Most companies have been grappling with how to integrate new hires with the organisation’s culture. But it’s not something Priyanka Salot is worried about. The co founder of The Sleep Company, a premium mattress and related accessories brand, which manufactures and sells its mattresses online, has been working from office since the first lockdown was lifted. “It meant, we had to take extra safety measures,” says Mumbai-based Salot. There was no choice, she explains, since the company started its operations just five months before the first pandemic lockdown in early 2020.
With the rapid digital adoption, the company has witnessed growth not just in its business but employee strength as well – from 10 employees, the company now has 150 people working in manufacturing facility and office. To show its appreciation and ensure everyone creates wealth while the building the brand, the company has offered ESOPs to all its employees after three months of joining the organisation.
An alumnus of IIM Calcutta, Salot worked with JP Mogan, Frost & Sullivan and P&G before taking the plunge in entrepreneurship.
Ahead of International Women's Day, Salot talks to Lounge about how her mentor’s guidance helped her immensely in creating a value-based company, on why quality of sleep is important, and why she loves autobiographies. Edited excerpts:
Who do you consider your mentor and why?
I consider my former boss Shantanu Khosla, who was Procter & Gamble India MD (he quit in 2015) to be my mentor. He played a pivotal role in my life with a significant contribution to my professional development and leadership direction. He taught me the valuable skill of focusing on gaining practical insights from any situation and how to keep up a team’s momentum. These lessons have helped me to build my company from scratch, looking for innovative solutions, even as I kept learning on the job.
What’s the one major insight from your mentor that kept you in good stead?
One of the key lessons I learned from my mentor was to focus on solutions, and not problems. A problem-solving approach in your life or work can help in rebuilding your life in the desired direction. I was inspired to take up mattress design and manufacturing after I realised the poor quality of products available in the market as a customer. It was my problem-solving approach that prompted me to look for solutions, rather than dwell on the pain points.
In fact, most of our product launches have been based on customer feedback. For instance, after we launched our mattress, our customers kept asking us to us the same technology for pillows. Similarly, we are launching comfortable work chairs in two weeks based on our interactions with the customers. So, it’s important to listen to consumers not just from products point of view but enhancing their lives throughout.
What does being a mentor mean to you? How do you mentor your colleagues at work?
A mentor is someone who guides you in the right direction. He or she might be a guiding light in your life, setting a good example. Staying accessible for my co-workers in their times of need is essentially what mentoring means to me. I owe it to my mentor to take forward the lessons he taught me.
What time do you wake up and what's the first thing you do after waking up? Basically, what's your morning schedule after waking up?
I am an early riser. I get up at 5 am and the first thing I do when I get up is thank the universe for another wonderful day. I then go through my fitness regimen, which comprises yoga and meditation and cardio on alternate days. On Sundays, I prefer to wake up late. Maintaining a healthy routine has been my mantra for better performance. I then spend some time with my six-year-old son and start work by 7.30 am.
What's the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is one of the best habits I have developed during the pandemic. I don’t follow any sleep routine as such but I ensure I am off all digital devices an hour before bed. I usually go to sleep by 10.30-11 pm.
It has enabled me achieve an ideal work-life balance. As the founder of a sleep-tech brand, I had no choice but to make this a priority regardless of the pandemic and stick to it.
What’s your productivity hack?
You need to love what you are doing because then how much ever time you put in, you will continue to have enthusiasm and be productive. I love what I am doing now, building this company, and so my productivity is also high. The other thing is prioritising things that are important as one grows. So, I follow the 80:20 rule, where I dedicate maximum time to things that will make the biggest difference and focus on those.
How do you unwind?
The way I unwind now is by spending time with my son. He’s also my stress buster. But in my free time I enjoy reading, and I loved travelling but that has reduced considerably since the pandemic.
Any books you would recommend about mentorship and workplace growth?
I have always been an avid reader. Autobiographies and biographies are my favourite genre to read. It's not simply (a subject's) entrepreneurial skills that attract my curiosity, it's their journey as human beings that can be equally inspiring.
My favourite book is Steve Jobs, the authorized biography of the Apple Inc founder by Walter Isaacson. His twin obsessions, for a customer-centric approach and for his product, have been the guiding principle in my own entrepreneurial journey.
Another amazing book I would recommend is Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by Jim Collins. This book gives us an illuminating insight into different businesses and brands. It’s the one book that every entrepreneur should read.
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.