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[00:00:00] Welcome to LFG with JJ, the podcast that helps you level up your CX game by navigating CX and AI technologies. I'm Juan Jaysingh, the CEO of Zingtree, the AI-powered customer experience platform, providing solutions that turn every human into an expert. 700 plus companies across 54 countries trust our solutions to boost their contact center proficiency, enable their customers to self-help improve their internal processes and more with Zingtree.
[00:00:30] Good morning, Arnab. Morning. How are you, Juan? I'm super excited to have you here on the LFG with JJ podcast. Thank you for taking time. You're a busy man now. I saw your LinkedIn post. You've got tremendous love and support from the business community. I've never seen any CEO, anyone who posts who has so many likes, but also almost the same amount of comments.
[00:00:56] Which is amazing. Normally people just because it's easy to like, but your, supporters have been very thoughtful, because that's who you are and have, supported you in your new, role as CEO of Xactly. So congratulations. so I'm excited to have you here. and at, today's agenda, we're going to talk a little bit about your background.
[00:01:16] Personally, and professionally, how you got to being the CEO of Xactly that whole journey, and then talk about specific industries. I know you spent a lot of time in the CX space, and now you're in the revenue space. So I'd love to talk about what's happening in these major spaces, and then talk about how you have evolved, yourself as, in your career and stayed relevant at every step of the way, and then wrap up with some, your passion, hobbies outside of work, and we can get into pickleball.
[00:01:49] look forward to this conversation today, Arnab. So let's get right into it. Who is Arnab Mishra? Tell me about it. first of all, thank you for having me on. It's super fun to be here. I'm a big fan of the work you and your team are doing at Zingtree, so it's always great to be on, and thank you for the shout out on the recent change, and I'm very grateful for all the support I've gotten from everybody.
[00:02:11] So in terms of me as a Person, so I, I'm, the child of first generation immigrants, and my parents moved here to the U. S. from India, before I was born, and so I was born in New York and, grew up in that area, mostly in northern New Jersey, and so very much, I think, was very lucky to have, involved parents who spent the time, helping me develop and find my interests.
[00:02:38] after college, I actually, probably for a tech person, I have a little bit of an unconventional kind of, origin story. I just started my career in investment banking, and private equity. I spent time, working as a banker. serving actually large kind of multinationals, financial institutions with M& A and some financings, but mostly M& A.
[00:03:02] and then after that job, I transitioned into private equity. And when I took the private equity role, I didn't really know what to expect. I thought I was going to be investing mostly in old line industries, but actually got an opportunity to work. and invest in a bunch of growth companies. so this is, I'm older, this is back in the kind of late nineties.
[00:03:21] Tech was like we were building up to the dot com boom, if you can remember that, and it changed my life because I actually spent time with founders, with people, trying to change the world in whatever way they could, with technology, and I just fell in love with that process of how big were those companies.
[00:03:41] We were mostly doing later stage investing. So like series C, series D, last money in before an IPO. So actually spending a lot of time with like venture firms who had spent, who had done the earlier rounds. And I was, I had largely lived on the East coast at the time, but then I was spending a lot of time, traveling to the Bay area, traveling.
[00:03:58] to Boston, which at the time was the epicenters of tech. and so got to get a flavor for those ecosystems. and also realized what an amazing place the Bay Area is to live because every time I'd fly from New York in the winter to the Bay Area, I'd be like, wow, this is very different climate wise.
[00:04:15] so anyway, that, that experience very much changed my perspective on where I thought I wanted to spend time. I. PE and banking were very intellectually stimulating. you work with amazing people, you get to do great work. But what I found is I really wanted to be closer to the action, if you will, and building these companies and working with teams and handling a lot of these sort of day to day problems and helping scale these businesses.
[00:04:39] I did a detour through business school, but then was very focused on working in technology companies. and so out of business school, I joined a startup that was in the CX space. we, our claim to fame was we were the first company that leveraged voice XML, which was an XML, which is now a common thing, but we're one of the first companies to leverage that to deliver voice self service applications on standard off the shelf equipment, as opposed to proprietary sort of traditional IBR systems.
