Leaders must think differently than those around them. The leadership mindset requires clarity in direction and confidence it is possible. I am obsessed with the leadership mindset in my work, so I interview extraordinary leaders to understand how they see the world. Today’s guest is Manish Hirapara, founder and CEO at Peak Activity g. Inc Magazine ranked this company as #585 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. Peak Activity PeakActivity is a technology and marketing consultancy that helps enterprises achieve long-term, scalable growth. Manish shares why the leadership mindset is so important. We look at what gets in the way of leaders’ beliefs that don’t grow as the companies on the Inc 5000. The leadership mindset requires constant evolution to stay ahead of their team members.
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Manish Hirapara: The Transcript
Target Audience: Manish Hirapara is the CEO at PeakActivity. PeakActivity employs more than 150 industry experts who embrace the culture of innovation and growth that ensures enterprises are equipped to thrive in a digital economy. Senior digital strategy executive focused on crafting and delivering better business outcomes. Key practice areas include eCommerce growth, technology delivery, mobile strategy, omnichannel retail solutions, predictive analytics, and agile organizational transformation projects.
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.
I do remember thinking, Okay, I can’t do this by myself. And I’ll tell you a moment that probably happened for me. I’m on a cruise ship floating out in the Gulf of Mexico. And I’m sitting there trying to get on Wi-Fi calling because something’s hitting the fan. And I was the one who had to take that call, I was the one who had to sit there and talk somebody through a challenge. And that was that moment for me. That said, I need to be able to create a team, leadership team create a culture that enables the company to operate the entity to go on with its life, without solely me as the founder, the hustle behind the machine, being the one who really drives it forward. So that was that moment. I remember distinctly sitting there in the middle of the of the Gulf and saying, alright, I have to figure out how to be a CEO more than just a founder or the person that is running.
Welcome to Grow Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett [1:12]
Mindset is such an important piece to not only growth, but just leadership. When you think about the way you see the world. When you think about the beliefs that you carry with you. All of that is your mindset. The leadership mindset is necessary for you to really tune into and evolve as you grow as a leader. Everyone knows we must evolve as people. But as leaders, we have to continue to challenge some of the old beliefs that keep us stuck and keep us exactly where we are, so that we can grow to that next level. I’m not saying this is easy, but I’ve dedicated my life to help you you understand the mindset of leadership in the mindset that it takes for you to evolve beyond where you are today. I work with a lot of people that are considered exceptional leaders. They’re extraordinary in what they do, and help them go beyond where they are now to achieve impossible goals. That’s really what I’m proud to do.
Gene Hammett [2:06]
And today we have a very special conversation with the CEO and founder of PeakActivity. We’re talking with Manish Hirapara, and he is the CEO of peak activity. We talk about what his leadership mindset, why is it so important? What are the things that you know, get in the way of having a strong evolve, mindset, all of that inside today’s episode with Minish one of the things that you want to make sure you take away from this is where are you evolving? Where are the opportunities for you to play at a higher level? And who do you need to be to play at that higher level? This is my real contribution to the world and helping you see what you can’t see for yourself, see the invisible. I know great leaders are able to tune into this. But as an executive coach, this is my job to help you. If you are looking to evolve to the next level, I want to make sure you understand there are resources out there for you. If it’s right, I’d love for you to check out fast growth boardroom.com in the fast-growth boardroom we combined a community of fast growth leaders, many of them from the Inc 5000. And they are the founder CEOs, presidents of these companies that want to gather together, understand from each other, help each other grow, and even challenge each other to continue growing and evolving. If you want to check out the fast growth boardroom just go do that now. Now here’s the interview with Manish.
Gene Hammett [3:26]
Manish Hirapara [3:27]
Gene Hammett [3:28]
How are you?
Manish Hirapara [3:29]
Wonderful. How are you today?
Gene Hammett [3:31]
I am fantastic. I’m excited to have you on the podcast is the first time you’ve been here we have some people that come back multiple times. And excited to talk to you about a special topic called mindset. Before you jump into that tell us about your company peak activity and kind of what you do there.
