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13 - In Summary – Playing to Potential - Venkat Krishnan on Philanthropy and Giving: From Childhood to Inspiring Givers

Venkat speaks about the notion of playing to potential and why he feels him and a lot of us significantly underplay to our potential. He discusses the criticality of reflection as we go through our journey and the importance of keeping our saw sharpened. He also speaks about the notion of going after efficiency optimization that often comes in the way of understanding the big picture.

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Nugget
63.1
Formative years
Venkat speaks about the fact that he is a lucky recipient of the Ovarian Lottery and speaks about the environment in which he has grown up. He specifically speaks about the opportunity to interact with children from different segments of the society that helped him build a greater sense of empathy towards the world around him. He also speaks about some of the early choices in terms of discipline and how he ended up at IIM Ahmedabad.
 • 12m:00s • 
Nugget
63.2
The IIMA years
Venkat speaks about his years at IIMA and how his thoughts and beliefs got shaped by some of his friends (Sridhar Rajagopalan and Sunil Khairnar). He also speaks about how the course LEM (Laboratory in Entrepreneurial Motivation) taught by Prof Sunil Handa got him to articulate his direction sharply with the following words “I see myself as an instrument or tool that’s available to society and my choices should be guided by maximising the returns that I will give to the society’
 • 09m:04s • 
Venkat speaks about how he considered different possibilities for a career in “making a difference”. He speaks about briefly toying with the idea of IAS as a career option. He speaks about his summer internship with Khadi and Village Industries commission and describes the placement process which eventually leads him to accept a job at Times of India. He also speaks about his early years in Times of India and at Sony.
 • 09m:43s • 
Venkat speaks about how he transitioned from Sony to running Eklavya. He refers to Prof Sunil Handa (who takes the popular course LEM – Laboratory in Entrepreneurial Motivation) sending him a concept note leading to him and Sridhar Rajagopalan quitting their jobs and starting Eklavya. He also refers to the research and the groundwork that went into setting up Eklavya. He also speaks about some of the early challenges involved in setting up the school and in convincing people to send their kids here.
 • 07m:40s • 
Venkat speaks about how a trip to the US when he was Eklavya opened his minds to the involvement of the citizens in the running of some of the elements. He specifically speaks about an experience during one of the meetings with a school in Burlington where he saw segments of the citizen community come together to solve a societal problem. That was the seed of an idea that eventually led him to start GiveIndia, a movement to galvanize philanthropy in India.
 • 24m:55s • 
Venkat speaks about his observations around people’s journey in Philanthropy. He speaks about how people initially look for instant gratification but over time realize the complexity involved and slowly start solving for systemic issues rather than surface level problems. He also speaks about the fact that the journey is Philanthropy is a lot more about what it does to the giver than the receiver.
 • 09m:09s • 
Venkat speaks about how individuals should think about giving money versus giving time to the Not for profit sector. He says that all money and no time may not move the needle given the complexities involved and might not be a fulfilling experience. He goes on to say that all time and no money might not get you the attention of the NGOs that actually need your help. He speaks about the sweet spot of money and time that each one of us has to find. He also offers some powerful metaphors around how we should think about ROI of time and money invested in the social impact space versus in the capital world.
 • 09m:51s • 
Venkat speaks about the link between our relationship with money and our overall happiness and fulfilment. He speaks about the link between the process of wealth creation and the formation of our attitudes towards money. He speaks about how the distinction between our needs and wants can provide greater degrees of freedom and open up newer possibilities for us and can liberate us from the “money trap”. He also speaks about LivingMyPromise, a movement where several people have chosen to give 50% of their wealth away.
 • 11m:34s • 
Venkat shares his perspectives around how we can raise kids with a concern for the world around. She shares some thoughts on how we can engage with the child when he/she asks us uncomfortable questions. He also illustrates the criticality of reflection in slowly building compassion in the child.
 • 08m:01s • 
Venkat speaks about how we can approach our journey in Giving as a marathon and not as a sprint. He speaks about how we need to take baby steps in a certain direction, reflect on our experience, make course corrections and then move forward rather than taking a sudden plunge into a new domain. Such an approach could lead to disillusionment.
 • 05m:13s • 
Nugget
63.11
Dreaming big
Venkat speaks about how he thinks about his vision – inculcating the spirit of giving in India. He sees it as a journey that gives him a sense of direction. He also speaks about how he derives from Bill Gates who says that if he has managed to solve a problem well, then the odds are people a few years down the line may not remember him. Not being remembered around an issue that exists today is possibly the best measure of somebody having addressed the issue.
 • 05m:16s • 
Venkat speaks about some of the givers that have inspired him. He speaks about mythological characters like Karna, Mahabali and business men like Chuck Feeney and Andrew Carnegie who have set the bar really high for giving. He also speaks about how we can derive inspiration from Indian leaders like Gandhiji, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya or Vinobha Bhave in the way they approached Giving. He also speaks about his perspectives on how we should think about keeping it private versus doing it in a visible way. He urges us to keep our WHY front and central as we think about this.
 • 16m:10s • 
Venkat speaks about the notion of playing to potential and why he feels him and a lot of us significantly underplay to our potential. He discusses the criticality of reflection as we go through our journey and the importance of keeping our saw sharpened. He also speaks about the notion of going after efficiency optimization that often comes in the way of understanding the big picture.
 • 06m:28s • 

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