“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell
Early this January at ExtraaEdge we were fortunate enough to have a session with two great minds in the corporate world, Kiran Deshpande, Co-Founder of Mojo Networks, Inc. (Former CEO of Tech Mahindra), and Ravi Nigam, President of Preferred Brands Foods (India) Private Limited and Managing Director of Tasty Bite Eatables LTD. Both are also active members of TiE Pune & the mentoring program called TiE Pune Nurture to assist selected startups to high growth trajectory. ExtraaEdge is proud & privileged to be a part of this program for the current batch of 2018-19. Both the mentors shared advise & stories on culture, company building, product market fit, positioning & strategy at our office.
We thought of compiling some key learnings for the wider entrepreneurial audience & ecosystem partners. Moreover, by writing this we can also go back & ponder over the learnings as tide of time blurs it on occasions. As the saying goes first you ink then you think ! So, here we go !
Where they Started
The session commenced with both of them introducing themselves, Ravi took us through his journey from how he started with big giants like Pepsi and Britannia, to building up a brand like Tasty Bites globally. Kiran started off his career with TCS as a group leader to being CEO of Tech Mahindra, during his stint there he took the revenue of the company from $7m to $93m in just 5 years. He then started his own venture Mojo Networks, Inc. and has been running it from the past 16 years.
They were kind enough to take some time of the session to get to know each and every member of the team and our role at ExtraaEdge and why we love working here. In order to understand our business at ExtraaEdge, they asked everyone about it and told one of our colleagues to note it down on the whiteboard. To explain as to why they asked it to note it down was to create a strategic statement of our business. Elaborating it further they said that when anyone asks you about your work, you can tell them by stating your strategic statement which would give them an idea that we are doing something different.
Culture over Strategy
Speaking of strategy, Ravi asked a very interesting question, “Which company do you guys think will succeed, a company with a strategy or a company with a culture?”. After receiving some mixed answers,
Ravi answered “Culture will eat strategy for breakfast”,
Kiran agreed upon the same. Any company or a startup cannot succeed on strategy alone if they do not have a good work culture. A company who has a good work culture makes people be their own leader, take up the responsibility of the company, and love their job. They acknowledged that we have a great work culture at ExtraaEdge which will help us grow as a company and as an individual.
Kiran and Ravi discussed work-life balance and how people can make time for both.
According to them, people can have a good work-life balance if –
- They love their job
- Plan as meticulously their life as they do their work. I think this was the killer wisdom. Simple yet so true.
- Stay fit
- Involve their family, and communicate with them
Love your job
If you love your job you would enjoy your life. No matter for how many hours you work, you would always find time for yourself and your family if you love what you do.
Ravi gave us an example of a person who wakes up early in the morning runs 10km, exercise daily, work for 12 hours, and still find time for his family and a glass of wine. He ended it by telling us who that person is, it turned out to be none other than Kiran.
Kiran told us how important it is to stay fit if you want to go through the entire day without getting exhausted. Exercising helps us give that extra energy we need to spend some time with our family and socializing.
Plan your life as you do your work
The seriousness as a function of time we lan our professional life aka meetings, deadlines, trips, projects. Staying nights, collaborating with teams, working diligently etc. has to have some resemblance when we think about our own personal lives. That gym sessions, that trip with spouse, that visit to a family function or a casual meditation session should be accounted, planned & managed extremely well.
Involve your family, communicate with them
You can manage your work life and personal life smoother if you involve your family members into it. Ravi explained how he couldn’t visit his wife and his newborn baby for 33 days due to work. During all these days his family didn’t feel neglected because they understood his situation. They knew how important he was at that time because Ravi used to communicate with his family on daily basis.
Kiran and Ravi both further explained, how involving their family and communicating helped them have a good work life balance despite working for 12 hours at times.
All in all it was a excellent session with them which helped the entire ExtraaEdge team deeply think about their work, life & everything in between. As the saying goes wisdom is build over a period of time with rich experiences. We all witnessed it first hand.
Once again thanks to TiE Nurture providing us this opportunity & again sincere regards to Ravi & Kiran for their time spent with the entire ExtraaEdge team.