As it is curtains down for 2016, we bring to you the answer to the trickiest question entrepreneurs face – how to manage stress? And who better to go to than the epitome of calmness - Deep Kalra. How does Deep perform when Shradha Sharma shoots rapid fire questions at him on his life, profession and persona?
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos feels that stress primarily comes from not taking action over something that you can have some control over. Hence, it’s very important to clear your mind to be able to tackle a stressful situation.
For an entrepreneur, stress is inevitable and often impacts one's decision-making abilities. Moreover, there’s a psychological price to be paid for being an entrepreneur. Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal admits that it does get lonely at the top for a founder. “Nobody can relate to what a founder goes through in the ups and downs of a business. But that’s how it should be,”he says. While you learn a lot by pushing yourself beyond boundaries, you also go through many situations that can take a toll on you. They may weaken you, which is what you need the least while on your entrepreneurial journey.
Related read - How can starting up entrepreneurs deal with stress?
When life gives you lemons, mix it with chana
Deep Kalra, founder and CEO of MakeMyTrip(MMT), is no exception to dealing with stressful situations. However calm and composed he may appear to be on the outside, he does get hassled at times. Recently, he shared one of his life-changing experiences, which taught him a lot about handling stressful situations.
Deep worked for eight years before starting MMT. After graduating from IIM Ahmedabad, he joined ABM AMRO Bank, where he started AMF Bowling in India. He then worked with GE Capital. He recalls,
“The best part about working in these companies was that I worked with some phenomenal individuals.”
He still wishes Ramesh Sobti, who was heading ABM AMRO's Delhi office back then, on Teacher’s Day, because he says he taught him a lot. Deep’s boss, Suhail Chander, was a great teacher as well. His first job was very special for him. Deep says, “I hated banking, but I loved the bank. A small bank in Delhi and we were going places.”
Deep narrated an incident that resulted in chaos at the bank: an Indian company, now blacklisted, had revoked a letter of credit(LC) of $20 million, which meant that now the bank had to pay that money up. Deep recalls,
“Ramesh Sobti was upset and walking across the corridor angrily. Suhail, who was Head of Corporate Banking, was sitting in his chair and popping chana(roasted grams) from a jar into his mouth. I thought Sobti was going to hit him.”
In those 15 minutes of eating chana, while Sobti was walking up and down, and all of us were scared to death, it was Suhail who came up with a solution. He made a plan, called up 4-5 people and figured out how to cancel the LC before they could revoke it and save the bank.
This incident taught Deep one thing – If you’re in a problem situation, then the natural instinct is 'fright and flee'. But if you want to get a solution, you’ve to be calm. No one who is hyper is ever going to find a solution.
Today, Deep loses his cool once in a few months, at review meetings when someone has made the same mistake. He likes new mistakes because he believes one learns from them.
This lesson from Deep’s life gives an idea of how critical this skill of managing stress can be. As rightly pointed out,
Talent and ideas may trigger a great new business, but it’s intellectual control and good habits that sustain a company’s success and help it to grow and prosper.
What these words mean for Deep
In a gripping rapid fire conversation with Shradha Sharma, founder and CEO, YourStory, Deep opened up more, and we got a peek at his personality and choices. Here are ideas that came to Deep's mind when Shradha shot some one-word questions at him.
(For instance, to the question, “What does the word ‘ambition’ mean to you?”,Deep's answer was 'Entrepreneurship'.)
If there’s one word that defines Deep, he quips it is ‘perseverance’. There won’t be much disagreement to that.
This was Part-II of DeepKalra’s interaction where he spoke about his personality and a life-changing experience. In part -I, Deep Kalra spilled the beans on the MakeMyTrip-Ibibo merger. We’ll be back with Part-III where he shares his view on unicorns, funding and the whole ‘business of discounting’. Watch this space for the same.