Nuggets from Atul Kasbekar
Entrepreneurial pursuits beyond photography
We often have to reinvent ourselves along the way as we go through our career. There are variuos trigger points where our priorities change and market opportunities change. Atul shares his perspectives around how he has managed to go beyond Photography to venture into new domains. He shares a piece of feedback that one of his friends provides which paved the way to a new possibility.
Staying relevant over the long-term
We live in a world where professions are being threatened and jobs that existed yesterday may not exist tomorrow. Atul talks about how the world of photography has been democratized with the penetration of mobile phones with good cameras. He shares his insights on how one could think about being relevant in these changing times.
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.
Balancing commerce with creativity
Film production is a tricky area where one has to walk the tight rope between creativity (as appreciated by the audience) and commerce. Atul talks about how he thinks about it and also alludes to the evolving consumer mindset where some early opinions could significantly swing the fortunes of the movie one way or the other.
In Summary - Playing to Potential
How do individuals stay relevant amidst all the change and opportunity around them? Atul shares his perspective around how individuals should think about their future when the current education system is preparing children for jobs that possibly don’t even exist today.
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.
Marrying passion with pragmatism
Follow your passion is bad advice says Cal Newport in his book 'So good they cannot ignore you'. How does one think about options and decisions when passion and pragmatism point in different directions. Atul talks about how one could look at adjacencies and be pragmatic about a career decision by looking at supply-demand trends in an industry that one is trying to enter.
Educating ourselves (and link with leadership of the future)
We are growing into a future where there are several unkown unknowns. Pramath talks about what sort of leaders would flourish in the new paradigm and how one should think about education in the context of this broad trend.
Re-inventing self and playing to potential
Given the VUCA world we live in, re-inventing oneself every now and then has become a necessity. Nandan talks about the mindset with which he has approached the various transitions he has had in his career and shares his perspective on what it takes for people to play to their potential.
Running a start-up inside the Govt.
Nandan talks about how the Government is fundamentally different from the Private sector in terms of how financial and human capital decisions are made. He talks about he thought about navigating those constraints to drive to the outcomes he had committed. He also talks about a couple of mistakes leaders often make in transitions.
Relationship between Co-founders and Company
Dheeraj talks about how the relationship between him, the co-founders and the company has evolved over a period of time. He also talks about 4As (Antifragility, Authenticity, Ambition, Attention to detail) which are at the core of how he looks at himself and others he works with.
Articulating culture and hiring for it
Articulating the organizational culture is often treated as one of those fuzzy things that large organizations like GE and HUL do. But it is arguably more critical in a young and small organization where the cost of a wrong hire hits the organization much harder than when you have 10,000 people. Karthik talks about how he thinks about culture and how he hires for it.
Cross-border transitions are always hard and often involve multiple variables. Avnish talks about the context in which he took the plunge from a lucrative career with Goldman Sachs to return to India with nothing concrete in hand.
Building an entrepreneurial culture
Organizations love to grow yet want to retain the entrepreneurial culture that nurtures innovation. What is the one thing that Kartik looks at to figure out if an organization has an entrepreneurial culture or not? Find out in this nugget. Hint: Don’t miss the anecdote about a major competitive advantage that Pixar has cultivated and fine tuned which has led to its unprecedented success in the movie business.
Understanding the processor inside
In this nugget, Vishy talks about how he harnesses the potential of his mind in being a chess player at the very top over a prolonged period. He talks about how the human mind is like a wild horse that needs to be harnessed carefully. He shares some of his insights on how he tries to get the best of his conscious and his sub-conscious mind in preparing for big games. He also discusses some of his rituals in ensuring that he brings the best of himself to bear in various match situations.
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.
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.
Backing an entrepreneur
Apart from being an academician, Kartik is also an active entrepreneur and invests and mentors start ups. So who better to ask, how does one pick an idea to back? Kartik elaborates on three main skills he looks at before deciding to support an idea or a person.
