Tara Viswanathan is the co-founder and CEO at Rupa. She went to Wharton for her undergraduate work, Stanford for graduate school, and is well-versed in building a company. She started Rupa from nothing and has built it to 110 employees. They have had 17 consecutive quarters of growth.

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The Learning Leader Show

  • Rejection is a learned skill. Tara has gone through rejection therapy. Go out and ask for something crazy big. Get comfortable with being rejected. Hearing the word no. Go big.
  • Confidence is about keeping promises to yourself. Create evidence for yourself.
  • Create magical moments for the people you’re leading. Show them how much you care for them. The small touches are a big deal. The magic is in the small details.
  • How to have fun at your company: Fun (and culture) cannot be outsourced. You cannot delegate “culture carriers.” You (the leader) are the ultimate culture carrier. It has to come from you.
  • “Ask for money, get advice. Ask for advice, get money twice.”
  • “If it’s too easy, you get soft.”
  • It’s important to set high expectations for the people you’re leading. “The boss I respected the most was a hard ass and very demanding.”
  • The difference between nice and kind:
    • Nice = Soft, easy.
    • Kind = Set high expectations. Hold you accountable to them. You’re better long-term being kind.
  • Tara’s “must-haves” when hiring a leader:
    • Raw intelligence – How quickly can you learn? Must be a clear and critical thinker.
    • Fantastic communicator
    • Intensity, drive, hunger
    • Sense of humor – Need to be able to laugh and have fun.
  • Values:
    • Business owner
    • Kid at heart
    • Design thinking – Craft for the end-user
    • Peak performance
    • Be human
  • Keys to a great off-site retreat
    • Craft for the people
    • High energy
    • Sense of connection – get to know each other
    • Peak performance workbook – set goals
    • Small touches – personalized gifts for the team (like picture frames with personalized pictures in them)
    • Create magical moments to connect
    • Focus on the arrival – make it special
    • Eliminate loneliness – Assigned seats, name tags, conversation prompts (especially helps introverts)
  • Tara worked at LuluLemon while in grad school at Stanford. It was a useful learning experience for her. She worked for a world-class manager.
  • What Tara learned from her parents:
    • Leadership is about modeling the right behaviors.
  • Advice – “If you want to be extraordinary, you can’t fit in.”
  • Give way more than everybody else.”
  • “Follow great people and be around greatness.”
  • Tara created a 50-slide PowerPoint while going for a role as a part-time content writer. Going above and beyond for that leader left an impression and that woman who Tara impressed remains a mentor, investor, and friend to this day more than a decade later. You never know what will happen if you consistently over-deliver for people.
  • Apply to be in my Learning Leader Circle

Time Stamps

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership