Many people don’t know what they don’t know. That is why it helps to have a mentor who inspires and guides you throughout your life. Believing in the power of mentoring, Dr. Ravishankar Gundlapalli, CEO and founder of MentorCloud, is passionate about helping people achieve their potential and reach their goals. Driven to help people make the right connections, learn new skills to accomplish more, and achieve career milestones, Dr. Gundlapalli takes us across the experiences that have changed his life and made him want to share his wisdom with the world. He gives us a peek into his book, The Art of Mentoring and goes deep into the concept of having a personal board and conscious networking while sharing how you can pick out your mentors, the myths of mentoring, and more.
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The Art Of Mentoring: Helping People Achieve Their Potential With Dr. Ravishankar Gundlapalli
I am here with Dr. Ravi Gundlapalli. He’s an entrepreneur, author and speaker who is passionate about helping people achieve their true potential. You might have seen his book, The Art Of Mentoring: Simple Tools and Techniques to Achieve your Full Potential. It’s so nice to have you here, Ravi.
It’s nice to be on your show, Diane. I appreciate you and thanks for the introduction.
You’re welcome. I’m very interested in your background. I mentioned that you have a PhD. I’m interested in how you got associated with the art of mentoring. You’re the Founder and CEO of MentorCloud. You do everything associated with mentoring. You and I are even on a group together that’s all about mentoring, founded originally by Keith Krach of DocuSign. It’s all about mentoring. Let’s get all the background on you.
Mentoring is what I talk about, think about, speak about while I’m awake and sometimes in my sleep. That’s what my wife says. I’ve been in the business of what they call the flow. My PhD was in fluid mechanics so I studied how to optimize the flow of fluids. I got into supply chain work in automotive, semiconductors, aerospace and defense. I worked on the 787 Dreamliner Supply Chain and also the very complex semiconductor supply chains where I was dealing with the flow of products and how to ensure there are no bottlenecks and everybody gets what they need. There was a life-changing moment when I was in India. I was giving a talk and I was on a plane that almost hit the helicopter carrying the President of India. That was a near-fatal accident but all of us got saved.
What bugged me was all the newspapers carried the President’s photo and it’s like, “The President got saved,” which I still value. It’s important but I was clubbed along with 142 passengers. That was a big wake-up call because I had the best education. I went to IIT back in India and I said, “I haven’t done anything impactful that the world is going to miss me.” I learned on that day that if I can find a way to optimize the flow of wisdom in the world, connect people with wisdom with people seeking wisdom and do it 100 million times, I came up with that number that day in the airport, that would be worth a story in the cover page when somebody is going to miss me for the work I have done.Unconscious incompetence is how most people don't know what they don't know. Click To Tweet
That’s how I got into what they call the flow of wisdom and how to make human wisdom accessible. I built the technology and right when I did that, the universe also wanted me to get on this path. I got to meet a sixteen-year-old visually-challenged student in India. He was blind by birth and he came up to me after my talk and said, “Sir, I want to study at MIT because I can’t study science and math in India being blind.” His goal got me excited and the inner mentor in me suddenly woke up. I took him on as my mentee. He got into MIT and he successfully graduated from Sloan School. Now he’s an entrepreneur in India doing well. I said, “I can make these kinds of connections and choreograph instead of leaving it to luck.” I built a technology that allows people to find each other and we are now connecting people across 100 plus countries.
That’s part of MentorCloud. What is this technology? How does it work?
My passion is about connecting people. What the technology platform does is within an enterprise, it allows people to create profiles in terms of what is the expertise that they would like to share or be known for. Other people are saying, “This is my career goal and these are the areas of expertise that I am looking for.” We look at the supply of available wisdom and then the demand for wisdom. We also look at their LinkedIn, their HR data as to their title, location and department. We use all of this data to match. We use IBM Watson’s API that’s based on natural language to then say, “Based on the kinds of things that you want to learn and your career goals, here are the 3 or 4 people that you should be talking to.” One of our early founders is the co-founder of Match.com.
