About rajeevsagar

An expert at HRO and Health & Wellness solutions, entrepreneur, author & thought leader, Rajeev Mudumba has over 20 years of international leadership experience in the HRO, Health & Wellness and Technology Consulting industries. His record of accomplishment and innovation includes high level strategy and ideation, precise execution and enhanced focus on efficiencies through the use of technology in business across various verticals. You will find on this blog, his ideas, experiences and opinions. Your thoughts and feedback are welcome.

Spontaneity in innovation – Does unbridled exuberance lead to success?


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Spontaneity, that eureka! moment, when it seems that the whole universe is prodding you to succeed, is a key factor in innovation. However, it’s not that it comes to you right out of the blue. Behind it is years of research, struggle, experience, application, trial and error, call it whatever you want. Whether active or passive, much has gone into bringing on that one idea with which you shall change the world.

However, the debate has been whether innovation thrives in an unstructured environment where you let it come to you unannounced or in a more structured environment where you create the ambience for innovative work focused on revealing what the next big thing is. Perhaps in a step-by-step fashion and eventually, it will unfold and show returns.

Studies have shown that with more formal innovation structures and processes, there is higher satisfaction and better outcomes. However, there needs to be some chaos, the ability to imagine and dream, even within formal structures in order for the unconventional to reveal itself, break the mold and set a trend. It’s important to have a product management and development structure within organizations but, its more important to separate the people focused on current products and releases that follow schedules to meet current client needs from those whose role is to imagine, dream, try to test out new things without the pressure of supporting ongoing business needs. Ensuring there is an open line to receive client feedback on current products can help influence the direction of research to keep it close to the markets being served. However, there is a balance that needs to be drawn here to ensure that the influence is not so much that the team ends up serving client custom needs but is actually focused on creating better products with better outcomes, sometimes in a sense that may even create a new pivot.

High cross functional collaboration, greater risk tolerance appetite, research driven organizations with supportive eco systems tend to do better than those that are narrowly focused on bottom lines. The truth is that true innovation results in improved employee morale, spontaneity and better bottom lines naturally.

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Reinventing Yourself!


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They say, you grow when you learn. Give up learning and you have stalled. There are many who deem that their learning days are behind them and that they can fare relatively well in life, using the skills they have learnt so far. Nothing wrong with that except that nowadays no such luxury exists to say that you will get through your earning years on skills you acquired years ago.

Ever evolving technology has sped up the way we have known organizational structures, roles and responsibilities and they, tend to evolve as well. It’s not changes occurring over decades or even years that I am talking about. Now, it’s down to months and days. Keeping abreast of what’s trending in your line of work is the only thing that allows you to survive and be viable, much less excel.

Let’s look at this through another lens that is more personal to you than just the environment around you. You are best served when you are intensely curious, have a sense of wonderment and in the true sense of the word, enjoy what you do. For some of us, our ambition and end goals are crystal clear early on. For others, it takes a little bit of soul-searching, a bit of trial and error before we figure out what we actually aspire to do. For yet others, they simply have no idea and end up doing something and then, learn to accept it. Better yet, they should learn to fall in love with what they are bestowed with and that love opens the door for their aspiration to get better at what they do; not just get better, in fact excel.

But, life is not just about doing what you do best. It’s also about seeking to discover qualities in you that you never knew you had. On your journey to discover the best in you at what you do, you tend to discover a lot more about you. Pursue what you learn about yourself and that will lead to greater opportunities and more than that, a sense of fulfillment and pride for what you are, who you are. And these qualities, when revealed, help open a plethora of opportunities for you to pursue which you had never imagined were available to you and in fact, you are absolutely capable of their pursuit and achievement. That, my friends, is reinventing yourself.

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The astonishing power of “Will”


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Human brain is an absolutely amazing and fascinating creation, a gift that each of us is bestowed with. Yet, there is so little we know about it and such marginal use we get out of it.

