‘Define who you aspire to be and then become that person’ – life tips from Vivek Mansingh, author, ‘Achieving Meaningful Success’
Vivek Mansingh is the author of Achieving Meaningful Success: Unleash the Power of Me!’ (see my book review here).
He is a tech leader, entrepreneur and innovator, and has worked at HP, Fujitsu, Apple, Dell, and Cisco. Vivek is a GP at YourNest VC Fund, and graduated from NIT Allahabad and Queen's University, Canada. He has six US patents, and is on a mission to mentor a million people.
See also YourStory’s Book Review section with takeaways from over 330 titles on creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, social enterprise, and digital transformation.
In this insightful interview, Vivek shares success tips for entrepreneurs, the importance of wellness goals, and pandemic resilience.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
YourStory [YS]: In the time since your book was published, what are some notable new success stories or learnings you have come across?
Vivek Mansingh [VM]: People are hungry for getting mentors and see books as a great way to start. I continue to mentor startups and help them with strategy, globalisation and innovation.
Two of my startups are heading towards becoming unicorns in the near future. Many notable and distinguished people I have talked to recently have also underlined the ideas shared in the book.
[YS]: What is your current field of research? Are some of your findings available online?
[VM]: My current focus areas are startups, entrepreneurship, innovation, excellence, and leadership.
Many of my talks on these subjects are available on YouTube and several articles can be found on the web. One article on innovation is also published by YourStory which was extremely well received.
Since the book’s publication, I have given at least 20 interviews and talks. All these are available online and many are on my website.
[YS]: As a global citizen with so much international exposure, what do you see as the strengths - and shortcomings - of Indians when it comes to effective goal setting and execution?
[VM]: First, I see that most people from India are afraid of setting big and aspirational goals as they have generally grown up with a lot of constraints.
As a percentage, very few set goals. Even when they do, the goals are mainly in the areas of career and finance. But missing well-being goals can elude meaningful success.
Mentoring is still new to India, there is an acute shortage of mentors, especially those who have been there and done that. That is why I wrote the book to give people a mentor that can help them throughout their lives.
[YS]: How was your book received? What were some of the unusual responses and reactions you got?
[VM]: The book is received extremely well. The sales are among the top books with excellent five-star ratings and reviews on Amazon. I have done book signings in Bengaluru, Lucknow, and Delhi that were well attended and well received.
Within my residential layout, where my wife and I walk every day, even unknown people have stopped and congratulated me. Lots of people have asked me follow-on questions after reading the book on my website, which is great to see.
Readers have really appreciated the fact that the book is based on my real-life experiences and the ideas shared are immediately actionable. A common comment I get from readers over 40 years old is I wish I had this book 20 years back!
[YS]: How big a role does academia play in entrepreneurship? Can entrepreneurship really be formally taught?
[VM]: Yes, elements of entrepreneurship can be taught. Several universities across the world have programmes on entrepreneurship.
Many institutes have incubators which have produced many successful startups. So, it does help entrepreneurs to get exposure to such programs.
But, as I have said in the book, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. If you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, it is an amazing opportunity to live and die for!
[YS]: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the findings and recommendations of your book, in terms of resetting goals and giving back to society?
[VM]: COVID-19 has reinforced to people that life is uncertain, hence, we cannot keep postponing goals that are important to us. One has to follow multi-dimensional and balanced goals throughout their life.
Giving back should be an important part of everyone’s life throughout – I have dedicated a chapter to it in my book. A quote from the book, You have to give back to move forward, applies to us all.
[YS]: External events like family emergencies or the pandemic can lead people to drop all their plans. How should they accept the pain of this change and move on?
[VM]: Such situations will come from time to time in everyone’s life. You need to make sure you are focusing and prioritising the right goals and giving the right focus at the right time.
I had to move to India to take care of my parents at the drop of a hat. I did it, leaving behind my company, home, friends – everything, and consider it as one of my biggest achievements. Driven by the right priorities, clear goals and living with values, you should be able to make such difficult decisions more easily.
