Sandeep Jethwani

Why We Make Bad Investment Decisions?

Why We Make Bad Investment Decisions?

Sandeep Jethwani

Co-Founder at Dezerv

Sandeep Jethwani

Introducing Sandeep Jethwani, a renowned investment manager and co-founder of Dezerv, an innovative wealth management firm that provides simplified investment solutions for working professionals in India.

As the son of two PSU bankers, Sandeep grew up with a deep understanding of the importance of managing money well. After graduating from IIM Bangalore, he embarked on a 17-year career managing wealth for India’s ultra-wealthy across different industries and geographies.

However, Sandeep felt restless because he knew that most Indian working professionals did not have access to the same level of expertise and investment opportunities as the ultra-wealthy. Many people either did not invest or invested ad-hoc, leading to poor long-term returns.

Determined to solve this problem, Sandeep and his team at Dezerv offer an investment management program designed to cater to the investment needs of Indian working professionals. With Dezerv, you can invest in expert-managed mutual fund portfolios, market-linked debentures, and early-stage businesses or startups alongside top VCs and founders.

In just one year, Dezerv manages over 1400+ crores of assets for their clients. With their wealth check-up app, you can receive a comprehensive assessment of your investment portfolio from top financial experts in India and get recommendations on how to optimize your investments.

Take home these learnings:

1. Indian mindset towards finance management
2. Relation between emotions and financial habits
3. Myths about entreprenuership
4. Basics of wealth management

Listen to the specific part


Episode Transcript:

