Leadership – My Learnings & Observations

It’s been nearly a month, I have been spending my evenings at SproutBox Gurgaon, while I spend my time here – learning the skills required to run an organisation and building my startup – I will be blogging about what I see and do here, and one of the incidents that come to mind is about leadership. As a part of my training, the leadership team at SproutBox got me involved in running the Season 3 of Meet The Mentor Series, a series of talks in an Ask Me Anything format with some of the most amazing Mentors. My learning in putting all this together was a great experience, and we were geared to start with our First talk, and then something happened!

A leader is “a person who influences a group of people towards the achievement of a goal.” A human who can drive growth and make things happen. Leadership though is more complex than it appears. Especially when the leader has to choose between organizational goals and welfare.

Friday 5:05 PM – The Evening of 25th August 2017
“Everything has been sorted, we just need to check the final guest list on Facebook and make sure that they feel comfortable when they are here. We must make sure that they feel at ease. Let’s make this a success.”

“Everything has been sorted, we just need to check the final guest list on Facebook and make sure that they feel comfortable when they are here. We must make sure that they feel at ease. Let’s make this a success.” Mr. Sapra (one of the co-founders of SproutBox) checked and rechecked the preparations, he wanted to make sure this was a successful event – where people not only gained more knowledge but were able to interact with other startup founders, learn and put these learnings to use.  He had an eerie calm about himself, yet I could see his mind was running in several directions ensuring everything was set right.

On the other hand, Mr. Sandeep Aurora,  our Speaker for this Event, was looking forward to meeting a curious bunch of people. He was happy that all his knowledge gathered over the last 2 decades would come handy to these startups and business owners, who could use this to scale up their companies.

The event aimed to attract a lot of curious heads. From young students to seasoned businessmen. It was to be held at SproutBox Suryavilas (Delhi) – tomorrow between 4 PM to 6 PM. An interactive session where people would interact with Mr. Aurora, on marketing ideas and leadership. The stage was set. But no one was aware of what was to come.

Friday 6:30 PM
There was news everywhere, not to step out of your houses, especially if you were going to travel across the border of any city, whether it was Noida to Delhi or Gurgaon to Delhi – Facebook feeds, WhatsApp messages, tweets, and even parents calling each other – that this was a weekend meant to be at home. There was news
“Violence at Panchkula and Sirsa”

There was a panic amongst people and suddenly we all got a message from the Security Officers at the Gurgaon CoWorking Space, and the Delhi CoWorking Space – Main Gates were shut so that no one could enter. If we were expecting a guest, we were told to inform them not to come and or inform the security staff on who was expected. People were told not to panic, but ensure they reach home safely

Saturday 7:30 AM – The Morning of 26th August 2017
“Security forces use drones for surveillance of over 2.5 lakh Dera followers gather in Panchkula”
“Sirsa, Chandigarh, Panchkula converted into fortresses as thousands of paramilitary, police personnel deployed”
“Death toll rises to 30, curfew in many cities of Haryana and Punjab”

The News Papers and Social Media was still buzzing – suddenly, everything seemed dicey. Even though Gurgaon & Delhi are miles away from where things were going on – Mr. Sapra’s phone was ringing since early in the morning, me and my team members at SproutBox were confused – we were being told by our parents not to step out – but we knew, we had to run an event, there was money spent to organise and plan today’s event, Mr. Aurora (the mentor for the day) had given us time from his calendar, there were people who were aligned to come – yes we could send them an email and make calls – but what about people who just show up, guests, friends and what about Mr. Aurora.

I was on chat with Mr. Sapra, and I could sense it was not an easy call for him to take – but he had to take a call.

“Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right” – Professor Warren G. Bennis

It was the first in the series of events, what do you do – do you cancel it – do you run it, by 8 AM I had been on phone with Mr. Sapra, and we were all given directions – the first “Stay Safe” and let’s keep everyone safe, and out of harms way. While we all knew, the violence may never reach Delhi or the National Capital Region – We had to take a call, and the Call was – Call off the Event!