Not to say that each of us needs to get into the depths of its potential and know what it can help accomplish. That would actually be, a not so good use of it and furthermore, I believe that its abysmal and infinite to even grasp its potential.

For us, common folk, let’s suffice to say that knowing, it has this infinite depth, boundaries of learning and application, that we can do wonders in our daily lives is enough. Now, knowing that, what can you do to help your brain deliver on its promise to elevate your life to where you thought, it’s impossible, or perhaps very difficult to get to.

As the old adage goes, “its all in the head!” Do you believe that you can think yourself to achieve what you want to? If not, start believing in it now for that’s a fact!

All you have to do is to believe. Have a strong will and constantly think about how to realize it. Your brain will lay down various channels of getting there. It will allow for connections, pursuits and paths for you to follow. What you need to do is to pursue them with blind faith and never give up. Does this mean that your amazing thought power will lead you straight to your goal, without hitting any roadblocks in between? Not in the wildest of your dreams! That is exactly what makes this journey so much more interesting, entertaining and adventurous. You will face roadblocks and experience hills and troughs. All you need to know is not to ever give up on your faith of where your head can lead you. As long as you do that, hidden paths will reveal to you, solutions and shortcuts will show and prod you to take on that wild road which is rarely taken. Your head will lead you to do things that you thought you were hardly capable of, tasks you deemed hard and insurmountable. Now, you will get through them with élan and each task you accomplish will fit like a puzzle piece to reveal the next, getting you closer to your goals.

All you should ask of your self is faith in your faculties and perseverance until you can look back and be amazed at what you have accomplished. And while you are at it, never forget to enjoy the ride for at the end of it, it’s the ride you will have cherished the most than getting to that peak.

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Zenefits – The “Compliance” Fall Guy


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Its all over the “Benefit” news. Patrick Conrad has resigned as Zenefits CEO this past Monday and is also off the Board. One more startup, that too a unicorn where the founder and CEO bites the dust, having let go for various reasons. What’s ironic is, that a CEO who is known as aggressive, brash and outspoken hasn’t said a word yet on the latest turn of events.

The reason quoted for what transpired is “Compliance”. Due to insurance sales done over the past couple of years, through unlicensed sales agents on behalf of Zenefits, state regulatory bodies are coming down heavily upon the company. As a result, David Sacks, the COO of the company for about a year, has taken on the reins as CEO and is trying to assuage investors, clients, insurance carriers, employees and regulatory bodies by letting go of the current CEO and re-inventing the organization as one that will change intrinsically from a culture standpoint, to be an organization that is compliant and will grow in a mature manner.

There has been quite an interest from the investor community in Zenefits. For a company that grew from zero to $1M in 8 months and then, to $20M by next year, it has attracted a lot of attention. With huge investments flowing in, the last being about $500M in May 2015, the expectations were poised to rise. With that kind of money in the kitty, what is there to hold back? $100M in revenues by Jan 2016 was the target that came out, perhaps a little too aggressive, knowing that scale is important but there is the need to give time to set processes in place to form a strong foundation for that growth.

With the commitment to hit $100M in revenues by Jan 2016, and $500M to tap into to make that happen, the management of Zenefits set into action. Among other roles, a hiring spree of sales staff was on. However, what lacked was putting the infrastructure and processes in place to bring the right kind of staff, provide them the needed training and ensure they conducted themselves in a compliant manner.

Its not just Patrick Conrad that is liable for Zenefits’ current issues, but their entire management team. Of course, Patrick may have stepped down taking responsibility as the CEO or may have been the fall guy, but, David Sacks was around as COO for an year leading operations, finance and product. Having been brought in for his seasoned experience, he came in to help manage a company that was in hyper growth mode. The Sales VP, Sam Blond who ran the sales organization is also as responsible.

Josh Stein has been appointed this week as the Chief Compliance Officer by David Sacks. Why did it take so long to bring in a Compliance Officer? Everyone in the company knew they were in a highly regulated industry. It was basic. As hiring began to meet the ambitious revenue target, why wasn’t a Compliance Department put in place? Why were the checks and balances that are so innate to the health insurance business ignored?

