Ep. 59 Breathing Transformation Within Your Company Through Personal Growth with Mindvalley Co-Founder, Kshitij Minglani

Ep. 59 Breathing Transformation Within Your Company Through Personal Growth with Mindvalley Co-Founder, Kshitij Minglani

Leading a hyper-growth company requires having a culture of transformation, and that mindset starts with the COO. Our guest today is serial entrepreneur Kshitij Minglani, the Co-Founder of Mindvalley. Mindvalley is a global school of 3 million plus people producing some of the world’s top training for peak human performance while hosting unique events and experiences across the world. Kshitij or “Kay” talks about hiring strategies that attract talents who crave growth, doing away with emails, and making non-delusional decisions. He also touches on meetings that don’t suck and how having your own genius zone minimizes conflict in the office. There is much to learn from this interview so don’t miss it.

Kay Minglani is with us. Kay is the Cofounder of Mindvalley. He is also a serial entrepreneur and an experienced CEO who has demonstrated a track record of starting and running multimillion-dollar companies in IT, SaaS, educational technology and learning space. He is extremely skilled in strategy, negotiation, fundraising, growth hacking and marketing strategy. I would also call him a level-five leader who is behind the scenes and focused on the internal operations where he has a cofounder and CEO of a company that we’ve all heard of that is very outward facing and the face of the brand. Kay, welcome to the Second in Command podcast.

Thanks for having me over, Cameron. My real name is Kshitij. That’s what happened when you have Indian parents. Everybody calls me Kay and that’s perfect.

I’ll try Kshitij but I think I’ll stick with Kay. It’s going to be easier for me. I’ve heard of Mindvalley and I’m sure a lot of our readers have heard of it as well. Tell us what Mindvalley is and how you’ve branched off and grown over the years. I know that you’re based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Give us a little bit of a background of Mindvalley so we understand it.

Mindvalley is playing to create the largest company in the field of education and personal growth. What we are trying to do is create the curriculum for the next generation of humanity. We intend to write that curriculum that will upskill the future workforce or upskill the human beings we’re going to see in 2025, 2050 and so on. Constantly, we talk about the human mind evolution. We talk about digital transformation and how that’s going to change the nature of the work, etc. At the core of the company, we are trying to be a massive data company revolving around human emotion, mind, and evolution from a personal transformation of space.

That’s a lot deeper than a lot of people see on the surface. When did you guys get started? How did you and Vishen, your cofounder, connect? Give us some of the lifeline of the company.

The company has been in existence for a while. If you Google search it and find the legal time when the company was registered, the actual business is a few years old. Earlier on, we were selling meditation courses online and that’s how we started. The whole course changed in 2012-2013. We teach about ten million people every year and back then, we were teaching only a few hundred thousand. When your customers start to see value in what you offer, they can see the vision. That’s how we pretty much started, selling meditation courses and then going on from personal transformation to health, diet, human mind, leadership and be expanded. Our goal was that we want to be anti-choice. If we were to build a school for Humanity 2.0, we can’t offer them five authors or teachers in the same space. It’s our duty, our job, to go pluck the best and say, “We’ve done the homework for you. We think this is who you should be learning from and the other principles you should be adapting in your life.”

It sounds like you really did listen to your customer. You had created the event years ago that I heard of, Awesomeness Fest. Is that still a part of the brand or was that as you were emerging from that mindfulness and meditation space into it?

That is very much part of the brand, but now we’ve evolved quite a bit. We run something called Mindvalley University where over a thousand people get together for a period of 30 days with us along with their families. That’s 30 days they spend with us in a different remote city. We did that in Estonia. Going back to what you were saying, for us, handholding the customer through the journey is important. Most of the teams in Mindvalley are nontraditional which means you would see customer’s success in typical company or customer support. There are different versions of that title that floats around, like chief happiness officer. We don’t have those titles because we think companies, users and human beings have evolved. We have something called a success manager, a tribe success manager or a community success manager. Their job is to handhold a single user through their transformational journey. There are accountable partners, then the tribe becomes sticky because they find these connections that they create. The number one thing that human beings crave for is human connection, any which ways.

You guys have gone with nontraditional titles in the organization. Do you have a traditional org chart still?

