I never quite figured out…
… should I try to be an entrepreneur like him or a poet like him!!
My last recollection of meeting Avinash was during a recruiting drive in IIT Kanpur. That goes back nearly 2 decades. He always struck me as a very bright young guy. I remember Raghu and I discussing a couple of times about the potential of Avinash.
Turns out Avinash became a very successful entrepreneur. But since he stayed most of his time in India, I rarely got to see him. We have interacted multiple times during the last two decades but just could not put ourselves together in the same city at the same time.
Till last evening.
It was one of those great conversational evenings. There are successful entrepreneurs and there are successful entrepreneurs. I have never seen any entrepreneur – frankly too many leaders – who have internalized learnings from experience as well as Avinash has. His insightful commentary on the mistakes he has made and how that has made him a better leader is material for a great leadership book. If not for anything else, just the display of humility itself is awe inspiring.
One of the great concepts he talked about is “organizational debt”. In a full circle, he gave full credit to Raghu – the same Raghu that I used to discuss about Avinash two decades back – in opening his eyes to the concept. I am going to skip the details here but it deals with the difficulties any “people person leader” will always have in getting over personal biases and subjectivity.
Another item that Avinash and I have common interest is shayaris and old Urdu poetry. In fact, we spent some time discussing the vagaries of ascertaining gender of inanimate objects in Hindi. His knowledge of Urdu and Hindi is far superior to mine and he has promised to help me translate some the poetry I struggle with from time to time. In that context, a memorable statement from him… I told him how I struggle to translate to English even after I understand what was in the poet’s mind. His words were … “That is to be expected; for poetry is defined as that which is lost in translation”. That was sheer poetry defining poetry!
Yet another memorable quote. I forget the exact context. But he backed up the famous quote “To give up ego, you have to have an ego first” with a Hindi poem which basically means – Only a poisonous snake can forgive. A non poisonous snake forgiving means nothing!!
That was a great evening! Raghu, we missed you!! Let’s get all three of us together soon!!