The $100M in revenues by Jan 2016 was perhaps very aggressive, given the lapses in the organization to get there. However, all is not lost. It’s a matter of a few more months before Zenefits hits the target, going by its business model, given that it fixes its way of doing business and keeps in the good books of the state regulatory bodies. However, it’s not the magic number that should matter anymore. What should matter is the need to have a sound sales management infrastructure and related processes in place including compliance, on which the organization can continue to build. Once that is established, reaching any targeted revenue number within a meaningful timeframe should not invite so much attention.

Recent history has shown that startups are allowed to make mistakes and then, correct themselves. In many cases, they have stood up to conventional laws and helped reshape them, in light of a new economy. Zenefits has shown the same in case of Utah. In other cases, the law just cannot be ignored or broken.

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New Year and Your Resolutions – Make it Happen!


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There is something to be said about New Year resolutions. They come around every year for you to brood over and make them, some new and some probably carry over from the last year.

It’s okay to carry over a few, so long as the past year wasn’t enough to accomplish them or if the timing wasn’t just right. But, to have them show up just because you put them together last year only to forget about them or provide an excuse as to never follow up and lo, here they show up again. That’s a big no-no.

Well, on a positive note, you still seem to have a yearning to get through that them this year. That’s why you remembered and put it on the list this year.

Resolutions are your self-appraisal notes for the year to improve you before it ends. The first task is to put some thought into them and make a priority order of things you want to ensure you achieve during the year. They could be as simple as to dress better, exercise regularly each week and lose a set number of pounds before the year ends to more formidable ones as to save a certain amount of money for the down payment on that new house or new car , make the jump into being an entrepreneur and getting your own company started.

Making resolutions is the easy part. After all, it’s just a list you throw together, right.

More important is to keep them top of mind, each month, and week and day. Make sure you have them written and staring at you everyday. Put them up on your mirror to stare back at you each morning or as the background screen of your computer so you look at them all the time, whatever works for you as a constant reminder. The only way to muster motivation and strength to work on them is to have them right and center, in front of your eyes.

Next, make time each week, or perhaps, every two weeks to go back to your resolutions and evaluate yourself for the time that just went by and your adherence to them. Have you kept up with the work needed to accomplish them? Have you slipped on any? If so, why? What is your excuse to yourself? What can you do different so that you make the effort to not strike one off your list, but make changes in your daily routine, so you get started on that one resolution that you know, you HAVE to accomplish.

Measure, recalibrate and move forward. The harder part is to get moving on the work to accomplish your resolutions. Once you start moving and get inertia out of the way, the momentum and the excitement of the positive results you continue to see will ensure you get through them.

And, what better moment than the euphoria you experience when you have accomplished your resolutions and are in a better place than when you made them and now, you just have more improvement and accomplishments to look forward to!

Happy New Year and all the best with your resolutions! I will see you accomplished over the next 12 months.

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Making Things Work…..


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In the most trying of times, those that come out, probably tired, exhausted and even with a few chinks in their armor but definitely, triumphant are the ones that work together as a team.

After all, we have all heard that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

In business or personal life, working together is inevitable. After all, no monumental accomplishment was due to a single person’s effort. Working together can mean tremendous pressure, but if the pressure is faced and the energy channelized to build on the effort, it can mean great experiences, stronger bonds and finally impressive accomplishments for those involved.

With generations to come, and the need for instant gratification, there is less patience in those that interact. Just a tad bit of perseverance; restraint and focus can make things work through interaction, than personal gripes and would mean so much more for everyone together and individually.

Yet, this is hardly understood in colleagues working together or families working on their relationships. Personal egos get the better of everyone and as a result, everyone collectively and individually suffers whether they acknowledge the latter or not.

No matter who you are and what your role, the end goal has to be upheld over personal goals. And eventually, success in togetherness reflects on individual success as well.

