How do you carve out a counter-intuitive niche and be successful at it? On today’s episode, Vineet Jain joins us for a discussion about how he charted a path different from every other tech person’s. He also shares how it all paid off, ten years later.
Swimming Upstream to Grow
Vineet has built a business that has seen nine consecutive quarters of records. They did this against a landscape of massive competitors who at one time looked like they might really threaten Egnyte. And to achieve this, they had to niche down.
“Indeed, this company of ours has grown in the big shadow being cast by some of the players who had a lot more funding.” – Vineet Jain
Financing Against the Trend
Year over year, Egnyte had a compounded growth rate of 30-35% and wasn’t raising much money. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter of 2016 that their cash flow turned positive. But Vineet knew that this wasn’t enough to keep the company afloat.
In August of 2018, he pitched that they raised financing. This was despite the general trend that tech companies observed. Sure enough, Vineet’s confident promise was met, and Goldman Sacks came into the picture.
Divine Luck and Difference
Egnyte had a size disadvantage against other companies in their category. They had a little over 600 employees, so they had to figure out how to play to this asymmetry. Ultimately, they decided to focus on their product and the economics of customer acquisition.
“You cannot pick a fight with an enemy who has picked your weapon of choice.” – Vineet Jain
Even with how they tried to show how they were different, they didn’t escape being lumped with 100 other vendors. But the confluence of two factors helped them rise: the expansion of the category they belonged to and the adoption curve becoming mainstream. With a product that fit the market at an interesting period, they got higher demand.
To hear more about how Vineet worked to build Egnyte to reach its pre-eminence and raised a $75M-funding round, download and listen to the episode.
Vineet Jain is the CEO and co-founder of Egnyte.
Prior to Egnyte, Vineet founded and successfully built Valdero, a supply chain software solution provider, funded by KPCB, MDV and Trinity Ventures.
He has held a rich variety of senior operational positions at KPMG and Bechtel. He has 20 years of experience in building capital-efficient and nimble organizations. Vineet earned a BS in Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering and received an MBA from Santa Clara University.
We hope you enjoyed Vineet Jain on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
Why is it so hard for these companies to do what is right and fair? On today’s episode, activist Christian Sarkar joins us. He talks about brand activism and why business leaders need to embrace social causes beyond making money.
Christian says that we have reached a point where the government can no longer control capitalism. There simply isn’t a set of rules to regulate it. This is peak irony, given how guard rails were put up to prevent a repeat of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression.
“We have created a culture of governance that is very weak and, by design, has no teeth.” – Christian Sarkar
We have the free market and companies have to play by set, agreed-upon norms. The problem, however, persists. Nobody is addressing the things that endanger not only the economy but the society at large.
Paying Attention to Society
Christian co-authored Brand Activism: From Purpose to Action with Philip Kotler. The book espouses brand activism, something that most companies forget about in their pursuit of capital gains. Capitalism doesn’t pay attention to society enough.
Everyone is so concerned about getting the stocks up, but nobody knows about the three major problems that even the government can’t solve. These include the environment, income inequality, and population control. Neglect these three altogether, and you spell the end of not just your business, but also of the world.
Adopting Brand Activism
It is certainly difficult to create a brand that can lobby for causes that could save the world one person at a time. They don’t teach you charity and social responsibility in a business school. Every time, it is all about maximizing shareholder value.
There are companies who appeal for government funds to protect themselves from the backlash of climate change. The catch is that they have highly contributed to it. It’s time that business leaders choose between stepping up or sitting by the window of this freight train in a collision course.
“This is the problem with market-driven capitalism—that’s just blindly following the pursuit of value extraction.” – Christian Sarkar
To hear more about progressive brand activism and its importance, download and listen to the episode.
Christian Sarkar is a Consultant, Author, Entrepreneur, Publisher, Artist, and Activist. With Philip Kotler, he co-authored (“The Father of Modern Marketing) of the bestseller “Brand Activism: From Purpose to Action”. He is also the editor of The Marketing Journal.
We hope you enjoyed Christian Sarkar on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
Today, Prof. Margaret Neale joins us for a riveting conversation about research-based negotiation, teams, and diversity. She shares insights that haven’t been heard before, like why engaging in a negotiation as though going into battle is a bad idea.
