Fair warning: I know I am going to be in a lot of trouble for doing this. So as a precaution, I am going incognito as of this moment.
Jokes apart, the more difficult ask here is how does one describe, a leader, a pioneer, a caring colleague but above all, a lovely human being.
Look carefully at the four words I have chosen. They are paradoxical to each other and yet, I suppose they best describe Anusha Shetty.
As a leader, you are supposed to be a ruthless go-getter. As a pioneer, you are supposed to champion only your goals. As a colleague, one usually doesn’t get too involved in their peers’ lives and often, when one is so caught up there is a slim chance of one being nice! Yet here I am consciously, deliberately and willfully using these monikers to describe her.
Leadership needn’t necessarily be a power rush. It is more about taking people along with you, giving them a large, shared vision of something beautiful and cherished. There are few people I have come across who have so graciously accepted the challenges of leadership and done everything in their might to carry people along, as Anusha has.
Even before the idea of inclusivity shook our collective consciences, I have seen Anusha reach out to all sections of society and make them comfortable. It would be easy for me to dismiss this attribute as a leader being opportunistic. But in reality, it was empathy and care for a fellow human being, brought in for their talent and skills rather than their choices or circumstances. Few leaders would tread down this path with the kind of conviction Anusha had.
I remember, back in the day, when her little ‘sweatshop’ one day got an inquiry for a listening exercise on aircraft engines. This was a time when people hadn’t even heard the term ‘social listening’, let alone tools to monitor social conversations.
With great aplomb, she committed to the project, quite literally ‘learnt on the job’ and not only shared some amazing findings, but also managed to impress the team abroad. So much so, that they moved the entire project to India. That was the beginning of her wonderful journey into the world of social analytics. This, to my mind, is not someone just being hungry for business, but also someone having the foresight to see the possibilities of how technology can shape things to come.
I have now known Anusha for over 25 years. And in all these years, if there is one thing that has worked for her, I think it is her belief that she can make a difference to a marketer’s problem, every time. This is no easy ask. Because, for that you need to have substance, you need to have perspective, you need to have knowledge. And to make it count when needed requires a superhuman effort. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why marketers would give an arm and a leg to work with her. After all, she makes them look like champions!
Having said all of this, you must be wondering why I was worried to pen this piece. That’s because I still haven’t told you how she finds the strength to be all the above, work at least 18 hours a day, and also be that wonderful human being that she is.
I think the secret lies in a little sugar! Sugar sprinkled over hot upma (her favorite breakfast item) or eating a couple of Idlis (second favorite breakfast item) with a little bit of sugar added to the coconut chutney. And if tea were an option at that moment, then it is Assam tea with milk on the side. But no sugar here please.
(The author is Co-founder at Bean Song Coffee and has worked with Anusha Shetty in multiple organisations including Autumn Worldwide, of which Shetty was Founder-CEO.)