Nuggets from Zia Mody
Successful Lawyer to Successful Entrepreneur
Zia talks about the journey from being a successful lawyer leading a small boutique with 15-20 people to heading a 400-person organization today. She talks about the trade-offs involved in terms of her time and cultural implications as the organization scales.
Early career choices - Law, Journalism, Teaching and Writing
Vinay talks about how he has thought about his career choices. He speaks about the fact that after his 12th, he could have possibly become an architect instead of a Lawyer. He also talks about his thinking at each of the transition points where he made critical choices (Law versus Architecture, Law to Journalism, Journalism to study PhD in Politics). He also talks about how he thinks more about the quality of the product he creates with his diverse backgrounds than sweat about the notion of his identity.
Law as a career choice
Zia talks about what it takes to be a successful lawyer. She also teases out the difference between traits that are good hygiene in any profession and what is specific to law. She also talks about how optionalities have changed over time for people with a law background.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shaping your playground
Rama talks about the notion of identifying and playing a game that only "you" know how to play, as espoused by Prof. Indira Parikh. She talks about how she has taken consumer insights and applied it to different contexts.
Transitioning from Advertising to the Tech world
KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how he thought about the move from the world of Advertising to the world of Technology. He also speaks about the notion of staying relevant in the context of children and consumers and how one needs to be in sync with them to be able to connect with them.
Transitioning from Healthcare to Mythology
Devdutt talks about his journey after graduating with a degree in medicine. He mentions that he didn’t have any childhood inclination in Mythology and he first used the word Mythology in a deliberate sense somewhere in the 1990s. He talks about how he started gravitating towards mythology in an organic fashion including writing several books and the TED talk in 2009. He mentions that he was in the Pharma industry till about 2007 after which he became the Chief Belief Officer at Future Group and possibly committed to Mythology as a career.
Transitioning from Banking to PE
Amit talks about how he thought about the transition from the world of Investment Banking to Private Equity. He talks about taking stock of life after reaching the heights of the Investment Banking profession and also seeking more time to devote to some of the other elements in his life such as Social Impact.
Choosing career direction post CRISIL
Roopa talks about how she took stock of options after her successful run in CRISIL. She talks about the process she went through to first eliminate what options may not make sense for her before she ended up choosing to join Omidyar Network. She talks about having informal discussions with ~45 people over a 9 month period to get directional clarity on what might make sense for her.
Flexing leadership style at Omidyar Network
Roopa talks about how she had to adjust her leadership style when she moved from leading a team of 4000 plus people in CRISIL to Omidyar Network which had about 150 people globally and about 15-20 people in India. She discusses the power of listening, learning and tapping into the internal network to come upto speed and build credibility with the organization.
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).
Picking the first "mountain" to climb
Deepa talks about how she took charge of life and how she became a restauranteur and in seven years, had built a flourishing business giving her financial independence. She then talks about her passion for biking and how she wanted to create records on a bike to ensure that her voice is heard and for her to be able to have an impact on Society.
Making Directional Choices
Jayashri talks about how she made choices along the way, more specifically, the choice between going deep into Carnatic music versus collaborating with different art forms. She also speaks about how she has learnt from collaborating with other artists and how that has improved her core art form – Carnatic Music
Reinventing oneself at 45
Arun talks about how he was a cross-roads when he had to move from a successful stint as an executive in Tata Motors to a role as a consultant with Arthur D Little in the United States. He talks about the circumstances in which he took the decision (including a nudge from JRD Tata) and how he had to adjust his style to be effective in a new professional and cultural context. It is not very often that you see a leader transition from being a Business Leader to a Business Consultant.
Transitioning to solo-preneurship
Indranil talks about his challenges in transmitting some of the elements of the credo he had crafted as the head of Marketing and Strategy of his organization. He underscores the risks of abstraction when we craft values such as honesty, excellence, customer-delight etc. and adorn the walls. He takes the example of a story to illustrate the point “no room for ordinary” a value they were trying to live in his company. He goes on to share how he transitioned to the world of story-telling and reflects on some of his early lessons in solo-preneurship.
Strategy and Careers
Tarun talks about developments in the field of Strategy and maps that to how individuals should think about their careers. He acknowledges the influence of Prof. Ben Jones (of Northwestern University) in shaping his thinking here. He talks about the fact that the world of knowledge is growing exponentially and we will know less and less (as a percentage) of what is to be known. He discusses how people should think about specialization and collaboration in this context and shares his perspective on the mind-set with which we should march into the future that can feel overwhelming.
Taking the entrepreneurial plunge
Falguni speaks about the phase of life when she decided to become and entrepreneur after 25+ years post IIMA and after a successful run at Kotak. She also speaks about other businesses she considered (Professionalizing Nursing Homes, Creating a Market for second homes to name a couple) before proceeding with building out Nykaa.
Athlete to Coach to Entrepreneur
Matt speaks about the transition from being a Triathlete to being a Coach and to being a Business Owner. He speaks about how he thought about the choices at each of these transition points and what made him go down this path.
