Manoj Agarwal: “Identify your fears and confront them, identify your constraints and eliminate them”

Vasila Mehtiyeva Entrepreneurship

Manoj Agarwal is leading the Digital and Innovation Services function at Hays and he is also an author of recently published, “Ordinary Champions: How to Achieve your Full potential and Outperform Yourself’ book.  According to Manoj, ‘if you would like to make a leap in your career and make an impact in your chosen field then becoming a champion of your cause is vital’. He was also a panellist in Corporate Innovation Panel at India Technology Summit at the House of Parliament in London, hosted by Europe India Center for Business and Industry.

What is Hays and what does your current role involve?

Hays, is the leading global experts in qualified, professional and skilled recruitment and employs 10,000 people around the world. Every day our expert consultants help thousands of candidates find their next role, and they also help clients reshape workforces and deal with talent shortages. Last year we placed 70,000 people in permanent jobs and 240,000 people into temporary roles. We operate from 250 offices across 33 countries. At Hays, my team and I are responsible for global Digital and Innovation function, Strategic IT change programmes and managing our global operational and digital products.

How do you find people to bring into your organization that truly care about the organization the way you do?

We have created a very cohesive team that moves forward in one single direction with exemplary collaboration across the team. For our Digital and Innovation team, we generally recruit graduates with one or two year experience. Our culture is heavily geared towards continuous self learning. Everyone in our team learns on an ongoing basis so it is not difficult for the right person with right attitude to pick up new skills with the help from rest of the team.

Each one of our projects and products are delivered using small self organising agile delivery teams. Everyone plays a specific role in the team without the usual hierarchy. I and my senior team play the role of a coach or blocker busters, helping the teams to solve a problem that is blocking the progress of the project. We have noticed over the last 2 years that this approach brings out the best in our people.


Your book: “Ordinary Champions: How to Achieve your Full potential and Outperform Yourself’. What inspired you to write it and what is the best takeaway from the book? 

The idea of writing this book came about during a chance encounter with Daniel Priestley, entrepreneur, best-selling author and international speaker.  Daniel began by asking what do I do, why I do what I do and what makes me who I am.  I was, frankly, struggling to answer the questions.

Shortly after, it started to unravel and it became clear that the key ingredients of my modest successes over the years have been transforming people, not technology.

Today, still, a number of individuals, teams and organisations are not really delivering to their full potential.  Fundamentally it comes down to people who make up the team, society and organisation to deliver to or exceed their individual potential.

The best take way from the book is that if you would like to make a leap in your career and make an impact in your chosen field then becoming a champion of your cause is vital.  With a little bit of self-discovery, determination and consistent execution, it is possible to achieve this.


What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

In my view both options are equally good as long as you keep an ‘entrepreneurial’ mindset and create the right environment for you and those working with you.

Entrepreneurs are like explorers, they take the society forward, create opportunities and employment, they help make the academic research useful and viable. Employees are the workhorse of the economy, they keep the flywheel turning, keep the lights on, man the stations and support the economic activity on the planet. They are the unsung heroes and ghost workers behind every successful enterprise.

You should follow your passion, do what you are passionate about and support the causes that you care about. Try and be yourself and not someone else. Do not let your ambition be suppressed by the constraints imposed by the environment you work in.

If you are working for an organisation, you can still have an entrepreneurial mindset and continue to make a big difference in your job. You can do this by identifying what you are passionate about, doing the things that you enjoy the most, develop a habit of continuous learning and becoming an expert in your chosen field.

Seek out people who enable and empower you.  Seek out teams, projects, companies and eco-systems that are progressive, optimistic and provide you empowerment and freedom to operate.


Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Yes, if you look around you will see that most successful people are successful because they are pursuing a passion and a cause; with amazing fearlessness and they never retire, they continue to produce meaningful outcomes as long as they are alive. There is a seven step formula from my book, ‘Ordinary Champions’ to try: find out what you are passionate about, develop a vision and clearly articulate it, understand your chosen subject and stay current, leverage your strengths and know your weaknesses, identify your fears and confront them, identify your constraints and eliminate them, execute – become a prolific producer.


If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

If I was starting my career today, for me, this is the right time to step out of the constraints, identify my passions, set my own goals, seek resources and create something worthwhile that I can be proud of.  I would champion the cause that I care about the most.  I would set my own rules.  I would set my own expectations. I would look to outperform myself not someone else.

You need money to live on and you need to create wealth yourself first in order to give it away to those who need it the most. Money follows success not the other way around. So, I would focus on defining my own success and a path to achieving that and pursue it relentlessly so I can make a difference and do some good in this world.


What do you think is the common mistake of every young entrepreneur and what should they do to avoid them?

The first thing to keep in mind is to do things for the right reason. Do it because you really believe in it. If you demonstrate true belief, passion and drive while talking about it, people will love it and will rally around you to help you achieve it.

Second thing to remember is that we live in a world today where there is an abundance of resources.  In order to achieve your goals, if you require certain resources, someone has already got them.  You just need to seek them out. Build networks, hang out with like minded people who share your cause and remember someone somewhere is getting up in the morning with plenty of the same resources that you need looking for someone to share those with.

Third thing, which you should never forget is that no matter what you spend your time doing in life, you should never stop asking questions, never stop learning.

The last and the most important advise I can give the young entrepreneurs is that success is not instant, it is cumulative. It is not given, it is earned.

Most important of all it is not easy, it requires determination, courage and drive. So, don’t stop producing outcomes that are meaningful for you and those around you; outcomes, which support your cause and your passion.  Become a prolific producer. It will not be easy.  You will find it difficult.  Every time you come across a mental block, go back to the basics.  Revisit why you are doing what you are doing.  Rekindle your passion and remember the cause you are championing.