Leadership & Management

Navigating a Business Through Crisis

Unprecedented adversity can create incredible opportunities — when you have the right mindset.

April 20, 2021

Meet Likitha Maddukuri, CEO and co-founder of Terra Greens, and Baba Shiv, Stanford Graduate School of Business professor of marketing, and hear how you can leverage a crisis to boost innovation at your business.

Running an organic produce business like Terra Greens in India could be seen by many as challenging enough, but the pandemic of 2020 had other plans. With a national lockdown, supply chain disruptions, and a limited labor force, Maddukuri had to quickly figure out how to create a culture that would motivate and inspire her employees to not just survive, but to thrive.

Creating a culture of gratitude, constant communication, and showing up for each other was her key to success: “For the first time, I had to sell the business and the vision to my people and make them believe that we will emerge stronger,” Maddukuri says.

Shiv, an expert in neuroeconomics and decision making, discusses how Maddukuri’s innovative mindset made all the difference — approaching challenges with a desire for opportunity rather than a fear of failure.

Listen to Maddukuri’s story and Shiv’s guidance and get inspired.

Grit & Growth is a podcast produced by Stanford Seed, an institute at Stanford Graduate School of Business which partners with entrepreneurs in emerging markets to build thriving enterprises that transform lives.

Hear these entrepreneurs’ stories of trial and triumph, and gain insights and guidance from Stanford University faculty and global business experts on how to transform today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities.

Likitha Maddukuri: I think adversity when it presents itself is a great opportunity to create culture.

Darius Teter: As a young entrepreneur in India, Likitha Maddukuri has experienced her fair share of adversity, but nothing could have prepared her for the challenges that 2020 would bring.

Likitha Maddukuri: You’re always selling your business. But for the first time, I had to sell the business and the vision to my people, and I had to make them believe that we can do this and that we will emerge stronger.

Darius Teter: The severe health and economic crisis of the global coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the leadership challenge of a generation. And that’s certainly true in the field of agribusiness with complicated and far-flung supply chains, and it forced CEOs like Likitha to take decisive action to keep their companies afloat. Navigating this roadmap while designing it is no easy task, but it’s right there in the eye of a storm that the true medal of a leader is revealed.

I’m Darius Teter, and this is Grit & Growth with Stanford Graduate School of Business, the show where Africa and South Asia’s intrepid entrepreneurs share their trials and triumphs with insights from Stanford faculty and global experts on how to tackle challenges, grow your business. Today, we meet Likitha Maddukuri, CEO and co-founder of Terra Greens, to hear her incredible story of adaptive leadership, company culture, and bold moves during crisis. From an aerial view, the city of Hyderabad is enormous.

It’s a sprawling metropolis where historic architecture sits alongside a glittering business district, and it’s home to a population of almost 10 million. Companies from diverse sectors of flocked here, from research and manufacturing to pharmaceuticals, biotechnology. Everyone drawn to this ever expanding skyline. It’s busy. It’s hot. It’s teaming with innovation. But if you track your eye just outside the city limits, across a broad six lane highway, the picture changes entirely.

What you see is a dense patchwork of fields, rice, corn, sesame, cotton, groundnut, soybeans, and many other crops. In this semi-arid climate, agriculture is booming, and it’s here that Terra Greens Organic Farming takes root. The story of Terra Greens is a story of two women, Likitha and her mother.

Likitha Maddukuri: I never really wanted to be an entrepreneur. My mom was farming in our family lands and it was her to grow fresh produce. She was getting all this produce back home, and she was forcing us to eat all of it. We didn’t want to eat everything that she was growing, so we drove down to like a supermarket next to our house and asked, “Would you stock organic produce,” and he said yes. And that’s how Terra Greens came about to be.

We started like a small subscription-based fruits and vegetable delivery service in Hyderabad, but we built the business longer. And then today we work with about 12,000 farmers across five states.

