381 | How to Coach As a Leader with Ajit Nawalkha

Coaching in leadership is not a nice to have. It is a must. If you want to learn how to coach your employees to think for themselves, increase their confidence and have more profound levels of commitment. You want to listen to this episode. Learning how to coach someone is a must in today’s fast-paced world of change and growth.

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Target Audience: Ajit Nawalkha is the Co-Founder of Mindvalley and the Host of Evercoach. His life was transformed by smart, gifted coaches and mentors, and this motivated him to become a coach himself. His mission is to empower dedicated educators, coaches, and teachers to facilitate positive change in the world.

How to Coach As a Leader: The Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Leaders in the trenches and your host today is Gene Hammett.

Gene Hammett: Hi, my name is Gene Hammett. This is leaders in the trenches. I’m your host and my question for you today is you ever felt like you didn’t have enough time or maybe you were working too much on projects and it really was spilling over into all parts of your life and you were starting to feel that pressure. Maybe even feel resentment. Maybe you feel guilt or shame. Time is such a critical element to this. Now, this whole interview is about more than time, but we talk a lot about the four by four principle, which is could you actually get your work done and four hours a day in four days a week? Sounds pretty good, right? Could you lead a team of growth growing two times or three times a year? The thing about that is you could if you wanted to and you could use the time to recharge and to be a build relationships and do all the things that are so important to you that might be getting a little bit neglected in working so many hours. We have business today. I have an author of live big, his name is Ajit Nawalkha. I know I messed with mispronounced that, but he is an expert in the principles of living a big life because you’ve done this deep research and it comes from some of the struggles he was having within his own life as a leader and as an entrepreneur. So welcome to this interview with Ajit. So how are you doing Ajit?

Ajit Nawalkha: I’m doing fantastic. Doing absolutely amazing and I’m super excited to be here.

Gene Hammett: Well, I’m glad to have you here. Leaders in the trenches. I wanted to tap talk to you specifically different than what we normally talk about. We’re talking a lot about strategies and growth, but I want to go to some of the fundamental principles of, of being an entrepreneur and running and creating the kind of business that really fuels your life. So I’m going to give him a chance to talk about your book, but give us a little context of where you are, where you’ve come from.

Ajit Nawalkha: Um, so I grew up in India. I’m from India. I grew up in a small town called sharper. I grew up in a household of three other people, so he shared a lot of space and I grew up not in a lot of abundance of space and wealth in a, you can say, um, grew up in that growing up in that reality made me really driven towards abundance, drove, drove me to be able to find ways to be able to get out of the house in my family or the house and be able to live in a more comfortable place through the, uh, through the entire world and especially in the city. So that’s kind of where my background is. I’ve started many companies, uh, in an endeavor to become abundant and then in an hour to be able to impact the world in a positive way. So that’s kind of a really short, quick words and have a of background.

Gene Hammett: And your co-founder of a mind valley right?

Ajit Nawalkha: Cofounder. Mine, like teach because of the teaching wording designed for educators, speakers, trainers, and so forth.

Gene Hammett: Awesome. Well, hopefully our audience is known that. I mean, I use one of the applications that one of your, your co founders have the Amaanah, uh, all the time for meditation. Um, so I know you guys had many divisions because you’ve grown so fast, what you’ve written a book that that’s kind of aching inside of you and I know you’ve written other books to tell us about why this book had to be written.

Ajit Nawalkha: So what happens is, and this happened with me myself and my personal story as well, but also with friends and colleagues that I was seeing as I was building our businesses. I was looking at my friends in the same situation that often while we are building companies and growing our companies really, really quickly. What tends to happen is there’s a constant pressure and not just the constant pressure from the outside. Well not just your investors, not just people who have an expectation from your clients. It’s from ourselves. US putting pressure on an unrealistic ideal self that we want to meet in the next two months instead of the next two years and so forth. And that created. It created this dialogue in my head and I started to realize, especially for my own life, what it started to happen was that everything else that I had imagined to have in life was falling apart.