You can look at this as a wisdom dating. People find each other and it’s not in an open environment like Facebook or any other social networks like LinkedIn. You don’t know if the other person is willing to be your mentor or willing to share with you because they don’t have any connection. They don’t have any emotional attachment to you. Whereas within the organization or an association, for example, YPO, EO and IESE Business School in Spain, all the users have a certain connection. We use that connection to establish authenticity. People know that they are there and have the trust. They are willing either to share or to learn. We match them and we give them tools to have video calls, to schedule meetings. We have ratings of who are those leaders that everybody wants to learn from, who are those up and coming stars that are actively meeting and learning from the experts. As a company, you want to know both sides of this. Who are those leaders that you need to promote and who are the up and coming stars that you need to groom to become the future leaders.
How do people determine what things they need mentoring help with. Do you think some people have a hard time recognizing the things they need help with?
In reality, most people don’t even know they need mentorship. That’s why I made it my life mission. I wrote a book and I speak about it because most people don’t know what they don’t know. I call it the unconscious incompetence. When it comes to health, sometimes you may not see the doctor until it starts to ache. If you’re exercising regularly, you’d never ache in the first place. Most people don’t know the value of having other people thinking about them. Most people have trouble and one of my biggest challenges is to wake up people and say, “What a luxury it is when you have 3 or 4 amazing successful people thinking about you even when you’re sleeping.”
One of the questions I ask is, “Who’s thinking about you while your sleeping, about your success?” Somebody shouted, “My mother-in-law.” Beyond your spouse and your mother-in-law, who else? If you can say, “I have Keith, Diane or Joe Polish thinking about me,” that’s a luxury. Once people realize that, they say, “While I am sleeping, my body is growing but my career is not growing.” I inspire them by saying, “Your career should not stop when you’re sleeping and when you’re not doing anything. Let other people think about you, open doors for you and expand your possibilities.” Most people have difficulty and I’m trying to change that. We typically meet work within a company. They would have gone through some of a performance review and the manager would have told them, “You need to improve your negotiating skills or team’s skills.”
Within the company, they use their performance review as an input because companies say, “You’re on your own.” They say, “Your performance is your problem, but they don’t give you any tools. With MentorCloud, the companies are saying, “You had your performance review. I’m also giving you access to all these experts, go and connect with people.” When we sit down for the next review, now you can tell me, “By the way, last time I was told to improve this. I met this Vice President and that expert. I had a session and they rate me five stars.” I’m demonstrating my willingness to improve those skills that I’ve been asked to improve.
That’s interesting to look outside of the organization. Sometimes people look within. You and I work together on a global network that we’re trying to help, The Global Mentoring Network. I also have interviewed David Novak, the former CEO of Yum Foods. He’s created something similar. I’ve had people like Reid Hoffman. He’s got a new app coming out called Flerish. His group created that based on the startup view. This whole thing of trying to find mentoring is getting to be very popular. You mentioned Joe Polish. He does a great group. I know you were coming out for his event here in Arizona and he has the Genius Network. We have a lot of people wanting to help with mentorship. How do people know? As you said, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” If you don’t have a leader helping you to figure out what you don’t know and to help you get through your performance reviews, how can we reach the average person that’s out there starting their own company? Maybe they’re an entrepreneur and they definitely need help but they don’t even know where to start.
Within companies, we are encouraging them to look at their performance reviews and share success stories of people who have moved ahead in their careers because of them being known by other executives in the organization. For entrepreneurs, most entrepreneurs need help. Essentially, education is very key which is why I wrote the book. It’s important to have other people in your life and career. One of the things from the concepts I’m trying to evangelize is this idea of your personal board of mentors. Everybody knows a company has a board of directors. The board of directors are the people who are bringing the technical expertise, financial expertise, sales and marketing expertise. Similarly, why can’t you have or why should you not have a personal board that you can rely on? It’s all about showing people, “I don’t have anybody like that on my board. I don’t even have a board.” This is my mission. That’s why I have Keith Ferrazzi on my board. Keith Ferrazzi wrote the book, Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back.Everybody needs other perspectives because we get very easily blindsided. Click To Tweet
When I told him about what I’m doing, he said, “I’d love to help you.” He joined my board. Nobody should eat alone. Somebody should have your back. That’s how careers are built. You and I got connected through Keith Krach and he has mentors. Keith is a dynamite and brilliant guy. He went to John Chambers for mentorship. I was reading the story of Marc Benioff and he said, “Salesforce would not exist without Steve Jobs.” Marc used to go to Steve Jobs for advice. Bill Gates used to go to Warren Buffet. Everybody needs other perspective or a fresh perspective because we get very easily blindsided. A few years ago, I was the only one, I was a lone voice. Nobody was giving me any time. I tell people, “Sing your song as often as you can and two things happen. You become good at it and the world takes you seriously.” I’m excited that a few years later today everyone is talking about it, including Keith Krach. It makes me, “Thank God I stayed and built a technology, the user base and the brand around the world as the go-to place for mentorship.”