Opening Lines: The biggest myth is that entrepreneurs know what they're doing. one of the things that I feel is from outside in the world, makes entrepreneurs seem like demigods, or some super humans, right? Where that entrepreneurs are doing so much and the study other. And therefore, you begin to think that, am I the right like, I understand the business aspect of things, I understand how to build teams, etc. But do I have what it takes to go through this particular journey, right, and to call myself an entrepreneur, to call myself an entrepreneur, b We believe that folks like you and me work really hard on a day to day basis to accumulate capital, for our families for the aspirations that we have. India inherently is a very aspirational country, right today, transforming from hopefully, I mean, where we are low per capita income country to potentially a larger per capita income country, right? The question was that our Do we truly get what we deserve when it comes to our investments? what's the connection between finance and emotions? Especially in a country like India? 95% of the finance is behaviors, is how we think as human beings. Okay? Everything that our evolution has got us to this point, is actually what is influencing our investment decisions, right? We are not rational people, we are not people who are completely dispassionate when it comes to money. Everyone's situation is fundamentally different. Fear and greed cycle, Gaurav is classic 00:03 Thank you so much Sandeep. Such a pleasure having you here. So finally, you are here on this podcast next month, Dr. 00:11 Yagoda. Thanks so much for having me. And great to be here. I know it's been a long time in the making, but I'm hoping the conversation will be worth your while. 00:20 I'm sure I'm sure it took us some time. Yeah, a lot of to and fro a lot of back and forth. And finally, you're here. I'm absolutely honored to have you, Sandeep, thank you so much for making time for this conversation. 00:34 Yeah, thanks for thinking about 00:37 it. You know, Sunday. Whatever little I've known about you the research that we could do, the people that I could interact with all the posts that I have followed on your LinkedIn, I found your soul grounded, I found you so sincere in what you're doing. I'm appalled. I believe that, you know, our childhood plays a very vital role in helping us become who we are. Just curious, what are those traits that you have picked up from your childhood that you continue to cherish and leverage today as well? 01:16 So what am I just a little bit of context, about the childhood, and I grew up in a middle class background, my parents were both public sector bankers. I was born in Napa, lived there for the first 1015 1012 years of my life, and then moved to Bombay. And I think the first big inflection point in life was that relocation, because when you're moving from a small town to a big city, you're suddenly thrown in the fall. So I was, as a student, I was doing really well, in Napa, when I moved to Bombay, suddenly, I realized that the world is much tougher than it was very humbling experience at that point. And I think that was one of the things that made a huge difference to how I approached everything. And I continued being an awkward, I would have probably had a massive chip on my shoulder, etc. But Mumbai, is really humbling for the best of people. So that was one thing. The second thing was that mom and dad were, and all have always been about hard work about consistency of effort, as a family, it was all about like, moving ahead one step at a time. Doing Right, and then you know, benefiting from it. So I think some of those cultural values that came from my parents were very, very important. Because, you know, from their perspective, also, their life was a series of progressive events, things that took them one step ahead. Because their parents came to India, when the partition happened. And sort of, from relatively affluent background, in the undivided India, to coming to India when have nothing and literally like staying in a, almost like a slum kind of situation. And then building back your life from there is what they saw. And they were like, trying to inculcate their that into us that they wanted us to have a better life than what they had. And I think some of those things that the sense of aspiration that we have to do better work really hard. I think those were learnings from, from their sort of lives that I still continue, and even today, I think they are like, they want us to be aspirational. They want we are three brothers, they want us to, like do better and work hard and do what is right. So I think some of those things come from the come from parents. And the other thing was this whole switch from poor to Mumbai. 03:57 Yeah, yeah. Thank you for sharing. You know, there's so many aspects of your life Sunday that I can relate to, I come from very similar background. And the other day, I was talking to my father, where he was talking about that, how he came back, how many or how he came to India from a small village called Bela in Pakistan. Okay, and he was just reciting few of the memories that there was a mountain where he would say something and the voice would echo back. Yeah. And he would say barrio Polly para mom para por que que de ma, and the echo would say TV Ma. And that's the kind of that's the kind of stories that he would share with me. And I could also relate to the other part of your life when you said, when you shared that, from Nagpur to Mumbai, I did my engineering by the way from Marco Priyadarshini College. 04:48 Nice. And 04:52 Nakamura has a very different charm at the same time, but I think the challenges and exposure that Mumbai provides seal. I don't think that is that was there at that point in time and not but now, I've heard that Nagpur has grown several folds, it has developed multi folds. So yeah. Yeah, absolutely. 05:12 I think I think small cities have their charm. And when you juxtapose that with a big city hustle, I think together, you get something very, very unique. 05:27 So to tell me more about, you know, when you when you spoke about transition, what does transition mean to you, when you when you when you transition from Narco to Mumbai, a new world opened up for you? What are the different emotions that you went through during that transition? I'm sure there was a sense of loss. And then there was an excitement of something new. Yeah, I think 05:52 one of the things that has stayed with me is this whole sense of discomfort that you first have. discomfort, maybe is a mild word. But actually, internally, there's a lot of upheaval happening, that you're not only giving up your social circle, but your comfort zone, your reputation. Also, you're sort of starting from scratch all over again. And I think that was a period which sort of formed me made me into a much more sort of responsible, stable human being. So I always think of it like when sort of something is put under pressure, that's when it turns into diamond. Right. And I think that is truly transformative, in the sense that transformation is a combination of two things. First, is a combination of pressure and sort of what is seen as stress, tough, times cetera. And then what comes out of it, and how do you hone that. So I think it's both a tough period and a positive period put together. For me, I think that is one of the things now that it's almost become addictive, that once you get to a point in life, where things are stable, and everything is going fine. You're like, Okay, now what can I do differently? Like how can you, 07:12 you look for those kinds of environments, where you know that once you respond to that environment in a particular way, you would get transformed. So we get addicted to meeting. 