When great men are around you, it is foolish not to take notes. Take mental notes on how they behave, take physical notes about what they say, then try to implement these observed behaviors in your life.

This is what I did when Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai, the man who is said to be the modern-day Chanakya, visited my college for IRIS 2020.

I had read parts of the well-known Corporate Chanakya when I was a kid who used to spend hours in Crossword and read books for free! So I have known him for quite a while.

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Post that, I've been following Dr. Pillai for quite a while, through his books and interviews.

The point of telling you this: It was a big deal for me to finally meet him in person. Complete fanboy moment.

Let's quickly get to what you're here for: the lessons. They are generally about business, relationships, our Indian national identity, and self-improvement.

Here they are-

Understand who your leader is

Who is your leader? This does not have to be someone you "follow".

Who is it that you emulate? This also does not have to be one particular person.

This plays into the age-old notion of surrounding yourself with the right people.

Find someone to follow, this can be a friend, family, or an internet personality. Then emulate.

Learn the good. Note the bad(so you can avoid it). Progress.

Entrepreneurship is like a relationship

He was speaking about business partnerships. Choosing the right business partner is as important as choosing the right life partner. So tread carefully and vet critically.

This also applies to other relationships, not just business. Be careful while selecting who you let into your life. Have a select few people who you really, deeply care about. This is the right way to have long, deep relationships.

Don’t let go
Photo by Everton Vila / Unsplash

India is a big breeding ground for young entrepreneurs

The 90s was the time when a few Indians went abroad. 30 years later, today, they're the CEOs and show-runners of some renowned companies.

The 1990s was the era of the Indian-American executive.

The 2020s is the era of the Indian entrepreneur.

30 years later, it would be these entrepreneurs that would be celebrated just like Sundar Pichai is celebrated today.

As students, we must make most of the opportunity. India has a long way to go. It will be made great again by the entrepreneurs of the 20s.

Get a mentor. Every extraordinary person needs guidance.

Sachin Tendulkar wouldn't have become the god of cricket without his coach, Ramakant Achrekar.

The Pandavas would not have won the war without Lord Krishna. They were exceptional warriors, but the mentor was necessary.

Every success story has one. So find yours.

Dr. Pillai also mentioned that it is important to find a mentor who is a few steps ahead of you. If you're looking to start a business, work under a startup CEO. If you're looking to take your $10M company to $100M, get guidance from a $100M CEO.

Yet again, surround yourself with people better than you.
Help those that are looking to get where you're at. You can be a mentee to some, a mentor to others.

Don't think like a manager, think like a leader

IQ and intelligence is good to have, but a leader requires emotional and social intelligence too. An EQ along with an IQ is what differentiates great leaders from managers. This is a point I personally need to work on.

Leaders create other leaders.

Help your team get better. Be their mentor. Allow them to make you a better leader. Help improve them, if you selfishly focus on your own success and promotion, you aren't a great leader.

The Power of Compounding

Everything in life compounds. Read about compound interest for a economic example. But, compounding applies to things far beyond money.

"Compound interest is the eight wonder of the world"
_Albert Einstein

It's the snowball effect. The larger the snowball, the larger it gets as it rolls down.

Relationships compound. Habits compound. Progress compounds.

It took 25 years for Infosys to become a $1B company. Be patient.

Established in 1981, Infosys is a NYSE listed global consulting and IT services company with more than 228,000 employees. From a capital of $250, we have grown to become a $11.8 billion (FY19 revenues) company  with a market capitalization of approximately US$ 47.7 billion. [Infosys]

Stick to it vs. Leave it dilemma

How long do you stick to a problem until you give up?

Of course, not giving up is important. Persistence is important.

Dr. Pillai gave an example of a personal friend who has been trying to solve a problem for 20+ years, but to no avail. He has lost everything.

Sticking with things is important. But if something is not working out, you need to be shrewd enough to leave it.

Don't be too rigid- adapt to the environment around you. It is important for success. It is not survival of the fittest, but survival of the ones most adaptable to change.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

The 3-3-3 principle

Like I mentioned before, leaders create other leaders.

This flows into the 3-3-3 principle.

Gain experience in a certain field for 3 years. Build something for the next 3 years. Spend the next 3 making it exceptional and exit the market.

You need to exit the market before the market pushes you out.

Experiment - Improve - Exit. 3 - 3 - 3.

Leaders create institutions that live longer than themselves

This is visible all around us. Jamsetji Tata created the Tata group, still exists 150 years later.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj created the idea of a Swarajya and carved out the Maratha empire. Lived on for centuries.

Swami Vivekananda created the Ramakrishna mission. Still exists.

Point being, as exceptional leaders do, we must aim to create something that goes beyond us. Something that benefits more people than just you. Something that will live on for much longer.

Owner-driven, but professional-run companies

This flows in right from the 3-3-3 principle.

An "exit" does not mean giving up. To create institutions that last longer than you, they need to be able to function without you.

People make the mistake of being too attached to the organizations they build, to the point of micro-management.

One must delegate to the right people and focus on driving the company ahead.

"India is the hope for the world"

I highly agree with this.

We produced of the best executives that now run Fortune-500 companies. It is now time for us to build our nation and, by extension, the world as well.

Time to take India back to the सोने की चिड़िया days.

"Create institutions that India would be proud of"
_Dr. Radhakrisnan Pillai, IRIS 2020

Jai Hind Doston! 🇮🇳

That's me with him, doing my signature pose. He's a fun guy!

These were all my notes from my time with him, distilled down to a blogpost. There are some important lessons to take away. Read this again sometime later.

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