Darius Teter: I love that. It all started with you trying to get rid of some of the vegetables that your mom was putting on your plate. I think my kids would do exactly the same if they could figure out a way to pull it off. Tell me a little bit more. Is there a strong demand for organic greens in India? Is that a growing trend?

Likitha Maddukuri: The market for it has been growing steadily. In the organic sphere and in India, our challenge comes forward in terms of creating awareness as well. We have to constantly educate our customer and we have to constantly engage in conversation with our customer. We have to tell them what organic agriculture is, how is it better, and make sure that they’re on the same page and also see value. Because organic food in general is more expensive.

So if they do not see value in it for their health or for the health of the planet, then we lose the connect with our customer. What we notice is that for organic grains, there is demand, but also we need to consistently build supply. As an organic food company, our challenges don’t only lie on the demand front. Because back in 2012-2013, people would come and ask us what does organic mean, so we had to go back built a supply chain.

Darius Teter: Interesting. When I think about farm to fork supply chain in the United States, it’s broken up into a whole ton of intermediate players along the way. You don’t really think of anybody actually owning the whole supply chain or controlling the whole supply chain. How does it look in your specific case?

Likitha Maddukuri: We built everything. When we started, we didn’t have anybody doing anything. We didn’t have warehouses. We didn’t have processing units, which were processing organic food, or we didn’t have farmers. Everything was so fragmented that if we wanted to have a sustainable brand, it became inevitable for us to dip into the supply chain. It wasn’t something that we wanted to do. I think where we stand, I have customers who come to me for a private labeling. I have customers who come to me for bulk produce.

I have customers who come to me as retailers or even direct customers. We have revenue streams that we’ve built throughout the supply chain. And that’s happened over time and with scale. We didn’t have that when we started off. But today I think we do engage with customers along the way.

Darius Teter: In a few short years, Terra Greens has experienced incredible growth, and that’s no mean feat for a first generation business owner. I wanted to find out a little context about what it means to be a young entrepreneur in India today. I called up someone and with deep experience of entrepreneurship and doing business in India.

Baba Shiv: In most cultures out there, failure is not tolerated. Failure is ridiculed. Sometimes even punished.

Darius Teter: That’s Baba Shiv, Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business and an expert in neuroeconomics, the study of decision making that combines economics, psychology, and neuroscience. In 2007, Baba was invited by the Department of Science and Technology in India to speak at leading Indian universities about how to foster entrepreneurship. In his conversations with the students, Baba has started with a simple premise and a question and the responses he got were telling.

Baba Shiv: You can either be an innovator or you can be an entrepreneur. And there’s a big difference out there. You can innovate stuff and then sell off the IP to someone else. Entrepreneur requires you actually have to run a company. I asked every one of these students that I’ve met up, would you like to be an entrepreneur? And invariably, this is 2007 time period, they said no.

Darius Teter: Students said no for many reasons, but Baba noticed one common factor. In India, like in many cultures around the world, career decisions aren’t just made by the individual. The whole family gets to have a say.

Baba Shiv: If I’m this young person going to my parents and saying, “I have a job offer from the Tatas, but I want to go into entrepreneurship,” what do you think the parents are going to say? They’re going to say, “You are stupid. This is how I brought you up.”

Darius Teter: It sounds like as recently as 2007, young entrepreneurs in India faced this uphill battle, which only makes Likitha’s story that much more impressive. India’s attitudes to entrepreneurship are changing, and we’ll hear more about that later. But right now, I want to take you to a very specific moment. It’s March 24, 2020, the evening that the Indian government swiftly placed the country into a national lockdown.

Likitha Maddukuri: I think we all knew that it was coming. I was prepared mentally to have conversation with my people, but I didn’t think that a lockdown would come about, or that it would come about suddenly. My first reaction, I think, was to take a call whether to shut the factory or not, because we came under the essential space. We could function, but my biggest challenge was to get people to come to work and whether I should because we don’t know if the virus would come along with the people who come to work.

