‘I want to disrupt myself like how I have disrupted myself in last five years’

THIS week we get thoughts and views from property and digital group REA GRoup - Asia Singapore & Malaysia CEO Haresh Khoobchandani

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

Experience has always been my teacher. The mistakes, the disappointments, the successes and the many more emotions I've had to embrace in order to grow. My experiences have taught me that at the heart of it, leadership is a behaviour. We don't get defined by titles. We are defined by what we do, our behaviours and our attitudes. Its taught me to be humble but hungry. To ensure I bring others with me as I move forward. To recognize that every human is different and a one size fits all approach doesn't work in getting the best out of people. More than anything else, its taught me that I make a living from what I get but I make a life from what I give.

What traits do you look for in your talent or how do you decide who is right for a job?

In deciding who's right for a job – there's an art and a science that needs to be applied. A diverse interview panel is important. Depending on the seniority of the role you could add leadership assessment tools to the mix. In terms of traits, I look for attitude, aptitude to learn, someone who is self aware, open to learning from successes and from mistakes, someone who is open and keeps it real. I look for team players, strong collaborators, and those with resilience and grit. And last but by no means least – I look for people with empathy.

How do you think the industry you are in will evolve in the future?

I don't have a crystal ball unfortunately but suffice to say that digital is something players in this industry must start to learn and embrace. The role of AI, Machine Learning and scaling with the Cloud will continue to grow. I do believe that Agents will continue to play an important role in the buying and selling process of properties. Digital as a service will emerge in a big way as more companies look for trusted partners. Engagement and Experience online will grow in importance as developers and agents learn how to engage with a customer in an omnichannel environment. Customers will need to separate cool technologies that are gimmicky in nature from critical applications and services that they must embrace as part of their core strategy. All in all, the shift to Digital will grow and will continue to accelerate.

We all know about the industrial revolution, are we in for a technological revolution ? Your thoughts.

I think the technological revolution is here and well underway! Its impact differs across different industries but the revolution is real. In fact, I would go one step further to say that we have a new world order getting created right in from of our eyes. The impact of technology on our daily lives is fundamentally democratizing knowledge, information and power. Power is now no longer in the hands of the few. Its now in the hands of the billions of people globally. People who now have access to computing power that can empower them to innovate, disrupt and create. A new world order is getting created now because technology is driving breakthrough in life science, medicine, transportation, bio genetics, and a host of other areas. All of these areas will lead to new ways in how we will live, cure diseases, empower diverse groups of people, age, etc ... in ways where we can't imagine. A good book to read, if you haven't attended Singularity to understand the innovation technology is driving is from Michio Kaku entitled Physics of the Future. Technologies, like AI, Machine Learning, Cloud and a host of other amazing work taking place will generate numerous new opportunities for us! We must embrace the new, disrupt our individual selves and have the courage to go forward in this new digitised and highly connected world.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional life?

Mentorship is important. Finding the right mentor is even more important. Having a mentor or a coach has had a strong impact in my life personally. Its allowed me to learn about myself and grow my self awareness in ways I wouldn't have had been able to do on my own. It allowed me to keep it real, to learn and be mindful. Having someone I could trust, lean on and learn from allowed me to have my safe space to learn, to share and be kept honest through my journey.

What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?

Quite honestly there is so much I would want to do! Firstly, I want to continue to disrupt myself. Regardless of age, I hope in the next five years I can disrupt myself equally like how I have disrupted myself in the last five years. There are two more things I want to do. I want to help awaken Asian Leadership! I think there's incredible talent in Asia that can do so much more in this region and beyond. And lastly, I want to be able to coach and mentor others in helping them to get the most out of themselves. We live in a disruptive world. Business models are at the heart of disruption conversations. Its time for conversations to be centred around proactive personal disruption where we help individuals disrupt and transform proactively rather than wait to be disrupt and react for survival.

Best piece of advice you ever got on your career.

Leverage. Leverage. Leverage. I learnt early that you can't achieve success on your own. You need to collaborate, partner, leverage, etc… essentially work with others and as a team to achieve success. No one ever won a championship alone. Even individual sports need a team to support them from their coach, nutritionist, trainer, etc … its always about a team!

Most admired business leader? Why?

I don't really have one per se. There are so many leaders I admire and for various reasons. They all have different strengths and I want to learn them all! So I learn from the high profile leaders and the not so high profile leaders. I learn from their behaviour, I learn from their actions, from the way they speak. I also learn from their stories of who they were and their journey till today. I recently learnt about Shonda Rhimes who is a television producer and made it big! I learn a lot from reading her book recently. BUT if I had to choose one, I would choose Nelson Mandela! His life, what he stood for, the actions he took to stand up for what he believed in and how he used rugby to unite a nation – taught me many leadership and life lessons!

How do you stay abreast of issues affecting your industry?

Not sure if staying abreast of everything is possible. Two things are important for me. I must continuously learn. Learn from others, learn from reading, learn from my mistakes and learn from just doing or what we call in the business world execution. I must continue to learn and that helps me stay abreast. Second thing is to focus on what you can control. Its always good to know what's happening around you but don't get obsessed. You might just lose control. Focusing on what I can control allows me to I act on what I know and what I have learnt to move forward – bringing my team and my customers along so that we can achieve mutual success.

A must-read for every business owner/manager is?

A few years ago I would have suggested my all time favorite leadership book. Today, I'd say everyone should reach Michio Kaku's boon entitled Physics of the Future. Michio Kaku is a futurist and in this book shares about the incredible work going on in this technology revolution that will fundamentally change how we live. Everyone needs to understand this. Everyone needs to know. And everyone following that needs to learn to unlearn and learn in order to stay relevant. A new world order is being created and there is no doubting that.

What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success?

This is a marathon that I'm on. Not sure if I could say I am successful. Honestly not for me to say. That said, if I were to share a little of what got me this far – I'd say I've had a pair of parents who've instilled good values in me. To respect, to be humble, to give as much as you receive and to serve. My parents have been an inspiration to me. They've not had an easy life but they've instilled in me values that's seen me through my highs and lows. Secondly, I've been super fortunate to work with very smart people. Very smart people whom I have learnt from and worked with. They've made me look good and allowed me to learn and grow. Lastly, I'd say luck. Make no mistake, I've worked very hard – there's been much blood, sweat and tears through my journey. But sometimes, you can play the best football and lose. I've been fortunate to be lucky. Sometimes, its better to be lucky and win than be good and lose.