“When I have this view of negotiation as a battle, then that mindset becomes the filter through which I evaluate all your behaviors.” – Prof. Margaret Neale
On Research-Based Negotiations
Too often, people have a lot of negotiation beliefs and insights that are not supported by empirical evidence. And often, these beliefs are repeated. This is the reason why Prof. Neale tries to help people think about negotiation in a broader sense.
Through her work and teaching, she also shares strategies and tactics that are research-focused and probably not mainstream.
Value Creation and Claiming
Take for example the infamous strategy of most people who engage in negotiation and talking about the price. In order to get what they want, they’re most likely not being truthful. They start way above their ideal price so they can argue their way down the middle, while the other party does the same thing from below.
“The challenge in negotiation is that you are trying in most situations to trade off value creation and value claiming.” – Prof. Margaret Neale
But value creation is a process that’s independent of value claiming. When we think of them simultaneously during a negotiation, we cause the other party to come up with more extreme counteroffers. We are then less likely to find an outcome to the negotiation.
Collateral Damage of Negotiation Battles
The concept of negotiation as a battle creates all sorts of collateral damage. And this is why Prof. Neale wants to move people away from it.
“I make my most malevolent interpretation of those behaviors because you’re the other, you’re the enemy.” – Prof. Margaret Neale
Not to mention that this mindset, when reciprocated, ultimately causes laser-focus on winning the fight. It then becomes a matter of who gets to beat whom, which is far from the true goal of the interaction.
To hear more do’s and don’ts of negotiation and insights on teams and diversity from Prof. Margaret Neale, download and listen to the episode.
Dr. Margaret Neale is the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management, Graduate School of Business Stanford and Co-director of Executive Program for Women Leaders.
Margaret Neale’s research focuses primarily on negotiation and team performance. Her work has extended judgment and decision-making research from cognitive psychology to the field of negotiation.
Dr. Neale was the Graduate School of Business John G. McCoy-Banc One Corporation Professor of Organizations and Dispute Resolution from 2000-2012.
Trust Faculty Fellow in 2011-2012 and in 2000-2001. Dr. Neale received her BS in Pharmacy from Northeast Louisiana University, her MS from the Medical College of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University, and then her Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Texas.
- Professor Margaret Neale Named 2011 Davis Award Recipient
- Why Women Must Ask (The Right Way): Negotiation Advice From Stanford’s Margaret A. Neale
We hope you enjoyed Prof. Margaret Neale on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
Today, legendary keynote speaker, barber, and poet Will Little once again joins his friend Christopher. They share an insightful conversation on redemption, forgiveness, and personal transformation.
“We are not having the conversation they need to hear.” – Will Little on young men who feel angered or disconnected
An Eye for an Eye for Most
How would you feel if someone killed your brother, Will would ask people. For most, the first response is to kill. It’s what they feel is right, that there’s no other recourse for them.
This kind of thinking presents a myriad of challenges for young people.
“They’ll have no other authority but to hear the voice of the streets, even if they’re not built by that, even if they’re not in the streets like that.” – Will Little
Voice of the Streets
Sometimes, even the unwilling are forced to take up the gun. After all, it’s what the streets say they must do. But Will has made it his life mission to make people realize that it’s not a path they need to take.
Along with others with the same mindset, Will has been sharing his story to let people know that they can be who they are. While they grew up thinking certain things were real, they can shape their own reality. Understanding all of these brings hopes of growth and learning.
Ever since he started speaking with groups of young guys, Will quickly learned the most pressing challenge in transforming the lives of others.
“A lot of them see possibility in their life. They just think they’re secluded to this four-block radius where they live at and where they’re from.” – Will Little
To hear more about how Will Little shows young people who he is so they can all make a difference, download and listen to the episode.
Growing up in a fraught environment, Will dropped out of school early. He got involved with gangs shortly afterwards, which led to a gunfight that resulted in taking another man’s life. He has since served his sentence in jail for the murder, and now Will goes around having conversations with people.
Will shares his story with youngsters going through same challenges he was in back in the day. Now a keynote speaker, he shows people the possibilities in their lives and how they can transform themselves for the better.
We hope you enjoyed Will Little on this episode of Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
How does creativity bloom and do we really need a soulmate? Dushka Zapata is a talented writer and a communications executive at Silicon Valley. Today, she joins us to talk about writing, soulmates, the difference between blame and responsibility, and a whole lot more.