Ajit Nawalkha: Uh, my relationship with my parents was falling apart. My relationship with my partners was falling apart. My relationship with my team wasn’t as strong and wasn’t as in depth. It was very transactional and as much as they would look okay on the surface, what happens deep inside as human beings, it starts to take away a little bit of our soul in a way. It takes away a little bit of the charm of why we are building the business to be able to live a big life. Like why did we start the business? We started the business because we wanted to do something great, but you started a business because we wanted to serve the world. We started this business because we wanted to become wealthy. But what is the point of any of it if you don’t exist in that whole conversation? Right? And that got me to think, hey, there’s something that’s fundamentally wrong in the way we are communicating about entrepreneurship because what do we hear as an entrepreneurial story?

Ajit Nawalkha: We hear the story of sacrifice. We hear the story of pain and struggle, which is true in entrepreneurship. That is all true. We know that, we know that, right? But that’s not all of it. It’s a great story to tell the story of the hero who went through all the struggles and made it out at the end, won and got some victory, but we also know that the hero got the victory but didn’t want it to be happy is why he wanted the wake tree. Where did that conversation go? That conversation. It’s just not addressed. We don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about how and what an entrepreneur needs to think about at different stages of their businesses. How to think about when they’re in different states, which happen on a daily basis for us. How do I have that perspective as switches back the gear and goes, Hey, hold on.

Ajit Nawalkha: Yes, I want the girls, but I don’t want to sacrifice this as well. Right. So that’s what was a motivating factor for me because I had seen everything of mine fall apart and as I was getting really abundant, I also said I realized there was no joy anymore in, in creating more abundance. And I was like, there’s something missing. This is not the point of business. And, and I said to see that in my friends as well and that’s where my research began and that’s where my journey began of a first self discovery and in the process also be able to really dive deep and understand what is it that makes great entrepreneurs fulfill entrepreneurs. Joy full is happy entrepreneurs at the same point of time while they grow their companies tremendously by 100 percent to one percent. They grow their companies, but they also at the same point of time, live, fake.

Gene Hammett: Well, I think it’s, it’s, it’s become so famous that we talked about how you got to hustle or you’ve got to. You just. Everyone says you’re so busy. Um, I feel the pressure too because I’ve got, you know, producing podcasts, producing videos, producing, writing, writing my planning, my next book, working with clients like I could, I could make it sound all crippling and, but the reality of it is, is it doesn’t have to be that way, but you got to be willing. I feel like you got to be willing to let go of something. Do you, was that part of it? You tell us about letting go.

Ajit Nawalkha: Well, you have to let go, but the letting go is not letting go of growth and not letting go off your charm. It’s not letting go of your ambition is not letting go of your passion. It’s letting go of the beliefs that you’ve been holding onto that do not empower you.

Ajit Nawalkha: The beliefs that are given to us by society believes that we get that you’ve got because that’s just what everybody sees is a story. We have to let go of those beliefs. We have to let go of some of those crippling ideas of saying, oh, the only way to grow your business is to hustle. Yes. Hustled for how many hours? Well, two hours a day. Well, is that true? Rarely are the most successful entrepreneurs, the one that you really aspire to, do they really invest 12 hours working on the computer or do they invest two hours and do a little bit more strategic? Is Warren buffet more spend spending more time reading things? Then actually working on his computer was steve jobs spending more time dreaming up ideas or working on his computer or whoever is the crazy person that you think is the greatest entrepreneur.

Ajit Nawalkha: What we do is in there two minutes, four minutes, six minutes speech are their blog these days as they’re 24 hours, right? We think 24 hours. This person is just doing this all the time. No. All successful entrepreneurs, once you go under the hood, you see what they’re doing. Then never investing that much time in doing the work. They are going, you can grow a company if you are doing the job. That’s what you have a team for. You build a team of a passionate team that is, that is doing the work with you in that context and that means you actually, I never working 10 to 12 a day. If that’s the case, you are the business and that’s something fundamentally wrong with that. If you are the business, there is something fundamentally wrong with that because you’re not the business and you shouldn’t be the business.

Ajit Nawalkha: You are the entrepreneur who builds the business businesses almost a separate identity and a separate entity.

