Naveen Kukreja, CEO and co founder of Paisabazaar.com, a credit comparison marketplace, believes in dealing with challenges head-on and having transparency when discussing them with team members. “At times, I have seen getting to a workable mid-point, if the best solution cannot be found, with planned and timely check-in and follow-ups. These help diffuse the non-objective part of the tension and brings alignment gradually,” he says.
Set up in 2014, Paisabazaar is the sister company of Policybazaar.com. In fact, Kukreja was leading the marketing of Policybazaar before taking charge of starting and growing Paisabazaar. Based in Gurugram, the IIM Culcutta alumnus has worked with Aviva India, Capital One Bank and Citibank.
Kukreja talks about the people whose work has influenced and inspired him, how remote working helped him not only overachieve his daily step counts but also be punctual for meetings. Edited excerpts:
Who do you consider your mentor and why?
From my early working years, I learnt from Ram (TR Ramachandran, Group Country Manager -India and South Asia, Visa) on how to motivate and carry large teams with you and keep problem-solving, whatever the situation. From my friend Prashant Sarin (partner, Bain) I have learnt clarity of objective and prioritisation when in dilemma.
I have also been inspired by Sanjeev Bikhchandani (co founder Info Edge) for his long-term thinking and giving importance to first principles and good governance in business, and Aditya Puri for identifying simple yet large opportunities and scaling through process orientation and people development.
Other positive influences have come from former team members and friends like Sarvesh Agrawal (Founder, Internshala) and Kunal Jain (Founder, Analytics Vidhya) for going in with 100% conviction in their ideas and purity of purpose, which translated into great businesses.
One major insight you implemented with your mentor's guidance?
It came from Sanjeev (Bikhchandani), who said to focus on adding value to your customers that if you are running a business. The rest will follow. As an entrepreneur, what multiple people have taught me is to always have a bias for action because an idea without action is just that. It will convert into a business through action and execution. It’s also crucial to build the initial core team yourself and keep them aligned.
How do you mentor your colleagues at work?
For my colleagues at work, I essentially focus on three things. First, guide them towards the best state he/ she can professionally or personally get to. Second, let the person grow, which means let them make small mistakes and learn from them on their own. And third, warn and guide against making big ones to help keep avoid any major setback. Also, encourage them to read/ listen to books/ podcasts and interact and learn from different people, to gain newer perspectives.
What time do you wake up and what's the first thing you do after waking up?
I wake up at 7 am. Cuddling and spending a few minutes with my kids, who are 10 and 5, is the first thing I do and enjoy. I have started practicing meditation for 5-10 minutes, which I find helpful. I then spend about 20 minutes reading/ listening to a book, and about 20-30 minutes on walk/ moderate exercise. I like to have breakfast with my family. Before starting the workday, I spend a few minutes thinking about key objectives for the day (a week if it’s a Monday) and leave enough open space for unplanned things.
What's the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
While working from home last year, I developed a rigorous walking routine. I do 14,000 steps (9-10 kms) a day. Initially, it was made possible as I could do certain work calls while walking. It became slightly tough to maintain when we returned to office, but I try and find a 20-30 mins slot in the day where I get out for a walk and reflect on certain situations during that time. It really helps clear the mind, refresh me for the rest of the day and keep me active.
It also made us more punctual and led to better time management. Starting meetings on time got easier and time utilization became more effective. We have consciously tried to maintain this even after returning to office.
What are your productivity hacks?
Keeping all notes digitally helps me refer back to previous meetings easily. We also do specific feedback sessions and polls from relevant folks in the management team on various topics. It helps me capture alternate viewpoints, take decisions with better alignment.
What is your idea of unwinding?
I usually go for a walk for about an hour. During this time, I either do important calls that I couldn't do during the day or listen to a book on Audible. Other than that, I also love to feed my kids or sit with them during their dinner time. I also read to my five-year-old during bed time.
Any book/ podcast/ videos you would recommend about mentorship and workplace growth?
Books are easily my most gifted items. We also have a company policy to gift books to our partners at various occasions throughout the year. Some of my favourite ones are Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankle, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher. The book teaches us that human beings can adapt to anything and that your attitude towards any situation plays a powerful role in the outcome.
Atomic Habits by James Clear on how to let go of unwanted habits and develop new and desired ones, and The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson talks about how to apply yourself to be more effective in achieving things that are important. All these are books will always help us, irrespective of what stage we are in, in life.
Monday Motivation is a series featuring founders, business leaders and creative individuals who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.