Phanindra Sama, Founder and CEO, redBus.in
My maths teacher. He had great belief in me and I worked very hard to not let him down. This made all the difference in my life. I started getting good grades and this confidence led me to take bigger challenges in life.
Eric Savage, co-founder and President, Unitus Capital
At Duke I had the privilege of taking a course from Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Coles (jointly with Alex Harris). I was really inspired by the stories he could tell about having witnessed the desegregation of schools in the American south and many other things. The passion with which he could relate a story was completely mesmerising. I wish I was back in his classroom today.
Girish Mathrubhootam, Founder and CEO, FreshdeskThere are two instances that I can remember…
When I was studying 2nd standard at Campion Higher Secondary School, Trichy, our teacher was Ms White. During sports practice, I went and told her, “I and Srikanth (my best friend at school) will be a team.” She told me immediately, “Put that ‘I’ donkey last,” meaning the correct usage of the sentence was, “Srikanth and I will be a team.” I remember that (English lesson) to this day.
The second instance was during my engineering third year at SASTRA. One of our classes was being handled by Mr T. Venkatesh, a professor from the Mechanical department. He used to be very friendly with students and also help them with various co-curricular activities. I was very scared of public speaking and would never volunteer to make any presentations in class. He talked to me and convinced me that the only way to overcome this was by doing it several times. He made me prepare a general topic and present in front of the whole class. I still remember that day when I finished my presentation to an applause from my class – my palms had deep imprints of the podium corner – I was holding on to the podium so tightly (because of the fear/ pressure) that it left a deep imprint on my palm.
Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, Olacabs.com
My first boss taught me many lessons on responsibility, ownership and discipline.
Pallav Nadhani, co-founder and CEO, FusionCharts
Maths teacher in class IV, who never spoon-fed us; she gave us the freedom to do what we wanted to. Exactly what needs to change in our rote educational system.
Gautam Gandhi, Head of New BizDev India for Google
My entrepreneurship Professor, Tom Emerson, at CarnegieMellonUniversity. He taught me the power of storytelling. From him I learnt that when you have a good story, everybody wants to be part of it: your investors, customers, employees, just about everybody.
Sanjay D. Nath, Founder & Managing Partner, Blume Venture Advisors
Prof Eric Mokover at UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Business (where I did my MBA). He encouraged us to think of b-school as the “one place we can all try things and fail safely,” multiple times, as there will be always someone to catch us. That is, we could try a summer internship entirely out of our domain, do an ambitious field study project, and work with teams we are not innately comfortable with. Super advice – step out of one’s comfort zone!
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