Manish Hirapara [3:47]
Sure I would love to so we are one of the according to inc, one of the I think number 585 in last year’s list of fastest-growing companies in America, our entire business is helping others grow through digital acceleration. As we’ve all seen through COVID. eCommerce, mobile apps technology is really eating the world. And there’s a lot to do correctly to navigate those waters. And our business is really primarily here to be a valued digital partner. So that as somebody is accelerating through their digital maturity lifecycle, whether it’s in technology, eCommerce, digital marketing, we are the experts, and we are the talent that can help them get to that next level.
Gene Hammett [4:35]
Perfect, and you’re our guest, the CEO of the company. I am the CEO and the founder. When you think about some of the key things to the growth of the company, what what’s most important on your mind as a company has been through so many inflection points and so many, you know, culture shifts and changes. And what is that one thing that comes to mind?
Manish Hirapara [4:59]
For me, it does Back to having a mindset or a culture that’s built around common purposes and common values. So it’s one thing when you’re just out there as a scrappy entrepreneur hustling for $1. It’s another thing when you say we’re intentionally moving in this direction, very much like a school of fish, we’re going to, we’re going to move in this direction, we’re going to swim from point A to point B, and we’re going to do it, while having fun, we’re going to do it while we respect each other. And while we have our core values together, but it’s it’s really about having that sort of common thread, while we all go about it.
Gene Hammett [5:36]
So I’ve done a lot of conversations about core values in the show. And we can definitely talk about some of those things. But I want to really focus in on the mindset of the leader. And specifically, I actually had a conversation with a friend this this this evening, or recently talked about mindset mindsets, part of what I do as a coach, it’s part of what I help my clients see where a belief that they believe is true, isn’t necessarily the way it is. It’s just what they believe. Right? When you think about mindset, where did it start for you? Where did you start to see that there was some mindset work that needed to be done?
Manish Hirapara [6:11]
Yeah, yeah. So for me, the mindset that I have is super growth-oriented, it is really oriented around, let’s make some things happen. Let’s make business and transactions happen. And, you know, over the past five or so years, that’s why we’ve been successful, we’ve been able to go generate that business, you know, the mindset shift that I’m undergoing right now, as we kind of mature and become a mid-major player in this is you also need scalable processes, you need scalable people around you, in order to make sure that that next level of growth, does. It does require a shift in mindset doesn’t say, let’s go win at any cost. But it is something that I’m spending a lot more time on, which are going to be around, what are those processes? What are the mindsets, I need to have to enable the next generation of leaders to mature and not just let’s go, let’s go take the hill ourselves at any costs
Gene Hammett [7:11]
When you went from kind of, you know, the founder mindset to CEO, do you remember a distinct kind of shift that you had to go through?
Manish Hirapara [7:18]
I did? Yeah. And, you know, I’ve been fortunate, and this is my first entrepreneurship opportunities. So I brought mindsets that I’ve had or picked up at big companies and seen some of the needs of having established, you know, more mature operating plans and things like that. But I do remember thinking, Okay, I can’t do this by myself. And I’ll tell you a moment that probably happened for me, I’m on a cruise ship floating out in the Gulf of Mexico. And I’m sitting there trying to get on Wi-Fi calling because something’s hitting the fan. And I was the one who had to take that call, I was the one who had to sit there and talk somebody through the challenge. And that was that moment for me that said, I need to be able to create a team leadership team create a culture that enables the company to operate the entity to go on with its life without solely me as the founder, the hustle behind the machine is the one who really drives it forward. So that was that moment. I remember distinctly sitting there in the middle of the of the Gulf and saying, alright, I have to figure out how to be a CEO more than just a founder or the person that is running the business.
Gene Hammett [8:32]
And we all have those moments. And I guess I’m just highly curious here because I see it happen so much within my own work as a coach with founders and CEOs like yourself, there’s a big difference between knowing that you’ve got to do it and actually doing it. So what were the steps you took to really create a team that could grow beyond you?