You bring up so many great points with that. Keith is such an amazing guy. I was fortunate to have him write the foreword of my book about curiosity and I picked him. He’s so curious and humble because he surrounds himself with people. You can’t know everything. You to have to surround yourself with people. I know in your book, you talk about Mark Zuckerberg having Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey having Maya Angelou or whoever it is that you look up to. Not everybody can do this by themselves. Even Quincy Jones had Ray Charles. We have people who we can look up to. You’re talking about having a personal board and that’s something that we did at the Forbes School of Business. Each of our programs, we created a board to help us. I was an MBA program chair there, so I would have a board who would help me. The HR people would have theirs or the other divisions would all have their own boards and they still do that. It’s a good idea. You bring up having this personal board and they can do that through the MentorCloud program that you have. How many people do you have on your board and how do you pick them? How does that work?
On my board, I have about seven people, some to just to cry on because the CEO’s life is lonely. You can’t go to your board because they think you’re weak. You can’t go to your team, they think you don’t know what you’re doing. You need someone to talk to. I have people who I discuss my sales and marketing strategies. There are people who I talk to about products. I have seven people all over the world that I look up to and discuss various aspects of how I can achieve my ambition through technology, sales and marketing, education and speaking. In the book, I talk about how to find mentors, how to qualify mentors, how to approach them, how to curate and also how to be eligible for mentorship.
One of the examples I tell people is, “Before you ask somebody to take you to the airport, ask yourself the question, ‘Have you taken anyone to the airport?’” Mentorship is very simple. I actively mentor a lot of people. I almost have the right to ask the universe that I need mentors too. I have earned this. You have to give before you get. You have to love others before you expect other people to love you. It is reciprocal. I talk about some of these things. I got a call from somebody in India reading my book and somebody from Portugal who read my book. I’m honored that what I taught was simple and everybody who sees it is finding it’s extremely valuable. It’s universal.
You talked about finding, qualifying, approaching and curating. Let’s talk about finding. How do you find a good mentor?
In my book, I talk about this concept called conscious networking. I never go to someone cold and say, “Can you mentor me?” because that’s not the right thing to do. I encourage people to first find out what are those areas or the body of knowledge that they are seeking. You want to find out who are the 3 or 4 people that you would love to learn from. Some of them, if they are all the way to Bill Gates, then it’s out of reach for a lot of people. Who are those people that you could have as your mentor or at least go approach? Even before I approach them, I do my homework. I read their articles and I check their LinkedIn. If they’re speaking, I go and listen to them or record a video. If they’re on Twitter, I re-tweet some of their things and make some insightful comments. By the time I meet them, they already would have seen my comments. They already would have seen something that I’ve done. One of the things I find a lot about my mentors is they’re serving on some other nonprofit boards. I go and volunteer at those boards. There is some connection.
When I do all of this, what I’m doing is I’m showing my seriousness to relate to what the mentor cares about. When I do it, people say, “I’ve seen your comment,” or “I saw you at the last volunteering event.” You have established a connection. The first step is I always ask for fifteen minutes. Most of the time that is something people will say yes to. If I can inspire them and excite them with my vision, background, sincerity and integrity in fifteen minutes, they’ll give me half an hour. There were 2 to 3 times that I get to meet with them because I want them to make sure that I am worthy of their time. I also want to make sure that they are the people that they think they are, who want to give back and who have the wisdom I’m looking for. It is a process but this process has to be worked very diligently. If you do this right, you can have some good people batting for you.