Gene Hammett: I think a lot of people can relate to that. You said that this journey started with some self discovery. Where are you willing to share with us? One of the things that you realized you had to let go of?

Ajit Nawalkha: So it started with when I was leading a mind valley, so I was the CEO of the company and I was a. At that point I was doing the same thing that entrepreneurs have 12 hour days, crazy, crazy busy, and because of that I didn’t have space and time for anything. What had happened was my health has tremendously suffered. I hadn’t become a borderline alcoholic in a way. I couldn’t sleep in the night without getting a glass of whiskey or two because if it’s just so stressful the entire day, uh, my family was falling apart, my relationships were falling apart, and I realized that that stage, I was like, there’s something fundamentally wrong with this setup because this cannot be entrepreneurship, this cannot be business.

Ajit Nawalkha: And that brought me to realize and I had to at that time take a step back and actually quit being ceo or find the valley. And the reason was that I needed the time to discover as to what is it that I’m doing wrong? What is it that I have not diagnosed enough? What is it that I will need to sit aside and give enough thought to, to be able to come back to this and say, hey, oh, okay. That’s what is missing. That what needs to be done. That’s what needs to be flipped around. That’s the belief that’s holding me back. That’s the strategy that will follow this belief to be able to actually get a result. Right now, if you look at it, almost three years later, three years later, actually at the time of recording this interview, it’s exactly three years later, I work only four hours a day and for only four days a week so that 16 hours of work and I still run a very progressive company which grows at any anywhere between 50 to 100 percent year on year growth.

Ajit Nawalkha: I’m not only one company with several companies at this time and it’s more because now I have switched perspective, right, so as far as my perspective switched, I have been able to create the same amount of wealth or more actually at this point, but be able to work much, much, much less number of hours in the business and be able to just look at my business in a very different way in a very different life as a function of team members is a function of processes, a function of strategies not as a function of how many hours can I work?

Gene Hammett: When, when you were looking and doing this research at Ge, you were talking about some principles that kind of came up to the top and that’s what you probably thought I got to write this book. I didn’t organize this. Give us an idea of some of those core principles that you can share with us.

Ajit Nawalkha: So I want to talk in the, of what we were just talking about. So that’s a good principal to kind of address because it ties into what we just talked about 18 hour days are four hour days, right? So for example, uh, one of the chapters in the book is called the time challenge and the book talks about how people tend to think that you need to work 12 to 18 hours a day to create a successful business. Right? I’m going to coach two different principals to kind of come to why, why the time challenge or why we don’t need to work as many hours. So there’s, the first law is called the Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s law, Parkinson’s law states that work will always fill the time assigned to it. Or, I’m paraphrasing, it might say in a different way, but that’s what it means, right?

Ajit Nawalkha: Which means that if you give a task four hours, it will take four hours. If you give it 14, it’ll take 14, right? Because that’s just our work, right? So if you could somehow give yourself less time to do a particular task, there is a tendency that will allow you to actually finish that task faster. It’s just how we as human beings work. So that’s the first law that I want us to consider right now as we talk about time, a little bit more. Second principle is referenced to work of Cal Newport. He has a book out called deep work. It’s a phenomenal book. If the listeners haven’t checked it out, you should definitely check it out. Wonderful. Wonderful Research in there, right? Deep work talks about how great work is only creative when you go deep into doing it, which means you’ve given an extended amount of time for you to execute a particular task.

Ajit Nawalkha: What happens is initially fractured time is what called a cal cal. Cal called said, uh, when you are not focused on one particular task for a set amount of time, right? So what we’ll end up doing, what cal was just is that if you are in fractured time, the quality of work increases only marginally as time passes, but when you are in a deep work state, which is a, which means that you’re focused on one task for an extended period of time, your quality of work exponentially increases. Now there are two principles that we talked about. First was Parkinson’s law and second was deep work. If you mix them both, which means you give a set amount of time, but a focused amount of time to a task, you will create a better quality what? Quality of work and you’ll get done faster. Right? And that is where my four, my four principal wasn’t created, for example, which is work only four hours a day for four days a week.