But I took a call. I think it was a hard call, but I took a call not to shut the unit. On Monday, March 25 is when I went to the factory. It was hard because we had police everywhere. We had people. There were villages that come on the way to the factory and they didn’t allow our cars to go. I had like a bunch of people chase my car.

Darius Teter: In this country when we went into lockdown, it was actually Santa Clara County in California that was the first place to lock down in the entire nation. So that’s where I live. And from an emotional point of view, it’s almost a sense of panic because lockdown made us all think, “Wow! This must be much worse than we thought.” Is that what was going on in the villages on the way to your factory, this sort of sense of fear?

Likitha Maddukuri: There weren’t any positive cases in the villages yet. What they felt that anybody coming in from the city or passing through would get the virus along. They didn’t want any traffic from the cities to come to the villages. We had people come in and chase my car. I had a bunch of people who weren’t police, who threatened to break the glass of my car and stuff like that because I was trying to go to my factory.

Darius Teter: Despite this dangerous situation, Likitha made that first really bold move as a manager by deciding to keep the factory open.

Likitha Maddukuri: I think the first day, six daily wage workers turned up and I asked them, I said, “Do you want me to shut the factory? Are you scared? Do you want this to happen?” And they said, “No, we will come to work. Just make sure that we come safely to work and we will come.” I felt like when they showed so much confidence in me that I should show confidence and stand up at that time.

Darius Teter: With this vote of confidence from her employees, Likitha began to tackle a seemingly endless list of challenges for her business continuity, and the issues were around things like staff health and safety, supply chain logistics, ID cards, even just getting to the factory. Suddenly everything that was easy now became infinitely more complex.

Likitha Maddukuri: The first few weeks were so much panic. We had issues wherein our transportation that we provide for our labor was stopped and we had to actually create another detour. We told our workers to wait on the main road and we would run our auto from different points so that we could pick up each one of them along the way. Not the main road so that the cops would stop them. Because even the cops aren’t… They aren’t educated. They do not know what essential commodities are.

We also have a smaller wing of the company where we do home delivery. We had our home delivery staff being harassed by the police. Actually few of them even got beaten by the police for being on the road. We had to give them so much more protection, and we had to give them letters and the ID cards, the t-shirts, everything so that people know that we’re a legitimate company and people aren’t just on the streets for no reason.

Darius Teter: There’s so much to unpack there. The amount of sort of creativity and quick judgment that you had to practice, I mean, the decision to keep the factory open was quite bold, I think. I’m interested in the steps you took as a leader to make that a success.

Likitha Maddukuri: I think the confidence came from the team because they said that they would come. And then we said that, okay, whatever happens, even if one person turns up, the factory will run. We have three, four revenue streams. We do pack for other companies as well. We took a call to prioritize them. Based on the labor that turned up for the day, we would plan production. And based on the kind of work that could be done, we did. In hindsight, it feels like such an adventure.

Because we had so many people call us and ask us, are you functional? Can we buy grocery? Can we buy vegetables? And we had to service them. There were so many of them who came back and said like, “Thank you for not shutting down and for not giving up.” I am eternally grateful to the people, especially the staff that turned up, because they did it even if they were scared. All of them were scared.

All of them had challenges and all of them had pressure from home, because a lot of their families were like, “Why you doing this? There’s no reason for you to do this. You can just sit at home.” I wouldn’t fire anyone. I would still take it. I would be like, “Okay, fine. You’re working from home and we understand.” But none of them did that and all of them turned up. I think I’m so grateful for everyone. But it took conversation, Darius. I think a lot of conversation.

Darius Teter: Likitha’s communication strategy is actually a key piece of this story. But before we get to that, I wanted to learn a little bit more about the mindset of a leader during a crisis. It’s evident that Likitha showed real clarity of thought right from the get-go. But what exactly is going on when we have to make these difficult astute decisions? I asked professor Baba Shiv for his thoughts.

