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Finding Serendipity to Scale Up
As leaders, we often find ourselves caught up in the planning, strategic discussions, and structured decision-making. However, sometimes the best opportunities come knocking at our door when we least expect them. That’s serendipity!
Serendipity is the ability to find interesting or valuable things by chance. But it actually goes beyond the wonderful blend of chance and destiny. It involves being open to innovative ideas and information, while also being an objective observer of reality.
Last week I was at a Stanford alumni meet up where one such occurrence happened with me. I met Milan, a long time friend of mine, whom I had not spoken to for many years. Guess what, my conversation with him ended in him giving me some advice on a tricky conversation I was about to have with someone else. This advice elevated my other conversation. It was then that both of us started to talk about serendipity and why leaders should be open to it.
Just a few minutes later, I bumped into Prof Sridhar Narayanan, one of my marketing professors at Stanford Graduate School of Business. I couldn’t help but go back to the day in 2009, when during a serendipitous conversation, he had suggested to me that I should talk to Vijay Shekhar Sharma, then a founder of an early stage company (Paytm) in India, for exploring opportunities for myself as I was planning to return to India, post my grad school. It was purely by chance but I acted on it and the rest, as they say, is history. Vijay not only hired me twice, but also became an investor, advisor and later acqui-hired my startup, EduKart. And I got a chance to work with a leader, who built Paytm, from the ground up leading to an IPO in India of over $15Bn.
So, how can we as leaders harness the power of serendipity?
Stay Curious: Curiosity is the compass that points us towards serendipitous encounters. Always be open to learning, exploring, and trying new things. You never know what new doors it may open.
Network and Connect: Meaningful connections are often the breeding ground for serendipitous moments. Attend industry events, engage with fellow professionals, and strike up conversations. The next game-changing partnership or idea might just come from a chance encounter.
Be Adaptable: Flexibility is key in the world of serendipity. Embrace change and be ready to pivot when unexpected opportunities present themselves. An unexpected turn of events could lead to a breakthrough you never imagined.
Listen and Learn: Actively listen to others, even if their ideas don’t align with your initial thoughts. Serendipity often whispers through the words of others, offering insights that can be transformative.
Trust Your Instincts: Sometimes, that gut feeling is serendipity trying to catch your attention. Trust your instincts and be open to following those inklings that guide you towards the unknown.
In this ever-evolving landscape of business, scaling up is not merely about numbers; it's about nurturing a thriving ecosystem of talent, innovation, and collaboration. Wonderful things can happen if we are open, curious, and willing to let a little magic in. Embrace these unexpected turns of events as valuable learning experiences. The agility and quick thinking developed through serendipitous encounters can significantly enhance your decision-making process.
Incorporating serendipity into your leadership approach can transform your team and business in an amazing manner. Stay open to the unexpected, celebrate chance encounters, and let serendipity be your trusted ally on the exciting road to scaling it up!
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