Business In:Brief with Karn Ghosh (Kinela)
Co-Founder and CEO of Kinela, 2014 – present
What was your first job?
I did a summer of commission-only door-to-door sales for a "sponsor a child" charity and also outbound telesales selling insurance products for a major bank. Looking back now, I’m really not sure why I pursued such challenging jobs, but I learned a huge amount about hard work, people and most importantly, about myself.
My first "real" job after university was in healthcare management consulting, which was a huge eye-opening experience to both the inefficiency in the healthcare system but also the power of business as a solution. Following this, it was while working as a physiotherapist in the community, that I really honed my thinking around better approaches to care that has been core to the Kinela story.
What's your proudest achievement?
Building Kinela from a concept to now being a leading example of how business can tackle a real issue, in our case, access to healthcare for people with disability. Kinela is proof that you can deliver real, tangible social impact, while also achieving business goals.
On a personal level, I love that I get to bring my full self to a challenging and rewarding role each day, and also that I’ve managed to balance having two weddings (one in Australia and one in India) and starting a family (two young boys under two) in and amongst it all.
It has been a challenging yet satisfying journey so far, but I’m confident the best is yet to come.
What's something that you have learned in business that took you by surprise?
I believe there’s a set of experiences and learnings that I believe are truly unique to the CEO role, especially going from zero to scale. But the singularly most surprising thing is probably how lonely and isolating leadership can sometimes be.
How do you plan on growing your business in the near future?
We’ve just completed our first acquisition, and it has been a fantastic experience to have worked through; the art and science behind the coming together of two high-potential businesses, that believe that they are better together.
What other business leader do you most admire and why?
I generally take inspiration from leaders or people outside of the business world, but if I was forced to choose someone it would be Rose Marcario, the outgoing Patagonia CEO. She is a great example of a strong leader who led unconventionally with both purpose and profit in mind. She achieved great success on both dimensions but more importantly served as an example of the shifting paradigm of what "success" in business looks like.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Ben Horowitz – "About the Struggle"
The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place.
The Struggle is when people ask you why you don’t quit and you don’t know the answer.
The Struggle is when your employees think you are lying and you think they may be right.
The Struggle is when food loses its taste.
The Struggle is when you don’t believe you should be CEO of your company. The Struggle is when you know that you are in over your head and you know that you cannot be replaced. The Struggle is when everybody thinks you are an idiot, but nobody will fire you. The Struggle is where self-doubt becomes self-hatred.
The Struggle is when you are having a conversation with someone and you can’t hear a word that they are saying because all you can hear is The Struggle.
The Struggle is when you want the pain to stop. The Struggle is unhappiness.
The Struggle is when you go on vacation to feel better and you feel worse.
The Struggle is when you are surrounded by people and you are all alone. The Struggle has no mercy.
The Struggle is the land of broken promises and crushed dreams. The Struggle is a cold sweat. The Struggle is where your guts boil so much that you feel like you are going to spit blood.
The Struggle is not failure, but it causes failure. Especially if you are weak. Always if you are weak.
Most people are not strong enough.
Every great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg went through The Struggle and struggle they did, so you are not alone. But that does not mean that you will make it. You may not make it. That is why it is The Struggle.
The Struggle is where greatness comes from.
What advice would you pass on to someone starting out in your area?
To be really clear on the "why" because this is what will sustain you through the tough times (and there will be tough times!). If you really understand your purpose and what truly matters to your customer, then you’ll be able to work determinedly towards the "light on the hill", and it will give perspective to the more near-term challenges.
And don’t give up, but don’t die trying.
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