That thing evolves every now and then because the company and the nature keeps changing. We are in a hyper-growth phase. Last Q1, it grew 140%. When you are changing at that pace, any organizational structure that you put together is not going to be relevant the next one. We give people the freedom to move around and change the organization. Ultimately, they will one day leave you and build their own career. You’ve got to let them have the freedom to be able to build a career in the best possible fashion.

You have actually done a pretty extraordinary job at corralling and attracting Gen Y to work with you. You work in multiple countries and cities. How many total employees approximately do you have now so we can understand the scope of that?

We have about 300 employees that work for us and they come from 54 different countries. We have offices across the US, Estonia and Kuala Lumpur. We are fully bootstrapped.

I met a couple of your people. One guy named Jason, who was working out of Vancouver at one point, but I think he’s over in KL. I met another guy at a TED conference, Amir. Where was he? In the Arabic area?

He started Mindvalley Arabic for us. He wrote the book, My Isl@m. Most people at the company live and breathe transformation which means, “Eat your own dog food.” We actually try and be guinea pigs to what we put out to the audience. There was a time when 150 of us were running the Spartan Race together. At any given time, a third of the company is either on one or the other programs with their coffee conversations, water cooler conversations or around diet. They are making green smoothies, talking about how we avoid sugar consumption, talking about fitness or how to keep up the core strength, etc. That’s what we try and live.

This is the key to understand your growth. I’ve always believed that culture trumps strategy and culture eats strategy for breakfast. I’ve always said that culture is critical. It’s more important to build slightly more than a business and slightly less than a religion or cult. You guys have done an unbelievable job at that. If you were based in North America with 300 employees, we would all know of you as a household word in the normal business media. What are you doing? What’s working in the culture side? How are you attracting all these amazing people? How do you align them? This should be an MBA at Harvard.

SIC 59 | Personal Growth
Personal Growth: Before putting out advice, tips, courses, or platforms to your audience, make sure you have tried them first and have seen its real value to your life.

 

I finished my B-School. You take human connections and that’s pretty much it. What’s working for us is a couple of things. One is a strong vision alignment with most people who apply for a job at our place. Our career page does not talk traditional job descriptions. It talks values, what’s expected of you, what are you likely to learn and what are you likely to contribute. That attracts a very different audience. We make the recruitment process designed in a way where a person is filling up an online application and putting up a video out there. It goes through a bunch of interviews where a whole series of strategic interviews are placed in picture so that we get to evaluate the person the best possible way. Is the person aligned with the vision? Is he a culture fit? Is he likely to contribute and give back at the same time? How likely is he to grow within and outside the company? That’s what is working for us and results in growth because everybody is aligned. They are big time into personal growth. They are aligned with the vision. Politics take a complete backseat. That creates a very healthy atmosphere in the company that you want to come to work every single day.

You said something that is intriguing to me and that was that politics take a complete backseat. I understand what you mean by that. How do you foster that? Is it by hiring people that aren’t political? Once you get past around 100 employees, that’s when politics tend to creep into a company. How are you avoiding that?

It’s the way most teams run. Every team in the company is driven around an OKR. That’s a concept from Google. We see several versions of that concept. An OKR essentially is a high objective, which is a version of BHAG, but we allow for a 50% failure rate. If you’re not failing 50% at the OKR that you said, you must be doing something wrong or you have set an easy target which anybody could do. It starts from there and then it trickles down to several strategic meetings. It’s not overburdening an employer or team with the meeting. Everybody gets their space to contribute, figure out and learn how they could all achieve their OKR.

Let’s take an example. We set an OKR to enter government schools and companies at the same time which was completely new for us. We’ve done a massive program with Finland in line with several large companies including Intel, PwC, Google. We did a massive training with 700 Malaysian government employees. We’re ultimately going to be taking Mindvalley programs and I’m going to be on our business mentoring program. Once you set an OKR, the team figures out a way to achieve it. That creates a very healthy competition. If you have a better viewpoint to achieve that OKR, you win. If I do, I win. The idea as a team, as a collective, as a whole unit, goes out and achieves that OKR.

Not only are you okay with failure, but you’re actually encouraging it. Is that because you’re encouraging people to stretch more?

