I was recently asked the question, who inspires you and why... the who part was easy for me, but when I sat back and thought about why, the answer to that was really inspirational. As a builder of early stage businesses, I find that I often struggle with the challenge of how to retain the culture that starts with the founders as the companies grow... you think about it, an idea starts with one person... culture is easy... then it gets shared and there is a co-founding team, now managing the ideals (or culture) are a little more difficult, but the team spends so much time with each other that the fundamental principles become clear and shared... then scale starts to creep in and a company is formed, now how do you make sure that the principles you hold near and dear (that you feel are self evident) are retained... this is the crux of building a great company and something that I think the best companies have been able to create... whether it is the "hack" culture of Facebook or the "do no evil" approach of Google... or the respect everyone culture of the Mahindras... it is amazing to see what great things can be accomplished when a founder / CEO can drive the core values effectively through an organization.
A person who inspires you and why?
Since moving to India 9 years ago, I have had the fortune to get to know Anand Mahindra and have always walked away from my meetings with him inspired - both personally and professionally. On the professional front, I am amazed at the clarity with which he has built his federation of companies and the efficiency with which he executes his business. On the personal front, I am inspired by the genuineness with which he approaches his relationships and interactions - no matter who you are, he takes the time to make you feel important. While both of these factors are inspiring, what makes him an inspiration to me, is that he has figured out how to drive these qualities across his organization... everyone I have interacted with at M&M seems to embody these attributes. It is one thing to be disciplined and diligent in how an individual manages oneself, but scaling that across an organization is a truly amazing feat and this is what I find inspirational in Anand Mahindra and M&M.Image by Adam Mulligan
Arranged with witty office banter, and the weekly team lunches, Lightbox truly reflected what they were here for; to support innovation that enriches lives. With a culture that promotes thinking, questioning and collaborating, their space and their people weren’t here only to be the next biggest VC, there was heart behind it.
The advice to entrepreneurs is to experiment, fail, learn and repeat. Try things at a small scale and at a low cost, and quickly assess if they work or not and then take a call on what is worth scaling up. The experiments should either stop or continue based on consumer feedback.