Sidhartha Kumar Mathur on Leadership and Cultivating an Inclusive Work Space
Sidhartha Kumar Mathur is an entrepreneur and owner of Limbic Learning, which aims to provide educational resources for individuals with learning disabilities. As someone passionate about the education landscape, Sid Mathur is committed to helping students navigate the challenges of elementary and secondary school.
Alongside his educational pursuits, Sid is also a practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine and provides astrological counseling in coordination with mental health treatment to various individuals. He is currently working on a book about evolutionary astrology and archetypes.
What was the inspiration behind creating Limbic Learning?
I’ve always had a passion for changing the education system. I saw so much opportunity to change, but nothing new has even been put into practice. The classroom setting was created during wartime, and it was functional for a society of mostly factory workers and secretaries. Our world has changed and with that our understanding of how the brain functions. This antiquated way of learning isn’t necessarily the best modality for teaching. I received my Bachelor’s degree in health policy and management. I also went to medical school for a few years, but I couldn’t see myself taking that path. I wanted to help people, that has always been my driving force, but I also knew that there had to be a better way to really reach others.
What is the most interesting story that has happened since you started Limbic Learning?
I had an expectation of how things would go and nothing I thought turned out to be exactly as I had expected. There were some setbacks, but each of them taught me to look at things from a different perspective. I reached out to others and was able to learn from them. The unfamiliarity has helped me to aim higher than I thought I would originally go. Initially, I had a very particular group of people I thought I would be working with. As I moved forward, I learned I could reach so many more people by expanding. I learned to focus my time on unique challenges my clients faced. This taught me to brainstorm and bring new ideas into reality.
Is there a book that has made an impact on your leadership style? How has it helped?
But What if We Were Wrong by Chuck Klosterman. The book claims that the predictions we have made over time have always been incorrect because of the underlying assumption that certain things will stay the same. For example, back in the nineties, no one knew we would all have cell phones. We take for granted the wrong things when it comes to predicting the future. We base these assumptions on what we have today, instead of stepping outside of the box and thinking of what we could have. I try to envision solutions based on multiple perspectives. I recognize that the old ways of thinking aren’t always going to work. Trusting in only what we know means we won’t learn to go beyond that.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share an example?
It is very people-focused. Other companies outsource technologies. This organization is more personable and more open to personalizing learning systems for our clients.
What advice would you have for a young person who would like to start in this industry?
I would say be prepared to hear a lot of no’s. Embrace your uniqueness and have lots of passion for what you do. I would also remind them growth happens outside of your comfort zone. The exposure to diverse experiences kickstarts the creative process. For me, it allows me to connect seemingly unrelated things. This allows entrepreneurs to see things differently than other people and provide unique solutions.
As a business leader, can you share what steps you’ve taken to create an inclusive workforce?
I have found that the more people you network with outside the field, the more people you’ll connect with inside the field. Always seeking diverse points of view and trying to understand things better from people you may not agree with will help you to become a more open and empathetic leader.
What is the difference between your actual job and what you thought it would be?
In the beginning, I thought it would be more routine than it has turned out. I anticipated obstacles, but I didn’t anticipate where those obstacles would come from. I was planning on using software I had already had experience with, but technology advances so quickly that I’ve had to learn newer and better software. The world has shifted, and with that there is a lot more software geared toward people who encourage individualization. We have changed a lot of the ways we do things.
What three character traits do you think are most instrumental to your success?
My intellectual curiosity has been my strongest trait, I think. I am able to think on my feet. Another trait would be the desire to challenge the status quo. I am observant, yet ready and willing to try something new if I think it will produce a better outcome. The creative solution comes from seeking out new experiences. I have an insatiable curiosity and I love to think of new things or new ways of doing things. This has allowed me to come up with different breakthroughs that may not have happened. An example of this is creating software to allow for feedback from our clients. I came up with the idea while I was attending a seminar that was unrelated directly to Limbic Learning, but I somehow connected the dots that it would be beneficial in my business as well.
What are five things you wish someone had told you before you got started and why?
First, I wish someone would have told me how to get comfortable with awkwardness when trying something new. When I first started, I would try something, and if it didn’t work out right away, I would give up on it. As I moved forward, I learned had I been more willing to sit and learn from being outside that comfort zone. I could have found a solution sooner rather than later. Another thing I wish I had known is that there is so much that can be solved with fewer clients as opposed to having a larger number. You can focus more on who you have already and perfect your approach. Thirdly, I think building from the ground up is more efficient than outsourcing. I wish I had more knowledge about how much time you will spend on dealing with employees. Lastly, I wish someone had told me how to better navigate the funding for nonprofits.
What are the most common leadership mistakes you’ve seen and what do you think can be done to avoid the errors?
One of the mistakes I have seen is that the common “team-building” exercises don’t really build confidence in each other the way they are designed. Expecting the same things to motivate everyone isn’t really effective. If you take the time to really learn about your employees, you can learn what motivates them individually. There is no cookie cutter way to motivate your employees. Creating a safe and encouraging workplace will help motivate them.
In your experience, what aspect of running a company tends to be the most underestimated?
Getting everyone on the same page and in alignment with your vision can be a challenge. When pitching to a potential client, you need to show the value you will bring. Constant communication with your team will prevent issues from arising. Everyone needs to be on the same page so that we are able to show that properly.
In your opinion, what are ways business leaders can create a fantastic work culture?
I feel that a lot of employees get bored after some time. Exposure to different experiences can help keep things feeling novel. Being more passionate about doing something new that everyone will remember has really helped my employees stay engaged and on task. Things as small as having your staff meeting outside instead of in a boardroom can break up the monotony of the day and refresh everyone.
As a person of great influence, if you could start a moment that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would it be and why?
I would overhaul the entire educational system. The current system stifles creativity. Right now, we are at a bridge between the old world and the new world. Without that creativity, it hurts us as a society. We need to move beyond what doesn’t work.
If you could have a one on one conversation with anyone, who would you choose and why?
I would love to sit with someone from the Khan Academy or Ted Ed. I have always found Elon Musk fascinating, I think that would be an interesting conversation.
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