[00:05:09] We sold that business to Alcatel, got merged with Genesys, and There's a product in the marketplace today called Genesys Voice Platform, which is the product that we built, and then with the same founding teams, went to another company that we started, focused on cloud based contact centers.
[00:05:24] So we built an enterprise class cloud based contact center solution, routing, queuing, reporting, analytics, that we sold into kind of medium to large enterprises. We eventually sold that business to Broadsoft. So Broadsoft was a public company out of the East Coast that had a UCAS business, and we became their CCAS offering, and then eventually Broadsoft got acquired by Cisco.
[00:05:45] And now, our product portfolio from that company is part of the Cisco family and the Cisco Contact Center family. and that was 15 years of building businesses, the CCAS and the contact center space and the CX space transformed over that time. And we can talk about that and then coming out of that, and then in my time in those places, I.
[00:06:05] Did a variety of things. Like I was a lot of time spent in product and we can talk about that, but I definitely come from a product centric background. at the second company, I was the president and COO the last, last couple of years and, helped that help grow that business. and then when I joined exactly part of the decision making was.
[00:06:25] I wanted, I actually wanted to do something outside of CX. I'd spent a long time in CX and I'm like, I would just like to think about a different set of problems, although obviously I keep my foot in the CX world through some advisory and board work that I do now. And I also exactly had a different set of challenges.
[00:06:42] It wasn't like a zero to one challenge. It was very much a How do you take a company that's been successful, that's gone public, and now needs to reinvent itself? How do you do that and scale the business, into the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue? and so that's the, that's been my time at Xacti.
[00:06:58] I've been at the company about six years. I started as the head of products, took the COO role where, I was managing a broader set of, broad set of the business, and then, just recently became the CEO. That's amazing. What a unique background and diverse background. You've done so much.
[00:07:15] finance. actually, let's start with, this is no, no longer diverse anymore. We're talking about this earlier, son of an immigrant. No, I think that's, becoming more and more common, leaders in tech and CEOs like yourself who are, having that kind of background. Then you've gone into, finance and banking and private equity, then you go into.
[00:07:37] early stage startups and, getting into, product roles and getting into from there growing within the product leadership role in the CX world and then going out of CX and trying something different at a later stage company, that, is gone public and, Came back private, to through Vista and now, going through that journey. So amazing. I haven't met anyone who is so well prepared to, be a CEO of a company, with all this diverse background that you have. Yeah. I don't know if anyone's ever prepared to take that job, it's been a great journey and, I think diversity of experience in one's career is like a key.
[00:08:17] thing to keep it fun, keep it engaging, but also, keep it, keep yourself learning in the process. Let's talk about the beginnings, right? you said you started this conversation by saying you're a son of an immigrant. How do you think that has helped you? When you're looking around you, are you seeing some similar traits, when you run into other CEOs or, obviously there's a lot of, CEOs, big Fortune 500 companies where they are, son or daughters of immigrants.
[00:08:48] let's talk a little bit about that. what are your thoughts on that? Yeah, I think, in any sort of, immigrant story, there's, a few attributes that I think are fairly common. So one is like a willingness to take risk, right? Obviously moving to another country where you don't know the culture, you don't have any built in, support system, and you're trying to make your way is important.
[00:09:10] And I think any immigrant that comes, not just, my family, but any immigrant that comes to a different country is taking that risk, and making a bet on themselves. And I think, fundamentally, when you think about your career, it is about taking risks, and it's about making a bet on yourself, right?
[00:09:26] And so I think that ethos has been, a part of a lot of the things that I've done in switching career paths and going through different domains and, moving from the East Coast to the West Coast. I think the second piece of it is, and I'll say this, it might sound like a negative, but I don't mean it that way.
[00:09:44] Is as an immigrant, you're, you spend a lot of time looking outside in, right? You're not really part of the system. You're observing the system in a lot of ways, and you're trying to figure out what is your place in the system. I think that's a really valuable perspective for, young companies or any technology company that's trying to find its way in the marketplace.