I’ve met many amazing people through this show. Keith is one and all the people that you and I are working with on this new board where we met. You look around the room and you think these people have so much knowledge. Getting on boards can be a great thing. All the ideas you suggested are important. I have a lot of people who will want to get fifteen minutes on my calendar before I know who they are. Let’s get to know each other. It’s hard for some of us to find fifteen minutes here and there for some of these conversations. I like the fact that you do other things before you ask for that time. I’ve done a lot of these fifteen-minute conversations where it ends up being multilevel marketing or whatever it is. It’s not what you think it’s going to be. It’s important that people do have that foundation. You also mentioned qualifying people. How do you qualify who you pick as a particular mentor?
The qualification process is your due diligence. People who are good mentors have the heart of giving back. They have the wisdom. Otherwise, you won’t even go there. They have the wisdom or the success that you are seeking. They should have the heart of giving back. The first thing I qualify them is, Are they charitable and philanthropic that they are on non-profit boards? Are they talking about giving back to the world? How do they talk about other people versus talking about themselves? Those are some of the things that I use because ultimately I define mentoring as a human connection. It’s a trusted human connection and you’re establishing a bridge to someone. You have to find out the human behind that particular leader or entrepreneur. Who are they? If they don’t have that then it becomes a transaction. I’m looking for something and they have something. It never evolves into something. Some of my mentors, I have been working with them for several years because humanly, we are connected. Sometimes we don’t even talk any business. We’re just talking about each other because that’s what is important. We all need that human connection. Once you establish the bridge, any traffic can flow on that bridge. That’s what you want to establish first.
You talked about the approach part. It’s hard sometimes to approach. Some people are super busy and some people are not open to this relationship. You have to go through a process to see who would be a good match. You talk about curating. Are there any other things you want to add with that whole four-pronged approach?We all need that human connection. Once you establish the bridge, any traffic can flow on that bridge. Click To Tweet
You do your qualification. You make sure you earn eligibility and you are a mentor for somebody else. You make sure that the other party knows that you’re also a giver. Givers like other givers, that’s how the world operates. You’re not talking about recruiting 100 people. It’s 2 to 3 or even one. Let’s start with one. One good person who is thinking about you and opening doors for you. I got on Keith Krach board not because I know Keith Krach, it’s because I know Keith Ferrazi. Keith said, “Ravi, you should be here.” Look at the network of Keith Ferrazi versus my network. Sometimes even 1 or 2 people are good enough because their networks are much bigger than yours. They may have people on their network that they’re not actively in connection with.
I’ll give you an example. The mentee that I’ve told you about, the sixteen-year-old blind student. I didn’t know that in my own network there are people who had foundations to only fund differently-abled people. I never had the need for it but when my mentee came in, a whole universe has opened up. There were people who bought laptop for him, who bought the ticket to MIT from India, who helped him with living expenses, it’s amazing. I encourage all the audiences to at least start with 1 or 2 people. That can change your game significantly because your world opens up to somebody else’s network, the way they think and the way they are growing. The best conversation you can be in is the one where you are not there physically. Somebody else is talking. Keith’s talking to others and saying, “You know that, Ravi? This guy has his big vision.” That’s all I want. That’s all we all want. We want to be in conversations of other good people.
Mentoring sometimes has misconceptions about what it is. How do you define mentoring? Why do you said in your book something about how there are still many misconceptions about what it is?
There are many which is why I wrote the book. It’s because nobody funded me. Nobody gave me any time of their life or listened to me. There are a lot of myths and I described them in my book. Number one is, “Mentoring is something I do on a Sunday morning. I go to my church and on my way home I try some charitable things.” It’s the biggest myth. Steve Jobs is not mentoring Marc out of charity or Warren Buffett mentoring Bill Gates or vice versa. All these people are actively seeking advice from another human being who they trust and who they know that they will always wish well for them. The biggest myth is that only mentees benefit. I have seen myself transform and my friends tell me, “Ravi you’re a changed man in ten years.”
Because of all the people that I got to mentor, I became a better human being, leader, listener and networker. I am more conscious about what’s happening around me because of all these people who come to me with all these challenges. Mentoring being good for only the mentees is the biggest myth. Mentoring not being scalable or cannot be done online is a myth. When online dating started, everybody said, “It doesn’t work. People have to meet in the real world.” See where we are now. In a similar way, it’s a myth that mentoring doesn’t work in a virtual environment. It does because we live in a connected world and the best person who can help you may not be in your city.