I was in shock, I did not know how he was able to stay level headed and take a call, by 08:30 AM he had reached out to Mr. Aurora on the phone and discussed on how to proceed. I remember the commitment I was told when we planned the event – even if One Person turns up for the Event, we still run it – and now we were confused. Now we were being told he had reached out to Mr. Aurora, they both discussed and said in the betterment of the people and the risk attached – they should postpone the event. Mr. Aurora was kind enough, to immediately slot in the Next Weekend (2nd September) in his Calendar

08:45 AM
Facebook Event is updated, and Mr. Sapra drafts an email. He is a man on his toes – and he shoots out the email using the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software at SproutBox. He says he has to take leadership and inform. He starts making a few phone calls to guests and gets us on board, and then I saw something I have never seen someone do before.

A Sticker was generated, and put up at the Gates – The Security Team informed that if someone was to come for the Event – please offer them Tea, Coffee, Snacks and request them that we had to cancel the event. Take their phone numbers and email id’s down so we could personally send an apology and invite them again. I never thought this is something I would see.

Being a part of this amazing team, made me realize, that leadership is not just about ensuring growth to an organization. It’s about being wise. Understanding the situation and acting accordingly. It’s about being compassionate. He knew he would disappoint a lot of people, but he also knew that he had kept those people out of harm’s way.

“I never thought of being a leader, I thought very simply of helping people” – John Hume

I have learned, that at SproutBox it’s just not about business or monetary growth. The Aim clearly is to awaken the leader we all have in ourselves, by providing us with the right environment, the warmth of a box, nurture our ideas. Just like the Sun helps Sprout a plant in nature. If you are someone who is looking at building a startup or want to experience what great coworking is about, I invite you to come and try out SproutBox – They are happy giving out Day Passes for Trial, click here to grab one for yourself. Oh yes, and if you are keen on attending one of the events as a part of Meet The Mentor Series – Check out what we have aligned by clicking here.


CoWorking – My Learnings

Co-working or Coworking comes to us from the year 2005, a concept initially introduced by Brad Neuberg. Although as the year passed by, his idea saw its own maturity. Brad Neuberg gave a name to a concept which was just brewing at the moment in San Francisco, between all the upcoming technology and facilities. His idea was hyphen less and was simple “coworking. He had a clear vision of how to give people a touch of professionalism, who worked from home or as a freelancer.

Coworking, if I talk in layman language is when different people come to a place to work together but not for the same company. They just have one thing in common and that is their goal to succeed.

I have been working with SprouBox, a co-working space for sometimes now, and I thought this would be a great way to share what I learned being a part of this industry

Co-working taught me a lot of important things but the few I would like to keep with me are:

Ocean of knowledge:

Working in a place which is not a traditional office space but consists of people from different fields, companies of different range and ideas to breathe is always the best way to gain insight. When you work in a company, you know 100 of people around you are punching the same numbers as you. But working in a co-working space makes you stand out. It brings the individual power of yours from inside. Your thoughts become wide and your ideas become stronger. You don’t fight for a place, but you fight for perception. You grow as a company and you grow and an individual. A person learns to respect other’s profession and personality when he becomes very well aware of his own esteems.

You are in-charge:

What is better than the feeling of freedom while working towards your dream? You are the in-charge of yourself and your work. It’s you who decides over your working hour. You decide what time you have to come and which time you need to leave. It’s you who decide for long working hours or movie break in between. This helps people in working both effectively and efficiently. You are your own instructor and you are your own guide. You know when you want to shift to corner or when you require brainstorming with people. Everything becomes clear in your mind, your plans and your concepts.


It’s always better to be a part of the community. A healthy and friendly community helps you and your work grow in various levels of success. Working within a community provides you vast mastery in your own field. A community is full of talents in every field in the market. You take help and you provide some and everything works fine. Healthy competition and some hands for help are always a great deal for achieving what one desires.

Community helps you to be sustainable and open. There is a lot more power in unity. And working in a community of talented minds gives you that.

Being a part:

Working in a coworking space made me realize how good it feels to be a part. To be a part of someone’s success or to be a part of someone’s low time. When, in a closed place, works an entrepreneur, a freelancer, start-ups, techies etc there will be a valley of ideas and stories. From some, you will be inspired and from some, you will learn. People do not judge them on the basis of their success or failure in a coworking space, but they judge them on how much they tried and how cool the idea sounded. There will always be someone with all his/her ears to listen to what you have in mind. There will be support and motivation, a place full of inspiration.