[00:10:03] Because as in the technology space. The problems that we solve as software companies exist. They're being solved in a certain way today. It might not be the optimal way, it may be, very manual, it might require a bunch of, workarounds, but this notion of being able to say, look insi look at the system from the outside, and say, how do I make this system better?
[00:10:25] How do I have an impact on this system? I think that's fundamentally the way immigrants, have to look at the world, right? Because fundamentally, By definition, you're not part of the system yet, and you're trying to find your way in. And so I think You know, you combine risk taking with like a, a way to look at the world from the outside in, I think those two things are super helpful, with, in, in building sort of careers or building any kind of, entrepreneurial venture.
[00:10:54] and then the third thing that I would say is that there is a certain fundamental work ethic, and I don't mean that any group, any, group of people can have a work ethic, I'm not saying that. But I think immigrants fundamentally have to have a certain work ethic, right? And it goes back to that notion of I took a risk to, to make a change in my life to come to this place and it's not going to be handed to me fundamentally and I'm going to have to work for it.
[00:11:17] And so I do think, people who, take those risks, and make those moves. Are people who tend to have really strong work ethics, right? and I think that, as 99 percent of it is perspiration and doing the work. And so I think that's, that's super helpful as well.
[00:11:38] That's, what a thoughtful answer. Wow. I've. Heard some of it before, the risk taking, and the work ethic, you're spot on. The third piece, that was, amazing to hear that from you. I hadn't thought about it that way. but it's amazing, because you're coming as a newcomer into the society.
[00:12:02] How do you translate that into business? And that's why in early stage startups, You can have a, you call it the outside in view, to how the market and the business, runs, that is, that makes total sense. It makes total sense, and I hadn't thought about that before, but yeah, thanks for inviting me.
[00:12:22] That makes, that's, very well said. thanks for sharing that. You've had a tremendous career, Arnab, and I know, just from knowing you and the people that, know you that within your network and how much they look up to you and respect you. but I can also see from, your, LinkedIn posts, all the love you've been getting, people genuinely, admire you.
[00:12:48] you obviously have gone through this amazing journey. was there a time, in your career where you felt like, hey, obviously you're betting on yourself and you're willing to be open and, take chances and risk? But was there a time where you had a certain amount of confidence that, hey, Arnab Mishra, is CEO of Xactly, but did you have a feeling, was there a point in time, was there a tipping point in your career where you felt that, hey, I know I am Arnab Mishra, I'm a tech executive, I, who can, make a positive change in, in the work I'm doing and impact, that positive change in, my teammates and a larger community.
[00:13:32] yeah, I don't, I don't know if there was like a moment or something, I think, I think most careers are, made up of a series of like wins and milestones, intermingled with a set of setbacks and lessons learned, and I think, I think one, Should always have a, a combination of self confidence that these problems can be solved and I can help solve these problems with a combination of humility, right?
[00:14:00] Because, if these problems were easy to solve, other people probably would have solved them already. And knowing that, That the process of business is really the process of iteration. And it's like taking a bunch of, experiments and failed experiments and learning from them and, moving forward and finding the right path.
[00:14:20] And I think my perspective on that is that, and this is going to sound cliched, but it really is the journey and not the destination. And, that journey is made up of a bunch of just experiments that some of which work, some of which didn't work. And the ones that didn't work are places where you learn and some of the ones that are worked are ones where you say, Hey, let's double down on this.
[00:14:41] Let me spread that knowledge. Let me, get the rest of the team and, and other people that are in the ecosystem to learn from that. And, and the other, the last thing I'll say is it's like really keeping it all in perspective. no, no win will define you and no loss will define you, right?
[00:14:57] All of these things are transient in a lot of ways. And I think Earlier in my career, I would take, things that didn't go well very personally and to heart and I would ruminate on them and I think I've learned over time that there's like that energy is wasted energy and we're better off saying, yep, that didn't work.