Manish Hirapara [8:50]
Well, you know, I’d love to say that it was it was, it was easy, we still haven’t figured it out. But I read, I read traction by Gina Whitman, and I read okrs by John Doerr. We tried putting some, you know, some pieces of each of those systems in place, we’re still trying to kind of figure it out as we go. But it was really getting everyone in the room and taking a step forward saying, look, I need to be vulnerable, I need to say, I need your help in doing this. And some of it was bringing in outside coaches into into the transformation. Some of it was making sure that you know, I said it’s okay even if we don’t succeed in putting okrs and we’re not going to get it right the first five times, but it was let’s methodically tried to say try some things so that we get to a place where it does feel like it’s working for us to finally work through some of those challenges. We’re still working through them. I’d love to say we’ve worked through all of them. But if and when we have it right we’ll do something, blow it up and you know, figure out the next problems, but we’re still we’re still getting there. I think it’s a journey. It’s not a destination.
Gene Hammett [9:50]
When you think about your work on your mindset. What does that look like for you? Is it your time with your coach, or is it something different for you?
Manish Hirapara [10:00]
You know, I have, I have several coaches or several sorts of ways that I tried, to get the influence that I need. I do love to read books, I do love to engage with thought leaders that are in the space, I have a group in Vistage, I have a personal coach and mentor that I use, you know, for me, it’s really getting kicked in the butt repeatedly by all of them, right? By reading the book and realizing that I’m not doing something that says a jack welch would have done in, in his journey at GE, or just by going and having somebody observe what our dynamics are internally and, and saying, alright, what do we need to do to improve? And a lot of times it’s clients we may have, they might be at larger scale, and what can we learn from each other? And it’s sort of just walking through that, that fabric of learning at all points and being okay, with experimentation being okay with, with trying things out?
Gene Hammett [10:53]
You know, the shifts in mindset I’ve seen, it’s just being open to a new perspective. Again, that’s easy to say, but how do you actually do that? keep keeping your mind open to maybe I’m not right here. Or maybe my thinking isn’t right.
Manish Hirapara [11:07]
You know, I’m a big believer, in sort of the older and wiser you get the less, you know, right. And sometimes it comes through having gone through trials and tribulations. But I do feel like taking a moment to have a retrospective to look back and say, you know, I was dug in on this specific position, I had a really solid mindset that said, we had to do this, well, did it work or did it not work. And if you go back, and you take some time, and you plan that time, I’m a believer that you you should take a vacation, you should be able to disconnect and go hiking the mountains or whatever it is that that kind of lets you remind get away from the day to day. So you can’t have that retrospective. And say, I realized that it worked or realized it didn’t work. But no matter what, even if it didn’t work, what would I have done differently, and taking that moment, to have that open-mindedness. And I think it’s a challenge for all leaders to say, you know what I need to do this, I need to, I need to figure out how to how to get to that point.
Hold on, when these just talked about being vulnerable. A lot of people think vulnerability is a weakness. But I want to really get you to challenge yourself on that. We’re talking about leadership mindset today. Is vulnerability, a real weakness? Can you be too vulnerable? Absolutely. But if you can also be too stoic, where you’re not sharing the true self, your real authentic self, because people want to connect with people that are real, if you really want to increase that connection with your people, there are times when you need to be vulnerable. And that really does help you become a stronger, more empathetic leader. Make sure you are challenging your own beliefs about when to be vulnerable, and when not. Because I think if you really choose the right occasions, you can create more of movement more of a connection that you need to with your people. And back to my Manish.
Gene Hammett [12:53]
On asking one of those questions that only coaches ask that and and don’t go into this if you don’t want to go deep into it. But what’s the hardest mindset shift you struggle with?