07:27 Exactly, it's almost like slightly sadistic if you like, you want to put yourself through trouble again, to get ahead in life, like, because you know that good things only come out of when you put yourself in uncomfortable situations, like there is no progress without discomfort, like that's a given. Right? And if therefore there is comfort, that means there is potentially less progress, right? So at every stage, and this is sort of happened in multiple, like, are now four or five times in my life, where I felt that if I'm getting comfortable, I get concerned that Am I growing? Am I stagnating, and therefore, let's do something which is different. 08:05 Beautiful, you know, Sunday, would love to talk about this. Not during this conversation, but some other time. If that's the belief that I'm living my life from. Am I actually living? Because what I'm listening right now is unless I'm going through difficult times, I'm not going. Yeah, so difficult times is equal to growth. Yeah, I remember I had a very similar belief. And even when things are coming to me or competitively in the easier way, I would start to question and I would unnecessarily start to create things difficult around me. Is that the is it the universal belief that I need to live from? I don't know. So that's a conversation that I'll have definitely would love to have with you some other time. Because if I'm always looking for difficulties in my life, when am I living? Yes, those are the questions that I have. But I'll come to that some other time. Let's take one step forward. And you know, just curious. Sandeep, you spoke about that. You come from a background where both the parents were working? What led you to get into entrepreneurship? 09:17 I think it was this whole thing. So in my previous role, obviously, he was doing well and had achieved a certain sort of stature within the company. There was a certain amount of financial growth that had happened alongside it. The question was that now at that time, when I was rethinking my whole career journey, I was 39. The question was that I have this next 2025 years of real hard work ahead of me. How can I make it really more valuable and non valuable in terms of capital because I think capital follows effort. The question was that is there something meaningful that I can do With my time, right? And that sort of sense of the fact that now I'm very comfortable with what I'm doing. And I to put myself through discomfort to achieve the next thing to grow as an individual to learn aspects, which end today don't have as a part of my personality. I think that was the whole motivation. And the catalyst was actually one of my co founders, Weber, who, one day sat me down and said, Sandeep, why are you not breaking out of this? Like, you have the potential, we collectively can build something big. Let's go for it. And that became the catalyst. So there was discomfort that with the comfort that I had, but now you need a trigger, you need a point at which you Okay, when you say, Okay, now I need to wake up and smell the coffee. That was a moment, which is when we had a had a chat with me. And then that's when we got on with that. I'll just add one more thing, or it was triggered by our company going public, also, like previous company that we founded in 2008. went public and 2019. And that's when you start thinking about okay, now what's next in life? Like, what do you do? 11:01 Let me smell my coffee. Yeah. So the coffee. Yeah. 11:07 So that that, for me was the moment at which we decided that we will do something together. At that time, the idea was very amorphous. Broadly, we knew that we understand one business in India, which is investment management, how do we build something large, meaningful, scalable, in investment management with the right culture, all of those things were important for us now. And that was then this was sometime in late 2019. When that conversation was happening, it was actually I'll just add one more thing, or it was triggered by our company going public, also, like previous company that we founded in 2008. went public and 2019. And that's when you start thinking about okay, now what's next in life? Like, what do you do? 11:56 Yeah, yeah. And what was those initial hiccups, inhibitions, hesitations feels that you dealt with? 12:07 have, I think it was a journey of self confidence building? Right? Like, you know, one of the things that I feel is from outside in the world, makes entrepreneurs seem like demigods, or some super humans, right? Where that entrepreneurs are doing so much and the study other. And therefore, you begin to think that, am I the right like, I understand the business aspect of things, I understand how to build teams, etc. But do I have what it takes to go through this particular journey, right, and to call myself an entrepreneur, to call myself an entrepreneur, because there is so much like attached to that word, especially when you look from outside and from social media perspective, etc. That sometimes I think we overcomplicated life, right? We make like this so much of all of this media glorification around entrepreneurs start believing that what like, am I even like, can I ever be like that? Right? And you start doing that? Yeah. And that's when, you know, one of the sort of unfair advantages we had in my previous role, I was a wealth manager. And as wealth managers, you meet a lot of entrepreneurs, and you get to sit down with them. And after a point and get comfortable, you can have candid conversations. And that's when, you know, the realization struck that they were normal people like you and me, right? And they were like, doing their thing. They were working really hard. And success comes over a period of time. And I think that made sort of emboldened us, and we actually had a bunch of conversations with some of these entrepreneurs. And one thing that, you know, one person told me, he said that if you've even thought about this aspect, that you want to become more independent and start something, you're already on that path. Now you can't hold back. Because either if you pull back, you will have this regret thing all your life. Most people will now jump in. So now that you've even though thought has crossed your mind, and the fact that you're having this conversation with me, means that you should now get into this process. So I think that was the one big thing where you felt that okay, entrepreneurs are people like us, and we can also achieve it. 14:32 Yeah, you know, this actually reminds me of, of a poem by Khalil Gibran, I'm sure you would have read that it's known as fear. You know, the poem goes like this. It is said that before entering the sea or river trembles with fear, she looks back at the path she has traveled from the peaks of the mountains, the long winding road crossing forests and villages. Yeah, and in fact, and awful. She sees an ocean so vast, that to enter, there seems nothing more than to disappear forever. But there is no other way. The river cannot go back, nobody can go back to go back is impossible in existence. That's how the poem goes. And while I was listening to you, while I was listening to you, it just came to me that the very thought that you would like to do something of your own. You