He may not be in your country. You have to be able to connect with anyone anywhere in the world. Another myth is it takes a lot of time. When people say they’re busy, they’re not saying that they don’t want to give. Busy is an excuse. They are saying, “I don’t think this is too important for me to clear my calendar and work with you.” The simplest thing is, “I’m busy right now,” but if you make it worthwhile, mentoring doesn’t take a lot of time. Fifteen to twenty minutes every other week is more than enough because they’re already successful executives or entrepreneurs. We don’t need a whole lecture. If I need a lecture on something, I can go to YouTube, Coursera or something and take a class. I just need a few tips.
I was talking to Joe Polish and I said, “Joe, I need five minutes of your time.” He told me, “Okay, no problem. What do you need?” I said, “I have all these emails and nobody’s responding.” He goes, “Here’s what it is. There is something called a nine-word email. This is what you do.” In five minutes, we are done. That changed the way I send my emails now. It’s completely changed. All we need is a little nudge. We’re already a rocket ship and we need a little nudge to change trajectory sometimes. Mentoring, that it takes a lot of time is another myth. Another myth is you don’t need anyone. You wait until you get fired and then you go find a mentor or a coach. That’s also a wrong thing to do. You don’t see a doctor and the first visit is to the ICU. There has to be a habit of people regularly making sure you never end up in the ICU.
Do we pay for that or should people be giving this relationship for free? I know a lot of people who their business is mentorship. That’s what they charge for.
There’s nothing wrong with getting paid if that is your livelihood. I have paid people because that’s what they depend on. Sometimes I have paid back in other ways. Some of my mentors’ children are my mentees. I have reciprocated that thing back to them when I work with their children. I’ve mentored several high school students in their college applications, SATs and helped entrepreneurs start their companies. You have to find a way to pay back sometimes with money, with your time or with mentoring somebody that they care about.
There are a lot of great people I’ve met through the show or even before the show. Ford Saeks did my website. I use him as a mentor a whole lot. He’s one of my favorite people. You learn so much from many people. I’ve gone to Joe Polish’s events and he brings in some of the best people. It’s not cheap going to the stuff he does but he brings a lot of value. It’s finding the right places and the right people to give you that mentorship and that advice. What advice do you think most people are looking for? Is there some commonly asked for help that leaders need or is it all over the board?We're already a rocket ship. All we need is a little nudge to change trajectory sometimes. Click To Tweet
Everybody’s context is different. There’s no one cookie-cutter answer for what everybody should be looking for. At a minimum, learn about other people’s stories and share your story. If I meet someone, the first thing I ask is, “I would love to hear your story. How did you get to where you are now?” That’s good enough because I want to know. In the process you will find out how they have overcome obstacles and how they have taken advantage of opportunities. Start with that and see whose stories you get inspired by. Only when you hear other stories that you will see, “I’m facing the obstacles right now. How do I overcome that?”
It is the context in which you are in currently, whether you’re a startup looking for enhancing your company’s growth, you are in a career that you find very boring, you’re not engaged in the workplace or you’re a student, you don’t know which career to take. All of these are real problems and situations. It’s not because we are not smart. It’s because life is all about multiple options and challenges. As long as you know you have other people, don’t start with a superstar. Start with someone that you can trust. It could be your uncle, aunt, professor, neighbor, it doesn’t matter. Somebody should know what you’re trying to do, where you’re hurting the most or where you are excited but not able to do as much. That’s where it all begins.
I’ve had some people who immediately want to be Tony Robbins, Oprah or Elon Musk. They want mentorship at the top level. I like that you talk about that where you can’t miss it. You don’t have to start at the top. There are many people who have so much content and information to share. You mentioned some obstacles. I’m curious what your biggest obstacles were and how did you overcome them other than the nine-word email type of thing?
