Name: Kushagra Maheshwari
Title: Founder and CEO
Organisation: Think Tank Scientific Community
I am Kushagra, an Indian 10th grader. I am a physics lover and like STEM subjects like learning about programming, Artificial Intelligence and Mathematics. Apart from these, I enjoy philosophy and writing poetries. My hobbies include aiming with rubber bands, playing chess and reading research papers.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Kushagra's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
I, personally, found it hard to have people committed to their promises over long periods of time. It was very hard for me to not expect people to spend as much time for the organization as I am, however, I'm slowly learning.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My intellectual friend Vamsy came to me with a hypothetical situation concerning physics. He questioned the very fundamentals including Theory of Relativity and the conservation of energy. I wrote the whole situation in form of equations and upon solving those I reached upon a formula that dictates the properties of black holes. He had posted the question on stack Exchange and received answers that were too hard for him to comprehend. That's when I realized that the world needs a science community for teenagers, and I founded Think Tank. Since then, I've been leading the community and evolving along with the members.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
It is hard to juggle between school, work, internships and projects. Sometimes, I have to skip sports, maybe even sleep. I make what I call, "Today's blehs", which is essentially a list of all the tasks I have to do one a specific day with a number beside them. I rate each task in terms of importance and urgency, multiply those values and complete the tasks with a higher priority first. My tasks determine my work days and there is no specific format that I follow. I try to maximize my effeciency, and when I'm burn out, I postpone some hectic tasks, which I would not be able to do with a predetermined structure.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
My dad figured out a long time back that I lacked the social aspect and was not able to sympathize with people. However recently, one of my content writers lost their father to cancer and I tried my best to support them. I acknowledged his emotional hardships, tried to understand what he was going through and support him to my maximum capability.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
"The art of innovaion", written by Tom Kelley had a significant impact on my method of leadership. Through the book I realized that I was micromanaging people and not allowing them to be show their creativity. Initially, I doubted our hiring tactics, later I realized that the Human Resource team was doing their job perfectly, it was I who was messing up. The book taught me how to create "Hot teams" that can brainstorm, experiment and innovate.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Here's a quote, "Overnight success takes many sleepless nights". I was not taken seriously for a whole of 6 months while I was working almost all day and night. And when Think Tank started reaching milestones, I gained sudden recognition and started getting invited on podcasts and other platforms.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
As a leader, I have overcome and failed against many challenges. One of them includes a specific project that we had interested members working on. It was a book for high school students that would cover all of physics from 8th grade level to 12th grade level, allowing middle school students to gain a comprehensive understanding of high school physics. However, because some members took on some tasks and never completed them, the project was claimed a failure. I realized the importance of constant checkups and feedback through this experience.