There has been a lot happening around us this year. Professionally, and in all our lives personally. There has also perhaps never been a better time for us to think out straight deep, about why we do something, what does it really mean, what’s our “moral construct”, and what is the “meaning” in our every day.
I have myself had a very rough last few weeks at the onset of writing this. And while I have always had the narrative very clear, on why I started Leverage Edu, why “talent mobility” is a personal thesis to me – and in it my parents’ dream who moved from much smaller cities to a big one, to raise me and my sister up – and how decisions like those can change lives for hundreds of millions of families across the world – yet, the recent times have made the “meaning” of all that we do even more stark. I also now very clearly know that Leverage has to be run every single day with a laser sharp focus on its mission – and it’s important that it’s transparent, well understood – “of helping students by keeping them first in everything, and via that – transforming their families’ lives”. If we don’t run by our mission even for a day, or an hour, or a second, I know that personally I am failing, and hence it stands tall here onward as the single biggest virtue in my own life!
In our town hall a few weeks back, alongside re-pledging to our vision, quantifying our goals, & celebrating each other, I also announced “our Virtues” to my 120+ teammates who joined over video (sadly no party or after-party after this town hall, damn it!). It was truly one of the most special few minutes of my life, because while writing these over the last entire year, I realised that I hadn’t looked outside, “but inside”, to get these right. And each one of these virtues, are foundational to what we believe in, are the unsaid principles that have helped us get to where we are today on this journey.
We are also calling our values “Virtues”. Values are old school. They just hang around on the walls. Leverage Edu, instead, believes in Virtues. Virtues that it can instil. Virtues to demonstrate in the everyday. Virtues to guide its moral construct. Virtues that all of us can live by. Values X 10X = Virtues.
Now without any more context setting, off we begin:
1. Student-first: This is, and always will be, the first and the most important virtue of the company. The student is at the centre of the Leverage Universe, and calls for being “student first in each breath” whatever anyone might be doing across different parts of the company is now equal to order of life. This has a clear reflection not just in terms of what we build / how we build, how we prioritise one feature over other, how we take decisions like running a completely-free content network that benefits a million people each month, or doing 50,000+ free career counselling sessions every month – but also in how we reward everyone across the team, measure our targets and incentives, and define what metrics come first. Building the world’s most beautiful and evolved student journey on our OneView Student Dashboard, running marketing campaigns which give students laptops and fee waivers, building robust student support systems to help support everyday of the journey – all are meant to put students ahead of everything else at Leverage Edu!
2. Extreme Ownership Mindset: Our best people have always had the attitude of living and dying by their swords. They are, what you call: “entrepreneur professionals”. They demonstrate ‘accountability’ in every single thing they touch. They want to create history in their lives. They respect opportunities. They go an extra mile. They just “own” what they do. Simple, classy, and absolutely beautiful.
3. Bias For Action: We are a startup. We were one when we were a single person, are one now when we are over a hundred, and will continue to be a startup even when we are in thousands. Because “being a startup” is a mindset. We exist because we want to disrupt. We want to move fast. And hence, it’s important that we operate with a “certain sense of urgency in all that we do”. Not over-think but over-execute. Exhibit “fierce execution”. As a growing company, we stand to lose more because of a delayed decision than for a right/wrong one. Act. Do. Have that bias for action!
4. Supreme Work Ethic: What’s life if you aren’t playing fair? Meritocracy, honesty, transparency – extending to peers, to all our internal customers, and every single one of our stakeholders. Obsession with customer centricity at Leverage Edu runs deep. The same philosophy extends to peers, and all internal customers we deal with too. Everything we do, first and foremost, should hold true on the principle of #fairness. Demonstrate candour in your everyday life. Give direct, open, honest, transparent feedback to each other – all the time – maybe with a little humour added in of course 🙂 / feedback that is actionable and developmental. Zero bias. Zero politics. Do good.
5. Everyday I’m Hustlin’: Hustle, is by far the most important ingredient to succeed in life. I believe hustle = a combination of ‘being courageous’ in all we do, and ‘being optimistic’ on our worst days. It’s playing all in. It’s letting serendipity happen to you. It’s going to take a lot more hustle as we chase the insanely ambitious goals we have set for ourselves from here. Let’s be ready to dance through this, in absolute style at that!
6. Over-Deliver: Do more than people expect of you. Every single time. It’s what builds your reputation for life. Over-delivering is the output, but what gets you there are aggressive inputs. Leverage Edu has a very passionate stance on personal growth, believing that just the way we promise to transform students who come on our platform, everyone who works with us also must have an absolutely transformational journey. The ambition of playing like Dhoni’s 2011 team, also means thinking and practising like athletes. Invest in yourself. Grow. You’d then over-deliver to yourself. The rest is easy after that.
7. Over-Communicate: I am on 71 WhatsApp groups at Leverage on last count. And while we are moving on from WhatsApps to beautiful dashboards ~ the intent is the same – type those words out, record that message, write that email, pick up the phone – communicate all the time, communicate more than required. What does it give us? The ability to be agile, be nimble, solve for the right at the drop of a hat, and be extremely efficient in picking up things very very quickly – simply by “over communicating”. It’s in our DNA from day 0 of this company, and served as a great tool for us to always do the best! As we add the next hundreds of people to our team from here, it’s important we make sure they win on over communicating all the time.
Each virtue above, has a couple of stories behind them. And deserve a blog each. Or maybe that offsite that we are all waiting for. For now though, I am sure that as long as we are true to them, we will continue to move forward, in full power at that, towards building one of the most iconic companies of our times.
PS: These virtues will serve as a guide to us in all that we do – and that includes: all future hirings, and all future appraisals. Going to be fun. Leverage It!
With a lot of cheer,
Founder & CEO