Choosing Leadership

with Sumit Gupta

A podcast for people who know deep inside that there is more.

Podcast Booking status: OPEN. Click here to apply!
on Spotifyon Apple

Why Choosing Leadership?

This podcast is called “choosing leadership” – because that is what leadership is – a choice.

The choice to step into the unknown. The choice to see fear as a friend. The choice to take courageous action rather than waiting for readiness. The choice to see how powerful you are.

I choose leadership every time I record this podcast, as I have procrastinated on it for more than a year.

My invitation to you is the same – to “choose” leadership and to step up a leader in an area of life that matters to you – be it work, passion, health, impact in society, or something else.

I will be starting (and stopping) multiple series from time to time. All of them will focus on leadership – but they will look at it from multiple angles and perspectives.

This is what I do most naturally – to lovingly and gently provoke you to help you see your own light – to help you see what you are already capable of.

Show Format – Multiple Series

Leadership Journeys

In this series, I am celebrating leaders for the choices they have made, which are not always easy and comfortable, to get to where they are today. So that all of us can learn from their journey.

Can't Stay Silent

This series is about the courage to speak our truth and live authentically. For most of my life, I have kept my voice hidden beneath layers of fear and insecurity. In this series, I will express myself fully from the heart.

Humble Inquiries

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we deliberately put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices.

Recent Episodes

Leadership Journeys [107] – Sanket Nadhani – “A sabbatical helped me discover myself, build confidence, and open my mind”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

Join us in this captivating interview with Sanket, co-founder of Super Gaming, as he shares his inspiring journey of building an empire in the gaming industry. 

From humble beginnings to becoming a leading game development company in India, Sanket’s story is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance. 

Discover how he and his team are revolutionizing the gaming landscape by creating immersive experiences that showcase India’s rich art, culture, and history. 

Gain valuable insights on entrepreneurship, overcoming challenges, and the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone. 

Whether you’re a gaming enthusiast or a leader seeking inspiration, this conversation will leave you motivated to embrace new possibilities and unleash your full potential.

 

You can find Sanket at the below links

In the interview, Sanket shares

  • “Super Gaming is on a mission to put India on the global gaming map by creating great games built in India, made for the world.”
  • “We are building one of India’s most ambitious titles, an end futuristic battle royal that combines Indian art and culture projected 2,500 years into the future.”
  • “I started my entrepreneurial journey at a young age, co-founding Fusion Chart, a charting library that became a successful bootstrap SaaS company.”
  • “After taking a sabbatical to travel and explore, I realized the importance of having the courage to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.”
  • “Building games is an intellectual challenge that opens up horizons and allows for continuous learning and personal growth.”
  • “Our biggest opportunity lies in fulfilling the demand for Indian content in gaming and leveraging India’s rich culture and history.”
  • “Being a game developer in India was not widely accepted until recently, but the passion for gaming has always driven us to overcome challenges.”
  • “As we focus on building great games and creating a sustainable business, we aim to grow a large community and establish India as a force in the global gaming industry.”
  • “One of the key challenges is building the right organizational structure and career paths within the company to support our goals.”
  • “Embracing new skills and breaking mental roadblocks can lead to surprising achievements. Don’t limit yourself—continuously learn and adapt to succeed.”

Leadership Journeys [106] – Derren de Jong – “Freedom is the biggest driving factor behind everything I do”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

Derren is a serial entrepreneur and currently the Managing Director of Kinescope, which is Enabling high quality video embedding and streaming at the lowest prices.

With a charming and relatable personality, Darren shares his inspiring path from a hobbyist copywriter to a thriving tech leader, shedding light on the driving forces behind his success. 

As he delves into the challenges faced during his transition from law studies to entrepreneurship, Darren imparts invaluable wisdom on identifying new opportunities, bringing people together, and fostering a culture of autonomy and flexibility. 

Discover the transformative power of prioritizing mental health, finding work-life balance, and embracing the freedom to shape your own path. 

Get ready to be motivated, gain actionable insights, and embark on your own journey of leadership and growth.

 

You can find Derren at the below links

In the interview, Derren shares

  • “Since 2013, I’ve embarked on an entrepreneurial journey, starting as a copywriter and venturing into various domains.”
  • “In addition to my tech company, I serve on the board of the expert committee responsible for allocating innovation subsidies in the northern Netherlands.”
  • “From copywriting to entrepreneurship, my journey began with a translation request that led to writing content for multiple clients and eventually growing my business.”
  • “Transitioning from studying law to entrepreneurship was a tough decision, but I realized my passion lay in autonomy and freedom rather than a corporate career.”
  • “Discovering my talent for bringing people together around common ideas and identifying new opportunities has been key to my success.”
  • “Through my experience, I’ve learned the importance of balancing individuality and teamwork, giving autonomy while ensuring introverted team members have space to contribute.”
  • “Freedom has been the driving force behind my varied endeavors, seeking flexibility and autonomy to shape my own path.”
  • “As I continue to explore new possibilities, my future remains uncertain, whether it’s starting another venture, joining a co-founder role, or managing a larger company.”
  • “Prioritizing mental health and avoiding burnout is crucial, and my advice is to measure your activity, set clear expectations, and find a work-life balance that suits your well-being.”

Leadership Journeys [105] – Deepti Prasad – “It’s okay to fail, but it’s not okay to not try.”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

Deepti is a co-founder of Spyne, which is transforming the way businesses create their catalog using state-of-the-art AI technology without any studio, photography skills, or complex processes.

