Nilesh Gupta, senior director, growth, at Meesho, is not fond of the word `networking,’ because it sounds like something one does for profit, where one is not genuinely building connections. But if one tries to understand someone even if from a very different field purely out of curiosity, then you'll keep stumbling upon different sets of people, and someday some of it will pay off.
Edited excerpts from a conversation with Storyboard18.
The creator economy has taken the world by storm. Which influencers and trends are you following?
The first creator that comes to my mind is my own batchmate from MBA school, Sunita Sharma. We studied together at IIM Bangalore. We did a lot of marketing projects together, and I’m amazed to see how good an influencer she is. She has some 140 K-odd followers and she does a lot of ethnic and lifestyle content.
Apart from that, I'm a sucker for cute puppy videos. On the work front, there are certain growth leaders who I look up to. So Andrew Chen (author), Brian Chesky (CEO of Airbnb), etc.
Which marketing related content do you consume in your free time?
I'm addicted to reels. I used to admonish my wife for spending so much time on reels, but now it's completely different. I started with Meesho reels and then I just seamlessly switched on to some of the other reels. I also really like trailers. I watch every single trailer that comes out on YouTube. Almost on a weekly basis, I search for new trailers and watch them.
There's a lot of talk about burnout, workplace, toxicity, hustle culture, etc. What steps have you taken to avoid the adverse impact of the always-on culture on yourself and your colleagues? What advice would you give to your peers, colleagues, and next-gen marketers?
We are a company that is really ambitious and wants to move fast with big things. I personally think that the key to be a happy person in life is to be happy at both work and home.
At Meesho, we never do meetings on weekends. I think we would have probably done it twice during my three year stint at the company.
What everybody needs to understand is empathy. For instance, if someone is having some unfortunate health issue, I don't think anybody needs to even ask. They should just take leave.
They can just inform later or drop a message. I think those are some of the things that we've tried to inculcate by sending the right signals in different forums. We have a gratitude policy in case somebody has to stretch themselves for a certain period. Then there is a token of appreciation as well as some compensatory off that we give for the person.
People who are truly driven by impact tend to like the working style here more. People may have different working styles, but if you love the outcome in terms of scale and the crazy amount of orders, the love that consumers are showing, and you're really liking the people with whom you are delivering this, then I think the mood becomes very positive.
Is there any sport or fitness routine you practice during the week to steal a few minutes of me-time for yourself to keep the momentum on?
I hit the gym at least four times a week and I like to play football. It's become a little rare now, but I try to go at least once a month on Thursdays. I also like dancing, so I try to do that maybe twice a month at least.
What does your weekend look like?
Friday evening onwards, there is this amazing feeling that the weekend is here. Saturday morning brunch is one of our favourite things, where my wife and I visit one of the cafes in Bangalore for a nice brunch. Sometimes we linger a while and do some reading there. Post that, in the evening, it'll most likely be a movie night, or something else. We picked up swimming three to four months back. So we try to do that sometimes.
Sunday would be another nice brunch, but with friends. A lot of my wingmates from BITS (Birla Institute of Technology and Science) are here, and we have a gang of sorts. One or two hours on Sunday evening is to just reflect on what you are doing in life, maybe look at finances, look at some other household matters, etc., but that's about it.
Share one work life and life hack you swear by.
I switch off my internet and keep the phone away whenever I want to focus. I’m kind of on flight mode between 10-11 pm. That's something that really helps to focus, and also allows one to switch off from work and other digital distractions in our lives.
What are you watching or streaming this weekend?
The World Cup, of course! I'm a cricket fan and I've been following it religiously. We will watch 12th fail (Bollywood film) because I'm hearing good reviews.
What are you reading? Any recommendations?
I'm a history buff. ‘India After Gandhi’ (by Ramachandra Guha), is definitely a book worth reading, but you need patience as it’s slightly long. I also loved `Prisoners of Geography’ (by Tim Marshall).
A book that unfortunately I've been a little out of touch with for the last one to two months is ‘Everybody Loves a Good Drought’ by P Sainath. I really like reading about India, about geography, history, and a little bit of politics.
A piece of wisdom you would like to share?
I think the first is to genuinely lower expectations about certain things and not stress about the outcome. This goes back almost 15 years, when I was first appearing for CAT. I had zero expectations of making it. I gave some mock tests and got terrible scores.
While going to the centre 20 kilometres away, I was singing songs and chilling because I was very sure that I was not going to make it. That made me realise how much stressing about something changes the outcome.
I cleared BITSAT but not IIT because I was genuinely stressed during JEE, stressed about what was expected of me. That plays with you and you end up making more errors than you're supposed to.
I am not fond of the word `networking’ because it sounds like something one does to profit from it, and you're not genuinely building connections. But if you're trying to understand someone even if from a very different field purely out of curiosity, then you'll keep stumbling upon different sets of people, and someday some of it will pay off.