It also relieves the pressure in a silly way that, “If we set our target this year, that’s not going to happen. Let’s be realistic. Who are we kidding?” It also tells you, “If we were to do 100 billion, what could we do differently?” That dialogue shift is important. That’s why we will probably end up with a 55% to 60% year-on-year growth as a whole. In a company our size, it’s very hard to see. In most companies because you’re a baby, it’s a bootstrap. We are literally reliant on looking at gross margin percentage, looking very carefully and turning that back in. Reinvestment becomes important as well.

Did you say investment becomes important?

Reinvestment of the cash that you’re making becomes important. Let’s say, you set an OKR which is difficult. You’re going to figure out the best way to get there because the cash is the ideal to you. You’re not sitting on piles of VC money that you can blow and experiment and go, “I spent $10 million, that didn’t go anywhere.” You don’t have that luxury so you pick your battles carefully.

When we built 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we went six consecutive years of 100% revenue growth, which was super fast. It was hard to manage that growth. We went from fourteen employees to 3,000 employees in six years. When you’re starting or are in the middle of that trajectory, the one thing that we encountered was that it’s very hard for the mid-level people to go through either two doubles in revenue or in size or to go through one triple. How do you help grow and keep people? You said you’re okay with losing people and letting them go off and do their own thing at some point. How do you continue to grow your people, grow their skillset and their capacity as the company is changing so rapidly? The company now is extremely different than it was two years ago.

I might say a few things that might sound silly but I think has worked at least in my teams and the companies that I was on. I run the company looking outward. If you’re in Southeast Asia, everybody’s working on a different tech problem. I assume that the person sitting next-door is already building something similar. We watch competition carefully so we always have an outward approach to running the company. That’s what we instill in every single employee. If you are running the tech team or mobile team, you’re probably reviewing the apps every single day. You’re constantly learning. We’ve never stopped an employee from going up there and participating in external forum.

Amir is the perfect example. He had the will to go back to his own country and say, “Enough is enough. I’m going to start Mindvalley here and change people’s health and mindset.” He came out, gave a bunch a TED talks and wrote a book about it. A few of the employees got together and started our Estonia office. A few of the employees took on a tech challenge, organized a 24-hour hackathon, pulled in teams from Google and created a solution that now powers part of our AI and our corporate learning. I think that environment is addictive and it spreads in a different way. When personal growth is an overarching theme, everybody wants to evolve and look at their rate of self-evolution.

It’s all self-driven learning. You talked about alignment with the vision. You and Vishen were the cofounders of Mindvalley years ago together.

Vishen is the main founder. I joined him a year later.

How do both of you stay on the same page? That would be question number one. Question number two, you’re also quite entrepreneurial as I was as a COO or second in command and cofounder. How do you get aligned with his vision? How does he get aligned with your vision? How do you stay in-sync with plans? How do you stay as that two-in-a-box? To me offline, you’re very inward facing in the company and Vishen is the outward face of the company. How do you do such an amazing job at staying completely aligned like you are?

Number one is we complement each other’s skillset. We don’t overpower each other’s discussions, especially when we know it’s not our forte. We stick to our territory. Let’s say his territory is marketing and mine is business. We created our own playfield which is existent in his and my mind. That playfield and distinction is important. Second is the concept of OODA, we are in a constant OODA loop. At the end of the day, we would send each other a voice note or a WhatsApp text sharing either what happened or making quick bullet point decisions. Because we have done that for many years, it’s now a second nature to us. Number one is we don’t interrupt each other’s playfield. We stick to our genius zone and pass the ball to the other person when required. Second is constant OODA loop which means we are constantly sharing texts at the end of the day or early in the morning. We have those constant touchpoints, even if both of us are traveling.

SIC 59 | Personal Growth
Personal Growth: A CEO stays aligned with the COO if they don’t interrupt each other’s playfield, stick to their genius zone, and pass the ball to the other person when required.

 

Walk us through this again. OODA is constantly updating each other on your successes or making decisions. Is it just staying in sync? What does it mean?

