Business Today Mind Rush event: Make the worst of times your best of times

Business Today hosts its first Mind Rush, a two-day event that brings global thought leadership to the doorstep of India for the leaders of tomorrow. Here's what's on the agenda of our business leadership on December 13 and 14.

Leadership development is an ongoing and timeless process. In the world of business, developing leaders calls for an understanding of the current economic dynamics , prevalent management thinking, out-of-the-box ideation, drawing lessons from life experiences of successful people, and a lot more. At a time when the economy is in the doldrums, leadership development becomes even more important. Today's second line of command in companies - the leaders of tomorrow - has to learn to cope with not only competitive pressures, but also extraneous pressures that are often beyond their control. And, stay updated with the latest in management thought. All this takes time. And time, the most valuable asset, is in short supply.

That is where BT MindRush comes in. A unique initiative, BT MindRush brings global thought leadership to the doorstep of India for the leaders of tomorrow, to hone their management thinking and skills. With formidable icons like John Kao of the Institute of Innovation, N.R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys and Vineet Nayar of HCL, among many others, in interactive mode, BT MindRush distills the world's wisdom into an action packed day-and-a-half. For added inspiration, the action begins with announcement of the winners of the coveted BT Best CEOs Awards - those who delivered the goods when the going got tough.

N.R. Narayana Murthy, Executive Chairman, Infosys
N.R. Narayana Murthy, Executive Chairman, Infosys Photo: Nilotpal Baruah
Executive Chairman, Infosys
Weathered Wisdom
What my business taught me about the business of life
Rarely in the history of corporations do retired founders come back to rescue their floundering babies. The late Steve Jobs is one example but he was far from retired when he rejoined Apple. In the case of Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, 67, it tells a lot about his magic.

The original poster boy of India's IT sector, Murthy bootstrapped Infosys Technologies in 1981 with just Rs 10,000 and grew it to a multi-billion dollar outfit. He articulated, designed and implemented the global delivery model (GDM), where customers were serviced from multiple remote locations, which was subsequently replicated by other IT companies.

Murthy steered Bangalore-based Infosys towards many firsts.

It was the first in the country to report quarterly financials, guide against insider trading, have its directors assessed by peers, and promulgate the idea of a lead independent director. Infosys also became the first Indian company to be listed on the NASDAQ in 1999. Time and again, Murthy asserted that bad news must be proactively conveyed to investors. Murthy and Infosys together changed the perception of the industry among investors and, more importantly, the perception of India globally. No longer was it a country of snake charmers, but one where engineers could develop, test, integrate and maintain complex applications for the world's largest corporations.

Murthy also set very high standards for his employees, ensuring that nobody used community resources for private benefit. And he knew how to take care of his employees - in 1993, when Infosys went public, he offered stock options to them.

Charismatic, easily accessible and soft-spoken with a modulating tone, Murthy is a great communicator. After his retirement in August 2011, Infosys went into a tailspin with inconsistent financial performance and big-ticket resignations. In June this year, Murthy was reinstated as Executive Chairman. The magic is at work again.

John Kao, Institute Of Innovation
John Kao, Institute Of Innovation
Institute of Innovation
Session: Ignition Lab
Disruptive Innovation: A habit, a way of life
When John Kao is not busy puncturing America's self-congratulatory attitude on innovation, he plays jazz on his piano or does theatre. The Innovation Activist, as he describes himself, wears multiple hats. He is the chairman of the Institute for Large-Scale Innovation and has chaired the World Economic Forum's Global Advisory Council on Innovation. He taught at Harvard Business School from 1982 to 1996, and held faculty roles at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Yale College, and the Naval Postgraduate School.

Kao has penned two bestsellers - Innovation Nation: How America is Losing its Innovation Edge and Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity. In addition, he has advised corporate and government leaders such as former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Described as "Mr Creativity" by The Economist, Kao is known for ideas that break convention. In Transformation Manifesto, a pocket guide, he suggests organisations to hire a chief destruction officer instead of a chief innovation officer to think differently.

Kao has an undergraduate degree from Yale College, a postgraduate degree from Yale Medical School, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. The serial entrepreneur is also a Tony-nominated film and theatre producer as well as a jazz pianist who spent the summer of 1969 playing keyboards for rock legend Frank Zappa.