cannot pull back. Yeah. You're not pulled back. Yeah, 15:40 absolutely. And you know, then that becomes your life's mission. Even if you might not be doing it. At that point, everything that you're working towards today is building towards that, right. So maybe 2019, we actually exited this company in 2021, so close to you. But during those two years, everything that I was doing was a step in that direction. Sometimes self development, which I strongly believe in is very important, like, what are the gaps in your knowledge base stroke personality that you need to either complement be aware of or work on? Those are things that this building that awareness for me in that those two years was very important, whatever, therefore, kind of people that you will work with, or co founders that you will work with? Who will complement your skill sets? Who have a skill sets that you don't? And just asking that question. So I think that became like a step by step. And COVID gave us the big opportunity where we could actually step back. And it was an eye opening event in our lives, right? We all remember it for all of our lives. And what happened in those first few months of the lockdown when you were sitting at home. You were facing you were hearing of all of this news about people dying, etc, you begin to question what is my life really worth? Right? What am I like, when I look back? What would I have said that I have done? Or have I worked on the passions that I have in life? Yeah. So I think COVID was like, in a sense of an overall very negative event, a lot of people got hurt, and families got destroyed. But for us, it was like that moment where we could move forward because of that. 17:26 Yeah. And I could relate to that. I think that's who you are Sunday, because you mentioned that when the environment is forcing you or there are difficulties around you. How you respond to that helps you become who you are. You also spoke about some data about life's mission. Just curious. First question, How did you come up with the name deserve with a Zed Z in between the Zed e RV? And what's the philosophy or the mission behind that? 18:00 So the philosophy actually got to was very simple. We believe that folks like you and me work really hard on a day to day basis to accumulate capital, for our families for the aspirations that we have. India inherently is a very aspirational country, right today, transforming from hopefully, I mean, where we are low per capita income country to potentially a larger per capita income country, right? The question was that our Do we truly get what we deserve when it comes to our investments? The challenge in India for us was that there were a lot of people who were creating meaningful surpluses in their portfolios, but did not have the kind of hand holding or support that they deserved. So that was the emotion that led to the name. deserve. We all have worked so hard. We've spent time away from our families and our loved ones to build what we have, we deserve better than what we are currently getting. So that was first thing and obviously, the exact spelling, etc, was driven by what domain names were available and Google's etc. But the emotion was that of an aspirational aspect that we want to get better with what we do. 19:27 Yeah, and what we deserve. What we deserve. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Something you know, since you're talking about emotion, and I told you, I come from our lower middle class family, very humbling background. I think with that comes the charm of living with your family members, your brothers and your sisters, those fights and those laughters continue to shape us who we are. The emotion that comes to my mind when I think of finance is risk. And especially for people who come from a middle class family, as much as I choose to believe that I deserve this, and I deserve better than that. Along with that every time when I think of finance money, there's a hidden risk. There's a field that I continue to deal with that, what if I lose everything that I have? What's your take on that? And what's the connection between finance and emotions? Especially in a country like India? 20:34 You know, there's a, there's a great writer around finance, his name is Morgan Housel is a very popular book on psychology of money. Yeah. And there's one line which which he's written, which says that personal finance is more about personal than about finance, right? The unfortunate part is finances taught as a thing about numbers, man statistics. Yeah. Whereas actually, that's just maybe 5% of the reality. 95% of the finance is behaviors, is how we think as human beings. Okay? Everything that our evolution has got us to this point, is actually what is influencing our investment decisions, right? We are not rational people, we are not people who are completely dispassionate when it comes to money. Everyone's situation is fundamentally different. So like you said, there are people who have concerns that if I make this investment, and things go wrong, what will happen to my life, what will happen to generations where I'll be able to support their growth in education and health? What will happen to my retirement. And I think, truly being cognizant of that is the first hallmark of a great investment managing. One of the things that we are very focused on is the fact that we should not lose more money for our user or client than what they can sleep with. And this comes from our real experience of living through 2008 crisis, when even the wealthiest of people at the bottom of the market when market had fallen 60 70% portfolios were down. So imagine you're invested five crores you will have a one crore or something like that, right? At that point, people have turned around and told me that Sandeep, I never want to invest in equity, please move all that money that remaining one crore into fixed income or fixed deposits. And I will tell them that but you will be immortalizing the loss, you're booking the loss. And now you're in a situation where for one to go back to five, will take you maybe two decades. Whereas if you just stay invested, you can actually recover it in a few years. Every single one of those conversations ended in the client saying that I'll move money to fixed income. I don't want I I can't deal with the stress. 23:15 Right? Yeah. Is it the fear of loss is greater than the excitement of the gains that they might have? But I think isn't that isn't the same psychology or gambler lives his life from? What's the difference between a gambler who's gambling and someone who is who has gone hard on money and investing in all these investments. 