OODA is like a cycle. OODA means Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. We are constantly observing what’s happening at the company. I look at revenue almost every single hour, so I’m a numbers guy, I’m a finance guy. He’s a marketing guy, so he’s looking at what’s converting and what’s not. We are deciding in a crisp clear manner. Even if the decision is not going to make us cash in the short-term, we are fine by it. We’ve constantly figured out that loop between us. Certain things will go unsaid because of following that trend for such a long time.

That’s part of your secret sauce for sure. I think it’s the Air Force who uses an acronym. It’s plan, brief, execute, debrief. It’s very similar to observe, orient, decide, and act. Tell us about some of the early decision points or insights. It sounds like you listen to your customers and your tribe on where they wanted you to pivot. Is that right?

It is actually a very deep part of it.

What was it that they were saying and then how did the transition happen from going from that mindfulness meditation? When I first heard about you, I was like, “I wish I could align with them but they’re so not in my space.” All of a sudden, I’m looking around and I’m like, “You’re exactly in my space.” The brand was so strong and you pivoted perfectly. What did you hear? What were you listening to and then how did it go making those pivots? I’d love to learn some of the lessons from that.

A few things come naturally. We know that we’re by no means perfect at it. We’ve had our fair shares of failure. We fail gloriously at times. I’ll give you an example of when we did not listen to a customer. We launched an app a couple of years ago by the name Omvana. That was the first meditation app. The only competitor at the time we had was Headspace. The market kept telling to us, “You guys should be on a subscription business model. That’s the future.” We were like, “Why would somebody pay $10 when they could just meditate to a song or a track and just pay $2 to us?” We just stayed away from it. We did not listen to market at all. At our prime, we were the number one app in 37 countries. A month later, we were gone. 2015 was the time when a plethora of meditation apps came by. Obviously, we didn’t pivot early. That’s a classic example of not listening to the market and customer. We’re trying to revive, rebuild, and launch it again. That’s one lesson that we learned.

Second is while you’re listening to the customers, don’t make delusional business decisions. Don’t go out and start giving away a ton of free goodies and so nobody converts. We’ve made that mistake as well. We had an offering, which hit number two. We were very popular with Apple, we worked closely with them. Our mistake was we were giving away just way too much. Nobody came on the paid section and bought anything in spite of the fact that we were getting 250,000 downloads in any given week. We were not listening to the customers as what kind of stuff they would and would not pay for.

The third mistake we made was naming our subscription program on the event side of things. We should have spoken to a few customers in a detailed way as to what experience would they want as opposed to deciding for them. Steve Jobs used to say, “Don’t listen to the customers or listen to them in a way that you tell them what you can push and how far you can push the boundaries.” We tried doing that. It was a decision that we went back and forth on. We wasted six to eight months on the naming, pricing, offering and structure of the offering. We try and listen to the customers but the key outside is to also look at the market when it’s going. Look at what’s happening in the VCCircle, what companies are coming about, what business models are they following and make a non-delusional decision. In most of the meetings that I’m part of, my idea is to look at the numbers, do a bunch of A/B tests and make a non-delusional decision which probably will stick around.

I’m going to go back to this non-delusional question, but I want to comment on what you’re talking about with listening to the customer. Those are three massive insights and lessons that you learned from some of the struggles over the years. I remember Omvana. That was when I tried to figure out a way to work with you guys. That was completely disconnected but I loved what you were doing. I was the same. I remember listening to a few of them and thinking they were really good. All of a sudden, it was gone. I’m still paying for Headspace and I don’t use it, which is insanity.

I grew up in Canada and we celebrate Christmas over here. As children, my parents would make us write a letter to Santa three weeks or a month before Christmas. I always thought it was stupid. We had to tell him how good we’d been all year and all of the gifts that we wanted for Christmas. We would put the letter in an envelope and our mom was like, “I’ll mail it on the way to work.” They never mailed that letter. They opened it up and looked at all the things we’d written down on the list. They bought us a couple of those gifts and we’re like, “Santa knows exactly what I want.” I think that’s like listening to our customers.

If we ask our customers what they want, they’ll tell us. Don’t make those non-delusional decisions. Give them what they’re looking for, they’ll pay us for it. How do you avoid the non-delusional decisions? How do you still stretch and grow amazing companies and big brands like you guys are doing? What’s a non-delusional decision versus a non-delusional dream? Is putting people on Mars a non-delusional decision or is that a huge massive BHAG?