In this inspiring interview, Deepti shares her journey into entrepreneurship and how she defied societal norms to pursue her passion for making a real impact. 

As a woman leader, she discusses the challenges she faced and offers valuable insights on how to overcome biases and build a strong support system. 

Join us as we delve into her vision for Spyne, their groundbreaking product that revolutionizes cataloging for industries like automotive and e-commerce. 

Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a leader seeking inspiration, this interview is packed with practical advice and a refreshing perspective that will leave you motivated to embrace your own journey of growth and success.

You can find Deepti at the below links

In the interview, Deepti shares

  • “At Spyne, our mission is to transform cataloging in industries like automotive, food, and e-commerce using AI and machine learning.”
  • “We empower small businesses and enterprises to create studio-quality product images instantly, eliminating the need for third-party services.”
  • “My journey into entrepreneurship wasn’t planned; I always wanted to do something impactful and eventually found my passion aligning with Spyne.”
  • “Growing up, my parents instilled in me the value of thinking outside the box and taking risks, which shaped my entrepreneurial mindset.”
  • “During my maternity leave, I delved into exploring Instagram marketing and the photography industry, which led me to launch Spyne.”
  • “Being a woman leader comes with challenges, but surrounding yourself with supportive people who believe in your vision is crucial.”
  • “As a leader, it’s important to connect with your team and ensure they align with the company’s vision, especially during growth stages.”
  • “Spyne is currently a team of nearly 100 people, and our focus is on expanding our product’s reach before further scaling our team.”
  • “The US market presents a significant opportunity for us, and our recent exhibition received positive feedback, driving our expansion plans.”
  • “Believing in yourself, staying optimistic, and finding moments of rest and reflection are vital for navigating the fast-paced startup world.”

Leadership Journeys [104] – George Huff – “There’s no substitute for experience”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

George is the Chief Executive Officer at Opal. He started as a web designer and his journey has led to him being the co-founder of a few really great companies.

With valuable insights drawn from his own experiences, he candidly discusses the trials and tribulations he faced in building his company from the ground up. 

From embracing the challenges of starting his first business to transitioning into the CEO role, he offers practical advice on overcoming imposter syndrome and finding confidence in the face of uncertainty. 

Discover the power of empowering leaders, maintaining a sense of challenge, and embracing innovation to create a thriving organization. 

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or aspiring leader, this interview is packed with wisdom that will motivate and equip you to navigate your own leadership challenges with resilience and determination.

 

You can find George at the below links

In the interview, George shares

  • “Being an entrepreneur means navigating the ups and downs of the journey, embracing the trials and tribulations along the way.”
  • “My entrepreneurial drive was sparked by the booming internet industry in the late nineties, fueling my passion for technology and business.”
  • “Facing the challenge of starting my first business, I constantly felt the pressure of making it up as I went along, but it ultimately led to valuable experience and growth.”
  • “Experiencing the highs and lows of my father’s fishing business taught me the importance of financial stability and the motivation to build something successful.”
  • “Transitioning from witnessing my father’s journey to starting my own business was a unique experience, where I realized the need to find my own path and overcome obstacles.”
  • “As a leader, faking confidence and imposter syndrome can be exhausting, but with experience and self-awareness, it becomes easier to trust your instincts and react to challenges.”
  • “Empowering and supporting leaders within the organization can unlock tremendous potential and drive innovation, creating a culture of ownership and execution.”
  • “Maintaining a sense of challenge and avoiding complacency is crucial for personal and organizational growth, pushing boundaries and continuously iterating.”
  • “The next phase for our organization lies in integrating AI into our marketing strategy platform, offering a unique solution for large-scale organizations worldwide.”
  • “Balancing product improvement and growth challenges is a constant endeavor, requiring leadership autonomy and the ability to work on multiple fronts simultaneously.”

Leadership Journeys [103] – John Cherian – “You build skill when you get your hands dirty”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

John is Transforming Talent for the Future of Work as the co-founder and CEO of Enparadigm, which is one of the world’s leading experiential learning and talent intelligence companies.

In this captivating interview, John, takes us on a journey from his humble beginnings as a computer science engineer to becoming a leading figure in the world of experiential learning. 

With a passion for simplifying complex concepts, John and his team have developed innovative technology platforms that allow individuals to learn by immersing themselves in various simulations and scenarios. 

As he shares his personal story, he reveals valuable insights for leaders facing common challenges in today’s fast-paced business landscape. 

Join us as we explore the power of starting small, the importance of building a synergistic team, and the constant pursuit of balance in entrepreneurship. 

Get ready to be inspired and equipped with practical wisdom from a seasoned entrepreneur in this thought-provoking conversation.

 

You can find John at the below links

In the interview, John shares

  • “We are one of the world’s leading experiential learning players, providing technology platforms that allow people to learn through different situations, scenarios, and simulations.”
  • “Our passion for simplifying complex concepts led us to start a company focused on making learning more accessible and understandable.”
  • “Starting small and gradually raising the bar is key to overcoming the challenge of starting your own venture.”
  • “Opting out of the conventional path and committing to a one-way street of entrepreneurship requires courage and a long-term mindset.”
  • “Business school provided a solid foundation in business acumen, but understanding the real dynamics of companies and their functioning required additional learning.”
  • “Building a synergistic team that combines left brain and right brain thinking was crucial in our journey.”
  • “Entrepreneurship is a continuous challenge, and balancing different aspects of life is essential for sustainable growth.”
  • “Our mission is to build a global business that addresses the talent management needs of large corporations across various industries.”
  • “As a leader, managing emotions and decision-making processes while staying balanced is critical for effective leadership.”
  • “While AI can automate many tasks, there will always be a need for human leaders to make critical purpose-driven decisions.”