Manish Hirapara [13:04]
You know, I, for me, I think it’s because we’re such a basketball and company, it’s the I’ll call it the imposter syndrome. It’s not realizing that we have 200 plus lives at stake or families that are being fed from our business. And if I don’t do some of these things, I don’t make a leadership team habit, if I don’t make culture happen, that it’s going to be something that will be to all of our detriment. So the biggest mind shift for me has been realizing that we’ve got something we were growing up as a company. And it’s no longer when we had three or four of us. And we can just kind of do things the same way that we had. So I think a lot of CEOs, a lot entrepreneurs that I talked to their, their comfort zone is that sort of early-stage, grind it out mindset. And moving towards a growth-oriented CEO mindset is a shift. I’m still going through it myself, right? There are certain certain days where I’m just like, well, would it be easier if we just had no personality conflicts and no leadership complex and no things that we need to do? As far as checklists go, but we can just go create something. So that’s that’s probably been the hardest one for me gene is how to make that that transition, how to how to turn the ship, which is a little slower to turn than it used to be.
Gene Hammett [14:20]
This is exactly one of the things that I work out with, with clients all the time. And, you know, I know how hard it is because I had to do it myself within my own business. And I’ve had to do it num number of times with my clients. When when you really do look at that imposter syndrome. The best thing I’ve found and you probably can relate to this is you have to find out who you really are and the impact that you’ve made with others because often we forget how far we’ve grown just because we get you weren’t thrown into a 200 person company.
Manish Hirapara [14:52]
No, I wasn’t and I didn’t. I didn’t build it, one person, at a time. We built it five or 10 people at a time. It seemed like some some weeks For sure, and and the hardest part of it is being able to take take a step back and look at the machine from the outside and say, Wow, look at all the things that are going on. I had, I had lunch with somebody from finance. And she was telling me, you know, the complexities and billing and accounting and you know, accounts payable and all those things. And I was like, Wow, that’s amazing. It requires people it requires leadership at court requires a different mindset than than where we’ve been for sure.
Gene Hammett [15:26]
Well, I’m glad you shared that with us, because it is something that I think a lot of people struggle with, if they don’t get it, right. They there’s a lot of stress and anxiety that goes with holding on to the founder thinking and that imposter syndrome is just a part of that you got to learn to grow beyond it. I want to shift gears here a little bit. Because, you know, mindset is such an important piece to it. But you have to marry that with strategy, which is like, how are you going to execute and change? What do you feel like you do that’s different than others when it comes to going from an idea into a strategy.
Manish Hirapara [16:01]
I’d like to say, you know, my background as an entrepreneur, I’m an idea person, I’m an innovator by at heart, you know if we took those personality profiles, and I’m definitely high on that innovation scale. However, innovation isn’t just something that you snap your fingers and do, and you have to have people you can hand it off to. And I think that’s one of the strengths of having built a leadership team, having built people who compliment you with their personalities and their skills, so that I can take an idea and say, you know what I’m handing this off. And you’re going to now take this and fill out the business model canvas, you’re going to figure out a revenue stream, you’re going to figure out how to how to get the product-market fit, right, and you empower others around you, but still keep the team small. And I feel like that’s part of the secret sauce. You know, our big, hairy audacious goal, peak activity is to launch 20 new companies out of activity in the next 10 years. And so, for us to do that effectively and do it correctly.
Manish Hirapara [17:01]
Now, all of them won’t be successful. But we know, in order to do that, it has to be something that it can’t just be ideas that float around in my head or any one person’s head. But it has to be a process where you can go and take that idea to market and by being able to have that small but communicative network, I think is something that is tough to do. But I feel like we’ve figured it out.
Gene Hammett [17:23]
You said something that I want to go back to empowering others. You know, this is a very obvious question when the way I phrase it, but if you had a mindset that was pretty rigid, and not adaptable, how easy would it be to empower others?
