Born in South India, Sreedhar Bevara has done many jobs; a street vendor, a waiter, a delivery boy, a door-to-door salesman, and eventually leading corporate boards. He is now the CEO of BMR Innovations, a global management and technology consulting firm with offices in Dubai (UAE), India and the USA. Bevara’s journey is a quintessential rag to riches tale. Knowing it will help us identify and embrace the right signals to realise our full leadership potential. His debut book, Moment of Signal, talks about how anyone can use this concept to rise to the top. His latest book, The Roaring Lambs: A Fable About Finding the Leader in You, throws light on how true leaders rise from nowhere and produce extraordinary results when challenged by circumstances. In a conversation with CXO Outlook, Bevara talks about his books, the most important values he demonstrates as a leader, his journey so far in the corporate world, people who had a significant influence on him and much more.
Being a bestselling author, motivational speaker, strategic advisor and senior corporate leader, what are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?
The common point for good leadership is how do we do things in a way that can have a sustained impact on the lives of the people we either work with or work for. That being an ultimate consequence, everything else depends on the meticulous process to get there. Hence the job of being a leader to your own little or massive world itself is a journey that needs good company. Company for more than few vital reasons; without company, we won’t be able to do things on our own; without company, we won’t be able to do big things.
Without a good company, who values our vision, the leader won’t be progressing. Hence it is important to keep in the good company of people, and leaders must constantly work on this area. A great company of people can deliver great results—the greater the people around us, the greater the impact we could create. Here an employee or coworker or any role in the designated task becomes great when he/she understands the collective objective and strives equally with you. The nature of the journey remains unchanged, but the destinations keep changing. Scope, scale, schedules keep changing. Hence it needs different people of expertise to travel. What is in it for them? Are they helping you grow alone or being helped mutually? Is the leader’s vision a common vision where everyone else is part of it in the end result or the leader alone? This works, in fact, the other way round as such approach actually defines who becomes successful in the end no matter whichever is the walk of life.
From a street vendor to a waiter, a delivery boy to a door-to-door salesman, and eventually leading corporate boards, you have come a long way to become CEO of BMR Innovations. Tell us a bit about your journey so far in the corporate world?
Long way means one was willingly putting in efforts to stay in there. Success in corporate life comes ‘shape in or ship out’ basis, and the formula is highly relevant to sustain or expand. Having come from a humble background and a family that struggled to meet ends can be a testing situation to either break or make. Poverty can play hard by destructing lives, separating families and ruining people in the most unpredictable manner. Our family wasn’t an exception either, with each of our siblings got scattered to find shelter under the custody of some benevolent cousins. Having failed in the college exams repeatedly and with the circumstances turning tighter, I had to find alternatives to survive. Street vending, waiting at tables, working as a helper in a poultry shop or even joining as a waiter in Taj group of hotels for a salary of $10 a month – everything that happened is to survive the ordeal of the day that went on for a good number of years before making it to college again.
Not that each of the efforts was successful, but the relentless pursuit to survive has helped knock the doors of opportunities, one after the other. That was when my teacher, guru, mentor, and father-figure Murali (BMR) guided me to walk out of these random things to pursue higher studies to walk into finding the purpose of leading the life became the driving force. If you ever see a wall of success, remember the wall was built by a group of passionate people of common objectives and with relentless efforts. People support people irrespective of positions when they either sense common objectives or common ideologies. We don’t need to know them always.
What lessons have you learned in your childhood or IIM days that helped you become the leader you are today?
There are no bigger learnings than from failures and hardships. Real situations of life can teach greater lessons. That was my fortune, having gone through much in the early life. However, learning about others’ mistakes and good decisions is possible through reading history, by education and watching seniors from the industry. A good blend of these two approaches can makes us good leaders.
Tell us about BMR Innovations. What are the services that BMR Innovations offer today, which makes it unique?
BMR Innovations is an Indo-Dubai based firm with global exposure in Management and Tech consulting, founded in 2017 by reputed corporate finance professional and lawyer, Muralidhara Rao Bevara (BMR). BMR offers strategic management consultancy to corporations, governments, and other organisations to help achieve and maximise their business potential.
Experience makes a person wise. Expertise makes a person enhanced. Sharing them both to empower others makes the person a true consultant. BMR Innovations is bringing together passionate and specialised experts who strive to help companies and individuals to reach their inherent potential.
The core offering of BMR Innovations is in relevant alignment with the marketplace, in addressing three major factors to help companies and individuals achieve growth-oriented sustainability. 1. Unlocking the human potential 2. Converting opportunities and mitigating the challenges & 3. Right blend with digital and data solutions.
Your debut book, Moment of Signal, explores the importance of identifying signals that can change our lives and eventually make us better leaders. What inspired you to write the book “Moment of Signal”?
The best way to excel is to find the right signal, and you have to find that signal for yourself to manifest it into what you desire. This approach has helped millions of successful people to change their lives from nowhere. Many times, you cannot connect the dots upwards. But it is possible to do so backwards. But when you keep connecting with them, you will know what has been working for you and what’s not.
Life precisely is all about the two main factors; Choice and Action. Choice one takes and Action one implements. And then to stay consistent with making the choice work. Well, this approach will not assure you success but is designed to minimise the failure chances as every choice comes with built-in unpredictable results. To comprehend, if I could make it to here from absolutely nothing, anyone else can too. That secret I thought must be shared with everyone – both who aspire and those who don’t celebrate enough, the leadership within and around.
What was the most challenging part while writing a book? What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning Moment of Signal?