Leadership Journeys [102] – Gabriel Isserlis – “Founders should have strong conviction loosely held”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

Gabriel is the Founder/CEO of Tutti. His expertise lies at the intersection of creativity and technology, which has inspired Tutti: a tech company that gives creators more time to create.

In this inspiring interview, the founder of Tutti, often referred to as the “Airbnb for creative spaces,” shares his compelling backstory and the challenges they encountered along the way. 

Gain valuable insights into the intersection of creativity and entrepreneurship, as our guest reveals how their diverse background in film, programming, theater, and photography shaped their unique perspective on life and business. 

Discover how their passion for providing creators with more time to create led to the development of groundbreaking technology that automates administrative tasks in the creative industries. 

Get ready to be inspired, challenged, and equipped with practical wisdom as you embark on this enlightening leadership journey with our remarkable guest.

 

You can find Gabriel at the below links

In the interview, Gabriel shares

  • “We are essentially Airbnb for creative spaces.” 
  • “Our mission is to give creators more time to create.” 
  • “I have a vision for 10, 20 years in the future, but how we get there is not roadmap mapped at all.” 
  • “The creative industries require a lot of admin, and we’re building technology to automate and simplify that.” 
  • “There’s no real, very good technology for the creative industries, so creators use generic platforms and mix and match them in ways they aren’t designed for.” 
  • “We started as Airbnb for creative space, but we realized venues also lacked software to manage their bookings.” 
  • “We’re building software for our venues to run all inquiries, no matter where they come from.” 
  • “Expansion plans include moving beyond the UK and scaling globally in the next two years.” 
  • “One of the biggest challenges is hiring and defining the company’s culture.” 
  • “Taking breaks and consuming non-business content is essential for mental health and inspiration.” 

Investor’s Lens [15] – Erik Norberg – “If you believe in what you’re doing, it is more rewarding.”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Erik Norberg is the CEO, Co-founder and Portfolio Manager at Nyfikna Investerare, one the Sweden’s fastest growing investor networks.

In this captivating interview, a seasoned CEO turned investor and entrepreneur shares his transformative journey and sheds light on the traits that drive success in the startup and entrepreneur world. 

Having transitioned from leading large corporations to the fast-paced world of startups, he reveals the motivation behind his shift and the value he finds in being closer to the action. With a passion for making an impact and seeing immediate results, he explains how the agility and speed of startups captivated his interest. 

Drawing from his experience, he highlights the importance of vision, confidence, and empathy for entrepreneurs, while also discussing the challenges of decision-making and providing valuable feedback. 

Looking ahead, he talks about the exciting opportunities presented by emerging technologies and the role of skilled individuals in capitalizing on them. With his investment company, Curious Investors, he aims to support and nurture promising startups, leveraging his expertise and fostering growth in a rapidly changing business landscape.

You can find Erik at the below links

In the interview, Erik shares

  • “I’ve spent a major part of my career as a CEO in different medium tech companies.”
  • “I run an investment company called Curious Investors, which combines a syndicate and educational network for early-stage startups.”
  • “I made the tough decision to transition from being a CEO in large corporations to working as an investor and entrepreneur.”
  • “My interest in leadership started at an early age when I worked in the Swedish Navy.”
  • “Working in fast-moving environments with international markets nurtured my leadership journey.”
  • “I wanted to use my experience in leadership and big corporations to support entrepreneurs in their growth journeys.”
  • “As an investor, I prioritize keeping the energy and traction up in startup and entrepreneur ventures.”
  • “A good investor or board advisor can help entrepreneurs navigate challenges and make informed decisions.”
  • “It’s important to balance confidence and empathy as a leader in the startup world.”
  • “I shifted to investing in early-stage companies to be closer to making an impact and seeing results.”

Investor’s Lens [14] – Anup Jain – “Culture is more important than any kind of strategy”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Anup Jain  is the Managing Partner at Orios Venture Partners, with previous leadership stints in Bata and Yum Restaurants. 

In this captivating interview, we meet a venture capitalist who is dedicated to making India’s entrepreneurial dreams come true, particularly in the technology-led business sector. With a background in corporate marketing and experience in both startups and established companies, they bring a unique perspective to the world of investing. 

They emphasize the importance of leading by example, inspiring teams, and creating a collaborative and non-hierarchical work environment. They believe that founders’ journeys are filled with challenges, humbling experiences, and valuable lessons. 

They highlight the significance of building a strong support system within the ecosystem, including fellow founders, coaches, and investors who genuinely care about the founder’s success. 

Finally, they share their investment focus, which spans across sectors such as regional entertainment, financial services, healthcare, climate, and education, all with a strong emphasis on catering to the unique needs of Indian consumers and businesses.

You can find Anup at the below links

In the interview, Anup shares

  • “My dream is to make India’s entrepreneurs’ dreams possible, especially in the area of technology-led businesses because this is where India is strong.”
  • “Being part of startups, growing from zero to one, one to a hundred, interests me a whole lot.”
  • “Leadership, irrespective of organization size, should always lead by example and bring their best to work.”
  • “Founders’ journey is humbling and full of acceptance and realization. Holding the core team together is crucial for progress.”
  • “Cultivating a positive culture within organizations is more important than any strategy for growth.”
  • “The wider ecosystem plays a vital role in supporting founders through challenges, successes, and failures.”
  • “Networking with other founders and sharing references, vendors, and legal advice is essential for startup growth.”
  • “Being a sounding board and listening post for founders can provide fruitful support during their journey.”
  • “Investors who genuinely have the founders’ best interests at heart are preferred by founders.”
  • “Investment focus on regional entertainment, financial services, health, and climate reflects the needs and opportunities in the Indian market.”