Ajit Nawalkha: Right? And that was a perspective shift going, hey, hold on. Why is it that I have to sit on the computer all day long? What if I worked from a place of creation, knew these two principals and said, that’s all the time I have to get created the greatest quality of work so I can get down to doing life right now. Doing life sometimes might mean you’re sitting down and just learning, just doing life might mean you’re getting other experiences so you can go out in the world and get those different experiences and bring it back to your business. It could mean anything. That’s not the point. The is you don’t need to work in your business beyond a certain number of fires. Now the only time it is acceptable for an entrepreneur to work 12, 14 hours is when that starting a company and the reason for that is because you kind of for talent at that stage, yeah, you can’t have employees, so it’s you’re doing customer service, you’re doing the design, you’re putting up the website, you are doing the fulfillment, you’re doing everything fine. That’s the stage you were 14 hours.

Gene Hammett: We have lifted up in there, right?

Ajit Nawalkha: Yeah! You’re starting a business. Yes. You work 14 hours, 18 hours a day. Hell yeah, absolutely. Understandable, but businesses at the stage of growth, if you’re growing your company 100 percent year on year, you shouldn’t be working those many hours. You were actually compromising growth. If you are working those many hours because you have taken the greatest asset the company has, which you and given that the least productive tasks you can give it to them.

Gene Hammett: You have to think about it when you’re sending an example as a leader and if you’re putting in 14, 18 hour days consistently, the people around you go, that’s not where I want to be.

Ajit Nawalkha: Yeah!

Gene Hammett: And they ended up starting to pull away from the work that they’re doing, which supports you, which puts even more pressure on the number of hours you’re working. But if you flip it the other way and say, look, you know, I’ve created, I’ve worked hard to create this space. I do a four by four, which I love that principle is, they’re going to go, I want to be that someday they’re working toward that and they’re working themselves into how do they get there? Um, when you, um, think about other principals and maybe we can break away from time, but I’d love to talk about time so I’m okay with what, what other principles that come up out of this work and research you’ve done.

Ajit Nawalkha: So one of the principles, and this is kind of contradicting to some of the principles that you’ll read in the books is what I call the home team principal. Uh, what happens is, and this was recently in a book by the HR manager of Netflix or something like that, uh, I don’t remember the name of the book right now, but, but basically what usually is seen is seeing that team are dispensable. They are there to do a task and then they need to move on. Are they easy to fire? You shouldn’t care about them. Right? And that’s something that I fundamentally disagree with. Now, here is the reason where it comes from and what the principal really is. So the reason for that, the reason why I believe that teams are inherently much more powerful and should never be treated as dispensable is that when you’re building a company, you are going to need great people to stay with you as long as they possibly can and often inexperienced.

Ajit Nawalkha: You will see great team members when treated well. We’ll come back to you even if they go out in the world, do something else. They would want to come back to you. Now, when I thinking about companies and when real entrepreneurs, if somebody is building a company for any period of time, you’re thinking about that company that you will at least run that company for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 50 years. Hopefully, it will stay even after you’re gone. Right? That’s the ideal way of thinking about building a product and the company. How can I create the best stuff that’ll stay that will surpass me, I might not exist with the company would exist if that is the truth about it. Why not think about our teams in a scope of 30 years from now, right? What this person come back to me because of, of course, I’m not talking about every employee, some employees, you’ll work with them and you’ll immediately know they don’t.

Ajit Nawalkha: They’re not supposed to be here. They’re at the wrong place. They’re working with me. It’s not a match here. It’s fine. You should let them go as soon as you can. This is like the fire fast type of philosophy, right? It’s like if they’re not a match, definitely the need to go, but if they are a match if you have seen that there is a person that I love the talented person and just needs to go out, search the wall, come back. That’s okay, but you got to treat them as if they are family and that’s why I call them the home team. This is the team, the team. Any person that works with me ever is treated like as if they’re my family. I would care for them as if I would care about my family. I wanted to love and appreciate them. Like I appreciate my family.

