Inspiring Leaders in a #DigitalFirst world – Rohit Sharma

On our quest to highlight inspiring leaders embracing the digital world, we continue to share our next interview of another curious and brave leader. Many leaders feel less knowledgeable or involved in digital transformation and social media, why we believe it is important to take inspiration from some of the more digital leaders, to understand more of their personal journey and get access to some of their insights.
Our next leader is Rohit Sharma, currently Venture Partner at True Ventures in Palo Alto. Rohit is passionate about strong collaborative networks and shares intriguing reflections about the key challenges for today’s leaders in corporate to remain relevant in the digital age.

Rohit Sharma’s journey to become a #rebornDigital Leader
So how did Rohit come into the Venture Partner position he currently holds? He has spent the last 18 years in Silicon Valley and claims that it was a series of failures, incidents and impulsive choices that brought him to where he is today. In fact, he never planned to become part of the startup community. He describes his journey from a corporate position at Nortel, the largest telecom company in the world at that point in time, to a successful startup story with ONI Systems. The learning from his time at ONI systems was tremendous, he managed to grow the company into a worldwide distributer of equipment from 0 to 700 employees over 5 years until acquired by Ciena (if the video does not open, you may watch it here).

There are many routes that take you into leadership positions in the digital world, again it is proven that a core drive will be for leaders to be open to embrace unplanned opportunities to move forward in this new world. Which #Digital Trends, Businesses and Leaders to monitor? Which trends and examples of businesses and leaders does Rohit Sharma believe we should keep our eyes on going forward? Listen to his insights here (if the video does not open, you may watch it here):

Rohit shares that there are currently many significant trends just starting to develop. Interestingly, he points to his observation that the trends are not necessarily spotted in Silicon Valley. The Valley is really good at providing effective networks of information and people with diverse skills, knowledge and perspectives. No matter what the trend is, the strong networks are adding value by quickly refining the trends into something that can be acted upon. The networks are collectively very strong, allowing the stakeholders to take risk in the early days to explore ideas and enable unusual transformation.

He also points us to the fact that Silicon Valley has a constant inflow of new people coming in from all over the world, refreshing the networks. The trends are more widely distributed across the world and not contained in the Valley only. One of Rohit’s challenges to us is that we often confuse technology with the internet, and they still put too much emphasis on lessons learned from the past which are somewhat or totally irrelevant for the challenges of tomorrow. According the Rohit, the best information sources are found among people at the edges of the networks. New information will not necessarily come from our long-term relationships, instead it will emerge out of temporary resources bringing outside perspectives.

When asked about his recommendation for executives and leaders in a traditional corporate setting, he strongly advocates the necessity to question previous lessons learned and understand the need to unlearn and relearn to remain relevant in business. He highlights that significant change is required in leadership behavior, and that the ability to identify and leverage networks is crucial to any leader. Leaders need to incent open innovation, even among parties traditionally viewed as competitors. When asked about what is most exciting to him, his response is that he has the privilege to refresh his own knowledge, almost on a weekly basis. He finds it highly energizing to explore things that have not yet happened. Listen here to learn more about where he gets his insights (if the video does not open, you may watch it here):

A summary: Give and get inspiration and value through networks

The video shares how Rohit Sharma believes networks will bring value to both himself, as well as to his business. And finally, he took a minute to respond to a question he has never been asked before. His answer reveals his love for wood as a material.

How to become more #digitallyInvolved

To get more insight of what Rohit Sharma knows and shares, we highly recommend you to follow True Ventures’ blog  where you find many general insights and a recent post sharing some valuable insights on diversity. Also, you will find more on the full impact True Ventures had 2015 summarized in an infographic found here.

Consider the possibilities and requirements of networking – Which are your most important networks both physical and digital? Revisit this article from Forbes on networking secrets.

A startup-oriented way to meet and network physically is driven by the network organizers: Check it out and see if you find an area and meet-up close by that you can visit.”

To further expand your own network of inspiring digital leaders – we recommend you to follow Rohit Sharma on Twitter as @rohit_x_.

We believe it is important to share insights from inspiring #digitalfirst thought leaders, if you are one of them or know someone we should talk to, please send us a hint via or via twitter @digoshen .

These interviews are shared both on my own blog as well as on the blog of Digoshen, where I am Chairman of the Board.

At Digoshen we believe that Companies, Boards and Business Leadership Teams need to understand more of the digital world to fully leverage the potential when bringing their business into the digital age.

We provide inspiration and support to help transition business leaders into more insightful digital positions for themselves and their companies.

Follow us on twitter: @digoshen , our CEO @katycaroan and Chairman @liseeng