I'm a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.

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The North Star: Don’t Tell Team What to Do. Tell Them the Goal Instead.

One of my favorite podcasts that I have recently started listening to is ‘Masters of Scale‘ by Reid Hoffman. In the latest episode with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, there is this one point that really spoke to me. This is something that I will personally internalize and imbibe in our company culture.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO: “Leadership is about having people follow you enthusiastically. People will do what they are supposed to do if they work for you. That’s not what you want. You want to have an aligned mission. Rather than tell people to march four steps, you want to tell people where we are heading and encourage them to get there as quickly as they can. You have to repeat your mission and your purpose and the values you care about over and over again. Sometimes you think to yourself, ‘doesn’t everyone else know this already’? It doesn’t matter. Starting out your meetings with your mission…why are we running Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp…is very powerful. Even if everyone knows it by heart… because it reminds you where you are headed and why you are going there.”

Reid Hoffman, Linkedin Founder, agrees: There is one plan you can’t break. There is one variable that must stay constant. And that’s the company’s mission. It’s the true North Star that everyone orients around. For Linkedin, it is ‘Connecting People with Opportunities’. For AirBnB, it is ‘Belong Anywhere’. For Facebook. it is ‘Connect the World’.


Podcast with Nandan Nilekani: After Infosys & Aadhar, What are his Current Passion Projects?

Co-founder of Infosys, creator of the Unique Identity (UID) Aadhar in India, an author, and an investor — there are many hats that Nandan Nilekani wears with panache! How does he still manage to be so active and enthusiastic? I asked Nandan himself this question for the podcast and this is what he said. “Well, I continue to be excited by seeing what’s happening in the world, in technology. I’m a big believer that India’s challenges can be met by technological leapfrogging,” he says.

Being a serial investor — he has invested in 12 start-ups so far — he says the one thing he looks for in a prospective company is the people. “I always look for a great team. For me, people are the most important. Then, of course, the idea and business plan, and the desire to build a company. I look for those who want to change an industry and a sector.”

One interesting factoid about him is that he owns a house in Coonoor that once belonged to the grandparents of the father of computing, Alan Turing!

Listen to the podcast, where he talks about all this and more.

You can catch over a dozen interviews I have done with Movers & Shakers here at The Hindu Businessline.


Podcast with Sunita Rajan, CNN’s Head of Advertising Sales for Asia Pacific

Listen to my podcast with Sunita Rajan , the Head of Advertising Sales for the Asia Pacific Region at global TV and media network CNN. She has over 25 years of experience in media including roles at Star TV and BBC Worldwide.
At CNN, she oversees an extensive client base across the Asia-Pacific region and leads teams in Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Delhi and Mumbai, in addition to a network of representatives across Asia.

In this podcast, we discuss her career path, her passion for sales, what makes a great salesperson and how she manages to run a distributed global team. This podcast was recorded just before the CNN Asia Business Forum that took place in Bangalore. Listen to the conversation with Sunita Rajan.


Kristie Lu Stout on what Made her a Successful TV Anchor

CNN International_Kristie Lu Stout small
Kristie Lu Stout, the award-winning host of ‘News Stream’ on CNN is a familiar face. When I met her at the CNN Asia Business Forum in Bangalore, I was very curious to know what made her successful in her field and how she sculpted her career to become a well-known broadcast journalist.  I recorded a  half hour long conversation for the Leadership Podcast which I host at The Hindu Businessline. While the Podcast will eventually be published in a few week’s time (my column is a fortnightly one), here are some interesting takeaways from our conversation.

Kristie studied Journalism at Stanford University and graduated at a time when the Internet book was just happening. She got her first break at the celebrated new age tech magazine, Wired.
My Takeaway:  Have clarity of what you want to do in life. Kristie clearly loved journalism and picked up a course she enjoyed.

Kristie moved to China where she freelanced for the South China Morning Post and later worked at Sohu. She started to learn Chinese at Tsinghua University. Remember that, even though Kristie is a Chinese American, she spent most of her early life in the United States.
My Takeaway: Kristie could easily have built her career in the US. After all, the rest of the World is trying to get into the land of opportunities. Yet, Kristie realized the opportunities in China and stepped out of her comfort zone to move to another country. She took the effort to learn the language and dove into studying the burgeoning Internet space which proved to be a turning point in her life as seen in the next point.

While she was focused on print journalism, her breakthrough in broadcast journalism happened serendipitously. She gave a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club on the state of Internet in China. As part of the audience was a senior member from CNN who was impressed with her. He invited her to come over to CNN and that’s what resulted in her first break.
My Takeaway: Breaks like this one is rare. And Kristie knew it and she was determined to make it count. During our conversation, she mentioned that the learning curve was very steep. After all, she was brand new to the TV medium. I loved how she was open to learning from others and constantly improved herself that made her now a name to reckon with.

Look out for the full conversation I have with Kristie Lu Stout in a fortnight.


Lessons from Instagram Founders.

I was listening to NPR’s awesome podcast titled, ‘How I Built This’, which had a segment on the Instagram founders.  After I listened to the half hour interview with Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, I asked myself what would be the two important take-aways from the podcast.  Here’s what stood out for me.

They quoted Eric Ries, the author of ‘The Lean Startup’ who said its important to have conversations with people who liked your product, why they liked your product and take steps to make it even better.  Many times, we pay higher importance to things people don’t like and work at solving those.

Another important takeaway is that they made Instagram open to follow. Back in 2010, it was common for most social networks to be closed and one can only follow someone else if both are connected as friends. Instagram was among the earliest social networks where anyone can follow anyone else. This means you can follow any celebrity, sports star or politician. This was a key point for Instagram’s growth. Now, these features are used in most social networks, including Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.





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