Investor’s Lens [13] – Subrata Patra – “You can learn as much from a bad teacher if you are open to learning.”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Subrata Patra is the Managing Partner at IdeaCapital Ventures and an Alumnus of UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, IIT Delhi, and Jadavpur University.

Join us for an insightful and engaging conversation with Subrata Patra, as he shares his remarkable journey and invaluable leadership lessons. 

With over two decades of experience spanning diverse industries, Subrata’s perspective on leadership has evolved, emphasizing the importance of being a good follower before becoming a great leader. 

Discover how leadership styles have transformed from authoritative to coaching, with an emphasis on leading by example. Gain practical advice on navigating challenges, fostering authenticity, and developing a purpose-driven approach. 

Don’t miss this friendly and value-packed interview that will inspire you to embrace resilience, mindfulness, and continuous learning in your leadership journey.

You can find Subrata at the below links

In the interview, Subrata shares

  • “Leadership has evolved from being authoritative to being a coach, employing different styles to solve problems and lead by example.”
  • “To become a good leader, one must first be a good follower, understanding the nuances of being a team player.”
  • “Authenticity, purpose, and leading by example are key traits of effective leadership in today’s organizations.”
  • “Leadership is difficult to define because it is vast and unique in its meaning, making it an interesting and challenging concept.”
  • “Taking failure positively is crucial to personal and professional growth, embracing the lessons it offers.”
  • “In our firm, we back purpose-driven founders and entrepreneurs who are solving important problems, with a particular focus on climate tech and health tech.”
  • “Resilience, passion, and the ability to be dispassionate are essential traits we look for in founders.”
  • “Mindfulness and strong cultural values create a solid foundation for successful startups.”
  • “Investing in the right team is crucial, and we focus heavily on understanding the founders, the senior team, and the organizational dynamics.”
  • “Keeping our ears and minds open allows us to learn from both good and bad experiences, embracing the idea of continuous learning.”

Investor’s Lens [12] – Mark Kahn – “Most successful entrepreneurs have some void that they are filling by what they do”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Mark Kahn is a Mark is a Managing Partner at Omnivore based in India. He is funding entrepreneurs building the future of agriculture and food systems.

In this thought-provoking conversation, Mark shares his remarkable journey from the United States to India, driven by a passion for agribusiness and the pursuit of transformative solutions for agriculture and rural economies. 

Discover how his experiences shaped him as a leader, why he believes the most successful entrepreneurs possess a unique darkness within them, and the crucial traits he seeks in founders before making investment decisions. 

Gain valuable insights on navigating success and failure, understanding the impermanence of triumph, and building resilience in the face of uncertainty. Mark’s vision for Omnivore and their commitment to backing disruptors and visionaries in the agri-food sector will inspire and ignite your own leadership aspirations. 

Don’t miss out on this engaging conversation that will leave you inspired and ready to take on your own leadership challenges.

You can find Mark at the below links

In the interview, Mark shares

  • “We support entrepreneurs building breakthrough technologies for agriculture, food climate, and the rural economy.” 
  • “India is a unique agricultural ecosystem with a tremendous number of farmers. Solving the problem of Indian agriculture can build a better, more equal India.” 
  • “The most successful entrepreneurs have some tremendous darkness in them, some void they are filling through their work.”
  • “Intentionality is crucial. Founders need a real motivation to survive, not just to start up.” 
  • “Leaders should be secure in themselves and not need to be the smartest person in the room on everything.” 
  • “Resilience is more important than external validation. Success and failure are temporary imposters.” 
  • “Success and failure both have pitfalls. It’s important to understand that they are fleeting moments in the journey.” 
  • “We look for founders who have a deep, psychological motivation for entrepreneurship, not just superficial reasons.” 
  • “Avoid the ‘rich kid startup’ syndrome where founders offload risk on institutional investors instead of investing their own family money.” 
  • “The real joy of being a VC is seeing ideas transform into scalable solutions through execution and witnessing the impact on rural India.” 

Investor’s Lens [11] – Tom Horsey – “Creating something from nothing gives me real satisfaction.”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Tom Horsey is a Business Angel and very early stage VC investor focused on founding teams based in Spain from any sector. He is also a co-founder of StartupLabs Spain and Malta which is an accelerator program focused on growth stage startups.

Based in Southern Europe, Tom has been an active investor in early-stage startups, particularly in Spain, Malta, and Portugal. With his wealth of experience, he understands the challenges faced by leaders—dealing with people, handling uncertainty, and managing pressure. 

He recognizes the crucial role leadership plays in the success (or lack thereof) of founders. Having learned from his own experiences, he emphasizes the shift from being an executor to being a leader as a startup evolves and grows. When investing in founders, he looks for ambitious individuals who possess strong execution skills, whether it’s in marketing, technology, or overall leadership. 

He values the ability to make things happen and considers ambition and capacity as key indicators of success. Conversely, red flags include founders who struggle with execution and lack ambition. 

He believes that success lies in taking action and not being afraid to fail. He encourages founders to try, as the only true failure is never attempting something in the first place. Passionate about supporting others, Tom finds fulfillment in creating opportunities for startups and the jobs they generate. 

He believes in solving problems and making the world a better place through entrepreneurship. His friendly and humorous approach to leadership takes the pressure off and fosters an environment that motivates both himself and those around him.

