Subroto Bagchi - Let's Kiss The World With MindTree's Gardner
We were speechless for a minute when we had 'yes' from Mr. Subroto Bagchi for the Small Talk with CrazyEngineers. He's an inspiration, guide & role model to thousands of "High Performance Entrepreneurs". He co-founded MindTree - which today is one of the most respected companies in India. His two books (viz.The High Performance Entrepreneur & Go Kiss The World) continue to inspire thousands of young professionals around the world.
We are extremely proud & excited to have Mr. Subroto Bagchi, the gardner of MindTree. Check out our Small Talk with Mr. Bagchi (SB) :-
CE: Sir, from a kid in a small town in Orissa to a successful businessman & author – how do you view the journey in the hindsight?
SB: It has indeed been a memorable journey! From a small-town kid to MindTree, it has been a journey of constant wonder, transformation, sense of engagement and gratitude. I am grateful to life and feel that a guardian angel has steered the course.
CE: Sir, please brief us about your role at MindTree as Gardener.
SB: As Gardener, my role is to nurture our Top 100 leaders and work with our 45 Communities of Practice at MindTree. When we were looking at alternative titles for the role, we all liked the idea of a Gardener for many reasons. The term best describes what I am set out to do.
Think of a gardener; he is a skilled person, and very useful to the garden. He likes his work, and has an organic relationship with each plant in the garden. He has no ego. However pretty a garden may be, people come to see it, no one comes to see a gardener and he is OK with that. He is an extremely humble person and sees his task as something that is never ending. In the Knowledge Economy, in the organizations of tomorrow, I see the role of leadership akin to that of a Gardener tending a garden.
CE: “MindTree” is an interesting name for an IT-consultancy company. We would like to know the story behind the name.
SB: When we were thinking of a good name for our start-up, a friend suggested that we visit the site of a California-based company called ‘Name It’. Based on the introduction we gave about our company, Name It suggested about 729 names!
We had narrowed down the list of 729 names from Name It to 10. The founders voted for their preferences and the winner was ‘MindTree’. Following a few more weeks of internal debate and legal search, we finally settled for it.
CE: World is full of engineers who want to quit their regular job and start their own company. What would be your advice to them?
SB: I would tell them to stop and reflect. It is not a good idea to start an enterprise without having a long-term vision. I would suggest that people work for a while before taking the plunge. Exceptions to the rule are always there though.
CE: Why do you think a majority of Indian IT companies are into services than products? Why are we yet to see a Microsoft/Google/Sun from India?
SB: Sun and Google are Silicon Valley companies. There is Stanford University in their backyard. It builds the seed of intellectual capital. Silicon Valley is also the Mecca of Venture Capital. In the Valley, billions of dollars are routinely written off when products fail. They do not see that as an end state, to them it is a process. When you make thousands of products – one, two or three succeed. These make up some. The system is able to digest failure as an eco-system. Our eco-system is not that mature. We will get there, one day.
Microsoft is another story. It was not a VC funded company. Bill Gates was in high school when the Mother’s Club raised money to gift the school a teletype terminal so the kids could play with it. The school bought computer time on a GE machine and the kids started playing. The school, seeing Bill’s interest, exempted him from attending math classes. Then the compute time ran out. Now the school rented time from a cheaper place where the kids discovered a bug in the system and started cheating it so they could get extra time. The company found out their mischief, threw them out only to call them back so that the same kids could straighten the bugs in exchange of free computer time. Then Bill Gates went to Harvard and after a year, got his parents to agree that he could drop out and go to Texas to join his friend to start a 2-man software company. People think Bill Gates created Microsoft and such enterprises are a deft act of brilliant thinking. The following were tipping points: Mothers choosing to buy a teletype from the rummage sale, school allowing Bill to skip math class, Computer Services Corporation getting the kids to come back and Bill Gates’ parents not throwing a fit when he opted out of Harvard.
Now, draw your own conclusions.
CE: Why did you decide to write “The High Performance Entrepreneur”?
SB: As I have mentioned in the book, I like to see myself as a journal-keeper of sorts. While forming MindTree, I realized that it is not enough to deliver a good company, it is critical to share the insight so that a thousand flowers can bloom. India needs many more high-performance companies – we have to generate employment. Hence, The High Performance Entrepreneur.
CE: Any memorable moment from the starting phase of MindTree?
SB: Every day has been memorable in some way or the other. Never a dull moment. There were the high-highs and low-lows of course – but nine years are too long to single out a memorable moment.
CE: You spent a considerable time as a professional before becoming an entrepreneur. How should one decide the right time to take the plunge?
SB: The High Performance Entrepreneur has a chapter on ‘When Do I Know If I am Ready’. To answer your question, I would say it’s largely a ‘call within’ that each one should experience – so in that sense, it is a very personal experience. However, it is also possible to draw a set of criteria to check if one is ready for entrepreneurship – having a sustainable business plan and not relying on a single, great idea, emergence and willingness to change, comfort with failure and so on. Read the book.
CE: “Go Kiss the World” were your mother’s last words to you & also the title of your latest book for young professionals. Why do you think any young professional should read your book?
SB: Go Kiss the World is for those who want to treat their professional lives as high performance enterprises.
CE: Sir, thank you for sparing your time for us. What is your message to our CEans?
SB: Build value for others in everything you do.
CrazyEngineers is thankful to Mr. Manoj Chandran of MindTree for making this Small Talk possible.