“The greatest lie ever told is that there is someone out there that can make you peaceful, happy and full.” – Dushka Zapata
Three Things We Learned
Creativity blooms from unpredictability and solitude
Dushka thinks that her fast-paced workplace along with everything else that happens to her on the regular enable her writing. In truth, being in one’s comfort zone can be gray and may kill the stories that one has to write. Striking the perfect balance between unpredictability and solitude to allow oneself to breathe helps in maintaining creativity.
Boredom and distraction are not a dichotomy
The inability to feel pleasure or anhedonia stems from both boredom and perpetual distraction. But distraction does not mean the complete opposite of boredom, and oftentimes unhealthy distractions take on the form of false entertainment fed to the brain. Perpetual distraction may also lead to burnout, especially if boredom still lingers even after giving in to one distraction after another.
Finding one’s soulmate will not fix you
Dushka actively answers questions on Quora and one of the many things that she has been asked is whether or not we need a soulmate. But this is just one of the many lies that we from every other person. We don’t need to find someone to end our suffering from dissatisfaction and despair or being disheartened and lonely, as this belief oftentimes enhances a permanent sense of restlessness.
Humans are already whole and our secret sense of dissatisfaction and loneliness is actually inherent to the human condition. In fact, no one out there has the ability to bail you out. Eventually, you can pick out someone to walk beside you through everything, but the antidote to your loneliness does not exist in anyone outside of yourself but you.
Dushka Zapata is a best-selling author and her work has been viewed over 120 million times on Quora. She serves as the VP of Communications at public technology company Zendesk.
We hope you enjoyed Dushka Zapata on this episode of Legends and Losers! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
Which is the winner in a comparison of foreground vs. background conversations? On today’s episode, Bix and Joe Bickson join us for another conversation tackling a tenet of future hacking. They talk about how the power dynamics in the company not only affect performance but also derail communication lines.
“The first practice we’re asking executive teams to have is to say the background conversations in the meeting.” – Joe Bickson
Three Things We Learned
Power dynamics still prevail in organizations
People are often trained to think that the more senior members of organizations have more authority and power. This prevents the kind of uninhibited conversations to create new opportunities for growth from happening. These old constructs, relics of the system birthed from the industrial revolution still lingers even at present day.
Why power dynamics deter growth
Because of this authoritarian system adopted from eons past, people in power oftentimes end up drinking their own bathwater. Their subordinates tell them how great and inspiring they are. Positive feedback is feedback that gets bent out of shape and it’s in no way of use to future hacking.
Background conversations matter
Most executive meetings feel suppressed. People are concerned about not only the subject matter to be discussed, but also the manner by which they discuss items in an attempt to maintain professionalism. But as soon as people leave these meetings, background conversations happen, and these are the type that should actually be encouraged in organizational circles.
When people talk about wanting to hack the future, they want to achieve something meaningful to step up in their life and business. But the delta between where they are and where they want to be, as well as with who they are and who they want to be sometimes gets in the way. To traverse this delta, people in chairs must come to love the gap and address the difficulty of power dynamics in organizations.
Bix and Joe Bickson are a team of a baby boomer and millennial working together to create new organizational DNA.
We hope you enjoyed Foreground vs. Background Conversations – Bix and Joe Bickson on this episode of Legends and Losers! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
On this episode of Questions and Cocktails, Christopher Lochhead responds to another question emailed by one his listeners. A 1st time startup CEO for a new venture-backed company seeks advice on how to become a legendary leader.
“Legendary people build legendary companies. It’s that simple.” – Christopher Lochhead 1st Startup Time CEO
Love the Problem, Not Just the Solution
Christopher breaks down his advice into seven points and the first of which is to love the problem. The most legendary of entrepreneurs make it a point to focus on either a problem that people don’t know they have or re-imagining a problem the market knows it has, viewing the problem in a completely different way.
Prosecute the “Magic Triangle” as a 1st Time Startup CEO
Christopher and his co-authors addressed the concept in both Play Bigger and Niche Down. The “magic triangle” is the three things legendary executive teams and entrepreneurs get right. These three are product, company and category, and all are equally important.
As a CEO, you must be focused on all three while at the same time being an evangelist for the problem. The bigger the problem, the more urgent and more strategic you have to be since people will apply more money and time to solve that problem. And in turn, these problems create categories, the product and company intertwined.
