Professor M.S.Rao is the Father of ‘Soft Leadership’. He is an International Leadership Guru and an internationally acclaimed leadership educator, executive coach, speaker, and consultant. He has 34 years of experience and is the author of 30 books including the award-winning 21 Success Sutras for Leaders that has been ranked as one of the top 10 leadership books of the year for 2013 by San Diego University.
His award-winning book Success Tools for CEO Coaches: Be a Learner, Leader, and Ladder is the community award winner for 2014 by Small Business Trends. His blog ‘Where Knowledge is Wealth’ was named among the “Best 21st Century Leadership Blogs.” His award-winning book Smart Leadership: Lessons for Leaders was published as a Spanish language e-book. His vision is to build one million students as global leaders by 2030.
His vision program was ranked as one of the top 10 finalists in the ‘Not For Profit’ category of Leadership 500 Excellence Awards 2015. He has been honored as an upcoming International Leadership Guru by Leadership Gurus International and serves as an advisor and judge for several prestigious international organizations including Global Leadership Awards in Malaysia and Small Business Book Awards in the United States.
He also received an international award, the International Coach of the Year, 2013, from the prestigious ‘Comprehensive Coaching U, Inc.
He coined an innovative teaching tool – Meka’s Methodleadership training tool – 11E Leadership Grid; and leadership learning tool – Soft Leadership Grid, based on his new leadership style, ‘Soft Leadership,’ which is the most frequently downloaded research paper in ICT, Emerald, UK.
He successfully led a webinar on soft leadership organized by the International Leadership Association. Most of his work is available free of charge in his four blogs:
How did you get started? What inspired you to start this business?
Passion to share my knowledge and vision to build the next generation of leaders. Above all, I am passionate about making a difference in the lives of others.
How do you make money?
I have authored 30 leadership books and two of the books are among the best selling globally. I sustain myself from the royalties of my authored books.
Additionally, I get income from my leadership development training programs from my company – MSR Leadership Consultants India (I am the Founder of this company) which is the winner of Leadership 500 Excellence Awards for 2015.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It took almost five years.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I did not have any doubts as my vision was clear and straight. But the journey was painful with lots of financial challenges to establish my company. I started getting more training opportunities due to the publicity from the word of mouth from my satisfied clients and participants of my leadership development training programs.
How did you get your first customer?
I met some people in my professional network and delivered free training programs, initially. Audiences were impressed with my innovative training tools and techniques. One of the audiences belonged to a reputed company and asked me to deliver leadership development training program to their company. The feedback was good and I got more training offers subsequently through referrals.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I am active on social media with four blogs catering to four different kinds of audiences. I post articles on executive coaching, executive education and CEOs on LinkedIn. I get noticed by professionals. I get offers to provide training to their companies. I have carved a niche area in leadership development training programs – CEOs. This has made me stand out from others.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I have dedicated some of my books to students to inspire them. I had the practice of including approximately 50 students in the dedication list of each book.
I buy books and gift them to inspire. Unfortunately, some of them are found to be dishonest. Hence, I stopped dedicating books to students and spending money on them.
It is the most painful decision I have taken in my life, as there will be good students who deserve to be dedicated. I am reconsidering my decision to dedicate my books to deserving students. Now, I have become very strict in the selection of which students I include in the dedication list of my authored books.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
You must enter into your passionate areas and pursue them relentlessly. You must have patience and be persistent with optimism. Additionally, I work for satisfaction, not for recognition. For me, satisfaction is the end-product while recognition is the by-product.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I have trained, coached and mentored over 25,000 people, so far. I share my knowledge with the world without charging any money despite being in tight finances. I contribute my best without expecting anything from others. I have made a significant difference in the lives of others.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future is very bright for learning and development. As the world is changing rapidly, people must acquire learning agility. Hence, there is a bright future my company – MSR Leadership Consultants, based in India.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how would you like to be contacted?
Mentoring has been my job for many years now. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to build leaders and make a difference in their lives. I can be reached at email@example.com.
What is your lifetime goal?
My vision is to build one million students as global leaders by 2030. Presently, the Baby Boomers are retiring and there is a leadership-deficit globally as Generation Y is not trained to take up leadership roles and responsibilities. Since I belong to Generation X, I consider it an opportunity to train and groom young students as global leaders.
You were born with humble origins without much of a formal education. How did you grow as an international leadership guru?
I am a self-taught and self-made man. I joined the Indian Air Force at the age of 18 with a passion to serve my nation. I acquired many qualifications while serving in the Indian Air Force through private education.
I earned my PhD in Soft Skills in 2011. I want to pursue post doctoral fellowship (which is also known as a post doctoral course in some countries) in leadership. I have undergone lots of trials and tribulations in my life, especially financial challenges. I don’t have any guru. God is my guru!
I am a continuous learner. I have passion to acquire and share knowledge with the world. I post articles regularly on my four blogs and on social media accounts, including LinkedIn. I also upload videos. Readers and viewers appreciate my contribution globally and it ultimately has made me an international leadership guru.
What are your messages to the world?
I have two messages to the world.
First, be a continuous learner and take feedback constantly to grow in life. As long as you love and learn, you are young. The day you stop loving people and learning things, you become old.
Second, love your mother, but don’t hate another person’s mother. Love your caste, culture, community, race, ethnicity, region, religion, and nation, but don’t hate another person’s caste, culture, community, race, ethnicity, culture, region, religion, and nation. As your mother is precious to you, another person’s mother is equally precious to them.