Prof Madan Pillutla, London Business School
Prof Madan Pillutla, London Business School
London Business School

Session: Tips from Science
Better Negotiation Outcomes
Madan Pillutla studied engineering at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, but he wasn't meant to be an engineer. Human behaviour was what excited him. So, his next academic stop was XLRI, Jamshedpur. That proved to be a great choice. "We had a professor who would not teach at all. He would dump truckload of research material on us to take home and study," he says. "I was forced to sift through reams of paper and it opened my window to the study of human behaviour."

After a stint with cigarette maker ITC, Pillutla joined the University of Illinois to study organisational behaviour. He followed it up with a doctorate in management from the University of British Columbia. He now teaches negotiation as the Mike Salamon Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the London Business School. Pillutla's research has been featured in many journals. His current research projects include an investigation into the origin of fair behaviour, i.e., are we born with the capacity to be fair or is it something we learn?

Pillutla says his opinion of India has changed since he started his career. He recalls watching a cricket match at Lords in the UK. He says he had given up on the match after Sachin Tendulkar got out. "But my friend persuaded me to stay on and watch Mohammad Kaif. India won the match and since then I sat up to watch the next generation in India with greater interest."

Yogi/Mystic/ Visionary

Session: ctrl+alt+detox
Let go of the worst and keep the best
A blend of profundity and pragmatism, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev uses yoga as the core of his teachings but not without a healthy dose of inclusive growth and economics thrown in for the business world. Passionate and provocative, insightful and logical, his witty talks have earned him the reputation of a global speaker and opinion-maker. He addresses issues as diverse as human rights, business values, social and environmental concerns, and existential questions.

Sadhguru has been a delegate to the United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit, a member of the World Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, and the World Economic Forum at Davos. He is the founder of Isha Foundation, a non-profit that works to promote rural upliftment, education reform, and AIDS awareness.

Vineet Nayar, Vice Chairman, HCL Tech
Vineet Nayar, Vice Chairman, HCL Tech
Vice Chairman, HCL Tech
Strategy Reboot
Leadership ideas and what works when
Vineet Nayar shaped HCL Technologies' transformation from a $700 million-plus company in 2005 into a $4 billion-plus global technology services giant. He joined Noida-based HCL in 1985, after earning an MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur. In 2005, he became its president, and served as its CEO from 2007 before becoming its Vice Chairman in 2010. In 2011, Fortune magazine named Nayar on its first global executive dream team. The same year, he wrote Employees First, Customers Second, which changed the perception of the IT sector - known for its predatory employee policies. In 2004, Nayar set up Sampark Foundation, a philanthropic outfit, with his wife Anupama, which aims to transform the lives of children, youth, and adults through education and social entrepreneurship, among other things.

Alok Kejriwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Games2Win
Alok Kejriwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Games2Win Photo: Nishikant Gamre
Co-founder & CEO, games2win

Session: Mindgame:are you the bright spark!
CEO presents a business problem and throws the floor open for solutions
Alok Kejriwal is a serial entrepreneur who specialises in creating successful businesses and then selling them to the best buyers. He has been successful in building ventures in India, China and the US. In 1998, he created Contests2win, India's first online contest site. His mobile venture in China, Mobile2win, was one of the first to offer mobile competitions and promotions by pioneering a TV-to-mobile interactive platform. He founded Media2win, an interactive digital agency, in 2004. He co-founded Games2win, his fourth company, in 2007. He has successfully raised venture capital from some of the world's leading VCs such as SoftBank China, Siemens Acceleration, Clearstone Venture Partners and Silicon Valley Bank. The Rodinhoods, Kejriwal's social network for entrepreneurs, has earned him the nickname Alok 'Rodinhood' Kejriwal. His favourite quote is from Star Trek: "To go where no man has gone before..."

Deep Kalra, Chairman & Group CEO,
Deep Kalra, Chairman & Group CEO, Photo: Nishikant Gamre
Chairman & Group CEO,
Rapid Fire Round
What clicked and transformed me

Deep Kalra made instant travel reservations possible in India way back in 2000 at a time when waiting in queues to book tickets was the norm., the company he founded, is now one of India's largest e-commerce businesses. In August 2010, MakeMyTrip became the first Indian travel company to list overseas after a successful initial public offering on NASDAQ.

Kalra studied economics at St. Stephens College, Delhi, and holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Having steered the company since its inception in 2000, Kalra took on the role of Group CEO in August 2013 to focus on strategy, mergers and acquisitions and international businesses.