[00:15:15] It's one of many things that didn't work. We'll put that in the in the dustbin of history. But what can we learn from that? And how do we use that to move forward? so it's it's great. thanks for sharing that. I know we spent a good amount of time about your. Yeah. personal and professional background.
[00:15:31] I, you just have a unique story. So it was important to hear that out. So thanks for sharing all that. Transitioning to, our favorite space, the CX world. You've been in this space for a long time. obviously you're not in that space, day in and day out now. but you have a lot of ties to this space by, been an amazing supporter of Zingtree and you're working with other companies as well in the CX space.
[00:15:57] and we all know that the heartbeat of every organization is the customer. and, and your team, right? You got the team and your customers. you've been in the space for a long time. A lot has happened in the space, and a lot is happening now with everything that's going on with technology.
[00:16:16] I would love to get your view on, the CX space, what do you think, the, some major changes that has happened in the industry and where do you think this industry is going, especially with, AI and generative AI. I would love your thoughts on that. Yeah, I think you touched on it.
[00:16:34] I think, the CX space is so interesting and always has been because, without customers, a business is not a business. And so fundamentally, building and nurturing and making that customer relationship successful is the lifeblood of any company, irrespective of industry, irrespective of what they do.
[00:16:52] And so what I've always loved about the CX industry is. If you can bring new innovations or new approaches to market, you can have just a massive impact, on these businesses. not just like from an ROI perspective, but just in terms of really transforming companies to be much more successful, which is obviously, the name of the game.
[00:17:10] And I think the world that we're in now, which is even, is interesting because we've made this shift from, especially in certain verticals, going from a growth at all costs mentality to profitable growth, right? and a big part of being a profitably growing company. Is making sure you keep your existing customers, right?
[00:17:28] We all have seen the stats of what it costs to bring in a new customer versus retain an existing customer and the profitability you get by retaining customers over a long period of time. And so that's where I think in this world where companies are being challenged to be profitable while growing.
[00:17:43] Is where that notion of customer satisfaction, customer retention, building customer loyalty are going to be so important. And CX is going to play a huge, if not pivotal role in that. So I think, this is a moment in time in a season for the CX world that we haven't seen in a while.
[00:18:01] And I think it's going to be a general tailwind for the industry. I think technologically, when it comes to, things like generative AI, obviously, generative AI is. Going to have a massive impact, on, on the industry. initially I was thinking, this is probably.
[00:18:20] overhyped in the near term, underappreciated in the long term. And that was part of my view, maybe nine months ago. I would say, the way, the rate at which technology is, that technology is developing, it may not be, overhyped in the near term. Like I actually think you could see some fairly significant impacts pretty quickly.
[00:18:38] The way I think about generative AI, from the seat that I sit in is in two ways. One is How can we leverage this technology to help our customers, and to help them have better experiences and be more effective? And I think about things like. how do we help them interact with our systems much more easily, right?
[00:18:58] So if you think about, for example, a use case around analytics, if you think about analytics traditionally, it's been much of what I call the hunt and peck model. I pull up a report. I click on the report. I drill down into it. And so it's like I'm trying to figure something out. I have a question in my mind.
[00:19:12] And I'm navigating these, reports to figure out what the answer is. With generative AI, you can now have a user experience where I'm not hunting and pecking, I'm actually asking my questions of the system, and the system is providing me responses. I think that is a dramatic, a dramatic change to that part of, the user experience.
[00:19:31] And I think it's going to be fundamentally transformative. and we're doing a bunch of work at exactly in that area. The second thing that I think generative AI can be helpful with from a user experience perspective is just automating. Workflows and provisioning and management and a bunch of those things, right?
[00:19:46] If you think about most enterprise software applications, there is this sort of like administrative IT user, person that has to like literally make the system work for what the cut business needs. And that requires a high level of training. It requires a high level of knowledge to know where to go and what to configure.
[00:20:03] I think a lot of that can be streamlined with a generative AI experience where you can just instruct the system in human English or human language and say, here's what I need the system to do. And the system goes off and provisions itself and then says, Hey, here's a link. Why don't you test, what I've set up?
