Mindset is everything. Whether you are talking about career success, starting your own business, or trying to make a differnce in the society. Having the growth mindset can make a difference. In this candid conversation, Ankur Warikoo, the Founder and CEO of Nearbuy talks about why having a growth mindset is more important than anything else. We bring to you this exclusive piece as Ankur steps down from his role and is all set to explore newer territories.
Q1. Tell us about Nearbuy’s journey so far.
In 2011, Groupon which was already a rage in US was looking to start its business in India. At that time, I had no idea about local commerce and had zero appreciation for local retail is and what it could do in India. Honestly, at that time, I had no idea what Groupon was doing. I got connected with them and they liked me and it was a great reason for me to accept the opportunity. I did it for four years and in that entire process, I learnt a lot but in that journey, I also figured out that Groupon’s focus was clearly US and Europe. Groupon’s ability to invest time, money and technology in India was limited and we were not happy because we were at the heart of what we were doing. So, in 2015, we did a management buyout. We went to Groupon and asked them to sell us the Groupon India business. We said, “We will make it into our own, fund it, make the product, technology and will do everything we need to do because it is a massive business opportunity for us.”
The management agreed and we did the spin-off and that is how Nearbuy came into the picture, which is a spin-off of Groupon. We have been funded numerous times and most recently PayTM invested in us which clearly shows that we are one of the most relevant businesses.
Q2. Over the years, you have built a great brand not only for Nearbuy but for yourself too. Inspiring people especially Millennials through LinkedIn, Quora, and now with a video series. What is your idea behind connecting with Millennials out there?
I will share the broader context behind the need of building the brand on social. The broader context was that we got to a point in Nearbuy where we felt that we have to take control of our stories. A large part of the stories is disseminated by the media and the media is an endeavor for bad and good purposes. You have a very few tech blogs and magazines that really appeal to the masses. On our part, it looked irrational that we as a technology company have to rely on other platforms to talk about ourselves. It made complete sense for us to leverage technology to share our stories rather than depending on external media.
The other part of the story was that the audience for our stories would not be customers or investors but potential talent. Because this part of the audience will fall in love with the stories, relate with them and crave for them. We did not target Millennials by design but they tend to react more on such content to find meaning and ideas.
Q3. We saw certain videos and posts by you and also read few articles authored by you. Each of those posts tried challenging people’s mindset. For example, the video on “Is asking ‘why’ a right thing?” or the very famous “Failure resume”. Most of these posts inspire a growth mindset. Do you think people who find success have a growth mindset? Tell us a little bit about it.
As human beings, we tend to always box ourselves in a self-image that either we have created or worse, allowed others to create for us. All these constraints that we impose on ourselves hinder possibilities. A growth mindset is, if you think you can do or become something, then nothing should stop you from trying or venturing into that space. And I love that because a large part of who I am and what I generally do has been about never constraining myself with what I can’t to do. In the realm of physics, anything is possible. I can’t fly but I can do anything what physics allows me to do. I was a fixed mindset guy for a long time in fact. I had a very strong point of view of who I was, and on people who did things which I didn’t like. And it was very constraining. And then when I went to the USA to pursue my PhD, which I never completed, a lot of things changed for me. I discovered what I wasn’t and that the image of people I had created in my mind was not the what they were.
Q4. How do you encourage a growth mindset in people around you?
There are a few ways how we do that. The biggest thing that we do is being extremely understanding and appreciative of failures because no one including me knows what the right thing is. It is unwise for us to expect we know what the right thing to do is. We can do number crunching, research, analysis but this is a way of rationalizing and convincing yourself that what you are doing is the right thing. So, the only way to figure out something is to do it. So ideally, you should be doing everything possible that would be the right thing for customers, for us, and for our audience. I think the culture of ownership is the biggest thing we do in terms of having a growth mindset. And that is why all of our senior talent is home-grown. They have developed over the years, risen up the ladders and continue to challenge themselves because the way our company is orchestrated, if you don’t push yourself and fixing yourself, you are dead.
Q5. So how can we go about making sure, in our own selves that we stay in the growth mindset?
It takes a lot of effort. It is something they you to train yourself on. You will have to do it consistently until you become habituated with it. Most of the population lives in ignorance and not awareness. It is people’s choice to stay with a fixed mindset if it makes sense for them, but it should always come from the point of awareness. Just wishing to be successful, earning money, having a lifestyle of a rich person wouldn’t take you anywhere until you are aware what it takes to be like them.
Q5. What does the future of work look like?
I do not have a definitive answer but I think a lot of trivial, repeatable jobs will be taken over by machines which will lead most of us unemployed. I don’t know how do we plan to earn money but what I know is that it would leave us with what should be our jobs for forever - to pursue creativity, to pursue art and to pursue thinking. Things that machines will find hard to replicate like music, science, philosophy, love and relationships. This is because that is what we are good at and our ultimate purpose was. Our ultimate job was never to work. Working is something we do for earning and never for fulfilment. This massive shift where people who are not used to investing time in creativity and other human aspects will find their life meaningless. I think the future of work is machine taking over our jobs and our jobs would be largely creative and non-algorithmic in nature.
Q6. If we talk about you, your own personal journey has been pretty interesting. What do you think is the right mindset for success?
There are three things that I actively speak about and have helped me a lot:
- Do not let anyone define success and failure for you. You should define it for yourself.
- Let go off the massive sense of entitlement which stems from the fact that I deserve to be where I am. This sense of entitlement is so wrong. I feel that we are just lucky to be born in a family which took care of us - food, education, shelter. The truth is there are millions people who will work twice as hard as us but will not get the kind of opportunity which we get. The problem with this sense of entitlement is we get into the complaining mode. Keep yourself grounded and respect what you have.
- Do not get comfortable, because the world around you is orchestrated to make you comfortable. However, when you start seeking comfort, you stop questioning yourself on what you want, where you want to go and what you seek. If you seek comfort, you start complaining, you allow others to define success or failure for you and imbibe this false sense of entitlement.