23:42 So I think that fear and greed cycle, Gaurav is classic, right? So during the when the markets are going up, everyone feels good. Because not only are the markets going up everything around your life assuming positive, your salaries are going up. Yeah, you're you're getting more job offers, you're hearing great news in the newspapers, you're feeling genuinely good about yourself, you feel that the home is in a good place, I'm getting better, right? Yeah. When things are down, not only is your portfolio down, but you're facing job losses you're hearing laid off and all negative news right exacerbated. Therefore, I think the job of a wealth manager is to So, one of the few questions that we try and test when we engage with investors is what truly is the loss that this investor can handle somebody in the peak of the markets, they will say that I can handle 25% loss we can ask this question in various ways to figure out what is the real loss and sometimes we realize that okay, this person can handle only a 10% loss and therefore, the portfolio is created. From that perspective, when is the biggest damage or when will people make the worst decisions is when the loss in their portfolio is more than that they can tolerate that time is rationality takes over fear takes over. So making sure that you assess what is the loss rate and building a portfolio to control for that is actually the real job of a wealth manager or an investment manager. India is a great market long term, you will make money if you do the right things. But if you lose more money than you can handle, you will make the worst decisions at that point of your life. 25:27 Yeah, I can relate to that. Because when the person is going to the cycle, which is down, and that is where a person's ability to think, rationally, you get sampled, the person gets blinded with his fear and tries to protect everything she or he's left with. So 25:49 yeah, sorry, foobar, millions of years of other human beings have operated in jungles where there was life threatening issues that were happening, right? If they were attacked by let's say, a tiger and what what is the first instinct that that time the brain shuts down and your instinct is flight? There's one from this situation, right? And that's exactly what happens when it comes to investing. I know you're faced with a portfolio, which has fallen much more than you can handle. Your primal instincts will take over a flight. Let's get out and run from here. Right? Yeah, yeah. And that I think is something that we need to be cognizant of as we are going through those emotions. Also. 26:36 Just curious, in that situation, I'm sure you would have somebody in your team who is considered to be the top wealth manager. What traits, what traits behaviors the person has, that allows him or her to take care of their clients. 27:00 At the worst points in you know, the market situation when the portfolio is down. A lot of wealth managers go into a shell themselves. So we'll spend a minute on the wealth manager psychology, yeah, what is the wealth manager faced with his or her own portfolios down. So he is he or she is also depressed, he or she knows that if they call the client, the client will be upset with them. So they do not call the client. And in a way, they try and shrink back into their zone and hopeless blow. That is the absolute worst thing that you can do as a wealth manager, precisely. A great wealth manager may not talk to their clients when markets are up. But they will talk to the client every single day that the market is down, it will over communicate, they will reach out, they will talk about how the client is feeling sometimes own even if you only give a client an opportunity to speak their mind, you are giving doing a great service to them. 28:10 Right just by talking to them or communicating with them 28:14 over communicating or simply just listening. Yeah, what does? What does the client want to know? client wants to know is that a well meaning person is on the job on my portfolio at all points of time. That's all that every client wants to be reassured with markets are down, but I'm on it. I'm working for you. I'm forgetting what to do, right. But unfortunately, what happens is wealth managers shrink back into a shell at that point of time. What for me separates a great wealth manager from somebody who's not is how they behave when markets are down, and how they engage with the client at that time, everything else during bull markets, etc. is all good. 28:58 Yeah, yeah. You know, this reminds me of my conversation with Rajesh, who is the country head for perfect India. And this, this conversation happened during the COVID times COVID Just hit and I remember my conversation with him in the month of August 2019. It was almost like five, six months, we have pure already in the pitch dark space in the history of humanity. And it's and how are you managing that he said, something so remarkable and so profound, and I can connect with what you're talking about right now, is that I ensure that I speak to 10 people from my organization on daily basis. And then I'm saying that I'm talking to 10 people, this is irrespective of whether they are reporting into me directly or not. I'm talking to the team members in the organization. And he said that I've spoken to the janitors. I've spoken to the office boys, I've spoken to the people who are working at the grassroot level, and I've spoken to the vice presidents I've spoken to The marketing heads as well, I just want to communicate and want to let them know that I'm here we are together. Yeah. And I think that's exactly what you are talking about. And that is where communication is so very important. Sunday, thank you for bringing that aspect of a manager of a leader of a fellow human being, I guess. 30:25 You know, there are two parts on it when say leadership and wealth management or leadership and sales. One very common thing is the assumption with communication is it's that as a leader or salesperson, you are communicating, or you are speaking. But communication as a great leader, or a salesperson is about listening. And just doing that, I think is is 90% of the battle. 30:54 I think listening is a gift that you can give to anyone. And I often share in my interactions, as I listen to the other person as if you're listening to the universe, nature or God. And when I know that I'm talking to God, right now, when I know that I'm listening to universe, why would I open my mouth? I will listen to you. [Add Midroll Here] Sandeep, let's take one step forward in the FinTech industry, where you are operating in, I think security, confidentiality is paramount. You cannot compromise on that. Yeah. Now, what do you think? What is the role of a manager? What is the role of a leader to ensure that all the team members in her team in his team, they address the confidentiality and security at the same time, there has to be transparency that has to be maintained in the system? And it's a it's like walking on a tightrope 31:57 of I think this is a very interesting thing, because you know, one of the fundamental things that deserve we believe in is transparency, I think, deserve wouldn't exist. If so, one thing that we went through this process of data democratization of what is data, democratization, the entire firm's p&l, growth, assets under management month on month on month, is visible to every single individual in the company. And the belief that it stems from is that given that every single individual in the company is a shareholder in the company, because of the SOPs that they own, the company is responsible to them as shareholders. So as shareholders you are you have the right to know what is going on with your company, right. So we think of it as our duty therefore, to share this data, so that that in itself galvanizes, everyone, because it makes them feel a part of the mission. Sometimes we obviously share our successes, but we also share our failures in the part of that, right. And one concern that everyone had going and that if we share our failures, what if people lose comfort in the vision of deserve? But in fact, what I've seen is the exact opposite. Yeah, when people say that, okay, this is a problem we're facing, I'll let me help you. I'll figure this out. Okay. And then it just sort of gets the entire company going. Right. So that was the transparency