Nithin Kamath, the chief executive officer of Zerodha, talks about how consultations are fine but the final decision with respect to tricky matters should be taken by the leader
Note to readers: How do corporate India’s leaders manage their businesses? Where do they draw inspiration from? What is their management style? Like A Boss is a new series of interviews aimed to offer readers lessons from corporate bosses on how they run their companies.
Nithin Kamath is arguably the most successful fintech entrepreneur in India at present. Living in the southern part of Bengaluru Kamath is an outlier among the new generation tech entrepreneurs. He has built the country’s largest stock broking platform without raising a single penny from external investors.
Zerodha changed the rules of the game when it made trading 'brokerage free' back in December 2015 and has leveraged its technology platform to grow among young traders. Ask any aspiring entrepreneur in Bengaluru and they would die to spend an hour learning on how to build business from Kamath. He also spends quality time mentoring and investing in other startups through his Rainmatter programme. In a candid chat with Moneycontrol, Nithin Kamath talks about how he is as a leader and what drives him to be on the top of his game and stay ahead of competition always.
Q: What time do you like to start work? Do you think business leaders need to be early risers or should work till late?
A: I start the day at around 7 AM; glance at my emails and what has happened to financial markets around the world overnight.
About working early or late, thanks to selection bias, you can easily come up with theories to either get up early or work till late to succeed. The most important part here for everyone, and especially for leaders, is to sleep well and long enough (I struggle to get good sleep too). So choose whatever works best for you.
Q: Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: at business school or on the job?
A: At the job, for sure.
Q: Describe your management style, especially with regards to your colleagues.
A: I guess it’s being stoic. There are things in life and business that are out of your control; don’t let them affect you. Just do your best with the things that you can control. So I do whatever I can to help my colleagues, but don’t usually get affected by the results of the effort.
Q: Are tough decisions best taken by one person or collectively?
A: The toughest ones are those where the predictability of the results is the least. While a team can collectively think, I think one person should make the decision. Tough decisions are where it also is tough to get a unanimous opinion.
Q: Do you want to be liked, feared or respected?
Q: What does your support team look like?
A: Apart from the core team around which the business was built, I have a team of 15 sharp young boys and girls to strategise and execute what is best for the business.
Q: A business leader that you draw inspiration from?
A: Azim Premji
Q: Which management book has influenced you the most?
A: Let my people go surfing - Yvon Chouinard.
Q: Do you socialise with your team outside of work?
A: Not apart from the core five-member team, who are like family.
Q: Many entrepreneurs are looking to start up, what would be your message to aspiring young entrepreneurs? What is that one thing they should keep in mind before taking the plunge?
A: You have to find a problem that you are passionate about solving. Find a way to work at a place which is solving a similar problem, build core competencies, ask the question if you are still passionate, if yes -- take the plunge.Follow the entire Like A Boss series here.