[00:20:17] So I think those things are super, super valuable. So that's like on the product experience side, the other place where I think generative AI can be helpful as in operating the businesses ourselves, right? we are spending a lot of time now, I'll speak to exactly in particular, thinking about how we can use generative AI internally to be more effective and more efficient, right?
[00:20:40] we're doing everything from leveraging generative AI tools in our R& D department and the, the initial results have been really quite amazing. we found that. developers ramp much more quickly on code now because of generative AI, because now the generative AI is helping them get, facile on the code much more quickly.
[00:20:57] we've also found that it's helping us with like testing, right? Like unit testing and even broader testing. And so there's a lot of efficiency to be gained there. and then we're also using generative AI in other departments, like in marketing for content creation, in our SDR teams and all that.
[00:21:14] so I think. we're looking at it both ways. We actually have a generative AI or an AI council that we've set up in the company, and that's a cross functional group of people that come together and talk about product innovation, talk about how we can use this internally. and my recommendation to any company, especially in the tech space, is that you should be thinking about that in those two modalities.
[00:21:36] Great insights. I haven't asked this question to anyone. I think it's a hard question, but you're the right guy to ask it to, you've seen the advancement in CX, space and taking care of the customer, providing great customer experience. There was a report that came out recently.
[00:21:53] I think it was a Cardinal report, where, when customers were surveyed, only 14 percent of customers felt like they were, they had a decent, not a great, a decent experience, right? This is a huge market. I, a lot of money has gone into this market. Billions of dollars have been spent. Billions of dollars has been spent in technology, but why is there still a huge gap on providing amazing world class customer experience?
[00:22:24] any thoughts on that? Yeah. it's you and I, when we make a call, I'm sure in the last three months, we had awful customer experience. I just had one recently. Yeah, and of course, I'm much more empathetic to it because we live in that we know that space. I, but why isn't that customer support rep.
[00:22:43] I on your game, or, the brand providing, amazing service to the customer when they know it is so hard to get a new customer in. I, and you need to keep them. and there's competition and all these other X factors that makes it even more important to provide amazing customer service.
[00:23:04] But, there's this quote that I found. It says customer success, customer service, customer experience is so important, except when it gets really hard, except when it's too expensive, except when we get really busy. Yeah, that is a reality. We see that in our space. why is that there a huge gap?
[00:23:23] Our view is provide world class customer experience, but executing it, you know based on data shows that you know There's still a huge gap there I think you know one this is the question for the industry and for any company And I think the reason it's such a hard problem to solve is there are so many factors to it, right?
[00:23:44] Like why a customer has a bad experience It varies from interaction to interaction, right? And there, and the people of the 14 percent that are happy, it's because all the stars align from them, right? So the way I think about customer experience is it's, is it's if I use a healthcare analogy, it's like a combination of quality of care and bedside manner, right?
[00:24:07] So quality of care is As, the representative, do I have all the data at my fingertips that I need to solve your problem? Do I have an answer for you? So it's very much of the sort of the intellectual data driven part of it, right? That has to be there. So a customer feels like they got service correctly.
[00:24:25] And the second part of it is the bedside manner, right? So sometimes, you could get the answers you want, but if You don't feel like the person you spoke to had a high degree of empathy or really cared about your problem or what you were going through. You might be like, ah, yeah, I got my answer, but that person wasn't really I didn't have a great experience talking to that person.
[00:24:43] And I think companies are constantly struggling with how do I get bedside manner and quality of care happening at, the highest levels possible for every interaction. And I think it's really hard to do that. I just think it's because it's so many things have to come together. I think as technology providers, we need to stay focused on the levers that can deliver the most sort of value and push that ball forward.
[00:25:11] and the reality is that it's, it's never going to be one company, one technology provider, one approach that's going to solve this for any enterprise. and, I'm generally an optimist, but I think as the world changes, oh, and the other piece is consumer desires and consumer expectations also change, right?
[00:25:29] So not only do you have to do quality of care in a bedside manner, but you also have to align it with what consumers are expecting these days, right? What consumers expected. 10 years ago, 15 years ago, even five years ago, is not what they expect today. their needs are constantly changing as the landscape changes and their access to data changes and information changes.