When you grow up in India, it’s not snowing out there. Neither do you follow Christmas. You don’t write letters to Santa. You sit in bed, order a burger and watch Home Alone. That’s what you do year-after-year. Coming back to what you were asking, I don’t know what a perfect answer is. When you burn a few startups to the ground, you probably learned from those mistakes and logic takes a trump over strategy. Most entrepreneurs, I’m pretty sure including you, would end up saying, “That’s my intuition. My intuition says and my gut says.” That’s not your gut or intuition saying that. Over the years, you’ve burned your fingers a few times to be able to say, “That’s the right path, that’s the logical path, that’s the wrong path.” I don’t have a perfect answer but I always say in the meeting, “What is the logical next step? What would you do if money was scarce or you were running the company or if you were starting from scratch? Would we make decisions?”

Did you say if money was scarce?

That’s the truth because business goes up and down no matter how successful you are. You could be a GE one day and the next, you are raking the company and selling it up.

You seem to speak a lot in mantras or themes like, “If we had a $100 million, what would we do differently? If money was scarce, how would we make decisions?” Is that part of your magic, speaking in those statements? I would imagine that you repeat those things often and that your employees see those as themes or guidelines.

SIC 59 | Personal Growth
Personal Growth: Create an office design where people can easily gather together for a quick five-minute huddle and then go back into their own spaces to focus on work.

 

The senior employees would catch on to it and that’s what you want. You don’t want that to be a mantra across the organization as long as your top management and leadership team. I’ll give you another example. Let’s say you’re launching a subscription product which is a subset of a company. Your question that you ask is, “If this project was to live as a standalone company tomorrow, what would it look like?” The second question you ask is, “If somebody on the street gave you $5 million, what are you going to do with it?” You are now thinking scale as well as startup mentality. You’re thinking both sides of the coin. I like to drive projects which means MVP is the keyword. You are always thinking if, “Can this be a standalone company? Can this be big enough that somebody will give you a $5 million check?” At the back of your mind, you’re always assuming that somebody next to you is already building it.

You just mentioned MVP, which is the acronym of Minimum Viable Product, where they’re talking about launch. How do you protect against when we’re hiring smart people and they want to develop perfect? They want the perfect app or marketing piece and perfection just seems to take forever. What do you do in that sense? Do you have them push for perfect or do you try to get them to go out with the minimum viable everything?

The first question you always ask is, “When is the shipping date and when are you going to ship?” That’s exactly when you try and ship. That has worked for us and has also not worked for us. They keep iterating on the same email copy, same web design and keep tweaking the images but it has no impact whatsoever. That’s why we do these small huddles in the group called the revenue task score. You make a revenue health check and get to question some of these decisions. The employees automatically understand, “Everybody else is shipping, why am I not? If every other team is making money, why is my product sitting on the shelves?” We try and instill that mentality. I don’t know if it’s good or bad.

It’s working. You guys are operating in multiple countries. How many offices do you have? How many of your people are remote and not working from offices?

We have an office in KL, which is the headquarter. We have a small office in Miami and a third office in Estonia. We set up these remote studios across the globe when people, as they are part of our festival, Mindvalley University, are literally living with us for 30 days, about a thousand of our best customers. We have remote setups. A lot of teams go on remote because they have the flexibility to work around. That’s how we function. I know it’s not a unique perfect way. It has its own pros and cons but it is an imperfect solution as of now.

Tell us about Mindvalley University. You keep dropping it on me and I’ve heard about it a number of times. I know it’s over in Europe and in Croatia.

It’s Mindvalley.com/u. That’s probably one of our biggest projects that we decided to run. It was started as an experiment. Every year, we want to try and live in a different country. We try and gather smart and tribal teachers and see how we can create. That’s your word that you use called the cult tribe or the cult experience. It’s a loyal fanbase across the globe which competitors cannot replicate.

The Mindvalley University model is a strong pull for Gen Y. The unencumbered, no kids yet, can work and live from anywhere. You said you’ve got people going over with their families as well. Is there more of that now where people are living globally and traveling more with their kids?