So, teams out there that are working on projects 24×7 because, that’s what they demand to get accomplished, work together with complete trust of each other. There will be a time to reflect, work things out between colleagues and gather lessons to improve the next interaction. For now, focus on resolving tasks at hand to accomplish the end goal.

Families and friends, the relationships you cherish are a blessing. Happiness is in giving. Give of your time and attention to nourish and strengthen these relationships. All those tasks that you pile up to get done and seem so urgent vying for your attention can wait a tad bit. You will always have the time in the world to get them done. What you will not is the time to interact with your family and friends. Put them before your chores. Better yet, spend quality time on doing stuff together. You will enjoy such time and tasks get accomplished before you know of the effort put in.

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Being Progressive – What does it mean to you?


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When the topic of being progressive arises, thoughts drift toward values, beliefs and positions with a political connotation.

Everyone gets a fair shot, does his or her fair share, and plays by the same rules.

For a moment, let’s leave out liberalism and conservatism and take a look at what being progressive means to you in your life?

What does “progressive” mean to you? And I mean, literally before we embark on a higher theme of beliefs and values.

Let’s take a look at the basics of progress. You are at point A and aspire to get to point B. Moving to point B is progress.

In regular lives, each of us pursue progress, achieve and then, lay down the next set of goals to go after. If you are a kid, getting to the next grade is progress. If in college, graduation and landing a job is progress. Stellar reviews, getting promoted, completing a project successfully to take on a bigger one is progress. Pursuing what you love with passion and excelling at it is progress. If renting, buying your own home is progress. Next, bigger car, bigger house, etc. is all deemed progress.

Now, that’s in your personal life. Let’s take this to the next level and look at ourselves as a community.

What does progress in community mean? Cleaner neighborhoods, better roads, buildings and infrastructure, better technology and connectivity etc.

However, all the progress around us also leads to letting go of where we were, what we did and how we lived. Our past has things that we should let go in order to move ahead but also, has things that gain a new meaning and value as we progress and should be retained. It’s important to recognize that part of our past, savor it and save it for our future generations to cherish. We are in an age and time, where history and future get created at such a rapid pace that there is so much to absorb and evaluate.

As the keepers of our time, it’s up to each one of us to make these decisions based on values we imbibed from our past.

Everyone getting a fair shot is a noble aspiration and one that we may be getting closer to, but is still at an arm’s length in current times. Let’s all hope we will eventually get there sooner than later. The best you can do to shape our mutual future as a civilization, is to contribute, in saving the best of your past and managing your progress diligently. Don’t get stagnated in where you are and what you do. Execute and progress. Set better and higher goals and achieve them. Bask in your achievements of the past, take inspiration and then, turn your sight toward what lies before you. Change is the essence of life. To keep your life fresh, lively and inspired, have an open mind to learn, act and achieve.

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Time passes ever so silently…


It’s my birthday today. It’s also my uncle’s who passed away about 8 years ago. When I look back, it surprises me that 8 years have already passed without him. I remember the couple of times we celebrated our birthdays together.

My dad is one of 7 siblings. As a kid, I remember all of them getting together and having great banter during festivals and special occasions. I remember my grandpa who passed away in 1996. He was such a strong man just a few years before.

I remember the fun times we kids had when the whole family got together. After I grew up, did I learn of some of the hard times my grandpa, my dad and the whole family in general faced. However, I do not remember ever as a kid to have experienced this. To me, when around the elders, my dad’s siblings, we, as a family just seemed infallible. It amazes me that they never let the shadow of whatever highs and lows they had, fall on us.

Time has a tendency to slip by so silently that before you know, years have gone by. Now, my siblings, cousins and I are grown-ups with kids of our own. I still yearn to see my elders together and seek that warmth of infallibility from them. I fear for my kids and question if I am able to provide the same to them.

It’s my birthday and here I am reminiscing about several things from years gone by, perhaps something has touched a nerve.

