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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hiring senior leaders into Nutanix
One of the key challenges as one moves from a start-up to a scale up includes getting senior talent from the outside and setting them up for success. Dheeraj talks about how he looks for the "operating system" of a leader to see if that fits with Nutanix. He also underscores the importance of focusing on the HOW and not the WHAT in the first 6-9 months.
Institution building - Leading Type As
Amit discusses how he thinks about hiring and creating a nurturing climate for his team to deliver performance. He also shares how he invests time with each of his colleagues and help build their capability. He also talks about how he handles exits from Bain Capital. He talks about the realities of a corporate pyramid and stresses the importance of handling the people that don’t go up the pyramid with empathy.
Growing through the ranks at CRISIL
Roopa talks about how she drifted into CRISIL and how she was not necessarily career oriented in the early years of her professional life. She talks about the notion of focusing on excellence and on topics that are outside the realm of responsibility and how the culture at CRISIL ensured that her efforts were noticed and rewarded. She also talks about the transformative impact that one of her overseas stints had on her in terms of developing a “bird’s eye view”.
Team work in a concert
Jayashri talks about what it takes to perform with other artists on stage and discusses the notion of emptying oneself and a levelling attitude with oneself for the music to take over. She talks about creating a space inside her from which the music could flow freely.
Leadership in an open system
Arun talks about his perspectives on Leading in an Open System where you do not have money, authority or power to wield as a source of influence. As we move towards a world where more and more value is being added by an ecosystem of players around a corporation (rather than value chains residing fully inside the company), how CEOs of today navigate this shift and create the right culture in the organization is critical.
Listening as a leader
Ambi talks about how effective CEOs set a climate so that their teams feel comfortable presenting risky ideas to them. He talks about how if you don’t set the right atmosphere in the organization, the team below you can hedge their bets and focus on managing their image with the CEO than really solving for what is right for the organization. He discusses how you can create a culture where the team focuses on “winning in the market” rather than “winning in the system”.
Demystifying Business storytelling
Indranil distinguishes business story telling from Storytelling (that we see in Ramayana, Harry Potter or in movies). Indranil speaks about the fact that brevity and story-telling are not contradictory and it is often a false trade-off that people have in mind. He actually goes onto say that business story-telling might even be a more time-efficient way of getting complex, nuanced messages across the organization.
Building a storytelling culture
Indranil talks about what it takes to build the habit of story-telling within an organization. He underscores the futility of one-off programmes that leave you with a high but don’t really move the needle when people come back to the rough and tumble of their daily life. He re-emphasizes the criticality of some sort of a deliberate practice programme for people to bake in the habit.
Onboarding a leader
Michael speaks about the criticality of assimilating into an organization without triggering the immune system that could easily start working against you. He goes on to say that even if you have been hired as a change agent, earn the right to drive change before you start moving things around (unless it is a turnaround and shock therapy is warranted) in the new organization.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dealing with losses
Vishy discusses his approach to dealing with losses. He candidly talks about how his approach to dealing with losses has not changed significantly over time. He talks about how he tries to clear the baggage of the past to ensure that he is fully present on the Chess Board at any point in time. He also discusses about how Chess is like other disciplines such as Science and History where you are often standing on the shoulders of giants in the context of discovering the next breakthrough.
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.
Dealing with shocks
Meher talks about how she and her mother (Anu Aga) dealt with the sudden loss of her father and her brother within a span of a few months. She talks about how they got the strength to deal with the loss and the soul-searching she went through to come to terms with it. She talks about the criticality of gratitude and cherishing the relationships that matter when people are still alive and the importance of not having the guilt that you didn’t give it what you could.
Maggi crisis and decoding resilience
Suresh talks about how he took charge when he came back to India during the Maggi crisis. He talks about how he prioritized the various elements of the business and how he spent time for the first 6-9 months. He also shares his views on where he got his strength and what it takes to build resilience in the organization while dealing with a shock.
Jay talks about what the bad days in politics look like. He talks about how easy it is for people to assign motives when you have none. He also talks about the good days when some of your ideas take hold and people see you as an individual who championed that change.
Early formative years
Roopa talks about how she grew up amidst nature in the North Eastern part of India and how some of her perspectives on working women started getting shaped right from an age of around 10\. She also talks about her first brush with Mumbai when she comes to pursue a B.Com in Sydenham College but quickly find the city overwhelming and goes back to Guwahati to pursue B.Sc in Mathematics. She also talks about the peculiar situation where despite clearing the entrance process for IIMA, she is unable to join. She decides to teach in a primary school and appears for CAT yet again.
Managing time, unfettered curiosity and resilience
Vinay talks about Narasimha Rao spent his time at various points in his career. More specifically, he breaks down the pie chart of time across different phases - when you are campaigning, when you are in power and when you are in opposition. He talks about how Narasimha Rao had unfettered curiosity that helped him indulge his curiosity when he was in opposition which helped him evolve as a person but also ensured that he did not make any hasty decisions in the short-term out of anxiety that would hurt him in the long run.
Staying relevant through transitions
Vinay talks about how Narasimha Rao stayed relevant through the various transitions that he went through in his journey. He also talks about how he learns and grows when he did not gets a transition wrong. He also talks about how Narasimha Rao re-invented himself when Congress moved from the Indira Gandhi phase to the Rajiv Gandhi where the core group had several people from an Oxbridge background (far from Narasimha Rao’s comfort zone).
Dealing with two possible fatalities
Deepa recounts her twin-ordeal in 1999\. Her husband was fighting in the Kargil war and she was anxious about his well-being. At the same time she had a tumour in her back that worsened which got her to a point where she had to make the choice between leading a normal life and facing a high probability of death or going for surgery to improve her odds of living but in a wheel-chair. She discusses how she navigated this passage of play.
Rebounding from a near-death event
Deepa talks about the mindset with which she took stock of life when she had chest-below paralysis and had to recalibrate her approach to her activities, schedule, relationships and aspirations. She talks about how she developed a sense of gratitude for what she had and how she and her family chose happiness. She also talks about how her hobbies enabled her to immerse herself into an activity and bring happiness to her life.
Getting people comfortable with the context
Deepa shares her thoughts on the trade-off between seen as a “different person” versus being seen as just another individual who can do most of the things that a regular person can. She talks about how it is about her taking the onus and putting the other person at ease rather than expecting the other person to react to her situation. She says “if I am OK with it, they are OK with it”.
Deepa talks about what gives her the resilience to deal with difficult situations and how people can build that muscle. She talks about the criticality of moving from a “wallowing in the problem” mindset to a solutioning approach where you think about how you want to drive change and be the change.
3 levels of resilience
Rich speaks about three levels of resilience – Inner calm, Emotional Resilience and Cognitive Resilience. He talks about the example of Captain Sully Sullenberger (who miraculously landed the plane on the Hudson river after his plane was hit by birds after taking off from LaGuardia) to talk about how calm and composed he was and stayed present during the ~3 minutes he had between the bird hit and when he landed the plane.