Baba Shiv: At the end of the day, most human decisions and most human behaviors are grounded in emotion. It is not the rational brain. The way the emotional brain is geared to behave at any given point in time will depend upon the mindset that prevails at that point in time. Is it a type one mindset, or is it a type two mindset? These are terms that are borrowed from statistics. What is the type one mindset? It’s the fear of making a mistake. It’s a fear of failure. The type two mindset on the other hand is not a fear of failure.

It’s a fear of missing out on opportunities. At the end of the day, it’s really not a fear. It is a desire for new opportunities. There’s a lot of research backing this up, that something like 90 to 95% of human decisions and behaviors are shaped non-consciously by emotional brain systems. What the rational brain is good at is not at being rational. What the rational brain is good at is simply rationalizing what the emotional brain has already decided to do.

Darius Teter: That’s fascinating. From what Baba Shiv is saying, it’s the emotional brain that steers those mission critical decisions. Likitha made important calls quickly because the rational and emotional sides of her brain were well aligned. And as we’ll learn, she was quick to identify new opportunities also in the midst of this crisis. The emotional side comes into play again to address the challenges of staff morale and communications, and she had to establish new ways of working in the strange confines of the home office.

Likitha Maddukuri: I had this thing that I started where I would check in with everybody in the morning and check in with them again in the evening, because working from home is so new to all of us. How do we inculcate accountability? How do I get them to turn up in front of their laptops at 9:00 a.m.? I cannot control that. I would get up. I would wear my work clothes and look like I’m going to office and sit in front of the computer. Switch on my camera. Make sure everybody switches on their camera and they look like they’re coming to work.

I would check in with them at 9:00 a.m. Everyone. I would just say, “Good morning. How are you doing? What’s your task for the day? Run me through this.” And then in the evening, around 4:35 p.m., I would check in with them again. Every single day for almost two and a half months, I checked in with every person. It was exhausting for me, but I think I got to know my team so much better because I would never spend that kind of FaceTime with them.

Darius Teter: You introduced a lot of accountability processes. I’m curious to know how they responded to that, your management team, and I’m also curious to know this new found approach to doing a lot more communication with the factory floor. Are you still doing that now that the lockdown is over so many months later?

Likitha Maddukuri: To answer the first part of your question, they hated it. They absolutely hated it. They were just wondering why I’m behind them and why I’m like being so involved in their work. They found it really uncomfortable in the beginning, but now they send in their task sheet in the morning and in the evening without me having to ask. I think it set a culture even for them to plan their day and to end it. I think they appreciate it now, but most of them actually have implemented the daily task sheet and the daily check-in in their own teams.

The second layer, they found value in what I have done. I think like it was positive, and we still do it. We have like an extremely well-defined structure, which we didn’t have before. The communication also is very free now. Because what happens when you are on a video call, I’m sure most of us have also realized this, is that you can be distracted.

Likitha Maddukuri: We did put in a culture of gratitude and also that we need to turn up for each other, not only for ourselves, but for everybody else who is going through this panic situation where they’re not getting their groceries on time, or they don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Even when I spoke to the daily wage workers, and these are people who are uneducated, they do not understand the bigger picture, they understand that they need to survive through this, I spoke to them and I said that we need to do this.

Because if we do not give people food, what will they have? Three months down the line, the supply chains will be broken and there won’t be food in the market. And all of them understood it.

Darius Teter: The undercurrent of what you’re saying is that you had to create a corporate culture on the fly, and part of that corporate culture was gratitude and mission. The mission of getting healthy food to people who are locked down and the gratitude of being able to serve that mission despite the whole economy coming grinding to a halt. Is that a fair characterization that you were creating a corporate culture on the fly?