aspect, like you rightly said in the business that we are in confidentiality, not sharing client data not talking about is this whole very important thing, but at the very base of it, you have to see, there's two ways of addressing that you have to say that this is the company's policies, security protocols, SOPs, etc. That's one way of thinking about and that's required. We are undergoing ISO certification. So all of that is required, and it's important. But why are we doing that is more important, and that stems for us from customer centricity? I am the custodian of the customer's information precisely. And because we want to do right by the customer, because it's good for our business if I do right for the customer. Or we have to do various things, including confidentiality. So once this communication is clear that customer centricity is important, then a lot of things become clear. You can shave a lot of things in business model around it. I'll give you one example of something that we we are doing on this side, we said that, what is it that customers want when they deal with a wealth manager in the context of the fees that the wealth manager charges When you spoke to a bunch of customers, people said one thing that I don't mind paying fees if I make money. So we said this here is an insight for us. What is the customer telling us, the customer is telling us that they are willing to share their upside with us if there is upside, but if there is no upside, they don't want us to make money. And therefore, our largest portfolio management structures are under zero fixed fee is only a share of profit. And that's like a new thing in this industry. How do I make that business model work? For me as a company is the second thing, right. And I need to figure that out. That is my challenge as a business leader to figure out how this will be economically viable for the company. And I think so therefore, transparency, and customer centricity have to go together. And everything that you do as a business, therefore derives from customer centricity, confidentiality of the customer's data is one part of that. Security of Information is one part of that we have over invested in security, I mean, arguably, one criticism or deserve could be that as a company of our scale, why are we investing so much capital in? But I feel that if we do right by the customer, the customer will reward us with better business in the long run? Yeah. 36:28 Just out of curiosity, I'm sure when you're bringing these kind of ideas in the system, you will have disagreements as well. Yeah. Right. I'm a firm believer that disagreements are a very important, a very integral part of any team, any system. How do you ensure as a leader, as a co founder, as a manager, as a team member, that all those disagreements are leading to innovations and better solutions, rather than creating bitterness in the system? 37:04 So we did two things around this. One is challenged disagree committees a value added. That is written on I come to our office, a new mentioned coming to the V. Casey building number offices on the walls. One on the wall says challenge, disagree comment, we want to talk about it more often, right? Because a lot of things feedback, new ideation, etc comes from that. The second part is that how do you not let ego come in the way of resizing it nicely. And they're the one thing is that whenever such an event happens, it's my job as a leader, to set the two parties down. And say that both of you are saying or doing what you're recommending, because you believe that is right for deserve. Okay. Let's look at it from that lens. It's not X's idea versus wise idea is always good for deserve. X is saying that this is good for deserve this is my perception of this is good for deserve Why saying this is my perception why this is good for deserve. Once that baseline is said that this is everyone is arguing for their point of view, because it is good for deserve and not because their idea, then you see barriers breaking down dramatically, then it becomes into a problem solving discussion rather than me worrying. Yeah. And I think we have to have a team, especially at the leadership level, which believes in this right. And that a lot of it is because of our hiring, the way we hire people, right? It's a long process we, like arguably, we are very slow to recruit. Because seven eight meetings or discussions, immersion in the office before we even roll out a job offer, right? Which slows us down. But I feel that in the long run, it just accelerates growth. So I think that is something that's really helped us that you get people to align that your intent needs to be broad enough. And if that is the case, everything else is welcome. Please fight, argue debate, but believe that you and the other person are both arguing for the same long term objective, which is what is right for deserve. 39:28 And I think that requires a lot of maturity at an individual's level. Because you know, when I'm talking with myself at times that I get blinded with my ego. Yeah, and when I'm blinded with my ego, I can't see what is right what is wrong. Because this is the same space when I know there's an external threat, and the only thing that matters to me is to protect my own identity. Yes, yes. Has it happened with you Sandeep, where you got stuck with your own fears and inhibitions and that actually blind Did you take discreet decision for the organization? And what? What process did you go through? To get out of that? Yeah, I think, confront yourself. 40:13 Yeah. This has happened multiple times, where what happens is in the heat of the discussion, you become one with your idea. Ideas. You, you are the idea. And so, yeah, and suddenly, it's about, you know, all the defense mechanisms come up and fight or flight, everything goes up, right. Yeah. So that has happened multiple times. I think one of the things that has really helped me is, once I like, go back and have conversations with either my spouse, my wife, or my coach, where I say that this today this happened and, and you know, my wife, the teacher will be like, Okay, so why did you say this? Okay, so then why was, why did you think of it that way? And very soon, I realized that I was probably not giving that other person. Like, recently, there was a conversation about bringing a senior person on board. And the potential team leader was not aligned with him. Right. And we like, and very soon it became a like, sort of argument kind of thing. And then I went back and revise it. Why is that person thinking or behaving like that? And the next day, I went back and said that I made a mistake, I approached this conversation all wrong. And maybe let's start afresh. Okay, let's start with, here's what deserve needs. This is what capabilities we have. These are capabilities we do not have in the team. Now let's solve for it. Now, if bringing on the senior person is the answer to that, we'll do that. If you think there are other ways to solve it. Let's work on that as well. Right? And suddenly, the conversation became so much more productive. So I think sometimes it's a function of sort of learning and stepping back. We all make mistakes, and I think, but the thing is the next morning, do you go back and say that? Okay, I think I made a mistake. Let's sit down and start all over again. 