Work and Fun, Do Mix Together: 

At coworking spaces such as SproutBox, there are always events happening. Whether a motivational talk to a movie night. It provides the best fun possible while working. People are always enthusiastic about impromptu fun sessions. This builds the community strong and close. People get to talk and know each other more. And who doesn’t want a break once in a while? The best part is, you can showcase yourself one side or be an observer on the other. There is knowledge everywhere; one must know to grasp it.

In case you are still waiting to make a move to a Coworking space and thinking why this extra expense – after all you can work from home, or work from a rented office, I request you to join us for a tour, or come down and spend a day coworking with us – and experience the joys it has brought me and our other coworkers. SproutBox Operates 2 CoWorking Spaces at the Moment, one in DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon (Where I sit out of) and Another one in Okhla Phase 1, New Delhi

Oh Yes, the Image on top – No this is not a food blog, just one of those days where It was raining, and we wanted to have some Pakoda’s (yes we are desis) and I organised an impromptu get together for our coworkers, around Tea and some Amazing Bread Pakoda’s and Samosa’s




The First Month

Running a Startup is a very interesting proposition, you could be a well established entrepreneur, with people to do every possible task, but when you start something new, and ensure that you are going to do it as a startup, you learn some new lessons, the journey for starting SproutBox though is about 5 years old, but we started construction in April 2015, and we opened our doors on the 1st of June 2015 to our coworkers, and in the last one month of operations, there are several things we learnt, several things we are yet to learn, and surprises that we did not think of, so if you are a startup, an entrepreneur, a freelancer, a coder, an artist, or a blogger or just someone who is looking at starting out to do something on your own, read on – I promise you that you will go back home and say to your self  “Why Did I not think about this earlier?”

Lesson 1: Use Technology

Well there is no debate, technology is a tool if you can use it, and have it work for you, from our messaging tools (slack), to our ticket management system (groove), and even our mailing list manager (mail chimp), technology has helped us come this far. Ensuring that everyone in the team from shared resources from our existing business’s to dedicated resources we have for SproutBox, needs to be updated with all the operational information.

Lesson 2: Have a Strategic Plan, Not just a Business Plan

Over the last few years there has been so much focus on the business plan, that we all end up forgetting what our strategic plan would be, and having this ready helps. Though there is not much to talk about it here, ensure that your Business Plan covers the “Who” and “What” of your new business wile the strategic plan covers the “How” and “When”.

Lesson 3: Define Your Vision Statement

Remember the elevator pitch, well we did enough exercises, and said we are a coworking space, but that was just not enough, over the first few days we realised, we were more than a coworking space, we are designed to be an accelerator, a conducive space for growth, a place where you come to collaborate, network, exchange ideas and grow.

Lesson 4: Delegate Authority

I am not good with finances – there I said it, though if you know me personally you would have already known this. Yes I am good with numbers but when it comes to checking the cheque books, updating balances, and planning cash flows – I am not the best person there, luckily Rajeev ji is, and this is what brings me to delegating authority. Trust is the first factor of a partnership, make sure you trust your partner, and delegate authority. While I manage the technology section, our website, and work with our Digital media team, we meet up once a week and discuss where we are, where we want to go, our revenues, our cash flows, and how things are.

Lesson 5: Build a Community

When we started out, Happy Hours Wednesday was more of an Idea, now it is a reality, the first Wednesday we were just 3 coworkers, and Rajeev ji and I, now a month later we are roughly 15 coworkers and us, but Happy Hours Wednesday is one of our bonding events, where we get together over lunch time or the evening, enjoy a snack together, have a conversation and build connections.

Lesson 6: Something will go wrong

Yes we planned for everything, backup Internet connections, Backup power from a Diesel Generator, backup manpower, backup everything – but something will go wrong! A fan will stop working, an electric appliance will mis-behave, or even a monkey will come and take away the cover of your water storage tanks (yes this happened to us) and then break the plumbing pipes (this happened to us also). You may have planned everything, but something or the other will go wrong – so be prepared, and take the challenges head on, make sure you communicate to everyone that you are handling it, and wherever possible delegate and get it done.

Lesson 7: Never be afraid to ask

Though I have always believed in this, but during times of trouble one tends to forget, yes there is always a web search on how to do something, but what I have learnt time and again is – it’s great to ask, pick up the phone and reach out to someone who is in a similar business, they will answer – always.