Zirtual – A Startup Story Gone Wrong


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Unless you learn to get comfortable with failure, you cannot aspire and look forward to success.

By now, most of you have heard of Zirtual, an on-demand personal assistant company founded in 2011 that went out of business last week and laid off more than 400 employees. The employees received an email on Friday, 08/14 notifying them that the company was shutting down due to financial issues. And the clients received their notifications too.

According to Zirtual’s now, ex-CEO, Maren Kate Donovan, the business was on an $11 million run rate, and was burning $400,000 a month.

There were various causes that frothed up for what happened.

Maren Kate Donovan blamed it on “burn” which is more money being spent than what came in. She also regretted not having a full-blown board in place. Another reason given was the conversion of 1099 contractors into full-time employees without considering the implications of the 20-30% employment expense increase. The lack of a full-time CFO although the size of the organization demanded one, was another factor that came up as well.

The irony is that Zirtual raised about $3.2 million in just this past June and July. Although it might look surprising that a company that just weeks ago, raised funding went under, there is more to the truth than that. Zirtual’s SEC Form D filings show that they tried to raise $5.75 million in June and July – but got only $3.2 million in total. And mind you, this is debt with its own contractual obligations.

Startups.co, depending on how you see it, came to Zirtual’s rescue or gobbled it up post the disaster and acquired it. Startups.co CEO Wil Schroter, negotiated a cash-and-stock deal and added Zirtual to his company’s portfolio of online services for entrepreneurs. In fact, Zirtual, apparently resumed services this past Monday and Startups.co re-hired 60 former employees on a contract basis and looks forward to re-hire more. Startups.co has also initiated efforts on bringing back some of Zirtual’s clients, while the competition is also pursuing them.

Meanwhile, Zirtual has its own set of issues post going out of business. A few former employees filed a class-action lawsuit against Zirtual Inc. in U.S. District Court in the state of Delaware, questioning the company’s violation of labor laws by not giving effective notice of termination. The transfer of that liability to the new owner is still in question. On the other end, there are clients who are hurt by the breach of trust and are hesitant to go back or for that matter, doubt the industry as well.

Lots of lessons here for entrepreneurs. Here are a few:

  • Make sure you raise money way before you need it and raise enough so you and your team are not eclipsed with that worry while you pursue your vision.
  • Debt Financing is great with predictable cash flows; else it can very soon become a nightmare!
  • Do not penny pinch when it comes to finding the right talent and bringing it in when you need it. Find your savings somewhere else.
  • Check, double check and triple check everything. You can never go wrong with overanalyzing operational finances.
  • Proactive and quick decision-making is important, but be wise about your decisions.
  • Your customers and employees come first, everything else comes after them for without them, there is no business.

Learn from them and go find your success!

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Taking the first step….


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I believe ambition drives the world and what keeps it going is the hope to see it realized. There is no end to it. You achieve one goal and you aspire for the next. After all, you have to live and that is what is called living.

However, many a time, a lot of people spend tremendous amounts of time and energy on dreaming and preparing to start, waiting for the opportune time.

What they do not understand is that time is always NOW!

You can dream all you want, prepare all you want and keep waiting forever for the opportune time; time will pass, but nothing gets realized until started. What better time to get started on your ambition than now.

Hope is the elixir that keeps you going. However, there is no going anywhere if you keep planning, dreaming and preparing.

Take a stand and get started. Half the battle is won right there! You are moving on the path of achievement. You will face trials and tribulations, you will fall to rise again, and perhaps fall again to rise once more. Your will shall be tested, your patience, self respect and talents will be bruised and battered, however, you will still be inching closer toward the realization of your goals. Never give up no matter how bad the situation seems. You are one of the lucky few that actually started down the path of working for your goals; being resilient and holding steady will eventually see you realize them.

That is success. Not the realization of your dreams, goals and ambitions, those are the fruits of your getting started and holding steady. But the actual journey of making it there is what defines your success.

To achieve your dreams and realize your ambitions, start now for there is no better time than NOW!

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