Hyper-development of a leader in a Start-Up
Start-ups often grow at a rate faster than the rate at which people build the leadership muscle. This leads to the risk that your job may outgrow you. Hence, it is imperative to keep growing as a person and as a leader. Ravi lays down three aspects you should focus on in order to grow with the times and your organization.
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.
Settling effectively into Venture Investing
The first 30-60 days in any profession are often quite tricky. Hairline cracks can quickly turn into fractures if not handled carefully. Karthik talks about how he works with the incoming members and thinks about the early passage of play in the organization. He also talks about how he pre-empts the derailment risk by suggesting to interested individuals to seek certain prior experiences before venturing into Venture Investing.
Leadership Development in a turbo-charged environment
Dheeraj talks about how he thinks about evolving as a leader and discusses the criticality of breathing and staying present even during challenging times. He describes his approach to pause and remind himself of the key elements that are core to him and his effectiveness. An interesting insight in the context of the overloaded lives that a lot of leaders are living.
Building culture in a company
Culture is contextual and non-transferrable. Know the culture of the organisation and industry you are planning to join. Amish talks about the Chandravanshi and Suryavanshi cultures and discusses how organizations could think about their culture?
Establishing a common language in the Army
What is common to radio, sonar and the internet? All these technological innovations, like many others, have their origin in war or conflict. Most have been researched and developed at military labs and then scaled up. Start-ups therefore, can benefit immensely from this experience. Hear Raghu talk about the need for a common vocabulary in order to achieve this. Hint: there is also a valuable tip about the ‘How’ question.
Building culture – Lessons from the Army
Numbers occupy a large part of our mind space when we think of organizations- sales figures, trend lines, market share – the list is endless and often clinical. But what about the stories behind the companies? These legends, usually ignored, are crucial for culture building. Hear Raghu talk about how the army utilizes this powerful tool to build its cultural identity and motivate its people.
The art of story telling
Prakash talks about the role of story-telling in the context of building culture and how one could think about building that muscle. Sometimes, people think that there is a trade-off between story-telling and brevity. He talks about that being a false trade-off and discusses how one could employ both to drive effective communication
Pie chart of time in Venture Investing
In any profession, it is important to understand how to spend time on the right priorities. People often get consumed by the urgent and miss out on the critical. That pie chart looks different across professions. Karthik talks about how he spends his time as a Venture Investor and as an entrepreneur at Blume Ventures.
Consulting (McKinsey) as a career option
Pramath talks about how he ended up joining McKinsey in Canada instead of pursuing a career in academics which he had originally intended when he completed his PhD. He also talks about how students should think about evaluating consulting as a potential career option including the common mistakes people make when they consider a career in consulting.
Women and careers
Vedika talks about her initial days at ICICI which has been a breeding ground for several women leaders in India. She also shares her perspectives on how women should think about building their careers and the common misconceptions there-in.
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.
There is a lot of literature around how entrepreneurs should demonstrate resilience when hit with failure or tough times. Avnish talks about the role of preparedness in navigating choppy waters.
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.
Harsh realities of Entrepreneurship
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. Avnish talks about how the need for resilience is intellectually understood but not fully internalized till events happen. He talks about how entrepreneurs could build that capability. He also talks about how he has been influenced by Rudyard Kipling's poem IF.
Selecting the right co-founder(s)
Nandan talks about one of the seminal choices that entrepreneurs often have to make - Selecting a Co-Founder. He provides his thoughts around what they should bear in mind in this process. He also talks about what it takes to make the relationship work over a prolonged period of time.
Picking Founders effectively
Backing the right founders is a combination of a science and an art. How do you back an entrepreneur who has the conviction arond his idea but is also amenable to input. At the stage of Venture Investing, a big part of value creation is often around getting this judgment right on the Founder. Karthik talks about what he looks for during investing.
Building leadership capability in entrepreneurs
Staying relevant is one of the key challenges that is facing the leaders of this generation. A few decades back, they could check into a career on graduation and check-out at retirement. Pramath talks about how leaders (entrepreneurs and otherwise) should think about scaling up their capability as they go through their journey.