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A podcast Series With Chet Kapoor

Season 2 · Episode 12

Customers, Culture, and Connection: Season 2 Recap with Chet Kapoor

Another season of Inspired Execution is in the books! After 11 phenomenal conversations, DataStax Chairman and CEO Chet Kapoor wraps up season two with the top takeaways and lessons learned. This episode highlights the greatest moments from: Cisco, Wells Fargo, DBS Group, PayPal, Macquarie Group, Goldman Sachs, iHeartMedia, Wiley, Verizon, and Microsoft. Stay tuned for season three!

Published June 1st, 2021  |  6:14 Runtime

Episode Host

Chet Kapoor

Chet Kapoor

Chairman and CEO of DataStax

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Episode Transcript

Chet: Hello everyone. I’m Chet Kapoor, Chairman & CEO of DataStax, and you’re listening to the Season 2 Finale of the Inspired Execution Podcast.

It’s been a phenomenal season with 11 AWESOME episodes. 

I’ve had the privilege of speaking with tech leaders from many of the world’s most recognized brands including Cisco, PayPal, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, iHeart Media, and so many more.

They shared their stories that have shaped them, and advice they’d give to a younger version of themselves.

I had so much fun learning from these leaders. And I hope our listeners did, too.

With that said, here’s our Season 2 recap … 

There’s no doubt that the customer is at the heart of everything an enterprise does. 

Greg from Verizon explained the importance of listening to the customer and treating their feedback as facts. His message was simple: Your team can try to walk in the customer’s shoes, but you need to talk to them in order to deliver what they need.

Luis from Macquarie Group shared a similar perspective. Drawing from his experience in the banking industry, he believes that it's up to the business to learn the customer language. When you understand the way a customer lives, you can seamlessly integrate your products into their lives.

To deliver seamless experiences, you have to simplify everything… especially when you’re delivering a multi-product platform. Jeetu from Cisco shared his advice, which was “keep your products insanely simple and make sure that you're solving the most important problems.”

Jeetu: Don't get overly-enthusiastic as a product person on trying to get to comprehensiveness in your messaging rather get to memorability. Memorability trumps comprehensiveness every single day of the week and twice on Sunday. So whatever you build, make sure that people remember the things you talk about. You don't have to talk about every single thing that you build. Probably the top three or five is all the people can remember. So make sure that those top three or five are really different from the rest of the competition.

Chet: Charlotte from Microsoft brought up another awesome point on the product front. Her philosophy was, “if you want to build great products and services, you have to hire people that represent the diverse communities you serve.” It’s about creating meaningful experiences for everyone, not just a subset of individuals. 

Jacqui from Cisco shared a similar view. Jacqui has lived and worked all over the world and her passion for creating diverse teams comes from a deep understanding of different cultures. In our conversation, she described how companies can transform their culture by hiring people with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and experiences. 

Changing culture is hard. 

As Aref from Wiley explained, everyone has a different pace for transformation. As a leader, you have to balance patience and impatience in order to keep your team motivated while executing against your business goals. 

Piyush from DBS Bank also knows this difficult balance well. He believes that, inherently, people are capable of adapting to change. You just need to trust your team and give them the chance to experiment. In Piyush’s words, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” 

I’d take it a step further and say “Culture eats strategy for breakfast. And execution eats them both for lunch.”

You can obsess about customers, you can inspire teams, but to be successful you need to execute and produce results.

Ravi from Wells Fargo has spent his entire career perfecting the balance of portfolio execution and speed. He starts by getting his team aligned on a common purpose and re-engineering processes to focus on efficiencies. 

In our discussion, Ravi brought up the importance of time-bound decision-making. He shared that, usually, 80 or 90 percent of what you need to know is good enough to make an effective decision and ultimately execute.

For Steve from iHeartMedia, collaboration is the key to successful execution. Here’s what he had to say.

Steve: It's critical, if you're going to be a successful CIO, that you really know how the business works. You really have to go around to the other side of the table and sit beside your business partners and look at their problems. Because a lot of times they don't know they need IT help early enough for you to really be involved in the planning and make a big difference. And so you kind of have to look through their eyes at the business and at their problem set and understand how they're getting measured and what's important to them. And then map that back on the technology.

Chet: Our guests all shared their top leadership tips, the advice they would give a younger version of themselves, and their visions for the future.

Sri from PayPal explained why he believes connection is a core ingredient of great leadership.

Sri: Leadership happens in daily moments. And someday when a crisis strikes, the reason people will actually come along and want to help in that situation is because of the investments that you made over the years with them in every single interaction. So I pay a lot of attention to each interaction and making sure that I'm fully present in those. And if that means that I have to work harder at other times when I'm not in the middle of interaction, in terms of thought time or decision time and so on, that's what I do.

Chet: Hari from Goldman Sachs reflected on his lifelong commitment to mindfulness. He explained that listening to your inner voice is key in trusting your decisions and connecting with others.  

As you build your career, make sure to network early and often. Don't be afraid to take smart risks, and remember that innovation doesn’t happen without failure. Keep chipping away at your goals and watch the results compound over time. 

Awesome leaders unlock their team’s potential and pave the way for their success. They acknowledge that everyone is on their own journey. They are resilient, empathetic and inspiring. And they use data and technology to unlock greater efficiencies, to tell the right stories, to serve their customers... and ultimately to change the world.

Deeply appreciate all of our phenomenal guests, who continue to inspire me 

And thank you so much to our listeners for tuning in to the Inspired Execution podcast

If you have any feedback or suggestions, you can tweet me or email

We look forward to Season 3!