Ajit Nawalkha: I would talk to them as if I’m talking to families like, Hey, here is the concern that we have in the company and I could make them apart of the process like I would with my family, of course, with with the restrictions that you also follow with your family where it’s not something that is called too much information and so forth and so that principal being followed, the rest is open like it’s like as if they’re working with family and then while you’re treating them like family, you also understand the principle that they need to go. Sometimes like family sometimes, right? You remember that really good friend of yours that for a year doesn’t want to talk to you because they aren’t having their own life journey or a family member that might one that or loses touch, but when they come back it’s almost like you never left.

Ajit Nawalkha: Right? It’s almost like that story and that’s the way you want to treat your team. They are like family, which you gotta let them go when they need to go on their own hero’s journey, when they need to rediscover themselves, when they need to rediscover their work, when they need to do whatever they need to do so they can go on that journey and what I’ve found is often people that I worked with me in the past, once I switched my gears from thinking them as dispensable talent to something, somebody who was like my team member, I was starting my family member. What has happened is of these talents came back and not just came back to work with the company, but sometimes became business partners because they came back a lot more successful in their roles and they have already established much greater realities for themselves that are like, Hey, I could invest in your company or it could be business partners in this particular project and that actually allowed me to have even more abundance, even more impact out in the world. So treat your employees like a home team, not a dispensable talent that you can fire. That is, yes, a good principal if you are the HR manager or the company, that makes sense because you’re hr matter. You don’t want to be too attached to the person. I get that, but as an entrepreneur, as the founder, as the CEO of the company, you want to love your team.

Gene Hammett: No, this reminds me of a lot of successful serial entrepreneurs. I know when they will create a business and if they sell it or-or whatever it may be, there’s a core set of a team that goes with them from business to business to business because they know how they work together. They know how they trust each other and those talents are leveraged. I’ve seen that happen dozens and dozens of times. I’m sure you have to, but you call that the home team, which is treating family members like team members, team members, team members, like family members. So, um, I love this idea. Know your book live big is something that we don’t talk about enough. So what would be, you know, as we start to wrap this up, what would be something that was counterintuitive to natural leadership that you discovered that could help us create a live big kind of life in this interview?

Ajit Nawalkha: So it’s counterintuitive and is intuitive to a few. So. So I’m not gonna say not everybody believes that, but, but a lot of times what happens is as entrepreneurs we, because this is our company, it’s our baby. Like that’s how he treated, right? And, and that’s fair. It’s very hard for us to let go. It’s very hard for us to let go of control. It’s very hard for us to let them do what they gotta do. And that’s one thing that I’ve found is the most empowering thing I’ve done in the past years and I’ve seen some of the best entrepreneurs do it in the best of ways, is where they say, hey, here’s my input to this conversation, but I trust you to make that the second I trust you to run this word, to go. I’ll give you the feedback that you need. I will share my perspective, but I will trust you with what you do because that’s what you’re specialized in and I think that control, letting go of that control is a little hard micromanagement and letting go of that control and that detail oriented and that, uh, obsession that we have in our products sometimes are hurtful for the company.

Ajit Nawalkha: It stands the growth worse is letting your team, once you, of course, once you have established trust with them, once you know what they’re doing, once you know that town, I’m not saying day one, you hire someone and you let them go, but like let them play whatever they want. But once that is there, once you’ve worked with them a little bit, you know that they, they are usually better equipped than you are because they spend a lot more time looking at the same thing that you spend two minutes and you want to establish your opinion on that. They usually have done a lot more work on that before they even come to you because these are people that you will usually resonate. Dedicated people. So you let them do their thing and get out of their way, get really good people, train them up as well as you can and let them do their thing, get out of their way. And that’s one of the hardest things that an entrepreneur has to do is to get out of the way of their team. So they don’t have stunted growth.

Gene Hammett: No. I don’t know if you know much about my research and what I do with Ge, but I talk about fast-growth companies and how they inspire people to feel like owners.

Ajit Nawalkha: Yeah. Oh, that’s a good one.