Likitha Maddukuri: That’s a really nice way of putting it, because yes, that’s what we did. Like you very rightly said, driving the mission for a small company to the ground level is really hard especially when you want to create a culture and something that you want to imbibe in people. I think adversity, when it presents itself, is a great opportunity to create culture. It did change me, I think, as a leader in terms of how I present myself, because I had to talk so much more to my team.

As somebody who’s building a business, you speak to your clients. You speak to other people. You’re always selling your business. But for the first time, I had to sell the business and the vision to my people, and I had to make them believe that we can do this and that we will emerge stronger. I had to tell them that we have to be so grateful to be in a space which is affected positively by the pandemic.

Darius Teter: Likitha inherently understood that the strength of the company lies in every link of the chain. There is an important lesson here. The degree to which team members are able to collaborate through a difficult time can make or break a company. And as Baba Shiv explains, the onus is on the leader to foster that environment.

Baba Shiv: If everyone is stressed, generally what tends to happen is people will go into their own shell, because it’s a survival mode. I have to survive first before I start helping others and start collaborating with others. The leader’s job is to have the internal team members get out of the state of stress knowing that our survival is come from teamwork. The leader’s job is to tell the staff out there that it is not about losing, it’s not about winning out there, but let us feel proud.

And let us feel proud in such a way that when we emerge from the crisis, we would emerge much stronger. Not the company, not the leader, but all of us collectively have emerged from it feeling much stronger.

Darius Teter: Terra Greens did emerge stronger and that’s partly due to this culture of gratitude. The keto’s ethos was more than just words on a list of company values. It was a core pillar, and it was embodied and expressed in unison. After this initial rush to put systems in place, the ensuing months brought a host of new and difficult choices. Pre-pandemic, Terra Greens had ambitions to expand their global presence. In fact, Likitha had just returned from a business trip in Dubai when the lockdown hit.

With demand in the domestic market unexpectedly booming, Likitha had to pivot once more to confront the challenges in her supply chain.

Likitha Maddukuri: We were forced to act quickly. I wasn’t ready to start business development at the pace that I’m doing today. I didn’t have the marketing collateral. I still don’t have things in place to scale as quickly because the market opportunity presented itself. We didn’t have a problem when it came to demand. In fact, our demand rose. We just had to look inward and build supply. We were dependent on so many others for our supply chain, and the break down happened in terms of logistics.

The break down happened in terms of manpower. For example, if I had a machine break down in my factory, I cannot get a technician to fix it. We couldn’t get spare parts. Our seams broke and I didn’t have seams for two months. That would never happen in a normal scenario. I guess we realized how much we depend on other industries, and the decisions I had to make was to develop direct supply chain. If a truck left our unit, then it had to reach my customer directly.

We couldn’t have people stock our products because we were wasting our stock there and it was getting stuck.

Darius Teter: I think for a lot of companies at the beginning of the pandemic, they had a cash crunch. Cash is king in a business like yours. How did you conserve cash? How did you deal with buyers?

Likitha Maddukuri: I think this pandemic came like a blessing in disguise because I stopped supplying to my customers who were bad payers. We said like, “See, we have limited stock. I can only produce this much, and we are going to supply to people who pay us.” One thing what happened is that we identified our good customers because it was the need of the hour. The second thing that happened was the people who weren’t paying us or who didn’t want us or if their businesses weren’t doing well, we finally identified them and said, “We will not supply to you.”

I think on the receivables front, COVID was like my angel, my blessing in disguise, because we finally cleaned out and prioritized our customers and we prioritized the profit centers, the loss centers. And also it helped us understand that not only in terms of money, but also in terms of time and effort, because I had to work with 30% of my labor force. If I had to put my 30% to the best possible use, I had to say that, okay, I’m going to spend this much time and this much money and labor on this account, so it better fetch me this much.

We started even looking at time and labor as something like an input into the business apart from just cost of goods. As a business model, we really became lean and we tried to make the best of it. And as a small business, we always tried to see like, okay, any customer is a customer. But when we started working with constraint, we said no to a lot of people. I think good businesses do well because you have the power to say no more than when you say yes all the time.

