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7 Questions on Leadership with Sachin Karnik


Name: Sachin Karnik


Title: Founder and CEO


Oranisation: The Great Unicorn Hunt


Sachin has over twenty years of experience in diverse domains ranging from Consumer Electronics, E-commerce, Retail and IT/ITES. He successfully led one of India's leading Angel Networks as President and helped relaunch a British Crowdfunding Company as CEO before founding Kofounderz Team Pvt Ltd that proudly presents The Great Unicorn Hunt - India's leading Startup Discovery and Networking platform.


Sachin has studied Production Engineering from Mumbai University and has an Executive MBA in Marketing. He was awarded the President’s Bronze Medal in Graduate Diploma in Materials Management from IIMM, Bangalore. Sachin is a Certified Private Equity Professional (CPEP) awarded by Private Equity Investor’s Group (PEIG). He is also a Certified Mentor for startups as per the LSM ( Lean Startup Methodology) .


Sachin has led E-commerce startup teams ever since the dotcom days and has worked with small Startups as well US based Unicorns ,( FANG company included) during his stint with Aditya Birla Group.


Sachin has been responsible for turning around a large Angel Investing Network and putting it on the forefront of the National Investing scene before leading to its eventual acquisition by a leading financial institution.


His ability to create process driven solutions to address and mitigate Startup issues is helping him build fundamentally strong solutions for various players of the Ecosystem as a part of The Great Unicorn Hunt, something that has been acknowledged by Investors, leaders and peers from India as well from Tech Coast and Silicon Valley.


Sachin has featured in Business Today in the Top 10 Entrepreneurs to watch out for in 2023

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Sachin's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?


I have found that aligning the expectations of multiple stakeholders, sometimes with diverse agendas, objectives and expectations and yet move forward without any dilution in growth metrics is the most critical challenge a leader has to face and I have been no exception. Managing Boards, Key Investors, clients, customers , ecosystem stakeholders, teams, affiliates and ensuring that you expertly juggle pressures from all sides to finally deliver on the organization goals has been a pretty challenging yet fun experience for me.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?


I remember being thrust into a leadership role with a short phone call from my boss before my promotion was announced. This was pretty early in my career with my team comprising of some folks far senior to me, in terms of age and also some unbridled, enthusiastic youngsters and brats. The patience that my immediate bosses showed certainly helped but what helped was the mountain of work that had to be done so there was hardly any time to focus on the softer aspects of leadership. I confess I have had my share of the phase where establishing authority was uphill but the best way to establish authority is to forget the title, the leadership trappings and just lead by example . Earning respect is the best way to establish authority.


3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?


I let tools like calendly fill up 30% or 40% of my day but the rest is kept for internal meetings, reviews, me-time, meeting people. Conversations are big teachers and keeping time aside for these is something I have found valuable. Conversations, Me-time, Reviews, Structured meetings, Browsing the net will be slices of the pie-chart for my day, I guess.


4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?


A lesson that has stayed with me is that: Its not the people you work for that make you successful, it’s the people you work with that make you successful. I have seen countless examples in my own life where remembering this rule helped and forgetting the rule had disastrous consequences.


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?


I was gifted this book by my father when I was a kid called How to Win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. I recommend this book written a hundred years back simply because it has survived and retained its relevance with it’s timeless lessons and examples. That book has had the most profound impacts possibly because I read it when I was a kid and it was perhaps the first such book I had read. While some may say that it is not exactly a leadership book and leadership is not about making friends or winning popularity contests and I agree with that part. However the ability to become a better human being, the ability to win friends, the ability to influence people are pre-requisites for any leader.


6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?


Integrity is the foundation and the cardinal principle even when others continue to stoop to lower levels and there is temptation to give it back to them. Ability to deliver irrespective of the circumstances is the second most critical factor and under-promising and over-delivering will never go out of fashion.


7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?


There are quite a few stories I like sharing. One is about the successful wood cutter who when asked about his secret to success says, there is nothing that he does except sharpen his axe many times before he takes a swipe. This is certainly not a case for trees to be cut but the underlying lesson of preparing beforehand is very powerful here. The other story I like sharing is about retaining a sense of humour and presence of mind where Einstein's Chauffeur gives a lecture on his behalf and with Einstein posing as his drive in the last seat but when stumped with a question simply dismisses it by saying, ' Oh this question is so easy, even my driver can answer it for you'. A story that I have created is based on a famous Hindi Movie, Don where Amitabh Bachchan, the hero says in his trademark , brooding, deep voice, " I know there are no bullets in this gun and you know there are no bullets in this gun but the police dont know this.' Have you seen Don is how I wade into the discussion where communication gap has caused a havoc. I know there are quite a few of my team members who groan when I remind them with the opening line, Have you seen Don ?

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