My biggest obstacle is me because I started second-guessing a lot of things coming from the corporate world and now jumping into entrepreneurship. In my initial days, I was the victim. I was like, “There are no investors who care about mentorship. This world doesn’t care about these things.” I started talking like a victim, until I realized that I hadn’t done a job good enough to inspire other people. It’s not the world, it’s you. My biggest obstacle was how I looked at the problem that I’m trying to solve, how I articulated that problem with other people, and how I sounded with the level of confidence, authenticity and authority. I had to grow and the biggest transformation any mentee can have is to unleash your own genius. Remove all the obstacles that we tell ourselves, “This won’t work. Somebody tried it and it didn’t work.” We are our biggest enemy. I was my biggest obstacle.
That’s interesting because when I wrote about curiosity, I found four things that impact what keeps people from being curious. One of them is that voice in your head, the assumptions you make. That’s what you were mentioning because you were talking about talking like a victim. Some of the things we say to ourselves in our minds, we don’t even recognize that we’re saying. Having that recognition is a huge part of becoming curious which also gets you out of status-quo thinking, it gets you into asking questions and figuring out why things will work a certain way or won’t work a certain way. I met a lot of people and there are many leaders who are afraid they’re going to be discovered for not knowing something, that they’re supposed to know it all. A lot of them also fear delegating because they want to control everything. Do you run into a lot of people who need mentoring to help them with that? What advice do you give for people who have a hard time with that?
I had a problem with delegating. Sometimes, when you have great education, you have a PhD, you write well and you speak well, you think you can do it all. My mentor, Rajesh Setty, who was on the founding team of MentorCloud, he told me, “First of all, a task that doesn’t get done versus tasks that are getting done at 80% or 60% efficiency, which one do you like?” He used to tell me, “There’s only one Ravi Gundlapalli. There’s nobody who can do it the way you would do. If you become your own bottleneck, many of your blogs won’t get written, many of your books won’t be released.” He said, “Your job as someone with something to share is to find someone who can do it even at half the efficiency in the beginning. You have the opportunity to train, coach and groom them. You’re helping another person become better and almost come close to how you will do things.”
Delegation is a great opportunity to mentor other people to improve their own skills. I have learned now to always ask the question, “Can somebody else do this?” If somebody else can do this, I pass it on. Sometimes when they ask, “Would you like to see it?” I say, “I don’t need to see it; just move on.” What I’m doing in the process is not only I’m able to free up my time, I’m also empowering the other person. If you picked your people correctly, when you give them the responsibility to sign off for you, they will do a good job. They will make sure there are no typos and make sure it’s all clear because their name is on the line. When you delegate, you also need to empower them. You also need to give them the authority to move forward. You will see magic happen because people will start owning things. People will do great work and you never have to worry about whether they will do it as perfectly as you were because nobody else would. We are all unique.
I remember talking to Ford Saeks about this. He’s always the one who would say, “Done is better than perfect.” That’s a hard thing for a lot of people who have a very high standard. Sometimes if you have other people doing things for you, the time it takes to tell them what you want and the initial time is a lot of time and then you think, “I can do it faster initially myself.” You have all this thought process in your mind. I could see that can hold a lot of people back. I’m thinking of people I’ve met who do many things and Naveen Jain was at one of Joe Polish’s event. I took him to dinner the night before the last time he was here speaking at the Genius Network. He was saying he reads everything. He goes into a new industry. He doesn’t care if he knows anything about it. He wants to start from scratch and learn it all himself. Are you that kind of person? Do you start from scratch? Is it sometimes better to come in with fresh eyes and not learn it the way other people want to tell you how it should be?
Naveen moves from IT to biotech to moonshot, everything. In my case, I have only one industry, the industry of people. I do read a lot. One thing I don’t do is try to understand how things are done. In fact, I have not seen any other mentoring platform. My team would tell me, “I found a demo of this from a website and can you just see it.” I said, “I don’t want to see it.” I might imitate it. My prospects, my customers, my team members find it funny, but I rarely look. There are seven billion people that need mentorship. For us to think MentorCloud should be the only provider is bad news. Let other people also do it; it’s okay.
