Sunday, May 10, 2009

Leaderonomics Talks

Thanks to invite by Aidan Chew, I attended Leaderonomics Entrepreneurship Academy 2009 launch this afternoon, and would say that I do learn a lot from the 3 speakers.

The first speaker was Roshan Thiran, CEO of Leaderonomics. The title is Building a Future via Entrepreneurship. Roshan was former global director of GE and Johnson & Johnson.

Roshan talked on formation of entrepreneurship, where he highlighted the challenges that he has gone through and shared with us the context too.

During his university time, he saw model by Dell in making computer, and he got togehter with a friend from Korea, where they would put together computer to sell to students in his campus. And from there, he could make a couple hundred dollars per weekend by assembling the computer and can still undercut other corporates by a lot.

As the business grew, the city even asked them to bid to supply 2,000 computers for high schools around the community.

As they expanded, they started to buy more inventory. And with some advice, they started to pile inventory in 1,000, as the price that they could get is much lower. Initially, it was greater profit margin, and people can have a good selection of parts. However, as newer version of Intel was released, the price of those microprocessor/micro chip just crashed. They lost $100,000 of inventory, and basically wiped out all the profit that they have made over the past 2-3 years. It was really demotivating for them.

Roshan went through a bunch of failures, and those were his learning point. Every journey starts with failures.

As Roshan started to write for the newspaper, he had to do more research and he found out that Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times, before he invented light bulb. And if he had failed fewer times, he would not have been able to succeed. He learned from the failure and improve on it. Failure is a key part of the journey.

Roshan spent about 12-13 years with General Electric and 2 years with Johnson and Johnson.

His advice on running a business is not about the business itself or the process, but rather about the people and the culture. He wanted to be a teacher, and he ran GE training place at Cottonville for some time.

When he looked at Malaysia, we don't have strong role model to follow, especially those who have done things with action. We need to enhance on our productivity and get people to evolve into real leadership.

So, Roshan decided to start a social enterprise, where they would teach staff in corporations and earn the money and then plough back the profits to bring "ideations" for projects.

He talked on how people learned, where in experience mode, especially teaching, people remembered 100% of what they teach. By doing something, people can remember 85% within 3 weeks and 70% within 3 months. If people just see, then it would be 72% retention within 3 weeks and 20% within 3 months, and if people just listen, then it is 70% within 3 weeks and 10% within 3 months.

Listening would be stuff like listening to presentation/speech/manuel/flyer/video etc, whereas seeing is seeing someone doing something. By doing it, one role plays and also have practical applications of it, and when one teaches, one lead others to do, and a way of it, is to coach own's team and teach other leaders.

Roshan found through research that by doing something for 10,000 hours with passion and endurance, one would be world class. He gave the example of Beatles. They used to be deemed as playing very badly in Liverpool. However, then they went away to play 8 hours a day everyday for 5 years, and that accumulated 12,000 hours of playing. With that, they went back to Liverpool and became a star.

Wayne Rooney learned about anticipation technique in soccer at a age of 4 years old. Practice is very important.

Roshan shared that leaders are based on context. In start-up, leaders would need to really get their hands dirty, work on details and also micro-manage. In big enterprise, then leaders would need to delegate and empower.

Roshan gave an example of how Mother Teresa was in a bakery in Calcutta, and they tried to swindle her money. She asked for free brand and was being scolded/abused etc. However, after each abuse, she asked for the bread, and in the end, they gave her the bread. Even people like Mother Teresa can be assertive, and it is due to context.

So, it depends often on what context to decide to use which right techniques. When do you know how you decide what to do.

To learn content, one can learn in Google, but context would need real practical experience. Leaders need to go through multiple scenario to learn it.

To run a business, one would need expertise. For instance, Google, its CEO is not Larry Page or Sergey Brin - the founders. And the only way to become experts would be through practice. Context is what you experience.

Roshan shared on one of his learning through context. He used to leave things around, so once he accidentally left the payroll of his staff in a photocopy machine, and his supervisor fired him. After 2 weeks, his supervisor called him back, and hope that he has learn his lesson.

Another occasion was when he was an integration leader in Dallas, where he has to do a 3-in-1 merger. That was his 3rd job, and he was still in his early/mid 20s then. After he has implemented the system, no one used it, and they complain about him, and he got sent back. What Roshan later realized was that he didn't focus as much on culture.

When he was in his 7th job, as CEO of GE Aircraft Malaysia, he tried to transform the culture, where they exceed world class performance.

Roshan quoted George Kohlrieser, IMD Professor of Leadership, where he says "5% of leadership is genetic, and 95% of it is learnt by practice. Roshan concluded that 95% of all skills, ability, talent is learned.

He shared on how Jack Welch at the age of 64, learned as much on IT within 3 weeks, and that was 1 year before his retirement. The trigger point was that his wife was buying things online and he realized his mistake. Back then, Roshan was the Head of Y2K for GE.

Roshan advised that even when we are working for someone, we are still "Sdn Bhd". We should find board of advisors. One of the advisors for Roshan was George Kohlrieser.

For a job, when we find that learning ends, then performance would get plateau and learning gets smaller. When we struggle, we really learn a lot. Performance should equal potential. The more you struggle, the more you learn and practice is ultimate.

Roshan shared on how he quit from a comfortable role in Johnson & Johnson to start up Leaderonomics and grow from 2 people to 20 people now, and he advised everyone to seek mentorship and take advantage and learn and make use of the advantage. Never too late to start (case in point, Jack Welsh started on IT in the age of 64), and we should strive through multiple scenario.

Above is the first part of the talks. Would share on the other 2 speakers' talk later. Do check out here again.

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1 comment:

taufiq said...

Thanks for sharing bro!
There are a lot of examples of the "10,000 hours" idea in Gladwell's book Outliers. I've started to think that there is a real mathematical equation behind the 10,000 hours than just a pure theory.

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