You can find Tom at the below links

In the interview, Tom shares

  • “I’ve set up 16 different companies in my lifetime, just over half of which have been successful.”
  • “As an entrepreneur, I realized the importance of balancing leadership and operational focus for sustainable growth.”
  • “In early-stage startups, the shift from operational focus to leadership becomes crucial as the team expands.”
  • “To attract high-quality team members, founders must demonstrate leadership skills and create an environment for growth.”
  • “Successful founders excel not only as executors but also as good leaders who can drive their vision forward.”
  • “When investing in founders, we look for execution skills, ambition, and the capacity to make things happen.”
  • “Creating milestones, building a strong team, and achieving growth are indicators of a founder’s ability to execute.”
  • “Past experiences and early entrepreneurial traits can reveal a founder’s potential and entrepreneurial spirit.”
  • “Failure is only not trying in the first place. Taking action and making things happen is crucial for success.”
  • “Investing in startups is a way to support entrepreneurs and contribute to job creation and making a positive impact.”

Investor’s Lens [10] – Vignesh Shankar – “Never assume that you know everything”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Vignesh Shankar is a Managing Partner at Artha99 Investment Partners with a background in Strategy, M&A, and Corporate Finance.

Step into the captivating world of an interview with a dynamic entrepreneur and investor. Meet the seasoned professional who, despite a background in finance, dared to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. 

From working in top firms like Pricewaterhouse and HP Emphasis, this individual craved more than just numbers and spreadsheets. Eager to break free from the confines of a closed environment, they fearlessly established their own boutique investment advisory firm back in 2008. 

With an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit and a thirst for growth, they took on a remarkable challenge: not only to advise on acquisitions but also to step into the shoes of running the business itself.

Join this interview to uncover the entrepreneur’s reflections on the importance of humility, constant learning, and being open to help. Discover their unique approach to investing, where synchronizing with founders, people skills, and unwavering ethics take precedence. 

Gain insights into their views on sales, the lifeblood of business, and the critical role it plays in building relationships, understanding customer pain points, and embodying a company’s brand.  

You can find Vignesh at the below links

In the interview, Vignesh shares

  • “Never assume that you know everything and always be open to the fact that there is much you don’t know. Seeking help and being receptive to it will always benefit you.”
  • “Having the openness to learn while being confident in your vision is crucial for founders and leaders. It allows for growth and adaptability in the market.”
  • “When considering investments, the synchronization with founders, their people skills, and ethics are essential factors. These determine whether we invest or not, even if the business itself is promising.”
  • “Red flags in investment opportunities include founders solely focused on an exit strategy without considering long-term growth, and a lack of openness to bringing in key team members for vital segments of the business.”
  • “Sales is one of the most critical functions in a business, as it ultimately brings in the money. Exceptional people skills, understanding the customer’s pain points, and being the brand ambassador are crucial for sales success.”
  • “Cash flow is the oxygen for a business. Without a plan to bring in cash, there are hard questions to face. Acknowledging this fundamental aspect is vital for CEOs and business owners.”
  • “Salespeople often show empathy toward business owners since they understand the challenges of investing in and growing a business. They play a crucial role in driving growth and building relationships.”
  • “Dealing with both successes and failures requires leaders to remain humble, take responsibility, and exhibit a willingness to learn from their experiences. Being honest about failures and analyzing successes with logic are important traits.”
  • “Supporting founders’ growth in human skills that aren’t typically taught in business schools is essential. As passive investors, we provide a support system to help founders with various aspects, such as networking, business planning, and funding.”
  • “Building relationships with founders involves difficult and uncomfortable moments, but they are crucial for growth. Open communication, reasonable demands, and respectful reasoning are essential to maintain a strong relationship.”

Investor’s Lens [09] – Raja Skogland – “I am still on a journey as a founder. A business is never built.”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Raja Skogland is the founder at the Visionary Company & VC and an Advisor at Antler. She is an exited founder, an investor in 70+ startups, and one of the TOP 100 most influential women in the European VC & Startup space.

In this captivating interview, join us as we dive into the remarkable journey of Raja, a tenacious founder who overcame numerous obstacles to build a thriving entrepreneurial career.

From a background in private banking to becoming a respected investor and startup advisor, Raja shares her invaluable insights and hard-earned wisdom.

Discover how her resilience, determination, and continuous learning paved the path to success. With candid anecdotes, Raja reveals the transformative moments that shaped her as a leader, emphasizing the importance of never giving up while also recognizing when to pivot.

Uncover practical advice for new founders, learn how to navigate difficult conversations, and explore the power of respecting others and fostering emotional intelligence.

Join us as we explore the delicate art of balancing ambition with self-care and find out how slowing down can actually accelerate personal and professional growth.

You can find Raja at the below links

In the interview, Raja shares

  • “I persevered and I feel like I’m still on a journey as a founder. It’s never built. A business is never built.”
  • “It’s a combination of never giving up, but also knowing when to give up. When to pivot, when to stop.”
  • “Help founders figure out the high impact activities and work smarter, not harder.”
  • “Respecting others, treating them as human beings and valuing their input are essential traits of successful leaders.”
  • “Good founders have emotional intelligence and empathy, while bad founders are selfish, egocentric, and lack respect.”
  • “Assess the pros and cons, prioritize your mental health, and choose whether it’s worth your time working with a difficult founder.”
  • “Navigate difficult conversations by adapting your communication style to the founder’s needs and establishing a professional board.”
  • “My drive today is to find a balance between helping founders and moving away from the hustle culture.”
  • “Simplifying processes and focusing on the right companies has increased our revenue and impact.”
  • “Enjoy the simple things in life, be present, and prioritize time for yourself. It’s the ultimate luxury.”