Kalra has received many accolades over the years. He was named 'Internet Man of the Year' for 2010 by the Internet and Mobile Association of India. He won Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year-Business Transformation award in 2011 and was dubbed the Best Travel Entrepreneur of 2012 by TTG Asia.

Sachin Bansal, Co-Founder & CEO, Flipkart
Sachin Bansal, Co-Founder & CEO, Flipkart Photo: Deepak G . Pawar
Co-founder & CEO, Flipkart

In 2006, Sachin Bansal joined in India. It was around 2007 that the Internet economy in the country had really started buzzing. So, he quit Amazon and set up Flipkart, an online bookseller, with his friend Binny Bansal. By 2010, Flipkart had started selling other products and today it is the country's largest e-commerce company.

Having studied at IIT, Sachin is a technologist at heart and has used technology effectively to keep ahead in the game. In the pre-Flipkart era, e-commerce websites were poorly designed. Flipkart came up with a clean design, faster search, and personalised recommendations that wowed users. Today, the Bansals, who have focused obsessively on customer experience, joke that they are more of a technology company than an e-commerce entity. Whichever way you look at it, the customer still comes first.

Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality
Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Photo: Shekhar Ghosh
CEO & MD, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality

The graphic novel is Riyaaz Amlani's inspiration for setting ambience in his restaurants. American artist Frank Miller's frames and his spooky, edgy, brooding art in series such as Sin City is what Amlani tried to recreate in his Smoke House Grill. When Amlani listens to music, his mind wanders towards creating spaces where one could enjoy that music. This knack of creating environments has made his restaurants great hits with customers. From the Mocha near Churchgate in Mumbai, to Delhi's Smoke House Deli, his restaurants cater to students as well as well-heeled clients. Born in South Bombay's congested Byculla area, Amlani wants to create spaces in the city "to make the city more liveable".

Amlani has more than 30 restaurants and cafs that serve over 12,000 people daily. That's a remarkable feat for someone who sold shoes as a teenager, and has been in the restaurant business for just 12 years. These days Amlani has been tweeting photos of gourmet food. He thinks Indian food can lend itself to gourmet cuisine, but he is focusing on casual dining because he believes people have little time these days. Despite owning some of the best-known restaurant franchises in the country, he says he is just a kid in a candy shop.

Sasha Mirchandani, Founder & MD, KAE Capital
Sasha Mirchandani, Founder & MD, KAE Capital Photo: Rachit Goswami
Founder & MD, Kae Capital

Entrepreneurship literally runs in Sasha Mirchandani's blood. His father Gulu Mirchandani was one of the pioneers of India's colour TV industry, when he launched Onida in the early 1980s. Though he cut his teeth in his family business, Sasha, an alumnus of Strayer University, US, and IIM Ahmedabad, eventually chose to move out of the family business. While trying to raise funds for his data mining company Fractal Analytics, Sasha's association with the VC world began. He co-founded Mumbai Angels in 2006 and has till date done close to 60 deals as an angel investor. In 2011, he founded Kae Capital, a $25 million VC fund which invests in early stage companies. The fund has already invested in companies such as CloudByte and InMobi. Sasha, who claims to be sector agnostic when it comes to investments, hopes to take entrepreneurship to the next level.

Devdutt Pattanaik, Chief Belief Officer, Future Group
Devdutt Pattanaik, Chief Belief Officer, Future Group Photo: Mandar Deodhar
Chief Belief Officer, Future Group
Mythology & Management
Uncover the folds of conventional wisdom
Materialistic success holds little lure for Devdutt Pattanaik. "My parents were clear that wealth should not change lifestyle dramatically and this has stayed with me," says the man credited with bringing mythology into management practice.

Trained as a medical doctor, Pattanaik worked for 14 years in the health-care industry before joining consultancy Ernst & Young. He soon realised most managers believed in practising 'scientific management' principles. But life nudged him back to what he had read from old stories, mostly from mythology. He started drawing upon the linkages and presented them in a form that managers could identify with. Thus was born his book Business Sutra: A Very Indian Approach to Management, in which he says: "Belief shapes behaviour and behaviour shapes business."

Pattanaik turned his passion into his profession, to become Chief Belief Officer at Future Group. He has written 25 books and 400 articles on the relevance of mythology in modern times. He is a storytelling consultant for many TV channels, and adviser to the shows Devon ke Dev Mahadev and Mahabharat. His views on leadership and management on TV shows such as Shaastrath on CNBC Awaaz and Business Sutra on CNBC have made him a consultant for many companies.