Darius Teter: As the old adage goes, you never want to miss the opportunity in a crisis. And it’s in this variability to see that opportunity to be innovative, to react, to pivot. That really defines the success of a business during unprecedented adversity.

Baba Shiv: Keep in mind that it is Charles Darwin who said that it is not the strongest of the species that survives. Not even the most intelligent. The one that is going to survive is the one that is most adaptable to change. Don’t assume that your strength before the crisis is going to remain the same going forward, because there are other players out there who are probably doing the right kind of things in terms of being innovative, adaptive, et cetera, who are going to be much, much stronger.

The survival of the company in the long haul never ever comes from sticking to the status quo. It always will come from responding to change that is happening. And that is where the leader needs to have an innovation mindset, and the organization as a culture needs to have an innovation mindset.

Darius Teter: The story that Likitha has shared with us, I think, well demonstrates this innovation mindset. Terra Greens weathered the storm thanks to Likitha’s adaptability into her true grit as a leader. And it’s clear that there’s bigger and brighter things on the horizon for her comfort. I had asked you earlier, what did you have to give up as a result of the pandemic? I think you mentioned that you wanted to start your own retail business.

I wanted to just hear a little bit more about what the plans are for that, but also I want to hear about your ability to raise capital for your business plans now and in the future and what that looks like for you.

Likitha Maddukuri: It’s been great. But like I said, we were in a slow and steady mode. We weren’t planning to expand as quickly as we are expected to now. We didn’t plan for competition, because now we see so many people entering the essential goods space. We see so many like small and medium, even larger businesses looking at agribusiness like an opportunity, which they never did before. The landscape changed. I think we look at more competition.

At the same time, we look at a lot more opportunity, and we have realized that there is a need for speed here. When we started looking at things objectively and we said, “You know what? We are going to expand, money will come.” I just told my team, “Let’s go and do this. I will find the money. Finding the money is my job. Getting things done is your job. Do it and I’ll find the money.” And I have been able to until now. The investor landscape for this space is extremely positive right now.

But when that’s the case, we also need to be really careful in terms of the quality of capital that we get into our business. Because at the end of the day, the most valuable thing out there is my business. One thing, of course, is to be extremely open to change. Whether it’s with the team or with my business plan, we’re constantly evolving and that’s been decent for us right now. In terms of capital, yes, we are looking for investment because the opportunity has presented itself and we do need to scale at this point.

Things are changing. I think every day we see so much change. I have not experienced this kind of change that we have in the last six months I think in my entire lifetime.

Darius Teter: We’re experiencing this here at Seed as well. In this pandemic crisis with change happening so fast, we need to be willing to reinvent our strategy almost monthly. I think that’s a real leadership challenge is just to figure out how to constantly review and be agile and be responsive and adaptive. I want to shift gears a little bit here and kind of ask a bit more kind of metaphysical questions, if you don’t mind.

What does it mean to be a woman entrepreneur in India? Is it a different experience from being a man, a male entrepreneur in India?

Likitha Maddukuri: It is different. I mean, it’s obvious, right? It is going to be different because women are different and our approaches are different. And especially something like Terra Greens, which was started by two women founders without any male co-founder, are extremely different. We are not a family business. We’re a startup in the agri commodity space. When we did start up, we were very naive. The major challenge that I faced because I was 22 when I started Terra Greens. My mother was my co-founder.

She was a housewife for 45 years before she started Terra Greens with me. We were basically first generation entrepreneurs without any prior experience in business. We just wanted to do something and we just did it.

Darius Teter: When I spoke with Likitha, her passion was unmistakable. It was incredible to hear how her and her mother thrived in the face of adversity. And it reminded me of something Baba Shiv had mentioned before, the face of entrepreneurship in India is changing.

