Outliers 100: Life lessons from AR Rahman

So what’s the big deal about the 100th episode of the Outliers podcast? What’s the big deal about the 100th of anything? Not much, if you ask me personally.

Milestones can be lifeless. But, milestones can be a big deal, too. 

It all comes down to the events surrounding any milestones, or an outcome. Sometimes the events make a milestone. 

This episode, the 100th episode of the Outliers, could well have been the first, third, or 63rd. But it would still be special. And here’s why. 

A.R. Rahman — A.R. as he prefers to be addressed — is one of those Outliers who, having charted a unique path of their own and spread their magic along the way, hardly need an introduction. His genius lies not just in his creative melodies — ranging from the enchanting Roja to the soulful Kun Faya Kun to the peppy, Oscar-winning Jai Ho — but in seeking out all that is ‘good’. In music, in life, in other human beings. Never the one to talk too much or without reason, A.R. just about managed to give us, in this 100th episode of Outliers, a glimpse into his extraordinary mind and method.

“You learn much more from observing than talking,” he tells me in this podcast. 

Do tune in. 

P.S. We will be publishing the full transcript of this podcast later this month.

Meet former entrepreneur Raju Reddy, now a startup ecosystem builder

So what makes a startup ecosystem work? Entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and perhaps even the regulators. 

Apart from the above, there are these low profile, faceless ecosystem builders who back the founders not just with monies, but with the emotional energy required in navigating the ups and downs of entrepreneurial journeys. 

After selling his software services startup Sierra Atlantic in 2011, Raju Reddy started backing founders such as Phanindra Sama of Redbus. Much later, he also became one of the first backers of Grey Orange Robotics. 

Listen to this podcast to learn from Raju’s own entrepreneurial journey, and how the underground nerve center of BITS Pilani network  – he’s an alumnus and currently the chairman of BITSA – works.

CavinKare founder on building a culture that lasts

C.K. Ranganathan quit home and family nearly three decades ago to start CavinKare, a Chennai-based consumer goods startup that once gave the likes of Hindustan Lever sleepless nights. I am not sure how many of you remember the Chik shampoo that came in single-use sachets. The brainchild of Ranganathan’s father, R. Chinnikrishnan, the sachets reimagined distribution of expensive products for India’s middle-class consumers.

While CavinKare is still growing through its ups and downs, its founder’s journey is worth learning from. 

As a schoolboy, Ranganathan used to keep over 500 pigeons at one time, visualising which ones to cross-breed for newer varieties of the bird. Much later, after founding CavinKare, Ranganathan used his power of visualisation to create new product lines. 

“I started as a copycat,” he tells me in this episode of Outliers.

Tune in to learn more from the journey of one of India’s best homegrown retail brands.