On ROI’s Into the Corner Office podcast, we have interviewed over 200 leading middle-market CEOs from companies across industries, and the advice and wisdom they have shared with us is unparalleled. We are excited to share some of these insights with you in a new form!
On the podcast I have had the privilege of talking with people from all over the world, whether they currently reside in another country or whether they or their parents emigrated to the US. I love the perspective and stories they share!
Family is one of the most important foundational influences no matter where you live. I personally lived abroad for many years, and the intergenerational style of living in many other countries is just so neat. I love hearing my guests talk about the influence of living in big extended families!
Growing Up in a Large Family
Rohit Tibrewala, CEO of the Americas at Roha Group, spent a large portion of his life in Jaipur in Northern India and told me that “the biggest lesson was just the whole entire family dynamic,” which he said “I actually miss. I really wish that more people had that kind of family dynamic because when you’re growing up with almost 20 people living in the house, that teaches you a lot.” Large family dynamics taught him to manage and utilize his resources effectively, and also taught him the power of family. He ended up moving to the US for a family business in his early twenties– “We realized that if we really wanted to be successful [in the United States] it was important for somebody to be here from the family.” Evidently, it served him well, as he is still with that same family company today.
The Legacy of a Grandparent
Also in India, although in Mumbai, Ganesh Natarajan, CEO of DWF Mindcrest also fondly remembers his childhood growing up with extended family, and the impact that had upon him. Ganesh spent his formative years spending much of his time with his grandparents, who he describes as role models. As Ganesh tells it, “My grandfather used to tell me all kinds of stories about the war and his time there. He was largely a self-made person. So maybe that’s the biggest lesson that stuck with me. He came from a very, very poor family and through sheer hard work and perseverance, made it to where he got to. So that’s a good lesson for all.” He describes his grandmother as “the kindest person [he has] known, the most generous person,” and her generosity in providing food for families who needed it has stuck with him decades later.
Simon Lee, CEO of ZumaOffice.com also told me about his grandmother, who emigrated with him and his family when they moved from Taiwan when he was eight years old, because “she knew that [Simon’s parents] were going to need help, especially in the first few years.” He remembers how hard his parents worked, the effort his grandmother put in to take care of all of them and “keep the household harmony,” when his parents were at work and when they returned home late and tired out from a long day’s toil. He said that he felt a little resentment in his younger years about how little time his parents spent at home but “reflected later on and realized that they really had no choice. Many, many immigrants had to work hard or else there was no food on the table,” and so understood “that part of the sacrifice” as he grew older and became a parent himself.
Our family forms the foundations of who we are, truly, and I feel so privileged to get to hear the stories and the impact of these amazing family members as I listen to the corner office journeys of my guests. After all, some of these stories may not have been possible without those family members who supported today’s leaders in their formative years.
For more amazing CEO stories, you can find the full archive here or listen to the podcast on your favorite podcast player.