Investor’s Lens [08] – Anoop Mohan – “Founders beat themselves a lot. You should celebrate each of your steps.”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviours, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Anoop Mohan is the  Managing Partner at Freespirit Ventures. He has successfully exited 3 ventures, and invests in early stage FinTech, Media, Gaming and Crypto based startups.  

Discover the fascinating journey of Anoop, with 14 years of corporate experience, he ventured into the startup world, experiencing three successful exits along the way. 

Free Spirit Ventures, his brainchild, represents his unrestricted approach to investing, where risk capital is injected at the early stages to shape innovative ideas. 

His leadership philosophy revolves around adaptability, recognizing that different situations demand different leadership styles. He supports founders in navigating challenges and shares invaluable insights gained from his own past failures and setbacks. 

In the ever-changing landscape of finance and entrepreneurship, he emphasizes the importance of being agile, flexible, and prepared for both successes and downturns.

You can find Anoop at the below links

In the interview, Anoop shares

  • “Prescreen Venture, a London-based investment firm, specializes in portfolio investments across FinTech, tech, web three, gaming, and media.”
  • “At Free Spirit Ventures, we invest in early-stage ideas and work closely with founders to shape and develop their products.”
  • “The name ‘Free Spirit Ventures’ reflects our risk-taking approach and our willingness to embrace new opportunities.”
  • “In the investment field, adaptability is crucial. We navigate the diverse worlds of finance and entrepreneurship by adjusting our strategies to fit each unique situation.”
  • “Leadership skills are important, but situational leadership is key. We help founders adapt their leadership styles to the specific challenges they face.”
  • “Learning from failures is vital, but success can also present challenges. Allocating resources for both good and bad times is essential for sustainability.”
  • “In times of success, it’s important to strike a balance. Enjoy the moment, but also allocate resources for future expansion or unforeseen challenges.”
  • “Building a sustainable business requires a strong network. Supporting and helping each other within the same network can make navigating tough times easier.”
  • “Coaches and advisors play a crucial role in helping founders navigate challenges. Today’s coaches and advisors bring a wide range of networks and connections to provide effective support.”
  • “As an investment firm, our vision is to carefully manage our current investments while seeking new opportunities that align with our expertise and commitment to growth.”

Investor’s Lens [07] – Bala Kamallakharan – “In order to be a good leader, you need to be a good communicator”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviours, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Bala Kamallakharan is the Founder of Startup Iceland and Managing Director at Iceland Venture Studio. He is also a startup coach, speaker, and 8 time marathon runner.  

Step into the world of Bala as he shares his journey and insights on leadership challenges. His story began when he made a life-changing decision to move from the US to Iceland, seeking a closer connection to family. 

After the Icelandic financial collapse, he took the leap to start his own venture and support founders in building companies. His leadership style is rooted in the idea of servant leadership, where leaders work alongside their team, clearing obstacles and inspiring others to walk the right path. 

As an investor, He emphasizes aligning with founders’ visions and providing support without imposing his own agenda. He values genuine authenticity and aims to build trust with the founders he works with. 

He recognizes that leadership traits are shaped by culture, yet he believes in inspiring others to act and encouraging their growth, regardless of their background. His vision is driven by the joy of seeing the teams he mentors succeed in the marketplace, grow as leaders themselves, and contribute to the betterment of humanity. 

Join Bala on his mission to empower and uplift founders as they navigate the challenging yet rewarding world of entrepreneurship.

You can find Bala at the below links

In the interview, Bala shares

  • “I moved to Iceland, not doing what I do now. I used to work for one of the Icelandic banks. And then the Icelandic financial collapse happened, and then I decided to start my own thing.”
  • “Technology will be a huge leverage, just like capital was. And I felt that, at least to my mind, it was very clear that technology will be a huge leverage.”
  • “Leadership is always about standing in front, inspiring others to walk the way you are walking, or inspiring them to walk the way that you think is right for whatever the context.”
  • “I’m a big fan of the servant leader model. That means you serve them by actually working, not just giving directions.”
  • “Leadership is about inspiring people to volunteer their heart and their mind, and that takes trust and building a genuine relationship.”
  • “In Iceland, captains are not just standing up and giving orders. They actually work with everybody because when you are on the boat in the ocean, you can’t just stand and give orders.”
  • “Leadership is about absorbing a lot of things, pushing forward, and inspiring people to act and move forward. You can’t do that with fear.”
  • “The first rule of investing in venture is you need to have an open mind. There are certain things you know, and there are certain things you don’t know.”
  • “We only work with founders who are mission-driven and are working on hard problems. Our job is to find them, back them, and help them achieve those things.”
  • “What gives me the most joy and satisfaction at the end of the day is to see the teams we work with win in the marketplace and make progress as leaders, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Investor’s Lens [06] – Francisco Badia – “There is a need for meaning in every person”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviours, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Francisco Badia is the Managing Partner at Grow Venture Partners and the author of “Meaningful Entrepreneurship”. he enjoys helping Founders create and grow their companies especially in their early stages.

Step into the fascinating world of venture capital with an insightful interview featuring a seasoned leader, discussing the importance of purpose-driven entrepreneurship and meaningful leadership. 

Meet the charismatic founder of Grow Venture Partners, a Barcelona-based VC firm specializing in tech transfer. With a focus on helping scientists transition from academia to entrepreneurs, their purpose lies in shaping better founders who create both wealth and jobs with a positive impact. 