[00:25:46] And I think it's probably one of those things where, maybe we continue to make that 14 percent better. But it's probably one of those challenges that will always persist in our industry. But I think that's the opportunity, right? Is that there, we will always need new ways of thinking about the problem, new approaches.
[00:26:02] And I think that's why CX is such a fertile place to be as a professional, because there's always innovation that's needed to handle, the changing sort of dynamics of, of customer interactions. Yeah. there is no job safety, but at least I feel good when you say that there is.
[00:26:19] opportunities for folks in CX to keep evolving and keep improving. And, there's a lot of work to be done, so that's good to hear. transition to exactly, You've, you got to see your role. I've read your blog. you guys are, love to hear from you a little bit about, what exactly does.
[00:26:38] Yeah. There was a little bit of CX in your block where you said, Hey, I'm focusing a lot of different things as CEO, but you have to, but one of the areas I'm going to really zone in on is our customers. I'd love to hear a little bit about exactly. And then in your role as CEO, how are you thinking about, your customers?
[00:26:59] so exactly as an enterprise software company, and we focus on, sales performance and revenue intelligence. And so we have a platform that does a number of things that you need to run your sales teams well, right? So we help you with sales planning. So how do I. design territories and set up quotas and think about the capacity of my sales team.
[00:27:20] Most of that work in most companies happens in spreadsheets. We put that all in software. We allow you to have workflows. We allow for sales to collaborate with finance to make the right decisions. Once all that's set up, the second part of our platform is incentive compensation management. This is where the company got started.
[00:27:36] And so if you think about a comp plan for a sales team, there's a lot of complexity that goes into designing that plan, implementing that plan, tracking that plan, getting reporting and analytics around what the performance has been. So we automate a lot of that, and we provide a lot of visibility, and we help drive behaviors, the behaviors that the company needs, to get the results that they want through incentives and the comp plan.
[00:28:00] And then the third thing we do is we help sales leaders and sales managers with their day to day work, right? So we have a product we call Xactly Forecasting, which is really a product that enables sales leaders to see what's happening in the sales team. where are deals in their progression?
[00:28:16] what is the health of those deals? What should the prescriptive next step be? if a deal is languishing, how do I coach my sales? reps, to make sure that they're being the most effective. And so for us, we think about that as the end to end, right? If you plan well, if you have the right incentives in place, and if you have tools for the day to day execution, you can maximize, revenue performance of any company.
[00:28:39] We're lucky that we've got, thousands of, customers who use our software, they're very, successful to cross verticals and industries and basically we sell into anyone that really wants to maximize sales performance. Most of our industry, frankly, most of this stuff is done on spreadsheets today, probably 80 percent of our TAM, of our total addressable market is on spreadsheets.
[00:29:00] And so most of the time we're going in and helping companies understand how they can improve their operations, by leveraging software. That's amazing. so what are some of the things that, you think you'll do? In your first 90 days or in your first year in this role, I'm, specific to like engaging with your thousands of customers.
[00:29:19] Are trying to visit them? Are you going to try to meet them? Or are you doing some, customer events? you started thinking about this? Yeah, what's interesting for me is because I've moved into the role from, from a product role in the COO role. I have the advantage that I already know a lot of our customers, right?
[00:29:36] I, just a couple months ago, we had, we have a customer advisory board that we're deeply invested in and we've got a lot of great companies on that advisory board. And so we had a, an event and I spent, two days deep in discussion with those customers.
[00:29:53] and then I know a lot of our customers I've, as the product leader, I was probably on customer calls, every day, every other day, with our folks. so I feel like I have a running start there. I think my core focus though, is. Doubling down on those relationships and the new customers that are coming into the exactly fold and really spending time understanding the challenges that they have.
[00:30:15] our customers have gone through a lot in the last couple of years, right? with COVID with the change in the world with, the move to profitable growth and, capital costs going up. And so I've been listening for that whole time. And we've been sitting around thinking about.