Manish Hirapara [17:37]
Well, obviously, it’s not. I mean, it, however, could go both ways. your mindset could be super rigid, that you should be empowering others. And this is actually where I get in trouble. It’s a little bit paradoxical. Have an answer to your question, I got my butt kicked by my mentor, saying you’re not necessarily controlling when you’re much more involved and not empowering others you’re leading. So when you empower others, you still they still need to be led, they still need to be told, we’re going here in three years. And one of the areas that I’m the most guilty gene is all empowered others, I’ll give them a one-line sentence of an idea I had, I’m saying you’re empowered to go take this idea that market, and they’re going okay, but what is it?
Manish Hirapara [18:21]
Why would you know, so the leadership that goes along with empowerment, I think, is there so the rigidity can go both ways, in my opinion, which is the rigidity can be, you know, what, I may be rigid and saying, I need to be involved in everything? But it could just be the opposite, which is what I’m guilty of, which is, you’re empowered, you’re completely within your rights to go run a business in and of yourself, but you’ve never been a CEO, and you don’t know where we’re going. So my job is to be that sort of empowering leader at the same time, and that’s a, it’s a mindset shift for me that I’ve got to make right and make.
Manish just talked about empowering others around you. I want you to think about, are you truly empowering them? Are you just sort of empowering them, because sort of empowering them means you’re still micromanaging to some degree, you’re still asking them to come back to you, before they make a decision. You’re still asking them to show you their work. But when you truly empower someone, they feel the trust and you experience it, it may be uncomfortable, but it really does help you grow as a leader, this whole conversations around the leadership mindset. Well, I think a big part of that is Are you truly empowering those around you? And this really requires you to be reflective, but also really trust yourself and trust your people. Back to my Manish.
Gene Hammett [19:35]
I appreciate you sharing that with us today. Your growth through the ink has been pretty impressive to our employees over a very short period of time. I know I’ve asked you this in the beginning but it’s more than just your mindset. So what else do you attribute to the level of growth your company’s had?
Manish Hirapara [19:52]
I’d love to say, you know, we plan the whole thing but as much of it is luck, preparation In, and the two intersecting, we’re in a, we’re in a great space where we’re helping companies that need to make the shift from traditional ways of growth to digital ways of growth. And, obviously, that market is growing significantly, you’ve seen what Amazon’s done over the last 2025 years, and, and now many businesses are trying to catch up, I do also feel like, you know, we’ve invested a lot ahead of real results. And what that means is, we’ll find great talent that we know would be able to help our clients or help our future clients. And we’ll go and say, Look, you know, I don’t have anything for you to do right now.
Manish Hirapara [20:38]
But we’re gonna, we’re gonna find something because you’re really smart. And we know that there’s a headwind in hiring great talent, so we’re gonna, we’re gonna pick people up. So just by being a little bit more, you know, supportive, proactive in where we think the market is going, making some intelligent bets. and not being afraid to do that retrospective and say, You know what, this didn’t work, let’s go make a change, or this did work, let’s do more of it. I think it’s something that we really feel like we’ve been sort of pioneering a little bit and saying, Let’s be proactive, as opposed to waiting for the business to come. And then to be
Gene Hammett [21:14]
Manish, you have shared with us a lot of your wisdom and appreciate you being on the podcast.
Manish Hirapara [21:19]
Thank you for having me, Gene. It’s a pleasure.
Gene Hammett [21:21]
Let me wrap up here. For those listening in, if you were wanting to be a leader to push it to the next level, I don’t believe you can get there without having a strong mindset. And really working on this in a consistent way. And seeing that you have to evolve. If you don’t recognize how you’ve evolved over the last year, and then specifically put some some very specific things on that, then you’re probably missing an opportunity. You should be working with coaches, or you should be working with other boards of advisers that would help you maybe it’s a peer group that will challenge your thinking. And that really will help you transform your own leadership.
Gene Hammett [21:54]
When you think about all the things that you have to do as a leader are juggling a lot of things working with a lot of people. It takes you being at your best. And so if you have any questions about how to do that, make sure to reach out to me at genehammett.com. We can have a conversation about how you’re transforming your own leadership to transform the leaders around you. When you think about growth, and you think about culture, make sure you think about Growth Think Tank, as always lead with courage. We’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.
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