[Podcast] Mukesh Bansal on leveraging physical and mental fitness to achieve peak performance
This marks the 50th episode of the Insights Podcast Series and features the return of Mukesh Bansal, Founder of Cure.fit and author of ‘No Limits: The Art and Science of High Performance’. In this episode, Mukesh shares lessons from his decade long entrepreneurial experience and touches a few topics from his book, in which he talks about reaching peak performance.
Looking back at the journey: what worked
Coming from the Bay Area, Mukesh had seen first-hand how impactful autonomy and empowerment can be. At Cure.fit, the culture from Day 1 has been centered around the empowerment of the individual — hiring the best talent, sharing the big picture, giving as much freedom and autonomy as possible to make progress, and removing all of the paraphernalia that comes in the form of titles, formal reporting structure, and bell curve grading.
Such high levels of decentralisation along with the tremendous amount of empowerment at individual pod level has been the core enabler for Cure.fit to execute at an extremely fast pace. With the lockdown heavily impacting Cure.fit’s core business of running offline fitness centers, the team was quick in adapting to the situation and came up with a digital fitness platform at an unprecedented pace, building products in a matter of days and weeks instead of months and quarters that it usually takes.
Deconstructing some life hacks
We make an effort to understand how Mukesh does what he does and ask him about his daily routine and the habits that have been instrumental in shaping him.
Exercise and Meditation
Mukesh’s mornings start with fitness, leveraging Cult.fit’s digital classes and working out in his personal gym. “The best fitness accessory all of us have is our body. Our body is designed for movement. All kinds of exercises where we move our body around - from floor exercises to all types of cardio - turn out to be extremely beneficial from a holistic health point of view”, he says.
Mukesh also meditates almost every day. “It’s a great stress buster, enables you to focus, and learning is expedited. Various breathing exercises and meditation is a must-have if one is interested in health”, he adds.
Mukesh uses writing as a thinking tool. He writes a weekly note to his team. Having been interested in performance for a long period of time, he decided to write a book, where he summarises his learnings from reading over 50 books on performance and presents it in a coherent narrative that is easy to remember so that a much larger group of people can benefit from it. “Writing helps me anchor and gives me clarity and some sense of progress during the day”, he says.
Mukesh reads a lot and likes to read panoramic books like ‘Sapiens: A brief history of humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari, which helps develop the big picture thinking.
A looking back exercise a few years out, writing out five-year goals and annual goals are things Mukesh believes are powerful in helping get clarity on the things that matter. “Thinking deeply about why you want to achieve performance in something, doing a looking back exercise to see how happy you are with the way you have spent your time, and defining what success means to you rather than going by the outward appearance, through introspection and reflection helps you get clarity so you spend time on things that matter to you.”
Expanding on that thread, Mukesh talks about the importance of identifying your purpose. “Performance means optimising or getting better at something. When it comes to a deep sense of meaning for you, you will be able to stay with it a lot longer and will also be able to enjoy the journey. If it is totally driving by an external stimulus, for example, someone else has it and you also want it, you may get excited and start pursuing it but inevitably to make the performance happen, you will have to do a lot of small things day in and day out, whether things are going well or not. That’s when, if the purpose is not very deep, the journey may feel fruitless.”
Mukesh talks about his passion for sports and health. After moving on from Flipkart, he got associated with Olympic Gold Quest, a not-for-profit foundation with the mission to support Indian athletes in winning Olympic Gold Medals. All the royalties from his book will be contributed to OGQ. If you share the passion for improving India’s performance at the Olympics, you may choose to donate to OGQ.
Mukesh has recently been involved with ACT Grants — the initiative where several VC funds, entrepreneurs, and foundations came together to set up a Rs 100 crore grant fund to support interesting ideas to fight COVID-19. The team has given out more than 35 grants to date across testing, PPE, ventilators, telemedicine, vaccine development, contact tracing, ICU capacity expansion, mental health, among others.
He is also involved actively in scaling one of the projects supported by ACT called ‘Bharat Health Stack’ which is an open-source public good telemedicine platform for the country with the idea to support COVID-19 related telemedicine initially but eventually becoming an open-source public health stack platform which can accelerate the digitisation of healthcare in the country.
We end the podcast with a quick rapid-fire round that brings out some of the positives of this lockdown period like not having to deal with the everyday commute, a godsend for Bangaloreans. On a closing note, we leave you with a quote by Mukesh that transcends the topics that we discuss in this podcast from health to performance:
“Mind and body are optimising machines. You put them in an environment and the way they respond to the triggers is training. The whole power of one percent compounding year after year adds up to a large impact. We keep hearing about stories of overnight success, but when you look behind the scenes, you realise that the person has been practicing or training for the last 10 or 20 years. At some point, you cross the threshold and suddenly you have this inhuman capability that builds one step at a time after doing these small things, again and again, harnessing the power of our body to adapt to environment and stimulus.”
Tune in to the podcast to hear more interesting insights from Mukesh Bansal.
Anand Daniel is a seed/early stage venture investor with Accel Partners.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)