Nuggets from Ravi Venkatesan
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.
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.
Driving social impact
Want to make a difference in society? A lot of us want to positively impact the world around us. But often times, this intention fades into the background or does not come to fruition. Enter Social Venture Partners- a platform for people like you who want to be agents of change. Hear Ravi talk about their ‘million jobs mission’ and the unique challenges faced by leaders in the social sector.
Early childhood wiring
How much of you as an individual can be attributed to early childhood experiences? In this nugget hear Ravi speak about three main influences in his early years that shaped his personality. Did you know that he had to take a year off from school due to medical reasons and this turned out to be a boon in shaping his boundless curiosity!
Career planning 2.0 for graduates
In this rapidly changing world, Ravi has three main nuggets of wisdom for graduates who are thinking about their careers and professional life ahead. How has the view of a ‘career’ changed over time and what is the best way to think about it today? What qualities should one spend time cultivating and nurturing? Hear on.
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.
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.
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.
Picking leaders to invest behind
One of the many hats Ravi wears in his professional life is that of an investor. He is a venture partner and invests in young companies. In this nugget, he talks about the five main qualities he looks for in any entrepreneur before backing him and how he goes about deciphering whether those qualities exist in the individual or not. Hint: It is much more to do than your academics or career record!
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.
Gig economy and careers
Ravi has had two long stints in Cummins and then Microsoft, after which he switched to a portfolio of opportunities. He talks about evaluating this deep root vs. wide branches approach to structuring your career. He also has important tips for organizations looking to attract good performers. Tune in!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
Evolving as a leader with the company
Dheeraj talks about how he looks at the company like a combination of multiple sub-companies that are building, scaling and maintaining all concurrently. He discusses the notion of arcs of destruction and pursuing multiple arcs at various stages of maturity.
Growing as a player and inflection points
Vishy talks about how his approach to development has changed as he has grown as a player over time. He talks about his approach to picking Coaches that get the best out of him. He also discusses the impact of technology on what it takes to be a successful player while getting the most out of the machines. He talks about the trade-off between specialization and flexibility in this context.
Identifying and unlocking potential
Vishy talks about what he looks for when he is looking for long-term potential. He talks about the criticality of consistency in performance coupled with an attitude where someone is willing to grind away at a goal. He also discusses the success of academies that have produced a pipeline of talent and juxtaposes that with examples of a Roger Federer emerging from Switzerland or a Magnus Carlsen emerging from Norway.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What it takes to compete at the top
Vishy talks about how players need to adapt their style in a world where machines are makin the games longer and more nuanced. He specifically talks about the declining relevance of a dogmatic approach due to the machines suggesting more and more combinations which are possibly outside the realm of comprehension of the average human mind. He also refers to the crucial role of fitness to be able to make sound judgments deep into a game that has only gotten longer with the increasing role of machines.