“Mass extinction of enterprises and jobs.”
“Hobson’s choice of saving lives versus livelihoods.”
When I asked Ravi Venkatesan to describe what’s going around us today, and what it means for us, this is how he painted the picture. He’s known to never mince his words.
This series of Outliers is about resilience, not necessarily false hopes.
Welcome back to Outliers, a podcast about the ones who chose to take the road not normally taken. After over 100 episodes and the last episode with AR Rahman, it feels great to be back. It also feels sad and sobering to be looking around us with the Corona virus situation worsening each passing day. In its sweep are startup dreams getting snuffed out in uncertainty and hopelessness.
As a conversationalist, I have been wondering what I can do to be useful in these uncertain times. I looked back at the 100 episodes of Outliers and realised that there are masterclasses available from many of them in resilience and in managing the future. These include the podcasts with India’s first man in space, Rakesh Sharma, Uday Kotak, Sonam Wangchuk, Naval Ravikant and so on.
Over the next few weeks, I intend going back to some of these Outliers (and some new voices), sit down with them for deeper conversations about how they managed different cycles of disruptions and crossed the valleys of death in their lives and careers — basically, look how their experiences in the past can help us navigate the coming few months or quarters.
The first in this series is a conversation with Ravi Venkatesan, the former chairman of Microsoft India, who has worked across the sectors of manufacturing, technology and now social over the past few decades.
In this podcast, Ravi shared a really inspiring story about a Rwandan refugee woman who survived the genocide and other horrifying experiences before becoming a Rhodes Scholar.
“I don’t think there was any choice. The will to live and survive was so strong that I kept going. I just put one foot in front of another, and the horror ended,” Ravi recalls her reply when he asked the woman how she did it.
So why should you care about this series of Outliers podcast?
Nearly a decade ago, Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz wrote this agenda-setting blog titled “Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO” describing the traits of the founders/CEOs in different situations.
We’re clearly living in ‘war times’ now. I am sure you as a founder are locked in some kind of a war room, battling to keep the lights on, exploring ways to keep the culture intact, or inventing a new business model — even as you iterate a new product idea or worry about the next version release.
Whatever you’re doing, Godspeed. and kudos for fighting the battles you do.