I am going to begin this editor’s note with a confession. I am writing this on a high, one that’s come about thanks to an overdose of ideas from Wired and Fast Company magazines, TED talks and attendance in one too many conferences. So, pardon me if these ideas I am about to suggest are a little too audacious. But here you go:
Global consumer brand
With all the entrepreneurial activity we’re seeing in India these days, I think it’s time for a few entrepreneurs to set out to build a global consumer brand out of India. I mean we need someone to start the journey of building a Nike or a Levi’s or even a RedBull out of India. Of course, doing this is not going to be easy. It needs a company that can deliver in several areas – product development, marketing, sales, operations and most importantly, the ability to stay in the game long enough and gradually expand into various countries. Do we have the talent pool to make this happen? The answer is a resounding yes. Should we not expand globally because India is a large enough market? The answer is a resounding no.
I think it’s also time for a truly global university in India. We need a university that will enroll people from all over the world. We could probably start with a business school and gradually expand into other areas of teaching. For the business school, we need to enroll people from, say, 20 different countries with a minimum number of students from each country. In short, we need to mimic what INSEAD does in France and Singapore, taking advantage of the numerous advantages of India – access to unique businesses, unending source of problems to solve and a wonderful pool of entrepreneurs. Students graduating from these schools should be able to find jobs across the country. How will this help? Over time, it’ll help put India more and more on the global map. It’ll help improve the export market; outsiders will understand Indians better and this university can be the destination for India-focused research from a global perspective. The university’s executive education department can help global leaders understand India a little better.
I would urge each and every decision maker in India to rethink what he or she is doing. The belief here is there is potential to better everything. If you run a high school, make a few changes that will improve the school each and every year. If you run a coffee shop, think about what you can do this year to help improve the lives of people who work with you. At Starbucks, Howard Schultz has established what he calls the Leadership Lab – a theatrical training program that essentially sells Brand Starbucks to its employees and store managers. The program teaches every store manager that he needs to delight customers and that people essentially come into a cafe not only for the coffee but also for the delightful experience at Starbucks. According to Schultz, he thinks of his store managers as people who run “$1million plus small businesses”. He’s thinking about giving everyone in his company a career path. We need to do the same. Can we give our drivers and maids a career path a few years from now? Can we expect to see a new and improved CBSE school curriculum 10 years from now? Simply put, we need to make everything better, one step at a time.
Now, getting back to reality, we’re gearing up for our fourth year of running The Smart CEO. The last three years have been a blast. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues – across content and business teams – for making this happen. This upcoming year, we’re looking to launch a few more products and services, all targeted at the entrepreneurship ecosystem in India.
Hope you enjoy reading this edition of The Smart CEO.