We can cater to anybody but let’s get it to somebody. If we don’t get it to everybody, let’s get it to somebody that respects us, our technology and who we are as people. I rarely study the land before I get in. I wanted to look at it with fresh pair of eyes. In fact, when I talk to HR people, they think, “You don’t talk like HR.” I said, “Yes, I’m not from HR.” Here I am being invited by HR people to talk to them about mentorship. That’s because I never learned how they do it. I’m telling you something that is common sense, human connection, human conversation. Sharing is a supply chain of wisdom. They are like, “These are all new words.”Delegation is a great opportunity to mentor other people to improve their own skills. Click To Tweet
You can hear a lot of the same things in HR. I spoke at SHRM’s big event and I hadn’t spoken there prior to that. I know there are certain words that they use over and over again. I was trying to avoid overwhelming them with the same old things that they hear. When we talk about each of these groups and what everybody needs, I’m curious if you could pick what you still need. Who would be your ideal mentor if they would have you?
I always felt that I want to own the category of mentorship. I’m slowly getting there, but Keith Krach in his absolute wisdom of being the so-called category creator. I would love to have him as my mentor.
I don’t know if you’re on the board of DocuSign, but he put me on that board originally before on the board with you. If you look up the board of advisors for DocuSign, it is who’s who of the most important people. I couldn’t believe I was on the site with these people because you’re looking around going, “Wow.” The people that Keith knows is beyond impressive. Now that he’s moved on and no longer with DocuSign, he’s creating new things and being undersecretary and everything that he’s doing now is different. He did connect us and a lot of amazing people on the board where you and I work at the Global Mentor Network. I’m curious to see what would we be able to do with that. I could see how your background is so beneficial to what we could do with that group and with so many other groups. I’m curious if you’ve got any more books in you. Is this book your final book or do you have other things that you’re working on? What’s next?
I’ve got two more books. One of them is called Second Guessing because when I look back at my life, a lot of my decisions happened because I don’t second guess. I want people to let the universe open up doors for them and let serendipity happen versus second-guessing based on their past. That is one book that I’m working on. I’ve also another book in the works called How To Accelerate Success. I’ve come up with a five-step process. I’m writing about how to accelerate success with the right learning, mentors, reflection and all of that. Those are the two books I’m working on. Maybe I’ll publish one of them. I’m on a mission. I enjoy sharing my thoughts on stage. I get invited to speak. I do look forward to sharing my thoughts with a lot of people.
What are the main talks that you give?
I talk about mentoring. I tell them it’s not a science, it’s an art. It involves human beings, personalities and egos. Fortunately for me, it’s an art. That’s why I wrote The Art of Mentoring. That’s what I speak about. I’ve spoken about legacy in Phoenix for EO, Arizona Chapter. I was a speaker in Ben Brooks’ event in his honor. I spoke about entrepreneurship. I taught entrepreneurship at San Jose State. All of these are all related to human success and significance.
I like what you’re doing. It sounds a lot. In some respects of what Marshall Goldsmith has been able to do. He gives back so much and he’s created groups to give back. I am fortunate to serve on a different board with him, with that Reed Hoffman, Flerish group. When I see what everybody’s doing to give back, it’s important to look at what we can share. You do that so well. I loved your input when we were at the last meeting, I was like, “Who is this guy?” I was so glad to meet you. I get to see you again so this will be fun. If anybody else is reading this and they’re thinking, “I got to meet this guy, learn more about him, read his book, figure out what MentorCloud is,” and all of that, what can they do to find you?
They can find me on LinkedIn, Ravishankar Gundlapalli. It’s a long name. Our company website is MentorCloud.com. I also have my own site called RaviGundlapalli.com where they can find chapters of my book and all the talks that I have given. I also tweet @RaviGundlapalli. They can find me there. I am grateful that you and I got to meet through Keith. That’s how our worlds collided and we are destined to do some amazing things in the future. I enjoyed sharing my thoughts extemporaneously. I also have a podcast called Spontaneous Conversations. All my podcasts are spontaneous. We pick the topic and hit the record button. I have about 30 episodes and continue to add to them so you can find me on iTunes as well.
Those are the ways that your audience can find me, but most importantly find a mentor first. It is 1 or 2 people and make sure you’re also mentoring other people. I want to end with this. The English language is very interesting. People will remember not what you have but what you gave. I was playing with these words because the letters G and H are right next to each other. The reason Marshall Goldsmith and everybody’s thinking about giving back is because the world will recognize you for not what you have but what you gave. Think about that for a minute and make sure you give.
