Nuggets from Vijay Amritraj
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.
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.
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?
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.
Dealing with failure
Confused about listening to your heart or your head? We all face those crossroads in life and Amish did too, especially while facing initial rejections from publishers. Dealing with failure, enlisting support, recognising what works for you and ultimately making it work for you: Amish touches upon these important themes in this nugget.
Grit can be defined as ‘courage and resolve; strength of character’- something we all need to live our lives and face successes and failures. Raghu says, “We all have the DNA to create that reservoir of strength.” Hear him talk about the elements of grit and how an organization can create an environment to foster it.
Stand-Up: Unknown Unknowns
Think you need to know all about a career before you dive right in? Not necessarily! Papa CJ talks about how the world of stand up was a blank slate for him and all he had was his excitement and eagerness to pursue it. Sometimes all it needs is the drive and the resilience. Hint: Look out for what makes stand-up comedy the one profession where ‘failure is the only way to succeed’ according to Papa CJ.
Building the Grit muscle
Viren talks about where he (and some of the athletes OGQ works with) gets his strength during difficult times. There is enough and more research (if interested, please look up Angela Duckworth’s book Grit) on the role of Grit and performance. He specifically alludes to the need for having clarity of why people do what they do in the context of building that muscle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Venture Investing - What does it take
Karthik talks about what it takes to become a successful Venture Capital Investor. He also discusses the nuances across Angel Investing, Venture Investing and Private Equity Investing. Each of these often requires a different set of skills and strengths. People often club all these Investing roles into one large umbrella but there is a significant difference in the type of person that would enjoy and flourish in one versus the other.
Building an anti-fragile culture
Dheeraj talks about the parallels across the fragility spectrum (that Nassim Nicholas Taleb refers to in his book Anti-Fragile) and the Honesty spectrum (that Mike Robbins refers to) and talks about the similarities across the two. He discusses how he has gone about building authenticity and anti-fragility in every aspect of the business.
Committing to sports as a career
Getting into professional sport can be a “low odds” decision often. If one doesn’t have the financial buffer, it is often tempting to go towards the safer option to pursue education and get a job. Viren talks candidly about how he comes from a family with no prior sports background and how he navigated some of these questions during the points of inflection when he had to take a call.
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.
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"
Evolving as a leader
Leading a start-up through all the change and complexity can be quite a challenge. Avnish talks about how he grew as a leader when he was at Baazee and shares some insights on how entrepreneurs could scale up with the organization.
Building the leadership muscle
We all know the traits and characteristics of a good leader but what does it take to become a good leader? In this nugget, Kartik enumerates three things that you can do or cultivate to harness your leadership potential.
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.
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.
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.
Women and Leadership
Rama talks about how she has prioritized performance in a role over trying to belong. She talks about some practical tactics she uses to increases the chances of being heard adequately while operating in a forum full of men.
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?
Transmitting intent down the chain
The chain of communication in an organization – from the CEO to the salesperson on the streets- is one of the main factors for its success or failure. What steps can a leader take to ensure this chain of communication is seamless? Listen as Raghu talks about this and also shares an interesting anecdote about why cheaper phones in India have dual SIM facility!
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.
Picking a coach – Learning from Mary Kom’s example
Picking a coach for a leader can be challenging. There are several variables at play and given what is at stake, it is critical to ensure that this is done thoughtfully. Viren uses the example of Mary Kom to talk about how they went about selecting Charles Atkinson to train Mary Kom. Some of the insights from the nugget are arguably highly relevant in the corporate world in the context of how leaders and companies think about their leadership development and coaching programmes.
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
Selecting a Coach effectively
Selecting a coach for a leader can be a reasonably ambiguous task. Prakash talks about how we could learn from the world of sport in ensuring that we get a coach who is fit for purpose.
Unlocking the potential
Prakash talks about what sometimes comes in the way of people achieving their full potential. He talks about the importance of hard work (however clichéd it may sound) but also talks about the key element of enlisting others on the “bus”
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.
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.
Like everything else in the business landscape, leadership development also has undergone change in this digital age. Think of the instances today where augmented reality is being used for skill building! Hear about this and more way the digital realm is influencing leadership development in this nugget.
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.
Scaling up the leadership muscle
Scaling up the leadership capability of the entrepreneur and the top team needs to go hand in hand with the business scale up for sustainable growth. Karthik talks about the role of vision, purpose and culture in the early years of a start-up.
Authenticity is a word that is often used by people in different contexts. Pramath shares his perspectives on Authentic leadership and talks about what it takes to get there. He also talks about how he thinks about flexing his leadership style across diverse contexts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Transitioning from Executive to NED
Rama talks about how people who have led companies end up getting empathetic with the management (by default) of the companies where they sit on Boards. She talks about the need for people to have clarity on who they are accountable to.
Hiring senior leaders into Nutanix
People often look at work and life as two different compartments that do not intersect. Dheeraj talks about how he tries to weave in work and life, learns from one and applies in the other and has osmosis going on across the two.
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.