Gene Hammett: Yeah. And then that’s where I’m building the whole brand around this whole thing feeling like owners. And one of the pieces behind it is related to what you’re talking about is you want them to own the goal, but you, you can’t expect them to own the goal if you’re going to give them the plan to get there. So you’ve got to let them own the process to [inaudible] and, and, and when you do that, I’ve done this with my own team and I’m sure you know, people listening in here could really relate to this is we’ve given them step by step and they will do the step by step and sometimes it works out great, sometimes it doesn’t.

Gene Hammett: But if you said this is the process and I’ve done this with my team, with my social media and you can see a big shift over the last three or four months. I said this is what we’re trying to do. How would you do it?

Ajit Nawalkha: Yeah.

Gene Hammett: And then we fine tune it a little bit together. We collaborate together and that’s me letting go and it wasn’t natural like be honest with you, but it has freed up a massive amount of, of space in my head to do something that really wasn’t my natural gift. It was, it was.

Gene Hammett: And growing. Your social media hasn’t been, right? Absolutely.

Ajit Nawalkha: And that’s the beauty of it all. It’s still like do the thing with a brilliant process. There’s a process right there. And how to think about that was brilliant, what you just said and how you dealt with your social media where you said, okay, let’s collaborate here. Some of the ideas here are your ideas. What does sound right? Let’s build a process around it and then you run it. I trust you to do a great job of that. And occasionally you would give them feedback. We will tell them what you like and what you hate, but mostly it’s them and that’s beautiful. Can I. Can I say one last thing? Because this is this ethical environment with a lot of people have a problem with millennials working for them. Right? And that’s what at least that’s what the popular thing is on millennials, millennials, millennials are by far the hardest working people that are there.

Ajit Nawalkha: That has happened in generations because we have so much more insecurity is that we deal with on a daily basis that we actually work twice in 10 times harder. I’m a millennial myself, but here’s the secret to getting a millennial to do a really good job for you. Exactly what you said. Let them play. Let them build the very smart people that think they want more than money is, is being able to contribute to something great to do good quality work. They don’t want to come home and be tired because they did really bad should you work, they want to do good quality work, let them lay. That’s the way to get the maximum out of them and to be able to really be able to drive things that honestly a lot of entrepreneurs want to be able to drive the way I’m a millennial. So the Millennials that they are not focused on so forth now, they’re not focused if you give them boring stuff to do with no purpose when they’re bored and that’s when they’re not interested in, that’s when they’re entitled because they feel that they’re not living the purpose and the desires that they have for life.

Ajit Nawalkha: So that’s a little hack for if you ever hire millennial.

Gene Hammett: Yeah. My wife is a, is a millennial expert. She’s got a podcast called the millennial. Rockstars are millennial rockstars. No, the um, and you know, the big thing in there is money. It’s probably like four or five on the list as far as what’s important to them and what you just mentioned is that chance to contribute to the growth and for them to grow themselves are the top two aspects of, of engaging millennials. So thanks for being here Jit, you know, leaders in the trenches to share insight. Um, how could we get, because we just touched on the surface of the book, how could our audience get to know more about you and the book if they want to get it.

Ajit Nawalkha: So the easiest way and the easiest domain to remember. We’ll be livebigthebook.com and it will redirect you to the page where you’ll find more information about the book. You’ll be able to preorder the book. You’ll be able to get more information about myself as well.

Gene Hammett: So if you’re hearing this, then this is coming out exactly when this book will be available. So you can actually, if you’re, if you’re intrigued by these principles, you can go get it right now. Probably at Amazon, um, or any other places that you buy books, but if you, uh, appreciate you being here at Jit.

Ajit Nawalkha: Absolutely. It was super exciting to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Gene Hammett: What a great interview. I love talking with people about these things, especially some of the time hacks that he talked about, about what you could do to build a life of real joy and about really creating purpose around what you’re doing and about engaging your team in new ways. So hopefully you’re enjoying this interview. I enjoy creating this content for you and it’s as always lead with courage and I’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

In this episode we’ll cover:

  • Building Companies and Growing Companies
  • Relationship with Partners
  • Entrepreneurial Story
  • Story of Sacrifice
  • Successful Entrepreneurs
  • Execute a Particular task
  • Quality of Work



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If you want more from us check out more interviews:

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