As you delve deeper, discover the pivotal role of purpose in startup success and failure. Explore the power of listening, bringing people together, and embracing resilience on the entrepreneurial journey. Uncover the unexpected link between meditation, gratitude, and building meaningful companies. 

Gain a glimpse into the investment criteria of Grow Venture Partners, emphasizing deep tech, sustainability, and MedTech. Finally, find out how to reach out to this passionate leader and explore potential collaborations. 

Embark on this captivating interview and gain valuable insights for your own leadership challenges in a friendly and engaging tone.

You can find Francisco at the below links

In the interview, Francisco shares

  • “Our purpose is to shape better founders, helping scientists transition from academia to entrepreneurs, creating wealth and jobs with a positive impact in our world.”
  • “Good leaders have a clear purpose and the ability to transmit that meaningfulness to their team, fostering a collective sense of purpose.”
  • “Leadership is about listening, bringing people together, and empowering those who can do things better than you.”
  • “Startups driven by meaningfulness and purpose exhibit resilience in the face of challenges, setting them apart from those solely motivated by financial gain.”
  • “Understanding an entrepreneur’s why is crucial in discerning whether they are driven by purpose or material success.”
  • “Encouraging founders to write down the purpose of their company and regularly revisit it helps align decision-making and navigate challenging situations.”
  • “Meditation and finding meaning can be transformative for entrepreneurs, providing clarity, resilience, and gratitude.”
  • “Living with thankfulness and adopting a service-oriented mindset is crucial for effective leadership.”
  • “Our venture capital firm invests in deep tech, sustainability energy, and MedTech companies with a focus on impact investing and positive societal change.”
  • “Real transformation requires emotional engagement and action, going beyond intellectual understanding and reading alone.”

Investor’s Lens [05] – Paulina Jänsch – “If you have a bias, you are not a bad person”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviours, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Paulina Jansch is the Founding Partner at Leanox Impact Capital and one of the TOP 100 most influential women in the European VC and startup space. 

In this engaging conversation, she shares her journey and the organic growth of Leanox, a startup consultancy turned venture capital firm. With a background in finance and project management, Paulina brings people together, organizes processes, and evaluates companies based on facts and figures. 

Paulina’s drive to make a difference comes from her involvement in female empowerment, having worked with human trafficked women. The realization that female founders were not getting equal opportunities led her to establish Leanox’s vision of a balanced ecosystem where both male and female founders thrive. 

She emphasizes the importance of education, dialogue, and unlearning biases to achieve equality. The challenges they face include creating a mindset shift and navigating cultural differences when giving feedback. 

Join this insightful interview to gain valuable insights on leadership challenges, impact investing, gender parity, and fostering a culture of open communication. Get inspired to make a difference and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable world. 

You can find Paulina at the below links

In the interview, Paulina shares

  • “We started Leanox because we wanted to become founders again and support startups with financial planning, fundraising strategies, and valuations.”
  • “At Leanox, we invest in early-stage startups that have impact at their core.”
  • “Our vision at Leanox is to achieve gender parity in the startup ecosystem by investing 50% in female founders and raising capital from 50% female investors.”
  • “We believe in educating people about discrimination and biases to create a more inclusive society.”
  • “Supporting each other and seeking mentorship is crucial in fighting against gender inequality and empowering women.”
  • “We support our founders both financially and through our expertise in impact investing.”
  • “Navigating difficult conversations with founders requires cultural sensitivity and adapting feedback styles.”
  • “We create a feedback culture that focuses on highlighting successes and providing constructive feedback for growth.”
  • “Building relationships based on listening and understanding is key to effective communication and collaboration.”
  • “The joy and satisfaction come from working with courageous individuals who strive to make a positive change in the world and seeing our company grow from scratch.”

Investor’s Lens [04] – Rajiv Vaishnav – “My style of management is management by storytelling”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Rajiv Vaishnav is the co-founder and Managing Partner at Cornerstone Venture Partners Fund. He is the Honorary Executive Chairman of Start-ups council of India, and was an integral part of NASSCOM’s senior management team for 13+ years. 

From humble beginnings to working with renowned organizations like Reliance and NASSCOM, Raji’s career has been defined by seizing opportunities and making a difference. With an entrepreneurial spirit, he co-founded Thai, an organization that empowered entrepreneurs in India. 

Rajiv’s leadership evolved through the challenges of working with both small startups and big conglomerates, giving him a unique perspective on leadership. His experiences have shaped his approach to working with founders, emphasizing the importance of self-monitoring, accountability, and taking ownership. 

His management style is rooted in storytelling, using anecdotes and experiences to inspire and guide others. He believes in the power of faith, confidence, and trusting mentors to navigate the unpredictable path of success. 

With a focus on passion, problem-solving, and societal impact, he encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to embark on an inside-out journey, where fulfillment comes hand-in-hand with financial success.

You can find Rajiv at the below links

In the interview, Rajiv shares

  • “I had a very humble beginning coming from a middle-class background, and I always wanted to do some business of my own.”
  • “I have gone with the flow and have no regrets. I was at the right time with the right set of people, and those people have really changed my life.”
  • “Every job I’ve done, I was either the first person in that organization or my boss was not sitting in the next cabin.”
  • “Confidence in yourself and belief in yourself are key factors in leadership and personal growth.”
  • “Leadership and mentorship may sound pompous, but for me, it’s about taking ownership, being self-monitoring, and being accountable for your actions.”
  • “Having faith and trusting your mentors’ advice, even when it seems unconventional, can lead to unexpected opportunities.”
  • “Management by storytelling is my style. I love sharing anecdotes and experiences of life to inspire and guide others.”
  • “The difference between an entrepreneur and an employee lies in the mindset. An entrepreneur is driven by passion to solve societal problems, while an employee’s focus is often on money and fulfillment.”
  • “Success doesn’t come from rushing. It requires balance, faith, and the ability to adapt to unexpected situations.”
  • “The entrepreneurial journey involves co-creating, building products, working with people, and finding solutions that customers are willing to pay for.”