We are on a parallel massive track for teenagers and we’re doing a special track for parents. A lot of parents would like to learn something that we call conscious parenting, how to be a better parent. That’s been a constant theme that we’ve been trying to attack in some ways. That’s in one area that’s exciting to us. If you’re talking next generation of curriculum for humanity, we cannot not address that, which is parenting. It is an essential part of everyone’s life. That’s what we are trying to do as well. Two main pillars of Mindvalley are all these events that are happening across the globe and our online learning platform called Quest. That’s a learning format.

Walk us through how you’re working with some of your remote teams. Can you give us those operational insights as to working with some of the people that are remote or global?

I’ll be lying if I say I still don’t feel this but I think sometimes, “Out of mind, out of sight.” You should have constant touch with your key employees. Otherwise, you’re always figuring out in a large organization of 300 people, “Are you still around? Are you a contractor? I thought you moved out?” That’s going to happen. We can’t avoid it. There will be a day when you go to the office and a batch of 25 new people have joined in. A week later, you can’t remember half their names. That’s a problem of the attention span that we live in. Second, as you grow bigger as an organization, you can’t control that. The idea is that your chain of command in the company is so strong that people don’t fall out. We think OKR as a model that keeps everybody in check.

What we did differently was rather than having a company OKR structure, we’ve added a dimension where you should list down your personal OKR as well. People go through an exercise with us called Lifebook, where they list down their life goals in twelve areas of life. They know that they need to pay attention to their self-growth. When you are attached to your work in your personal life is one thing then they tend to stick around and the remote aspect works in some way.

Is that the Lifebook that John and Missy Butcher are involved with?

That’s correct. Every employee is mandatory to go through Lifebook. You join as part of your induction. We take you to a beautiful private resort on an island and get to experience Lifebook with all the new people who joined.

Do you do the full five days or three days? Or is it a shorter version?

SIC 59 | Personal Growth
Personal Growth: Focus on health. You cannot have good health in a day after being in poor health for years.

 

We do it over the weekend. One time, we flew down Jon and Missy as authors of the program. You spend time with 25 of our top new recruits. That creates a very different level of connection with them. Some of them go remote, but the connection stay on. The remote culture works.

I was speaking with Chip Wilson from about his early days at Lululemon. He used to make all of his employees do a program called Landmark, with a two-day or two-and-a-half day Landmark Forum. It was a cult thing and he goes, “It’s beautiful.” I’m like, “I’ve never met anyone who’s done it that I don’t like.” It has a lot of self-reflection, introspection and planning. That’s got to be part of your magic then, doing Lifebook.

I like how cult is no longer a bad word.

I wish Seth Godin when he wrote his book called Tribes called it Cults.

I don’t know if that many people would have bought the book.

We don’t need to rebrand it. It’s pretty cool. You guys have a strong leadership team. How does your leadership team stay structured? How do you guys meet and keep everyone on the same page?

We meet every event stay for three hours. That’s the structure that actually we borrowed from Apple, to be very honest with you. One person is in charge of HR, the second person is in charge of tech, the third person is in charge of revenue, fourth person is in charge of marketing. We spend three hours talking about everything from hiring, firing, company strategy, and some of the next steps. We ask silly things as travel plans. We’ve got three hours and we say, “This is the most expensive payroll in one room. Let’s talk about our areas that we are handling.” I think everybody’s playfield is pretty clear. My constant quest is no matter what companies I’m part of, the leadership team should have a very different playfield. Everybody should have their own genius zone. If you find overlapping skillset, that’s where contradicts happen. If you have two or three people from the tech team being represented at the leadership board, you will always have an overpowering agenda. That’s what you want to avoid.

I had a client who I’ve been coaching for five years. He’s gone from 40 employees up to 700. He just raised $255 million from Warburg Pincus. He was talking about how bad his meetings where he’s like, “Meetings suck.” I’m like, “No, meetings are actually amazing if you know how to run them.” I wrote that book called Meetings Suck for that purpose. You are actually doing a good job with your meetings and meeting rhythms. What’s the mindset shift you’ve had to get your employees to go through? How do you get them to engage and be excited about these? You’re crushing it with them.