[00:30:32] solutions that we can provide to our customers and that work will continue. I think the one thing that, we can definitely do better is, being, better listeners. I think we spend a lot of time engaging with our customers, but I think we can do a better job sort of being empathetic and like really understanding the challenges that they're having.
[00:30:54] and so we're going to put some, mechanisms in place to do that more effectively over time. That's great. as we're getting close to finishing this thing, I want to transition to something here, more on the, personal side or your traits. are now the CEO, you're extremely thoughtful, people that know you know that, you're thoughtful, you're calm, you're collective, you're, you collaborate well, you're a team player, you've got a great network, right?
[00:31:23] You hooked Zingtree up with our CTO, Ramesh, who you worked with for many years and, he's awesome. So thanks again for that intro. you've been a great sounding board to me. So that is, what people think of Arnab Mishra. But when you get to know him, there's one thing that I noticed that I don't know if everyone knows.
[00:31:42] You are freaking competitive. I've seen you on the pickleball court. I, and whether you're playing against me, I, and sometimes I might be the better player on the court, but you're still coming at me. You're coming at my throat. or when you're with me, you, I know that you definitely want to win.
[00:31:59] but, people may not see that right away, but you definitely have a very competitive, trade in you. So how are you going to, what do you think about that and how are you going to use that, to the benefit of exactly, and the broader community? Yeah, I think, I think, personally, like in any situation, like I'm very problem and solution oriented, right?
[00:32:23] So whether it's on the pickleball court and you're the problem, Juan, if I'm playing you, problem in quotes, right? there's this great book called, and the book is called The Obstacle is the Way, right? So it's like going right at problems and not trying to go around problems and trying to address them head on and being, frankly, honest and accountable about, how you're doing.
[00:32:45] I think, it may be viewed as competitiveness, but I think it's just, being willing to throw yourself into the fray and, get in the arena and, try your best and recognizing that, you're going to have your wins, you're going to have your losses, but they're all learning experiences.
[00:33:02] That's good to know. So next time I'm playing pickleball against you and you're coming after my throat, it's a good motivation for me to know that I'm the problem that you're looking at. So good. And throat is just me being inaccurate in my shots. I'm really probably not going for your throat, yeah.
[00:33:17] No, it's all fun. And, you've got great traits and you're obviously well deserved and well earned to be the CEO of this company. And you've got a great career. Looking back, what, advice would you give to a young Arnab Mishra? Someone who is just getting their career started now.
[00:33:39] This day and age, getting a career started, I think, I'm trying to stay positive, but I think it's more complicated than it was before when you got your started your career started before you're probably in a class of 10 of the people that were like you getting started with banking and you were spending time with them every day in the office.
[00:33:55] That world has changed. So what advice would you give a young Arnab Mishra is getting, his Or, her career started a young, employee, in this day and age, to eventually become, who you are, now over the course of time. So what kind of advice would you give that young person?
[00:34:16] Yeah, I would say if for a young person, so I'm framing this as someone who's, just starting their career, maybe just coming out of school, I would say Zingtree. spend a good number of years, maybe the first decade of your career, investing in yourself, right? And get really focused on, not jobs of what's the title of this job?
[00:34:36] What's the pay of this job? Think about what can I learn from this job? And learning from a job is really a couple of things. One is, is this company doing things that I'm fundamentally interested in and are things that. Have a vision and that there's, a future here. And then the second is be really discerning about who you're working for.
[00:34:56] one of the things that I, intentionally did, especially coming out of grad school, was I tried to go find people to work for who had skill sets very different than mine, right? So I got really lucky in my first couple of companies where I worked for a founder. Who was an amazing business person, but was a very technical founder, right?
[00:35:15] PhD, engineering degrees and built a lot of core fundamental technology. And I coming out of a business background, didn't have that. And so I was like, I need to go work for someone really technical so I can learn by doing on that piece. And so really, what I recommend for young people is taking, periodic inventory of your skills and say, what are the skills that I need?