Acting your way to new thinking
Herminia speaks about the criticality of not over-thinking around transitions and urges us to take actions which gives us new “material” for us to reflect on and move forward. She specifically urges us to craft experiments (try new activities and roles), shifting connections (find doors into new worlds) and making sense to rework our story.
Experimenting with different pathways
Herminia speaks about the criticality of sticking to your core and playing to your strengths but at the same time finding a way you can experiment and try different experiences on the edges. She speaks about how you need to build a bridge into a new possibility. Has parallels with the journey of Papa CJ and Amish Tripathi.
The perils of foreclosure
Herminia speaks about two dimensions – commitment and exploration – when leaders go through a transition. She speaks about how there is a tendency for leaders to commit to something too early and how that could lead to a suboptimal solution because they haven’t considered enough possibilities before they make a decision.
Transitioning from well-paying time-greedy careers
Herminia speaks about the specific challenges facing professionals who are in time-greedy and identity-consuming careers. She provides some thought-starters for those professionals to take charge of the narrative and steer their journeys in line with their evolving life context.
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.
Physical trainer to Leadership Coach
Paddy speaks about the journey and the various steps he took as he moved from being the fitness trainer for the South African cricket team between 1994 and 1998 to becoming the Strategic Leadership and Mental Conditioning Coach (working closely with Gary Kirsten) of the Indian Cricket team between 2008 and 2011 (helping them win the World Cup in 2011).
Self-awareness during career transitions
Tasha speaks about how the nature of feedback that one seeks during a transition is often much deeper than the kind of feedback in an organizational context. Transitions give us an opportunity to examine ourselves more fundamentally (values that matter to us, what we are shooting for, the kind of life we are trying to design etc). She speaks about self-awareness unicorns referring to “alarm clock events” in their life that got them to examine several of the assumptions they made in life.
Tasha speaks about the notion of Self-awareness Unicorns, the 50 people they shortlisted from 1000s of people to study them. She speaks about how she arrived at this shortlist and who is in it. She goes on to speak about some of their practices around how they cultivated internal and external self-awareness.
Self-delusion Vs Self-awareness
Tasha speaks about the distinction between being self-aware and being self-deluded. She mentions that her research suggests that 95% of the people believe they are self-aware only about 10-15% of people actually are. She speaks about some of the factors that might be contributing to this phenomenon.
Limitations of introspection
Tasha speaks about introspecting our way to self-awareness could be a red herring. She speaks about her research where she found that people that introspected often were more anxious, stressed and less satisfied. She makes the distinction between rumination and introspection and speaks about how one could conduct the enquiry when one goes on a journey of introspection.
Feedback as a prism vs a mirror
Tasha speaks about the limited correlation between internal and external self-awareness and speaks about the criticality of us seeing ourselves through a prism (with all the color) than through a mirror (which often can be limited in granularity). She also speaks about the need for people to be comfortable with varying views and urges us to embrace the diversity of views and grow through it.
Catch 22 of Self-awareness
Tasha speaks about the Catch-22 (paradox) of Self-Awareness. The really self-aware people often actually think that (rightly so) that they know only a little about themselves. The un-self-aware ones often think that they know themselves really well. Tasha goes on to speak about one of the unicorns that she had studied who uses the metaphor of space to describe the quest for self-awareness.
Self-awareness: Meta-skill of 21st century
Tasha provides some context to why self-awareness is arguably the meta-skill of the 21st century. She discusses why it is possibly the foundational skill that helps us across various domains of life. She makes the distinction between internal and external self-awareness and goes onto say that they are not as closely correlated as one would assume.
Rejecting 3 jobs and painting in Goa
KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how came to Mumbai to pursue commercial opportunities and cast his net beyond Hyderabad – where he grew up. He also talks about the fact that very quickly he got himself three offers (on the creative and commercial side) but decided to go to Goa to learn and reboot. He talks about how he led the life of a vagabond for a few months and how he landed the next role at Ulka.
The reflection habit - decoding signal from the noise
Vinay talks about Narasimha Rao’s habit of reflection and journaling which helped him deal with the ecosystem he was in. Vinay talks about how Rao used the habit of journaling to develop a nuanced understanding of the context he was in which helped him deal with situations of grey effectively. He also talks about how he managed to gather intelligence around what was happening around him despite his lonely nature.
Dr. Guha speaks about Gandhiji’s inner journey on multiple fronts – diet, medicine, celibacy and inter-faith harmony. He speaks about how he had a scientific approach in each of these and sometimes crafted experiments to test out a certain belief and based on the results, modified it as he moved forward. He also speaks about Gandhiji’s tolerance and open-ness to others’ views as he was shaping his world-view through his journey.
Going on an inner journey
Paddy speaks about how he went on an internal journey over a period of time that gave him a deeper understanding of himself. He speaks about how he tried a range of things including mindfulness techniques, meditation, breath work and Yoga. He also speaks about how he attended several 2-3 day sessions including the Landmark Forum that gave him an opportunity to explore himself.