Its been a year since I joined Zoho and it’s probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. Behind Zoho’s amiable work culture, the brilliant products and the extraordinary vision is the CEO of Zoho Corp. He is probably the most grounded Indian CEO and here are 5 things that I have learned from him so far.
Be an economist:
More than a successful product manager and a visionary leader, Zoho’s CEO is really good at understanding how the economy works. His observations are unique, astute and shockingly accurate. He follows economic trends closely and prepares well in advance for upcoming changes. For example, he was very quick to understand the effect of cryptocurrency even before it became a trend and warned us against investing in it at the same time admiring the blockchain technology. Every CEO must play the role of an economic investigator and advisor to save themselves from economic pitfalls that are inevitable along the way. Understanding the economy makes you plan and price your products for the long term. Be it building a company or building a family, Its imperative to save for a rainy day and plan your expenses wisely.
Zoho’s CEO is called “The bootstrapped monk” for a reason. His design and aesthetic sense for Zoho’s products are derived from his love for simplicity and following a minimalist agenda. He is a huge fan of Buddhism and lives a simple life himself. He does not have a special corner office or a Mercedes Benz. You never see him in a suit and tie for important events. He takes a normal cab to the office from the airport and dons simple clothes. He stands in line with employees at the dining hall and refuses to accept anything that puts him in the limelight. He is a simple man to connect with. Being frugal allows him to be humble and simple and more important — Be happy.
Serve the underserved :
Zoho’s CEO firmly believes that anyone can offer world-class and innovative products at an affordable price if they desire to serve the underserved. While there are companies that create products with profits and enterprise customers in mind, Zoho’s customers are always the smaller businesses and startups that no big company cares about. To see your customers grow as you grow is perhaps a happiness project that very few companies can be part of. By the way, ZOHO runs on ZOHO and yes we are an example of the enterprise model ourselves with more than 6000 employees across the globe.
Be wise :
Being Wise means being a lifelong learner and accepting our own flaws. Even in his early 50s, Zoho’s CEO practices writing code for some of our products and constantly learns the different ways to simplify it. He asks for people’s opinions. I always find it very inspiring when someone asks him a question about some new technology or some subject he does not understand and admits
“ I don’t know what you are talking about, but I hope to get better at it next year”
This shows his ability to accept things that he does not know and his willingness to learn, which is a vital lesson that we ought to learn and paste in our hats.
You don’t have to be in silicon valley to build world-class products :
One of Zoho’s important application — Zoho Desk was developed in a small town called Tenkasi in India. While companies are pouring more money in marketing and pride in having resources from bigger brands on board to their product development cycle, Zoho Desk was developed by a bunch of talented and fresh individuals and used by thousands of people across the globe. The lesson remains the same. You don’t need talent from Ivy League or a 60,000 square foot office with nice furniture to build /represent a world class product. All you need is a clear vision and the instinct to follow your dreams no matter where you are from.
I am not going to mention his name in this article. It’s for the reader to find out the man behind Zoho’s vision. He is a true patriot and the most innovative person of our generation.
Bonus: (Not promoting Zoho’s products here): Check this video to find for yourself the man behind #Zoho!