Article: Disability is the inability to see ability: Vikas Khanna, on Great Emergence

Leadership

Disability is the inability to see ability: Vikas Khanna, on Great Emergence

On Day-1 of People Matters TechHR India 2021, Ester Martinez , CEO & Editor-in-Chief of People Matters gets into a candid conversation with Vikas Khanna, Indian-American Michelin-star chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur, cookbook writer, filmmaker and humanitarian and reflects on how we can lead ourselves through "The Great Emergence" .
Disability is the inability to see ability: Vikas Khanna, on Great Emergence

The opportunity in today’s highly disrupted environment is the opportunity to redesign and to co-create– redesign our life, our businesses, our community, and our societies. This new world is fluid and agile or what technology analysts today call a “composable” world. 

Last year this time, at People Matters TechHR India 2020, we talked about antifragility. This year’s theme of People Matters TechHR 2021, is The Great Emergence, which symbolises– a new phase of creation, a new phase of reinvention, with a greater & multiplier impact. 

Quoting Liconin, “The best thing about the future is it only comes one day at a time,” Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, People Matters, kicked off People Matters TechHR India 2021 stating, “LET TODAY be the beginning of a new future.”

Reflecting upon the theme of  Great Emergence, Ester believes Adaptability is at the centre of The Great Emergence.  Adaptability is the key accelerator to stay relevant and it is core to the culture of highly resilient organizations. 

“Adaptability will increasingly shape leadership decisions at all levels, and people & work practices are at the core of bringing this adaptability, shares, Ester.

To further explore the concept of Great Emergence, Ester was joined by Vikas Khanna, a man who needs no introduction, perfect inspiration for “The Great Emergence”,  a man who signifies reinvention, perseverance, passion and societal impact.

Here is a sneak peek into Vikas Khanna’s leadership style & DNA as well as learning from a different dimension about opportunities, prioritization, overcoming challenges, building networks for higher societal impact, guiding principles for great Emergence, and more.

Identifying opportunities & creating impact

Vikas has created an impact across multiple fields of work, culinary innovation, entrepreneur, filmmaker, social impact. Reflecting upon how he identifies opportunities that help him create an impact, Vikas comments, “I have never chosen a project which is not my heart and soul.” If we just think about the projects based on money, then we end up focusing on money and not realize the ecosystem of that project. Accepting that initially for him, money was a filter in selecting the opportunities but he faced a series of failures because the focus was outcome-based. 

But after the 2008 recession in America, he realized that the power lies in finding balance. He said, “We are all energies– We need to find energies which can attract more people of the same wavelength. We need to shift the focus from money to emotions, people, and culture.” 

Commenting further on creating impact at work, Vikas comments, “ I always follow the philosophy of Culture First. If we put culture first, I feel we have greater potential to create impact”

Prioritizing your goals

Today we all work on multiple projects and play multiple roles at work and it is absolutely easy and normal to get lost and get overwhelmed. In this situation, how can we prioritize our short-term and long-term goals? 

Vikas who himself is working on multiple projects and roles of a chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur, cookbook writer, filmmaker and humanitarian shares his mantra of prioritizing work which is, “Choose your battles.” He comments one should need to put their blinders on else they wouldn’t be able to excel at their work. 

“I figured out that most of these projects came to me as a sign from the universe. For example, there was a tweet about a 96 years old lady who went to school and that was the story we wanted to tell people. And that time we figured out we need to prioritize our day, our hours and we need to fit in our story. So, for me, it is very important that we choose our battles and create a bigger impact on people and society and do what we want to do and be happy about it.”

“Find your gravity- gravity doesn’t get you lost. It keeps you grounded and helps you go on,” Vikas.

Overcoming the challenges in your journey of impact 

All impact that is worth pursuing will require you to constantly overcome multiple challenges. One of the guiding principles of overcoming hurdles while seeking purpose and creating impact,  Vikas shares, “Scars are beautiful .”

Sharing the story of #FeedIndia, Vikas shares, “During #FeedIndia, we failed in the beginning as somebody just disappeared with the whole truck of food which broke my heart because I promised people that they would get food within a few hours. I was on the verge of quitting the movement but after being reminded by my mom of the multiple challenges I had faced  in cooking which never stopped me from cooking, I realized this movement has a bigger purpose to serve.” 

He added when you realize you are working on a purpose or a mission and if it is not working out, do not give up, but find out more ways to make it work.

On building a team with the right people

Today's interconnected world allows us to join forces with like-minded people who can support and join forces to make causes more impactful. On being asked how Vikas finds talent to join his team, Vikas shares, “There is nothing as talent if it is not backed up by hard work, passion, teamwork, resilience, and sacrifices.”

Lastly, one of the biggest takeaways from Vikas’ experience and stories was that of leadership that is required for the Great Emergence– a leadership that is based on balance and which represents a much bigger purpose than the individual himself. 

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Topics: Leadership, #TechHRIN

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