The day starts with an 11:30 morning scrum or standup, which is attended by almost, if not more than 35 people. We are able to finish it in 25 minutes where everybody knows what’s happening and who’s connecting with whom after that scum is over. One thing that we stopped doing is emails. Nobody sends each other emails unless you want an approval from Finance. That whole culture of emails is completely gone. It just works for us. You don’t have to call everybody into a room.

I’ve been trying to show people there’s a simple six-word sentence, “I didn’t say you were beautiful.” If you read that six-word sentence and put the emphasis on the first word, it means something different than the second, third, fourth where you put the emphasis. Each word makes the sentence completely different. There’s a lot of miscommunication, frustration and conflict that happened because of Slack and email that you guys are killing it with that face-to-face communication. You’re all Gen Y, your entire company. How do you push Gen Y towards this face-to-face video communication with each other? Is that just part of the adoption, you hire people who already engaged that way?

It’s also to do with office design. We have closed spaces, open spaces. The whole open work culture place is getting noisier and noisier. If you Google, “Mindvalley office space pictures,” you would understand. We have done a couple of posts about it as well. You should have an environment where people can come out and gather for a quick five-minute huddle or a 25-minute scrum and then go back into their workspaces. We’ve designed it in a way where they have their own private space to focus and work. Coming out of that shell is cathartic. The people and team let you look forward to it. It has a lot to do with office design. It has a lot to do with the way we use Slack. It has a lot to do with the morning huddle which already clears half the doubts and strategic hand-picked meetings sprinkled across the week. Everybody knows if it’s Wednesday, what three meetings are happening. If it’s a Tuesday, what two meetings are happening. Tuesdays are focused on tech and that means everybody else has gone. You get to have a focused Tuesday and take your strategizing on Tuesday. Marketing catches up only for an hour in an entire week. You want to have less meetings for sure but more strategic meetings.

Those meetings are all baked in as part of your rhythms.

In R&D, we call it a Genius Storm or G Storm. If you are calling for a G Storm, you have made a conscious decision to pull in the strategic people. You’re going to wrap that up in 45 minutes. You would have had well-prepared for that meeting.

Two final questions. One, what have you worked on in terms of your skillset to scale? I know you said you finished doing your MBA or your business degree. What kind of stuff were you focusing on?

I go into things that I’ve been doing for a few years. I did two specializations. One was running companies that are on the verge of bankruptcy. Cashflow, scaling up and gross margins are important. How do you revive a startup or a company? Second was running public-listed companies. I get to experience both the spectrums. I stay relevant by either angel investing in a few startups, helping my wife in her business, or starting another project on the side. I do have a few investments. I have a project on the side, which I’m hiring a bunch of people for. I’m very much engaged with my wife and the way she runs her business. Those are the threefold things that I try and do. I do read Financial Times back-to-back starting my day and try and see what was happening in the startup world. Most often, new technologies and new business models are right there. You have to live between the trends. I think one book I read a while ago was the Blue Ocean Strategy. That helped me capture a few of these elements.

Last question. If you were to think back to being 21 years old when you were maybe finishing university or just getting started in your entrepreneurial career. I don’t think we listen to our parents very often. Parents probably try to give us advice. What advice would you like to listen to either from yourself, maybe that you know today that you wish you’d known earlier on? What advice would you give yourself?

I have to focus on health. That probably would be it. When I was exiting out of my first company, I destroyed my health completely. I have picked up all the bad habits that you could think of. That was a stressful period. It takes a while to come out of that. It’s not like one day your health is bad for five years and you will take only a month to recover from it. It takes you five years to recover from it. I think health is what I would listen to a lot more. I wish I had done that.

Thank you so much for sharing with us. I appreciate your time and ideas. If you enjoyed this, be sure to subscribe. To learn more best practices from industry-leading COOs, please visit COOAlliance.com.

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About Kshitij Minglani

SIC 59 | Personal GrowthKshitij is a Serial Entrepreneur and an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated track record of starting and running multi-million dollar companies in IT, SAAS, Ed-Tech, and learning space. Skilled in Strategy, Negotiation, fundraising, growth hacking, and Marketing Strategy.

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