Transparency In Business – Ajay Kapoor
Having transparency in business makes it easier for the company and its people. The focus is more on the growth of the business rather on the hiding or dealing of problems.
On this episode, we have Ajay Kapoor. He’s the Chief Executive Officer of TouchSource, one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in the country.
Ajay talks about what radical transparency is in the business and how to maintain it. He also shares on how to apply the technique of radical transparency in the business.
- With radical transparency, it makes business easier. You can be honest and get feedback. It will help focus more on the growth of the business rather than dealing with problems.
- In starting applying the radical transparency technique, the first few months of doing it is kind of scary but in the long run, it will be a lot easier.
- There’s vulnerability that comes with transparency however the potential backlash may be short termed and in the long term, stronger bonds are created.
- Being transparent doesn’t mean to share everything. Check if what you’re holding back is something that is valuable to the discussion.
- Radical transparency liberates the conversation with the customer. It strengthens the relationship rather than weakens it.
- Being transparent and self-directed are related to each other.
TRANSCRIPTION: Transparency In Business - Ajay Kapoor
This episode is all about having transparency in business and how to use it to thrive.
Today, we’re sitting down with Ajay Kapoor, the CEO of TouchSource, an Inc. 5000 company.
All right, Thriving Launchers, let’s jump into it. Ajay, are you ready to launch?
Yes, I am!
Maintaining Transparency In Business
Ajay, we’re talking about something before the show and that excites me especially given my background having worked with over 500 married couples and then moving into the field of online marketing and social media marketing and content.
It’s something I’ve written about recently so it’s just exciting. How do you maintain transparency in business? You referred to this radical honesty or radical transparency in business. How do you that at work? I feel uncomfortable thinking about being around employees and all of us practicing this radical honesty, especially we’re trying to scale. How does that work? What do you even mean by transparency in business?
How Having Transparency In Business Makes It Easier
Yes! The funny thing about it is it’s a lot easier than the alternative. I spent decades and many of our colleagues spent decades in large corporations in which you’re constantly trying to remember what message you tell different people. “This is what we’re telling this team.” “This is what we’re telling that customer.” “This is what we’re telling that partner.” Somewhere outside of all three of those stories is the truth.
I don’t know about you but it’s difficult to keep all those stories in my head.
When we decided to have radical transparency in business in a way that we were always telling the full story and the real story whether it was a team member, a partner or a customer, it actually just became dramatically easier.
Having Transparency In Business Can Help You Focus On Growth
You don’t have to remember all the stories. You can be honest. You can get that feedback.
We actually spent last time focusing on the politics of something and more time focusing on the reality of how you deal with it. It’s really helped us focus more on growth rather than hiding or dealing with problems.
I’d love to hear what are some potential backlash, or some potential roadblocks that you can run into practicing having transparency in business?
What The Roadblocks Are When You Have Transparency In Business
Yes! It’s actually hardest with partners. The reason is that the traditional relationships that we’ve all created and corporations with other companies has always been based on some degree of aspirations, facades, and things like that rather than dealing with what two partners can really bring to the table.
The backlash starts out negative and ends up positive because partners are very much surprised when I ask them a direct question like “If we do this, what specifically will you gain from the relationship that I’m not understanding? What specific problem are you not telling me that we need to be dealing with?”
Transparency In Business Creates Stronger Bonds
What’s funny is it takes a day or a week or sometimes a month for our partner to wrap their head around. There’s no motive behind those questions but really we want to make sure our motives and stuff are completely aligned. The backlash ends up being very short term but the long term we end up creating much stronger bonds.
For employees, it’s like being honest with your family. Like any company go through rough patches, if I’m going to be a good leader for the team, they have to know exactly what I’m dealing with. I’m honest with them.
Transparency In business Is Like Being Honest With Your Family
Some people worry them when we have a problem and they think that the world is going to end and things like that. I have to focus in on action and how do we resolve it.
That’s a really good place to be. I’ll tell you if anyone heads down this path, the first few months or the first few times doing it is actually kind of scary but having transparency in business in the long run just makes it a lot easier.
You know I love your answer and as you’re sharing this, I’m actually reminded of when I used to teach these classes for some government agencies and private donors and we’re talking about multi-millions of dollars being spent so that I could facilitate these courses in front of people who had put a lot of energy enough to make it to these classes.
Transparency In Business and At Work
I was being compensated very well. I was young to be doing this. I was 24 yrs. old sitting in front of people that are much older and expert than I was. Not only that, on top of that Ajay, it was all in Spanish and that was probably the reason why I was given this role because I could speak Spanish. I knew the material but I really wasn’t at the level like most of the people needed to have higher degrees in education. It was just this windfall that I made into this position.
I’m teaching these classes and quite often I found myself not understanding everything that people were saying because my Spanish was just not at their level. I’m teaching these classes and they might make a statement. It is very serious. I really need to understand something and I might just nod my head or laugh at a joke they were saying because other people were laughing or go “Hmmm,” and then asks some kind of question that almost anybody could ask as a psychic could just throw out and then it’s like “What a deep question!”
