Isha INSIGHT 2019 Day 2: Trendsetters and Trailblazers
Day 2 of Isha INSIGHT 2019 was peppered with fiery inspirational stories from real entrepreneurs, prodigious insights shared by Rta Kapur Chisti, Ajay Kaul and Anand Kumar Bajaj, and gritty hands-on sessions led by seasoned resource leaders.
219 corporate leaders from 17 states and 12 countries come together to learn how to scale up their business as well as themselves, all set to a theme inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of vibrant Gujarat.
The greying sky and incessant drizzle can do little to dampen the rejuvenated spirit of participants as Day 2 of Isha INSIGHT dawns. With dawn yet to break, gentle rhythmic drumbeats goad sleeping participants to awaken and bend it like a yogi. Despite the weather, there are a surprising number of takers.
Stranger No More
Breakfast is a noisy affair – there are no strangers in the room. As one of the participants shared, “We came for a leadership program, so we thought we’ll have typical rooms, conferences... and when we came here, it was different. It was a lesson that people segregate professional and personal life. We came here and saw that there’s only life.” And just one. With no room for strangers. Ergo, no strangers in the room. “Trust me, this place has some magic in it,” she concludes.
The day starts with a recap of yesterday as the participants do some serious soul searching. At the end of 45 minutes, they’ve gathered an astonishing number of insights from yesterday’s sessions: Using failure to strengthen resolve; establishing core business values; asking for help when it’s needed and everything in between.
“I realized that I had set my boundaries too early in life and I shouldn’t have. That is an insight in hindsight, I would say,” Anand Kumar Bajaj tells his audience during his talk about his journey from a banker to an entrepreneur. An ardent advocate of what he terms co-creation, Bajaj, who was appointed Chief Innovation Officer by YES Bank, says innovation is collaboration. It was the hunger to innovate that led him to conceptualize a banking service for the marginalized and under-served sections of India. “We serve the people who serve you – plumbers, drivers, masons, painters, maids,” says Bajaj. These are mostly migrant workers who send money back home every month. They often stand in long queues for hours to complete the transaction. Bajaj’s financial technology service makes a difference to the quality of their lives, helping them complete transactions with ease, speed and accuracy.
Next, it’s the Resource Leaders’ turn to step up and help participants navigate through the more immediate and personal challenges of leadership – everyday challenges such as hiring the right people, conquering fear, scaling with sense, knowing whom to put on their boards. The questions are pertinent, urgent and numerous, making the participants and Resource Leaders roll up their sleeves and dig in on Day 2 after testing the waters yesterday.
After the intense pre-lunch sessions, it’s time to lighten up after a bite. Isha Samskriti students take to stage again today to deliver a breathtakingly graceful classical dance performance. Then, it’s back to the table as participants work to carve out key takeaways from the morning sessions before welcoming the next speaker, Rta Kapur Chisti, a textile scholar who is working to save the unique weaves of India while also giving a voice to the historically sidelined but highly talented Indian weavers.
A Trailblazing Story Of Guts And Gumption
Can you imagine getting the attention of the PMO, the Petroleum Ministry and Ratan Tata, to enable your start-up? A passionate young entrepreneur couple committed to making a difference in the lives of others have managed to do just that. Aditi and Chetan are returning to Isha INSIGHT after two years and amazingly, Aditi remembers the insights from her own INSIGHT program. Her three-month-old start-up with a 50 Crore Rupees turnover in just three months has floored even the doyen of Indian business, Ratan Tata who has invested in her venture to build a mobile distribution network that will deliver fuel to the doorstep. She is living proof that throwing your heart and soul into whatever you do will create magic – something she heard Sadhguru say at INSIGHT two years ago.
She remembers Sadhguru’s words from the previous INSIGHT: “Don’t build a company like an organization, build it like an organism.” She shares that she has done just that with her start-up with extraordinary results. “Actually when I came back here yesterday, I felt a sense that this place has made us,” she says with gratitude. Chetan says their team starts the day with Sadhguru’s meditation at the office. At 26, Aditi is one of the youngest participants but when she is done, the audience is simply overwhelmed. Her partner Chetan joins her on stage and the couple get a sustained standing ovation.
Talking about the culture of her organization, Aditi Walunj, Founder-Director, @reposenergy India openly shared, “We started from 2 and we are 250 people today. We have no reporting system in the organization; we have a meditation culture across our 4 offices.” #IshaINSIGHT 2019 pic.twitter.com/MiBfLF6UF4— Isha Leadership Academy (@IshaLeadership) November 28, 2019
The last session of the day is led by Ajay Kaul who moderates a discussion on brand building, customer care and what it takes to keep a brand and business in the front and centre of people’s minds in a saturated market that is spoilt for choice.
After a refreshing session of Chit Shakti meditation guided by Sadhguru’s voice, the participants are in for a surprise treat – Adiyogi Divya Darshanam, a light and sound projection mapping show that is so spectacular that it transports people to a different realm in time. This is certainly not something one expects in a leadership retreat and the participants are at a loss for words to describe the experience.
As participants walked back from Adiyogi, a delicious spread of Gujarati and South Indian fare awaited their return but what took them most by surprise was a sight of 100s of oil lamps strewn across the lawns, glimmering and dancing in the cool November breeze. #IshaINSIGHT 2019 pic.twitter.com/C2Ohqzm8t2— Isha Leadership Academy (@IshaLeadership) November 29, 2019
And The Verdict Is...
Anjali Rajagopal has been in the start-up industry for a decade and has attended and conducted plenty of leadership programs. “But INSIGHT is just completely out of the ordinary,” she says. “Such a treasure trove of experiences that we can take back, the warmth that you experience, all the volunteers out here, the way the entire program is conducted... people have opened themselves up to a deeper listening and learning.”
As the participants make their way back to their cottages after a delectable moonlight dinner, the anticipation of Day 3 hangs in the air like an unasked question. After the first two days, they know that they can only expect the unexpected. So what will Day 3 hold? Stay tuned to find out!
Editor's Note: For regular updates about the on-going Isha INSIGHT 2019, visit Isha Leadership Academy’s Twitter page.