Enjoy an inside look into Isha Insight 2016, a 4-day Business Leadership Intensive held at Isha Yoga Center. This year’s speakers and key resource leaders included Arundhati Bhattacharya, Ajay Piramal, Hon. Minister Smriti Irani and many more.

As the morning mist slowly inches up the side of the Velliangiri mountains, a quiet hum of activity fills the Isha Yoga Center as preparations are made for the Isha Insight 4-day Business Leadership Intensive commencing later that day.

Ambience of Insight

At the entrance to the Spanda Hall stands a volunteer, greeting everyone with hands folded in “Namaskaram”. The beautiful courtyard and pavilion of Spanda Hall is filled with food counters and tables. Breakfast and dinners during the program took place at the Spanda Hall venue, amongst the lotus ponds and occasional visiting peacock.

With the lawns lit up in evening and a wide array of food on offer, accompanied by live music from Sounds of Isha and other cultural performances, dinner was a relaxed and festive affair with participants milling about and interacting long after they had eaten. Over the 4 days, participants enjoyed a taste of the ashram ambience with visits to consecrated spaces, as well as performances from Isha Samskriti and Isha Home School students. Several short films on Isha and its activities were shared over the three days, to give the participants a glimpse into the depth and breadth of the organisation.

Insight Begins

A short walk away from Spanda Hall is the main Insight program venue, the magnificent Adiyogi Alayam. On day one, participants were greeted upon entry with garlands and shown to their assigned seats at the various tables. Many excitedly shared with each other that the experience was already so different, a sentiment that was oft repeated over the next two days.

Moderator B S Nagesh kicked off the program with a bang and kept the energy levels high through the program. A firm eye on the clock and the agenda, balanced by a quick wit, kept the program going on schedule, with lots of laughter amid intense focus.

The 206 participants were joined by 21 resource leaders, each an eminent achiever in his or her own field. Over the course of the program and during the breaks, the participants took the opportunity to mingle and interact with all the resource leaders, not just the leader assigned to their table.

Untruth to Truth

Every session conducted by Sadhguru commenced with the chant of “Asatoma Sadgamaya”, essentially, as Sadhguru explained, as a reminder that our journey is from untruth to truth, from conducting our lives in ways that don’t work to the way it works, from darkness to light. “Even as you focus on business issues,” said Sadhguru, “you should focus on what is within, to access an intelligence beyond intellect, an intelligence that will make life into play”.

Former Dean of INSEAD and Kellogg School of Management, Dr. Dipak Jain, provided framework and context for the program’s endeavour. His query on challenges faced received answers ranging from uncertainty in business to lack of authenticity, to corruption, to sustainability, to creating new leaders. He gave participants the LOVE framework – learning, opportunity, value and ethics. He also dwelt on value creation, shared anecdotes of learnings from Milton Friedman and gave examples of leading organisations in which citizen-driven purpose reigned over profits.

SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya and industrialist Ajay Piramal served as key resource leaders. Both impressed and inspired the participants with their clarity, humility, personal reflections and honesty. While Smt. Bhattacharya emphasised team work and the importance of carrying people with you, Mr. Piramal spoke of being aware and grabbing opportunities, and of owners acting like trustees and letting go to maximise value for the beneficiaries. Both spoke of value-centric leadership and participated in a vibrant Q & A session, sharing tips with the keenly listening participants.

In addition to the above, the program also hosted sessions by eminent professionals and entrepreneurs Vinita Bali, Kunal Shah and Rahul Narayan, who shared their experiences and perspectives. On the first day of the program, Vinita Bali spoke about leadership as a verb, not a title, and integrating social responsibility into one’s business. Free Charge Founder Kunal Shah talked on the nature of start-ups, building trust and creating real solutions for the Indian market rather than imitating the west. In an evening session on the 3rd day, Rahul Narayan inspired the participants to shoot for the moon by sharing the story so far of Team Indus in their quest to design, develop and build a spacecraft capable of a soft lunar landing by 2017.

The business-focused sessions were also interspersed with the learning of introductory yoga practices and meditation processes guided by Sadhguru. As Sadhguru said, “If you believe what you do is important, the first thing to do is to work on yourself”.

Sadhguru also offered his own insights, giving the participants a very different perspective on how to look at life, their work and themselves. They asked Sadhguru questions ranging from his own personal experience to bhakti yoga to handling criticism. Sadhguru also joined in conversations with the speakers and key resource leaders. One such much-awaited session took place with Sadhguru alongside Honorable Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani. Though known for her fiery orations, Insight participants witnessed her humble, charming, and down-to-earth side, while still wowing all with her quick wit and articulation. She answered questions ranging from the experience of being a female leader, her values and future aspirations, to her views on Indian textiles and balancing different roles.

Participants broke away to attend workshops on various topics including brand architecture, customer centricity and talent development. These workshops were conducted by various resource leaders and eminent leaders in these fields who flew in especially to share their insider wisdom. On the final evening, the resource leaders that conducted the workshops shared the summary learnings from their sessions, and Dr. Dipak Jain then came forward with Sadhguru to put all this in context of the framework. All the participants then collaborated with their resource leaders on key action points and takeaways.

The evening ended with a festive dinner on the grounds of Isha Home School, under the starry skies above the Velliangiri Mountains. Students of the school treated the participants with an evening of enchanting musical performances.

On the final morning of the program, participants trekked out to join Sadhguru for an intimate session in a natural setting, where questions touched on business but also delved into the spiritual and profound aspects of life.

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