My job demands that I employ both side of my brain

We are glad to introduce our Partner, Mithun A. Sridharan, an accomplished entrepreneur, author, and public speaker. Mithun is the Founder of the Startup Grind Chapter in Rhein-Neckar, fostering an independent community of entrepreneurs and startups in the region. Get ready for an exciting announcement, as Tink Tank and Startup Grind are actively working on a project together. Stay tuned for the big reveal – we’re absolutely serious about it!

Tink Tank: Tell us a few lines about yourself

I am Mithun A. Sridharan, an entrepreneur, author and public speaker. The Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Think Insights, a leading educational platform on Strategy, Leadership and Digital Transformation with over 6 million monthly readers. I am also the Founder of the Startup Grind Chapter in Rhein-Neckar. Startup Grind Rhein-Neckar is an independent community of entrepreneurs and startups in the Rhein-Neckar region. The Rhein-Neckar is part of Startup Grind – the world’s largest community of entrepreneurs, startups and incubators. Founded in Palo Alto, USA, the Startup Grind network comprises of over 5 million members across 600+ chapters in over 125 countries around the world. For entrepreneurs in the region, the Startup Grind Rhein-Neckar chapter is also an online platform and channel to broadcast and promote their startups to a global audience.

Tink Tank: What is your work about, where do you work, what do you do?

I am a Global Industry Advisor, Technology Executive and a Management Consultant. I advise executives and business leaders on critical business transformation topics that have a strong technology footprint. As a Portfolio Manager, I compile or evaluate business models, oversee financial due-diligence and manage strategic investments in innovative technologies. Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, I traveled a lot across the world, visiting clients, vendors, partners, as well as my 2 teams at near-shore locations in Romania and Bulgaria. Since Corona, I have been working from home, managing my teams and engagements remotely.

Tink Tank: What was your first job and how old were you?

My first job was just after my undergraduate studies in India but before I moved to Germany for my Masters studies. I was 22 years old when I had my first full-time job. I pursued a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering, specializing in software engineering, neural networks and cryptography. I had applied to graduate schools in Germany and while waiting for my admissions, I worked as a web developer at my aunt’s company. My job was to launch a website for her business. This was the era before web hosting and cloud computing that we know today. It was quite a job those days! I had to assemble a server from the components I purchased from all over the city, installed Linux and web server, configured the system, developed and launched the website by reading through hundreds of manuals and website. I learned a lot about web servers and Internet through this experience.

Tink Tank: What do you like the most about your job?

As a Strategy and Technology Executive, the diversity of my role is what I like the most. On any given day, I’ll be working on sales, consulting, engineering, marketing and finance, while managing team and customer interactions. My job demands that I employ both, the right and left side of my brain, switching multiple contexts as the situation demands. This challenge and excitement is what I like the most in my job.

Tink Tank: What inspired you to start working at Tink Tank, and what has been your experience so far?

I’d like to say location, but the people that work at Tink Tank and the Tink Tank team are probably what drew me. Almost every entrepreneur working at Tink Tank are pursuing a unique vision and the diversity of topics these entrepreneurs work on is both, interesting and inspiring. Each interaction with these entrepreneurs is a unique learning opportunity. Beyond startups and entrepreneurs, professionals from more established organizations also avail the facilities at Tink Tank. Interactions and conversations with senior professionals from these organisations have also been an enriching experience. These are many more compelling reasons that I’d like to enumerate, but for brevity, I’d say that the inter-personal interactions in the campus and positive vibe / ambience would rank among the top reasons for my choice.

Tink Tank: What do you like the most about Tink Tank?

The community breakfast organized by Tink Tank is unique in its own kind. I like this tradition of community breakfast and having a relaxed chat with the community members very memorable and engaging. Beyond that, the auditorium at Campell and the historical campus in Landfried are charming in their own rights. These are probably a few things that I really like about Tink Tank.

Tink Tank: How has coworking improved your productivity and work-life balance?

First off, I believe that working from home through the pandemic coworking made us all appreciate the need for human social connections. As I serve in a global role, my clients are distributed across the globe and travel is discouraged, unless necessary. Hence, the opportunity to interact with other professionals, both within and outside my work is limited to virtual conferences; this experience, though productive in a certain way, does not deliver the full experience of in-person interactions. Coworking has emulated these interactions to an extent, but interacting with others that are not your direct colleagues gives you different perspectives and impulses; though they may not have the direct work-related context, these interactions are fruitful in a different sort of way.

Second, the coffee corner chats and minor interruptions at work are necessary to retain mental agility. Though we need periods of deep work without interruptions, stepping away from your desk for a few moments for a coffee, chatting up your fellow co-workers and exchanging notes about the weather or news about their lives allows my mind to smoothly switch contexts and assemble my thoughts. When I get back to my desk, I feel refreshed to tackle the challenges from whence I left off.

Finally, coworking brought back the boundaries that mark work and personal life. During the pandemic, the boundaries almost vanished. This meant I ended up working around the clock as I was handling clients around the world – from Japan to South America. Now, with the markers back in, I feel that my productivity has gone up as I effectively focus and prioritize my work day. Moreover, Tink Tank is located close to my residence, so it’s just a 5 minute walk away. I also don’t have to spend an unproductive hour driving or traveling to the office; I now use these 2 hours to listen to podcasts, read a book, write a blog or in some other productive way that contributes either to my personal or professional life.

Tink Tank: What are some of the biggest benefits of coworking for entrepreneurs and small business owners?

Entrepreneurs in most countries, Germany included, are surrounded by people who exactly know why the entrepreneur’s idea is risky, won’t work or is better left to large companies that have the chops to execute the idea. In other words, entrepreneurs and small businesses need a supportive environment of like-minded cohorts who think big, are optimistic, willing to take risks and if everything works out well, then change the world a bit for the better. Coworking spaces like Tink Tank host entrepreneurs who strive to build or change something for themselves, their families and even their communities, both large and small. These are environments of positivity and vibrance. Surrounding yourself with such optimistic people has both, conscious and subconscious benefits. It motivates you to work and achieve something. Isn’t that a big benefit already?

Tink Tank: What advice would you give to someone who is considering joining a coworking space?

I’d steal Nike’s quote: Just do it! For those deliberating whether to swing by or otherwise, remember the quote from Woody Allen: 90% of life is showing up. Just swing by, enjoy the ambience, sign up and let nature take its course!

Tink Tank: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your professional life, and how has it influenced your career?

Don’t underestimate the importance of communication, especially writing and speaking. Even the best ideas have to be properly communicated to be accepted and adopted. Communication is an art that requires constant and diligent practice. This is a life lesson that learned during the pandemic. Once the restrictions lifted after the pandemic, I joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking skills and ended up delivering my first TEDx talk.

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