42:11 Yeah. It's so humbling, listening to you, Sandeep, thank you for let me one more time. Genuinely, thank you for giving this time. For me. This is just a beautiful masterclass. I'm a firm believer that the journey of a leader is a journey of a human being. And what I'm listening right now, I'm humbled by what you are bringing and giving to this industry. I'm not talking about the organization, I think we need more leaders like you, who are able to take a step back and say, hey, who am I being right now? What am I up to yet? I mean, why am I fighting? Can I start from scratch? And as a founder, going back to your team and saying, Hey, apologies. Just imagine the kind of environment which would get created. So fresh, so empowering. 43:07 Yeah. And I think a lot of these learnings also got away from the team members, right? Because we are constantly feeding of their energy. I think, as a leader, stroke founder, what do you do you feed off the energy of the team and the team feeds of your energy always. And that I think, also not only is true of energy, but also learnings and insights in life. So I think we are fortunate to have a very mature team. And I think that's something that we hope to cherish. 43:41 You know, since we are talking about the industry now, and you just mentioned that we pick up the energy of our team members and vice versa, as entrepreneurs. Out of curiosity, there's so much of insecurity in the environment today, especially I call this the season of layoffs, then 1000 laid off 5000 has they have been laid off this company has laid off so and so people, how do you ensure that you provide a sense of security to your team members? 44:12 Yeah, to be very honest, we have not been faced with that problem. But I have a thesis around that. Right. So you know, we were slow to grow the team size. Because we come from a very different upbringing in terms of even our careers, right. The last five or 10 years was a lot of relatively easy capital being available, and therefore that was for growth in terms of team sizes and so on. But the time in which we had built our careers in 2000 789, we had seen like the cycles go up, things go down really badly that we were like, we will only hire somebody if the existing team is at 110% capacity. like they already stretched, that's when we will bring somebody on. So therefore we have been slower to recruit. And therefore, when this whole cycle came up in our all hands, every time I keep addressing that we have capital, we are not inflated, therefore everyone is secure. I think sometimes just calling that out is required, because it's leaving it unsaid is also dangerous, because people might start hearing noose around and start getting worried. Right, so that is one. The second thing which we did along the way, was to also be honest to ourselves and say that if somebody is not meeting the talent bar that we have, within the company, we give feedback, we talk about how we can get better. But at the end of that 369 month period, we have a frank conversation that how can I help you move to a place where your sort of achievements will be better recognized, be better suited, and then have a process for that person to transition out? Right? I think that is very important, on an ongoing basis, because if you're not honest to yourself, your team, etc, then you suddenly accumulate a lot of lab and then you have to do it in one go at a certain point, which is a huge motivator for 46:18 everyone, rest of the team members, 46:20 the rest of the team members, I think. And if, however, that situation can still arise, right, a lot of things can change. And I think the only waited for me, I feel to deliver this with honesty, to say that. This is the strategy which we had, this has not worked this the amount of capital that we have, we have to all optimize for what is right for deserve. And therefore if a certain part of the team has to move on, we have to figure out help and support for them. But honestly, there is no way just delaying that conversation will hurt more people, including the ones being laid off, because you're reducing the time that they have available to figure out alternatives for themselves. In this whole layoff cycle, my respect is both for the companies which bedded with the bullet the fastest, because those employees could have got jobs later, if somebody is paying off in a big way today, in the sort of the end part of the layoff cycle, their employees will find it the hardest to get jobs. 47:24 Yeah. Yeah. So you spoke about it's important to be honest to your team members. And out of curiosity, what are your practices? One is I heard you that you go back to your confidence, you go back to your wife, you go back to your coach, what are your other practices that helps you stay grounded and ensure that you stay fair, honest to your organization and to your team members. 47:50 Some of these are very tactical, Gaurav, and I think, to be very honest, I'm still learning. So as long as no one's listening to this should take this with a pinch of salt. And maybe there are ways of doing it find a way to let me know on LinkedIn. I think for me, the bringing in OKRs, in the company was a big game changer, right? Because it centers the company around the goals that we have in this quarter, the six month this year, right. And those goals are very visible and to everyone. And just having those goals being visible to everyone means that everyone is working in that direction. Sometimes this is left unsaid in a lot of organizations, key humcap Everyone is not is known but not like on the walls not visible. I think that for setting the OKRs for me is was very, very helpful. Okay. And honestly, I didn't see the value in it for a long time. It was actually pushed by one of our board members who said that, okay, you start this process. And if at the end of four quarters, you believe it's not required, I'm okay if you pull it back, but try for four quarters. And that has been one thing. The second thing which I learned from, actually our team, which had worked in consumer tech companies is that there needs to be a strong internal feedback mechanism. And feedback is multiple ways, right? It's like I'm giving feedback, I'm also receiving feedback. And they are also giving feedback about the other leaders or other team members that they are working with. And structuring that into a quarterly process was another thing that was very helpful, right? Sometimes it just brings to four things which you are blind spots for you as in your behavior, right? Like, one of the things that I got in my one of my recent feedbacks was that I don't communicate the tough or the negative book parts soon enough, and I need to do that faster. 