That’s a great way to end the show. Thank you so much, Ravi. This has been so interesting and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Absolutely and thank you for having me on your show.
I’d like to thank Ravi for being my guest. We get many great guests on this show. Some of what he talked about ties into the work I’m doing with curiosity. We got a little bit into the discussion about how we tell ourselves these things that hold us back. When I researched curiosity, I found there were four things that hold you back from being curious and they include our fear, assumptions, technology and environment. What Ravi and I were talking about is the assumptions are what we tell ourselves, that speaks, the thoughts, the things we say to ourselves. Those are huge for keeping us back and holding us from asking questions and providing different insights at work. That’s a huge factor. Some of that crosses over into our environment of what makes us get that voice in our head. Some of them are fear-based. All of these things and the research I did in curiosity were interesting and how they tie into our discussions about mentorship.
One of the biggest things that organizations can do to improve performance is by improving engagement and motivation. All these things are based on improving curiosity. If you can figure out the things that keep you from being curious, then that’ll help build all these other areas. That’s what I do with the Curiosity Code Index. We were training organizations to get all their employees up to speed on what it is that’s holding them back in terms of curiosity. A Curiosity Code Index is similar to something like the emotional intelligence tests you’ve seen or DISC or Myers-Briggs and the fact that they take a quick assessment. There are 36 questions and then they get a 26-page PDF result. It gives them a whole bunch of insight into how they can improve.
What they can do is create a personal SWOT analysis to improve in those four areas of all the issues that are holding them back which are fear, assumptions, technology and environment or the acronym of FATE. If they go through the corporate training, which is what we certify consultants to give or I come out to do, we also have HR professionals give this, is that there’s a second assignment within the training that they do. It creates this great leadership report that goes back to leaders to help them with all the top issues they have within the company that are based on having problems with curiosity.
It could be communications, critical thinking, teamwork, all the things that organizations struggle with. What’s great is you go right to your employees to get so much feedback in these training sessions about how can we help you become more curious and at the same time fix all these things that have been problematic for the organization. I thought it was a good time to discuss that since Ravi had so many great mentoring tactics. Some of the things that we need help mentoring with are to be more curious, to ask questions, to not try and reinvent the wheel, to get away from a status quo thinking and avoid doing things the way we’ve always done them because we haven’t explored other ways. If we can do that through mentorship, that’s the best alternative. Ravi and I worked together in Global Mentor Network and I worked in a couple of different areas. We’re doing some work. Reid Hoffman’s got an association with an app that the Curiosity Code will be in, it’s called Flerish.com. It’s an app based on his work in the startup and some of that is what we’re working on.
To develop curiosity in a mentoring way, that’s what was so interesting to me about having Ravi on the show because he’s the mentorship king. He knows how and why this is so important. I have others on the show like Marshall Goldsmith and others who give back. That’s so important when you get to a leadership position, to realize you have all this information out there. It’s a value to many people and who could you be helping with that. It would help to get other people out of the status quo thinking. I wanted to tie you that in because it went so well with what Ravi was talking about on the show. I want to thank him again for such a great episode. We get many good guests on the show. If you’ve missed a past episode, you can go to DrDianeHamilton.com. I hope you enjoy this episode and join us again for the next episode.
- The Art Of Mentoring
- Dr. Ravi Gundlapalli
- Keith Krach – previous episode
- The Global Mentoring Network
- David Novak – previous episode
- Reid Hoffman – – previous episode
- Genius Network
- Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back
- Ford Saeks – – previous episode
- Marshall Goldsmith
- Ravishankar Gundlapalli – LinkedIn
- @RaviGundlapalli – Twitter
- Spontaneous Conversations
- iTunes – Spontaneous Conversations
About Dr. Ravishankar Gundlapalli
Ravi Gundlapalli is the Founder and CEO of MentorCloud, a peer-to-peer learning and mentoring platform. He is a globally-recognized thought leader on mentoring. He has been featured for his vision and his work on mentoring in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Forbes India and World Demographic Forum. Prior to founding MentorCloud with a mission to connect 100 million mentors and mentees by 2020, Ravi worked on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner supply chain. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, M.S. from Florida Atlantic University, and B. Tech. from Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India. He lives in Silicon Valley with his wife Vani and daughter Nithya.
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