Transparency In Business Makes You An Expert
I remember going to this class or this training that I had and the guy was talking about how important authenticity is and how that actually makes you an expert.
I never thought of it that way because I was so afraid that experts know everything, experts are leaders. When they don’t understand or don’t know, it’s scary for us.
I remember going to this class and somebody said something and I didn’t understand it and I had a breakthrough opportunity and I said “You know, I really want to confess something. I want to admit this to you that I didn’t understand what you said and that is not good for me to relate to you that way. Could you please repeat what you said or maybe use simpler words?”
Transparency In Business Gives You An Opportunity To Connect
It was this “Aha” moment like we both had an opportunity to connect and not only that, he understood because he also didn’t speak the best of English but was trying. That feel like that’s what you’re getting at.
There’s a vulnerability that comes into it to transparency in a business or a professional environment, which most people need to be able to say “I’m not following or I’m not able to do that,” or “We have a problem here.”
That’s not natural, right? Generally, people reward confidence and excellence and solving a problem, not recognizing a problem.
Transparency In Business As A Huge Asset
I’ll tell you it’s a huge asset as we speak to customers, for example, because a customer may have this big broad vision of where they could go and they want to use all this cool tech and us having expertise in the domain gives us permission to say not only “I’m not sure we understand that,” but potentially most importantly, that may not be in your best interest.”
To have those two conversations with the customer that says “Let’s make sure we understand.” Usually, vendors never want to admit they don’t understand the customer.
Transparency In Business Liberates The Conversation
The second thing, a vendor telling the customer “That may not be a good idea,” is another third rail that people don’t cross but I think once we decided to cross that and you’re explaining with your students telling them “You don’t understand, “ and crossing that, you’re touching that third rail, it really liberates the conversation.
In those cases where we had those conversations with customers, it really strengthens the relationship rather than weakens it.
What’s something that we could all do to go out and start applying this technique of having transparency in business?
Maintaining Transparency In Business – Check In With Yourself
What we talk about in our team is its sort of checking in with yourself. What are you holding something back that would be valuable to the discussion?
There’s a whole lot of stuff that we hold back that probably shouldn’t be shared and isn’t going to be valuable to the discussion but when there’s something that’s going to help change decision, inform people better, help accelerate or decelerate a path, that’s where you have to gut check whether you’re holding something back that will move one of those levers. If that’s the case, then, don’t hold it back.
This doesn’t mean sharing everyone’s innermost thoughts whenever you walk into someone and things like that. What it does mean is things that could make the company or the customer or the partner more productive, more effective, more solid should be shared and discussed. The act of sharing it as a recipient of it, you have to celebrate that somebody was transparent with you on that item as well.
Two Parts Of The Equation On Transparency In Business
There are two parts of the equation. There’s having the gut check on your end on are you holding something back and if you’re the recipient of the information, acknowledging, celebrating and taking action based on that information, not ignoring it.
This concept of what you call radical transparency in business or radical honesty is something that I went pretty deep into and what I found is that it could be pretty damaging if you’re just saying every thought that’s coming into your head.
Transparency In Business – Remain Kind
One thing I really found is, is it kind? Is it necessary? Making sure that those two things were involved was a really big help for me to be around that.
Before we close out, I’d love to hear from you what’s something that you can do to help your team members or your employees or the people around you to start practicing this as well?
Transparency In Business – Have Self-Directed Teams With The Right People
Yes. Well, in conjunction that we did this with is we really tried to embrace more self-directed teams that had the right people engaged and the minimum set of people to do things that could make decisions and drive things rather than having things hierarchical and top down.
Being transparent and self-directed are related to each other and the thing that I share with my team is for most people, they’re most fulfilled in their career and their role when they’re setting their own agenda and they’re driving things in the way that they think they can be most successful.
Transparency In Business Allows You To Set Your Own Vision
Being transparent actually helps propel that faster than holding things back. It allows you to set your own course and set your own vision.
I love what you added in terms of bringing in kindness and “Is it relevant?” and things like that in a conversation. I think that’s a good gut check but for the team members, what I share with them is your career is in your control and the more transparent you are about not only your day to day activities but where you want to go helps us help you get there.
It’s a little bit of everyday action but I’ll tell you for us it’s about also leading by example at the senior leadership team and all of us. The more we are candid and transparent, the easier it is for everyone else.
Ajay, as somebody who’s worked in all different levels of companies ranging from grunt worker, overnight worker to senior director, manager, director, one of the things that I absolutely love about this is that you’re bringing something that in human relationships helps some thrive and so why not bring that to work.
I absolutely love that. Thriving Launchers, I hope that you bring with you today, bring that authenticity that vulnerability or that ability to just be transparent about what’s going on in your business or your relationship.
Having Transparency In Business And In Life
I want you to just take a moment to think about some ways that you can add some more of that transparency into your life and then go out and enact it whether it’s with your boss or an employee or whether it’s with a client or a vendor.
Bring this your life and I believe that you’ll have similar results to what we’re having here, what TouchSource is having, and all the different possibilities that can open up to you through that.
Thriving Launchers, take that with you and we’ll catch you on the next episode. Keep thriving you all.