Oxford, to consulting, to doing 250 standup comedy shows in his first 10 months! Look out for tips on leveraging the asset of relationships that we all have.
Transitioning from Playing to Captaining
Viren talks about his journey from being a player to a captain including some of the non-game elements that are required to move from being a successful player to an effective captain. He discusses how important it is for the captain to lead by example. He also talks about how one has to use different approaches to motivate and develop different players with varying personalities.
Joining OGQ – Role of serendipity
Viren shares his insights around how he joined OGQ after ISB. When I graduated from IIMA, a lot of us including me, didn’t have a clear framework to make a considered choice in terms of direction. Viren talks about the role of serendipity in how he ended up joining OGQ. He actually talks about how he almost ended up joining a corporate role before he joined OGQ. He also talks about how he has “taken the plunge” at crucial junctures in his life.
Shifting your goal post over time
Prakash talks about how he has thought about his goal post at different points in time and how he finds his True North. He shares a nuanced view on how one should think about value in the pursuit of the sweet spot in which one could consider operating.
Taking stock of life after Bazee sale
When Avnish started Baazee, his financial goal was to make USD 2 Million. When he sold Baazee to Ebay for USD 55 Million, he had made close to 10x of his estimate. He talks about how he took stock of life and moved forward from that point.
Leadership inflection points
As organizations grow from being start ups to more established businesses, their leadership needs and demands also change and vary. In this nugget, Kartik traces this spectrum of leadership inflection points and maps it with funding cycles.
Leading in India versus other markets
How does being a business leader in India differ from leading in other international markets? Hear Ravi elaborate on what you need to succeed in India by sharing some personal experiences. Don’t miss the bit about Jack Welch of GE and the concept of a younger mentor.
Listening intently during Transitions
Ravi’s career trajectory has often taken him to sectors and organizations he did not know much about. The key to his successful transitioning, according to him, has been listening; but listening to what and whom? Get the details and some tips in this anecdotal nugget.
Executive to Non-Executive Transition
There is an inherent assumption that successful executives can easily transition into non-executive roles on the boards of organizations. However, as Ravi points out, that is not necessarily true. Hear him talk about the special responsibilities and skills of a Board member. He also puts forward four questions you should ask yourself before taking on a non-executive responsibility.
Integrating into a start-up
Culture is often seen as something that large organizations need to worry about. However, if a start up tackles the challenges of culture from the very beginning and clearly defines its competencies and values, it could be a significant competitive differentiator especially during the scaling up phase. Hear Abhijit elaborate on the startup ecosystem in this nugget.
Scale-up and transitions at Infosys
As an entrepreneur, staying relevant as the company goes through turbo-charged growth can be a challenge. Nandan talks about how he had to reinvent himself and his style at various points as Infosys grew from a start up to IPO, to listing on the NASDAQ and when it hit USD 1 Billion in revenues.
Infosys to UIDAI - a 3D transition
Leadership Transitions can be a period of significant anxiety for several executives who are transitioning across contexts and domains. Nandan shares his insights around what he kept and what he changed when he transitioned across 3 dimensions when he moved from Infosys to UIDAI. He also talks about the power of commitment in such situations.
Transitioning from Engineering to Photography
A lot of us "go with the flow" either because we want to conform to expectations, minimize risk or don’t listen to our inner voice. Atul talks about how he was an exceptional student in school and ended up in UDCT - one of the most prestigious places to study Chemical Engineering. He talks about the disconnect he experienced at that point and how he moved forward from there.
Being tenacious through the transition
Transitioning from one path to another is not easy. We often celebrate individuals after they have demonstrated success. But we often miss the iceberg that is below the sea surface. Atul talks about how he persisted through multiple hurdles when he transitioned from studying Chemical Engineering to pursue photography.
Enlisting and empowering people in your team
In any profession, it is very easy to be treated as suppliers in the value chain. How does one elevate oneself to move beyond being perceived as a mere supplier? How does one engage and empower the team members so that they don’t feel like suppliers and have greater ownership of the end product? Atul talks about his views in this context. He also talks about his experiences while making the film Neerja and alludes to the role of authenticity in being able to enlist people in his journey.
Dealing with hyper-growth and scale-up
Organizations often outgrow the entrepreneur very quickly. Unless the entrepreneur is proactively thinking about scaling up himself/herself and proactively getting the right people who can drive scale, the start up can very quickly taper off. While 1 out of 10 startups succeed at a Venture stage, he talks about the patterns from the other 9 that don't "make it"
Current portfolio of initiatives
Pramath talks about the portfolio of initiatives that he has today. More importantly, he talks about the underlying principle behind how he has assembled this portfolio together. He gives us a peek into how he thinks about success using internal and external metrics.
Transitioning out of Consulting (including views on entrepreneurship)
A career in Management Consulting in a firm like McKinsey can be immensely rewarding but also inexorably intense. Pramath talks about how he thought about a career in McKinsey versus pursuing something else. He also discusses some of the common misconceptions people often have when they take the plunge into entrepreneurship.
What Consulting doesn't prepare you for
Management Consulting often provides a whirl-wind exposure to multiple problems across industries and topics. However, one needs to significantly adapt the style while moving from a consulting environment to the Industry. Pramath talks about some of the adjustments consultants have to make when they enter the corporate world.
Investment Banking as a career and key transitions
Vedika discusses her perspectives on Investment Banking as a career and how B-School students should think about the option. On a related note, she talks about the wrong reasons for which people often end up joining Banking. She also lays out the key inflection points in the journey.
Effective Leadership transitions across companies
Leaders during transitions often feel like trapeze artists as they go from one to another. It is the role of the hiring manager and the transitioning leader to think this through. Vedika shares her perspectives in the context of some of her transitions at a leadership level.
Executive to NED transition
Vedika is a Non-Executive Director on 6 Boards today. She talks about the transition from being an effective executive to being an NED. She talks about the significant shift often required in style for successful leaders to be effective in a Board context.
Women and Board roles
Vedika talks about how women should think about approaching Board roles. Clearly there is an opportunity for more women to get onto Boards but there is a need for women to be thoughtful and considered about this to be in consideration for these roles when they come up.
Transitioning to the Social Impact world
"How do I bring greater meaning in my life" is a question that people start grappling with as they approach mid-life and beyond. However, people struggle with making this happen. Vedika discusses her transition from heading Credit Suisse in India to Water.Org
Navigating the sea of career options
"What should I do with my life" is often a question that we grapple with at different inflection points in our life. Vinita talks about the various dimensions along which she evaluates opportunities that have come her way at different points in her journey.
Functional Leadership to General Management
Moving from a functional leadership role to a general management role is a big shift and Vinita argues that it is possibly the biggest transition that a leader often makes. She talks about how people should think about success in a General Management role and the need for an adaptive leadership style.