Investor’s Lens [03] – Bryony Cooper – “It is not easy when there is a round table with 20 men and you are the only woman”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviours, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Bryony Cooper  is a startup enthusiast and serial founder-turned-investor. She has led a few tech startups, a venture builder, an accelerator program, and is now a Managing Partner at Arkley Brinc VC. 

Get ready to be inspired by Bryony Cooper, with a background as a tech startup founder and experience in helping startups go from concept to commercialization, she brings a unique perspective to the table. 

Her unconventional journey, rooted in a creative background as a professional singer and writer, sets her apart in the world of venture capitalists.

Drawing from her own experiences and observations, Bryony underscores the significance of broad skill sets in founders and the value of interpersonal skills in addition to technical expertise. Mapping out a clear framework for growth, maintaining open communication, and aligning on company values are key aspects she highlights.

For individuals struggling with confidence, Bryony encourages deliberate practice and stepping outside comfort zones. Understanding one’s worth, believing in oneself, and exuding confidence while remaining humble are crucial factors she advises.

Join Bryony Cooper on her remarkable journey and gain valuable insights to overcome leadership challenges, foster company culture, navigate success and failure, and embrace your own creativity in the ever-evolving startup landscape.

You can find Bryony at the below links

In the interview,  Bryony shares

  • “I ran three tech companies by the age of 30 as CEO, and in between, I also ran a venture builder program helping other early-stage startups.” 
  • “In the tech startup world, you can grow very quickly, and it’s important to establish a company culture early on.” – Bryony Cooper
  • “Having open communication and shared vision with co-founders or management is crucial for the growth and success of a company.” 
  • “Failing makes you learn much faster, and experienced founders who have learned from failure are valuable in the startup ecosystem.” 
  • “Success can be more challenging than failure because it brings new responsibilities and expectations.” – Bryony Cooper
  • “Knowing your own worth, believing in yourself, and carrying confidence into the room are essential for leadership.” 
  • “Practicing pitching, presenting, and public speaking builds confidence and improves communication skills.” 
  • “Humility is just as important as confidence, especially when seeking investments or support for your company.” 
  • “Creativity can be an outlet and a source of energy replenishment for leaders in the business world.” 
  • “Body language plays a significant role in effective communication, and power poses can boost confidence and presence.” 

Investor’s Lens [02] – Anil Joshi – “Your IQ may be very strong but your EQ is a very integral part of your leadership”

This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviors, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Anil Joshi is the Managing Partner at Unicorn India Ventures. Previously, he was heading operations at Mumbai Angels and Bangalore Angels, leading Angel Investment forums in India as President. He is also a mentor with various incubation centres and a speaker on startups and early stage investment.

In this insightful interview, we delve into the extraordinary journey of our guest, who stumbled into the world of startups and strategic investments by accident, only to discover a deep passion for supporting and nurturing innovative ventures. 

From working in India’s largest engine network to collaborating with thought leaders and assisting international businesses in entering the Indian market, their wealth of experience brings invaluable lessons for leaders facing diverse challenges. 

Discover the contrasting leadership styles required in large organizations versus startups, as well as the unique qualities that founders bring to the table, whether they’re seasoned professionals or fresh graduates. 

Get ready to be inspired as we explore the accidental path to success and the joy found in navigating the dynamic startup ecosystem. 

Tune in for a friendly and engaging conversation that will leave you motivated and armed with practical insights for your own leadership journey.

You can find Anil at the below links

In the interview, Anil shares

  • “My journey to where I am today was unplanned and accidental, transitioning from a successful corporate career to strategic investments and becoming part of Mumbai Angels.”
  • “I’ve had a diverse professional background, ranging from working in India’s largest engine network to being a consultant and eventually finding my passion in the startup world.”
  • “I had the opportunity to interact with thought leaders and assist international businesses in establishing their presence in India, which provided invaluable learning experiences.”
  • “I was exposed to the startup ecosystem in India even before it gained significant momentum, giving me a unique perspective on its growth and development.”
  • “As an investor, I’ve witnessed the contrasting leadership styles required in large organizations versus startups, and understand the challenges faced by founders in building effective leadership teams.”
  • “In startups, founders often play multiple roles, taking on responsibilities from CEO and CMO to HR and finance, until the organization matures and a proper leadership structure can be established.”
  • “Supporting young founders, who may lack experience but possess great potential, is a crucial aspect of my role as an investor. Providing guidance and acting as a sounding board helps them navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.”
  • “Every founder brings unique qualities to the table, whether they have years of industry experience or are fresh out of college. Both groups benefit from learning, making mistakes, and developing their leadership skills over time.”
  • “My current role in strategic investment and being part of Mumbai Angels was never planned, but it has become my passion. The accidental nature of my journey has allowed me to thrive in identifying promising ventures and working with them.”
  • “Being exposed to the startup world and witnessing the growth and success of innovative companies brings me immense joy and a sense of gratitude. It’s a reminder that when you love what you do, excellence follows naturally.”