Baba Shiv: We’re beginning to see the change. I mean, from 2007 to 2017, there was a massive change in what I was observing on the ground in India. Now, young kids in the top 10% of their class, they don’t want to go and work for a large corporation. They want to work in a startup. Why? Because that taboo has disappeared. That’s because now there are role models, companies like Flipkart in India, et cetera, who become very successful.

Now, the parents are saying, “Yeah, you have an offer from the Tatas, but I don’t want you to go and work in the Tatas out there. That is sort of previous generation. I would rather you go and start a company and make it into the next Flipkart of the world.”

Darius Teter: It’s important to realize how empowering it can be for young entrepreneurs to have someone to look up to. Positive role models have this ability to really transform the business landscape for the next generation. And when young female entrepreneurs like Likitha make space for themselves, they make space for others to be part of the conversation too.

Likitha Maddukuri: Along the way, I have learned to present myself as an entrepreneur first, and then as a woman. In my field especially, like I said, women are very, very rare. I think I’ve been mistaken for the MC or like somebody who’s lost their way in a conference more times than somebody who belongs there. What I realized later, I think about two years ago, is that first I used to feel bad. I used to get angry. I used to be like, what the hell? This is not what I want to be.

I need to be taken seriously. I would like be really stern. I wouldn’t be myself. I would want to show power and present myself in a way that I have to be taken seriously. Then I realized like later that I have to be me and I have to be myself and comfortable, and then people start taking me seriously anyway. And also another thing I’ve learned is that I’m the most interesting person in the room because everybody’s wondering who this girl is. I started putting my hand up more.

I started introducing myself more. I would go and speak to the most important person in the room because I realized even that person wants to know who this girl is because she clearly doesn’t look like she belongs here. I have learned to be comfortable with the fact that yes, I’m a woman. Yes, I’m in agri business. Yes, it’s unusual. Yes, it is a challenge, but, well, we are here, so you might as well make the best of it.

Darius Teter: Likitha, thank you so much for your insights. I came away absolutely awed by the number of leadership challenges you faced and frankly the brilliance with which you took them on. I think there’s so many lessons there for all of us. Thank you for being so frank and open and sharing your own leadership challenges during this extremely difficult time.

Likitha Maddukuri: My pleasure. With conversation even with other entrepreneurs, we constantly learn and hopefully the pandemic has brought about positive change not only for me, but for the entire world. Like any change, I think in hindsight, it’s always been a good thing.

Darius Teter: And on that positive note, we’ve reached the end of today’s show. I want to thank Likitha Maddukuri for candidly sharing her experiences over the past year. It’s been a masterclass in adaptive leadership in crisis management and a timely example of the exciting possibilities for young entrepreneurs in India today.

Baba Shiv: Great. Let me give you some closing thoughts here for any leader who’s going through a crisis. First one, remember that you are in a unique position to not only survive, but emerge from the crisis being stronger. And you have the capability used to do that. The second one that I would say is always think about not just competitive advantage, think also about collaborative advantage.

And think about collaborative advantage that comes not from just a transactional approach, comes from a relational approach. What it means is building meaningful connections that are grounded in trust.

Darius Teter: Thanks to Likitha Maddukuri for sharing her story and to Professor Baba Shiv for his insights. This has been Grit and Growth, and I’m your host Darius Teter. If you want to find out more about leadership and decision making in crisis or learn how Stanford Graduate School of Business is partnering with entrepreneurs throughout Africa and South Asia, then head over to the Stanford Seed website at seed.stanford.edu/podcast and don’t forget to hit follow to hear new episodes.

Grit and Growth is a podcast by Stanford Graduate School of Business. Laurie Fuller researched and developed content for this episode, with additional research by Jeff Prickett. David Rosenzweig is our production coordinator and our executive producer is Tiffany Steeves. With writing and production from Isobel Pollard and sound design and mixing by Alex Bennett at Lower Street Media. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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