49:56 So that was the feed feedback given to you that you don't know feedback easily, 50:01 that I should do it fast so that the person can work on it before it becomes too late. Right. And that I recognize that yeah, I'm probably bad at it. Sometimes I just push it back by Kibana, Butker, linea, for uncomfortable conversation. And I think some of that really helps everyone like, and imagine from a perspective of the person who's telling me this, they are feeling that they were able to get it off their chest, that in itself is helping them feel better. I am receiving feedback so I can work on it. And even within us founders, we are three founders, right? We have said this monthly cadence like, as founders, we work together all the time. We don't need to do it. But we have calendar eyes, or monthly catch up, where each one of I mean, the two out of three founders are meeting one on one. Right, and I have this running document with each of my co founders, that this is the feedback you gave me. This is the feedback I gave you. And in the next meeting, we just review that okay, have I been able to improve or work towards that? Sometimes? Sometimes we say, Okay, I will not take this feedback. Have you ever, ever will tell me something we should do this? And I'll tell him that? No, never I won't do this, because of these reasons. This is why I'm behaving the way I'm behaving. Okay. So sometimes you just, but you noted that this is we agreed to disagree on this particular aspect. But just the simple google doc is very, very helpful to me, right? Yeah. 51:25 Yeah. So what I'm listening is implementing OKR. SS assisted you the feedback mechanism and accountability partnerships that you have, if I may call that. Yeah. And I think what I'm listening is, so it's extremely important to have a regular cadence in the system that will allow you to be a better human being and to become a better manager and to become a better leader as well. Give us some before you've gotten into this space, and now you're leading an organization that has been funded growing really well has a good reputation in the market. What were your assumptions that you carried for the longest period of time, which are getting challenged today? 52:08 Oh, yeah, that's a good question, actually. So you know, I think one of the things was that, 52:17 as a leader, one approach is the fact that the leader decides everything. Okay? Going into this, and you know, that that approach won't work, especially if you're working with a highly talented, highly motivated group of people, right. They want to express themselves and be able to take ownership for their successes and failures, right, so they want autonomy. The other extreme was the the leader giving full and complete autonomy and completely stepping back and hoping that the team will handle it. I think what I've realized is it's neither of the two, yeah, you need to strike a balance between there are times when you need to say that, okay, this is aligned with the vision of the company. This is not aligned with the vision of the company, and therefore, in this tiebreaker, I will take a call. And just, like, just figuring out that judgment of when to intervene and when not to, is the learning, I believe that every leader needs to develop. And it's like it's an on the job sort of learning. 53:27 I think that's this huge sense of maturity, when to say yes, when to say no, what to say yes to and what to say no to. You know, I remember today, only in the morning, I was reading something, and it says it said that launching iPhone was not the initial decision of Steve Jobs. Initially, Steve Jobs said no to that. And after a lot of debate and arguments with one or two of his team members, they decided to launch iPhone. And just imagine if not for iPhone, where would have been apple? 54:00 Absolutely. Absolutely, 54:04 Sandeep right now we are talking about assumptions that you had. And that got challenge, right. One is that it's the leaders responsibility to take all the decisions. It's leaders responsibility to give autonomy and in between, you have to find your sweet spot. Yeah, that is from the inside out. What do you think having walked this path? If people look at a entrepreneur or a founder from the outside view? What are the myths that people tend to carry? And that's absolutely not true. at your level. 54:40 The biggest myth is that entrepreneurs know what they're doing. If you're just figuring it out, everyone is figuring it out. And I think that see in hindsight, everything is vision is 2020. You can justify everything you can say that and I was talking to one of my co founders yesterday that you know, in how inside, like what we've done seems like a perfect like single linear path, linear path. But it was nowhere close to linear. I mean, we made so many mistakes, we pulled back and we went forward and back and forth, right? I think that anybody who's looking at an order, I wish I knew this earlier. And like anything, anybody is looking at an entrepreneur or looking at all these media articles, looking at all the LinkedIn posts and the Twitter posts, etc. It seems like it's a perfect like thought through. 55:30 It's 123 and done, boom, you're an entrepreneur today. 55:36 Like, you know, one of the things 2016 When the demand happened, I was at a conference where Vijay Shekar was speaking. And the panel, the person who was interviewing him in on the stage asked him that Paytm has been an overnight success, because demand happened, and you benefited from it. He said, We have been an overnight success. Who's been added for the last 19 years? Yeah, it started in 1997. It was 2016 when demand happened, right? So suddenly, you can attribute everything to demand or his vision and insight, but he'd been added for 19 years, a lot of people would have enough time. 56:14 Precisely. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much, Andy, for sharing your wisdom, your experiences. Just a last question. Okay, let me ask you two questions. If you were to give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would you do more of what would you do less off? 56:36 What would I do? Let me tell you, what would I do less of right? I will do less of judgment, like I would not like everyone behaves in a certain way because of the context and the background that they come from. And one of the things is that you rush to judgment very soon, right. You know, one thing I recently tweeted about it, if somebody else is successful, you feel it was they were because they were lucky. If you are successful, you feel that it was because you were intelligent. Actually, it's neither. Both of you just worked hard. Right. So I wish I would be less judgmental, as early professional or earlier on my career, because sometimes you pass judgments and you miss the bigger opportunity suddenly for your own growth, right? What would I do more of I think I would have more confidence in my own abilities. I think and that's where I try and help my kids that because confidence allows you to act on opportunities that you spot, right? Not passing judgments, allows you to spot more opportunities, confidence allows you to act on them. Right. And I think these are the two things that I would do differently. 57:59 Thank you so much, Sandy. Love it when you said that have less judgments and have more confidence on self. Others are winning because they worked hard, you are winning, because you are working hard. At the same time. I will just add one more thing others are winning because they have been blessed. I'm winning because I am blessed. Thank you so much, Sandy, for your time, my friend, such a pleasure listening to you. I would revisit my statement that we need more leaders, more entrepreneurs, more human beings, more fellow travelers, more friends, like you know, you can sign Thank you. 58:37 You're doing a great job with this podcast. You said you've done over 100 podcasts already. I think the kind of messages that you're putting out there in the universe. I think it's it'll help a lot of people. 58:49 And my request to you would be revisit this assumption and the belief that difficult times is equal to growth. What if it's not true? What are the opportunities I'm not tapping in? And what are those beautiful moments that I'm not tapping in be with this thought and we'll have another discussion. Thank you so much. Take care. Stay blessed. Thank you

Meet your hosts:

No posts were found for provided query parameters.

Type at least 1 character to search