[YS]: What are some ways in which people can awaken their inner creativity, and then move down the path to innovation and entrepreneurship?
[VM]: I believe that innovation is a skill – a combination of art, science and creativity that can be learned by individuals and companies. Like all the skills, it comes with focus and practice.
To begin with, always come up with two solutions to a problem and choose the best one. It is the beginning of innovation when you say “no way” to the obvious first solution.
[YS]: What are the typical challenges entrepreneurs face as they scale up their companies? How can these challenges be addressed?
[VM]: As the business scales, entrepreneurs should focus on the following three pillars.
Pillar 1: Building strong internal teams, with three Gods
The most important hires will be in your product or solution space. Focus on the three Gods of your technology team — product manager, industrial designer/user experience leader, and technical architect. Make sure these are A-class people; the best talent you can find. Because these three people will define the potential success of your venture, especially if your venture is in the technology area.
Pillar 2: Building external partnerships
Building channels to take your products and services to customers is a critical success factor.
Pillar 3: Growing the business
Seek to penetrate deeper into the market with your existing products. When the time is right, expand into new products and geographies. In this, it is important to anticipate changes in the business models associated with new products or geographies.
[YS]: Share with us some of your experiences as an investor, and your impressions on founder attitudes and shortcomings in India today.
[VM]: The most positive change in the last few years has been that our brightest are becoming entrepreneurs. They have big aspirations and are willing to work for them.
The shortcoming is that many of our young entrepreneurs lack global exposure, need mentors who have been there and done that, and there is a talent shortage with deep expertise.
[YS]: What are the top three success factors for government and industry to work together and grow innovation and entrepreneurship in their countries?
1. Our government institutions and universities have to work closely with industry. That is not happening today.
2. Government has to support deep technology research and development in some critical areas such as AI, blockchain, 5G, and semiconductors. (A lot of innovation in the US comes from government funding at universities, NASA, etc.)
3. Government has to provide market access to startups to encourage them early in their life cycle.
[YS]: At a time of increasing conflict in society, how can goals be set that focus on bringing about peace and harmony in society?
[VM]: In the book, I have emphasised living with values. That is the key to creating good citizens who can create harmony in society.
[YS]: How can social entrepreneurs and non-profit organisations make use of your frameworks?
[VM]: The fundamentals, such as clear mission and goals, sharp strategy, execution excellence, and proper compliance apply to all organisations – whether they are for-profit, social enterprise or non-profits.
I work with all three types and make sure the highest standards are followed in all. Of course, the challenges are a bit different in each.
[YS]: What is your next book going to be about?
[VM]: Right now, I am very focused on mentoring a million people through the book and online mentoring at my website. The next step would be to get the book out in Hindi and other regional languages to increase its reach.
I appreciate help from people like you to let people know that such a helpful book exists. I do want the readers to know that all the book profits are being donated to the Chitrakoot Eye Hospital for eye care of the poor.
[YS]: What is your parting message to the startups and aspiring entrepreneurs in our audience?
[VM]: If you have aspirations, skills and attitude to be an entrepreneur, give it a shot. Entrepreneurship is extremely rewarding.
When going gets tough, do not open the parachute unless you have given it everything you have. Most startups go through extremely difficult times and even near-death experiences before they become successful.
Know what you know, and also know what you don’t know. Seek guidance from mentors.
[YS]: Any other comments or remarks you would like to add?
[VM]: Here are my ten commandments:
1. I believe everyone needs and deserves a mentor, so get mentors.
2. My book, Achieving Meaningful Success, acts as a mentor and gives you a headstart.
3. Read the book, I guarantee it will change your life if you act on the ideas shared.
4. Define who you aspire to be and then become that person.
5. Be goal-driven, not opportunity-driven, and aspire BIG.
6. Focus on developing excellence, innovation and leadership skills to become the best version of yourself.
7. The message of the book is underlined by several distinguished leaders who can inspire you.
8. Strive for achieving meaningful success, each of us can!
9. Mentor others.
10. Future should not be decided by extrapolation of your past, it should be driven by aspirations of the future.