Surround Yourself with Legendary People
For years, Christopher parroted the prevalent notion in Silicon Valley that you must always hire A players. But the truth is you will never have a company full of them. This means a CEO must figure out where to put the A players and B players to bring out their best.
A good B player is what you need for a lot of roles that must be fulfilled. But in key executive roles, whether in engineering, sales, or marketing and especially in the beginning, you need legendary people to fill in these roles. In this regard, think about who your board is and who your advisers.
To hear the other four points Christopher offers, download and listen to the episode!
Bix and Joe Bickson return for this series tackling different topics, including future hacking. Today, they share how imposter syndrome manifests and why people need to be ruthlessly compassionate.
“Every CEO, every executive, every person we’ve sat in a room with over time has revealed that they also have great doubts.” – Bix Bickson on imposter syndrome
Three Things We Learned
Everyone is suffering from the imposter syndrome
This is apparent in the way we present ourselves in the world. Particularly, people who are more senior in an organization feel the need to have it together. They need to look good, be the smartest, the sharpest and most intelligent, but the truth is everyone has their own self-doubts, concerns and worries.
Podcasts help reveal the truth
If there’s anything that podcasts have been a huge help at, it’s in revealing the truth that all the people we revere have to deal with the same set of challenges regular people do. It doesn’t matter whether they are a musician, an actor or an executive. Through podcasts, we get to listen to their lives and come to a realization that they are no different from the rest of us.
Manifestation of the imposter syndrome
People walk into an executive meeting bearing all the years of experience, knowledge and expertise that placed them in a position to be heard. But the value that a person is able to create is completely correlated with the willingness of people to listen. Without this engagement, whatever you work for won’t make any difference.
Self-doubt is more than feeling incompetent in areas outside of one’s expertise despite having the mastery of one’s specialization. Oftentimes, external stimuli like the engagement of your audience can play a role. Juxtaposed, these various factors swizzle about and create this crippling self-doubt regardless of having proven oneself time and again.
Bix and Joe Bickson are a team of a baby boomer and millennial working together to create new organizational DNA.
We hope you enjoyed Bix and Joe Bickson on this episode of Legends and Losers! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!
On episode 66 and 67, Jeff Denholm sat with Christopher Lochhead for the very first time. They previously talked about his incredible athletic achievements as the one-armed surfer and all-around athlete. Today, he shares his entrepreneurial endeavors and how he and his partners are building a company to save the planet, save firefighters, and stop the wildfires.
“Three to four percent of the fire resources these days are private.” – Jeff Denholm on the involvement of the private sector in mitigating wildfire
Three Things We Learned
Glorification of mediocrity
For Jeff, 99% of social media is glorification of mediocrity. These platforms managed to condition people to want to see things deemed to be aesthetically pleasing or those that induce the classic rush of adrenaline. For this very reason, the things that truly matter, like environmental causes, don’t get the attention they deserve.
Fire season of the past
This fifth season that normally throws off anyone accustomed to the four-season scheme used to be three to four months of dry, mid-late summer through early fall, specifically for California. All the plants, or the fuel loads that catch fire, have enough time to dry out. The Sta. Ana breeze then carries whatever object that is lit, and this eventually causes the fires.
Areas where large population centers interface with the dried trees, bushes, and grass often record the biggest wildfires. In California last year, wildfires started as late as December or as early as July. With the current trend of development and global warming, fires have become frequent.
Whether we believe these fires are caused by humans or not, they are happening. And they are not about to go away. This very knowledge has spurred on Jeff and his partners, among other private sector groups, in their pursuit of combating these drastic fires.
Jeff wears many hats in life, including entrepreneur, professional athlete, inspirational speaker and environmental steward. ATIRA Systems® is the professional nexus of Jeff’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the environment.
While seeking a fire retardant for his Wildfire Equipment Company, Jeff got struck by disturbing statistics about the toxicity of current offerings. He asked himself a question. “What if we could come up with a non-toxic product that is more effective at fighting fires of all types without doing unnecessary harm?”
Jeff discovered that annually, people dump millions of gallons of flame retardant into natural resources. These further destroy precious wetlands and large population centers throughout the world. So began Jeff’s drive to create a business that not only saves lives and structures, but does no harm to the earth.
We hope you enjoyed Jeff Denholm on this episode of Legends and Losers! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on iTunes!