The biggest challenge in writing is to write. Translate ideas into meaningful and impactful words on paper. Collating ideas that have clarity, flow and structure for readers to follow effortlessly. Researching part, as I said earlier, the first approach was to understand and decipher the challenges thrown by life. The second being what we read, study and watch helps us learn what we shouldn’t or what we should. Moment of Signal took me some four years to write, and the final product took another 2 to 3 years before hitting the bookstores.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned during the writing process of Moment of Signal? How has been the response from readers so far?
A book isn’t possible without a tremendous deal of collaborations with different expertises. It is laborious to write and to keep things together. The biggest learning, while I was penning this book, remains unlocking the secret of how to inspire people to help us grow, how one can realise their full leadership potential and help creating an ecosystem around our vision to flourish.
Book has been successful, receiving praise from great personalities. Even after two and half years, it is still finding a place in the top charts of Amazon India. Great names like Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happiness fame), Dr Kiran Bedi & Shiv Khera, along with national media ToI, The Hindu, Indian Express & Sunday Guardian and many more have praised it extensively. And the young leader from world-class names like IIMs, IITs have been looking up at this book with generous interest.
What is it all about your new book, The Roaring Lambs and who’s it for?
The Roaring Lambs: A Fable About Finding the Leader in You, published by Harper Collins, the latest book, throws light on how true leaders rise from nowhere and produce extraordinary results when challenged by circumstances.
Released globally on 15th March 2021, the book is set in the Mau Forest of East Africa and a telltale of how a herd lambs stop the carnage by lion king Kaizaar – a real dive into leaders born Vs leaders made. It has received praise from Times of India, Yahoo Finance, Zee5, Mallence Bart-Williams, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and Deepak Chopra, MD.
If you look at the jungle, the lion is one of the most influential animals, and the sheep are among the weakest. It is unimaginable to think that the sheep can muster the courage to take on the mighty lions. But when their survival is at stake, true leaders rise from nowhere and produce extraordinary results. The Roaring Lambs is not your usual ‘David vs Goliath’ story. It takes you on a unique journey of self-realisation. By the time you’ll finish reading it, you’ll be surprised that this story applies to all settings in life.
The Roaring Lambs is a truly exceptional tale of leadership. The story is set in Africa, but the lessons are universal and will help a reader identify the leader within. If you’re a fan of books like Who Moved My Cheese or The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, this book will make a deeper connection with you.
What has been significant milestones during these years of your journey as a business leader? Why?
The journey so far has been riveting, and learning so far has been fulfilling. Milestones being a handful; organisations today are looking for sources of inspiration along with value addition to their daily routines. I am able to contribute my bit at their request – something that keeps me as a challenger to strive further.
What does your typical working day look like? How do you handle pressure and stay calm all day? How do you unplug from work?
Writing is the main task I do while reading helps me write better. Reading and writing are the main wind down areas, and especially writing relieves me from the stress. The pain is only while producing work but once produced is a dopamine effect until the next piece. Pressure is part of life, and we must learn to find ways to keep it in check. Physical exercise is another wind-down activity that helps me release endorphins to give the body a refreshing appeal. Boring it may sound but to keep fit is not mainly for a physical appeal. Rather, it is to sustain the house for all the great aspirations one has in life. Without a proper house (or body as in this case), no great ambition can ever take shape. No body means no nothing, and one has to keep it adequately nurtured.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally, and can you explain why?
There have been several names from different walks of life that I’ve learnt a lot from, and I feel few are significantly influential. However, whenever I tried connecting dots of my own journey, the fabric of it is incomplete without taking strong mention of my elder brother, mentor, guru and father-like figure, Shri Muralidhar Rao.
Murali’s acts of selflessness, affection and his titanic efforts for his own kit and kin may not be a special consideration for an outsider, but his grand vision to include everyone around him towards a better world certainly is. He surprises everyone with his innate ability to make even a stranger feel at home and instantly becoming a credible option to depend on or seek guidance from.
His every word would be so very thoughtful and has depth to invoke flowing inspiration towards life, and I was only fortunate to be his full-time apprentice until his great soul departed in 2017 in a valiant battle against cancer for six long years at a young age of 49. His leadership, in fact, has excelled greatly both on personal and professional fronts during such an intensely painful battle is what makes him all the more a remarkable leader. Besides a great family and an ecosystem of good friends, Murali remains a tremendous influence for the kind of leadership I always have looked up to.
What projects or goals are you working on or leading currently?
BMR Innovations is currently working with few governments to drive investments, industries and technologies to help them create a sustainable future and also working with few world-class names to help their leadership issues and challenges. The overall goal is to empower the leadership to help make great choices.
What advice can you give to someone who wants to become an expert in their chosen field?
Your Will is Your Fate, and Your Effort is Your Success. Your efforts are your winners. Your arrangement of shredding the task into small units and rolling along the way until the big day is one way of approaching the target. The struggle is inevitable. No preparation can be sufficient when facing the unknown, and a small act of denial can lead to the end of great leadership stories. It is the leader’s mindset with a stronger will that can decide the fate and define the renewed emergence.
Know what you can control: We cannot control everything. It is important to define clearly what is in our control and what’s not in a given environment. Because there are many external elements in our environment, balanced decision making is directly linked to our ability to analyse our surroundings and move in the right direction.
Design your day: We can set up our day with exactly what we want to do and what we expect from it. Sit for a few moments in the first hour in the morning to allocate time—it will give you an enormous sense of power when you organise the day and free yourself from anything that makes you waste energy, effort or resource. Review this at the end of the day and plan better for the next.
Collaborate to face the impossible and win big: There’s nothing that can be achieved on one’s own. Forging alliances and collaborating with forces around will remain the key to win big and stay ahead of the curve. Only great leaders know the value of collaborating both inside and outside. They also know when to collaborate with lesser forces and when to with a major force. There’s no story in the world so far is without collaboration and alliance. This is one of the biggest rules to sustain.