[00:35:37] And then what experiences helped me get those skills. So be very focused On, on your skill set. For people who are in the middle of their career, so maybe they're like a decade plus out, the thing that I always recommend is cultivate an ability to think from first principles, right? I think what happens when people are in a job for, or in a career for a bit of time, they think their value is the knowledge that they've accumulated over time.
[00:36:01] And I don't, I generally don't agree with that because I think, acquiring knowledge, especially in this age, is easier and easier. What is really valuable is the ability to think and rethink and think from first principles, right? And, I think as people become leaders, one of the things that I've found is people are just not willing to rethink.
[00:36:23] And part of the reason is that there are stereotypes of leaders where leaders are supposed to know the answers. They're supposed to know what to do. They're supposed to, make the right decisions all the time. And what ends up happening is if you change your decisions, and now I'm people who are a little bit more senior, they end up being viewed as flip floppers, right?
[00:36:43] oh, you keep changing your mind. And I think what that confuses is the, it conflates indecision with the inability to rethink your decision, right? Indecision is I won't make a decision. We can't have, jobs if we do that. But having the ability to rethink your decisions when presented with new data is unbelievably valuable, right?
[00:37:01] And so that's a very first principles way to tie back to that way of thinking about the world. So in general, if I were to summarize it, it's invest in yourself, grow your skill sets, learn from people who have skills, different than yours. And then spend some time cultivating that ability to continuously rethink, what happens and being someone who's not wed to things you've learned in the past, but leverages those things to find new solutions, moving forward.
[00:37:29] and I give that advice all the time to, people throughout, our organization who are at different stages in their career. that's amazing. Yeah, it goes to, like you said, not just people are just getting the career started, but also people who have, been in the careers for some time.
[00:37:45] those principles are, true. So that's great insight. I know you work a lot, you work hard, not just during weekdays, but also on weekends when I've asked you to come play pickleball. Yeah. Working on a board deck, you're doing, getting prepared for a customer meeting and all that good stuff.
[00:38:02] so what do you do for fun, a hobby outside of, your day to day work stuff? I know you've got a great family, but what are your hobbies? what do you like to do? Yeah, you touched on one of them. before Pickleball, I was, I played a lot of tennis. And getting out on the, I generally love racquet sports.
[00:38:19] I just, I grew up playing a lot of racquet sports from tennis to squash to table tennis to now Pickleball. And if there's a racquet involved, a racquet and a ball involved, I'll probably go play it. And that's a big part of it. I generally decompress by reading. And I'm, a big reader.
[00:38:35] I mostly read, non fiction these days. but, It's a way of like continually recatalyzing my willingness to think about things differently. And the stuff I read is everything from business books to, I'm reading a book right now about cycles in history. It's called The Fourth Turning and about how history happens in 80 year cycles and 20 year sub cycles.
[00:38:55] And, just trying to understand where we are in the world. There's so much dynamism happening. There's a book that I'm about to start reading. by David Brooks called How to Know a Person, which is like really about empathy and listening. And because I think that's a skill that as the world gets more and more advanced computationally, the thing that's going to be most important is our ability to be empathetic and to connect with people and to galvanize people.
[00:39:18] And so I'm always interested in that topic. And so that's a big thing. And then, yeah, I've got, young kids and so they take a good amount of my time, which is always a joy. And so that's the other piece as well. This is great. thank you. Thank you, Arnab. You've taken your precious time to, tell us about your personal background, your professional background, your career, your advice for the next generation.
[00:39:42] and, things you like to do. I don't see, in my view, there isn't a CEO who is better prepared to be CEO than you from your background and what we've learned today. I'm, excited for your new journey. Congratulations again, and looking forward to, and you've got a strong bond here.
[00:40:00] You're the first guy I played pickleball with, and I think I'm the first guy you played pickleball with. We both wanted to play tennis, and the tennis courts were taken, so we went into pickleball. that's a strong bond. And I'm glad we, created that bond of, the love for pickleball together.
[00:40:16] so great to meet you, Arnab. Thank you again. Happy holidays, and I'll, catch up with you soon.