Part 2 - Interview of Prem Jain, CEO at Pensando Systems
em Jain is currently CEO at Pensando Systems. Previously at Cisco for +20 years, Prem developed and honed many key innovations that helped the company evolve, including Routing & Switching capabilities and Software Defined Networks
Most recently served as SVP / General Manager of Cisco INSBU.
Co-founder and part of the unprecedented spin-in team for Andiamo Systems, Nuova Systems (CFO) and Insieme Networks (CEO), which were acquired for an aggregate amount >$2bn
Prior to Cisco, worked at Crescendo Systems (acquired by Cisco) and David Systems
In Education, Prem Jain did B. Tech in EE from Birla Institute of Technology (BITS Pilani) one of the premium institutes of India & after that did M.S. in EECS from UC Davis
He is a great business leader, who has equally contributed to the local community and education institute.
In this interview we talked about:
What is Jainism and how can one strike a balance between work and personal life.
Disruptions in Technologies in today's time.
How these decisions are made for implement things in the future plan in the business, advice to entrepreneurs or business leaders.
3 Fundamental Principles that Prem Jain follows in day to day life.
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The transcript was generated using an Artificial Intelligence program and then scanned over; we would like to thank you in advance for understanding that there might be some inaccuracies. While reading, one might also notice that there are times were the sentences are not grammatically correct and due to changes in advertisements, the timestamps do not always align with the show. We are keeping the text as true to the interview as possible and hope that the transcript can be used for a reference in conjunction with the Podcast audio. Thank you and enjoy!
This is Silicon Valley Tech, behind the scenes a podcast hosted by Shawn Flynn and Sunil S. Ranka. Here's where we talk to the real heroes, to find out how decisions are made, and how they're executed to create the thriving businesses of tomorrow.
Team is very critical. You know, your team is the one which is really you need to make sure that there is no politics between the team you are very transparent, honest about working with each other, respecting each other in a much more stronger fashion. That's very, very important, because I've seen a lot of companies, because the original founders don't agree with each other, or they fight among themselves, or they think you should be going laughter the other thing should be going wrong. I think once you make all the facts on the table, you can make the right decision. The other thing is make sure that you understand who your customer is in detail. We think that we have developed the technologies and I know the customer is but it's very important to get a feedback from the customer, get their feedback, we always do that in our product families, we always go talk to the customers before we even build the first product to make sure that we get that feedback. And the last but not least, whatever you're doing, enjoy it, execute it.
Shawn Flynn 1:15
Welcome to Part 2 of our two part interview series Prem Jain. Now remember, Prem is that guy that has not sold one, not two, but multiple companies to Cisco and he's now the CEO and Officer of Pensando Systems. One of the most talked about startups in Silicon Valley. On today's show, we talk about what is Jainism? And how can one strike a balance between work and personal life? What is Pensando a highly talked about startups here in Silicon Valley, what do they do? What is Prem see in the future for this technology, and much more. So let's just dive into this week's episode of the Silicon Valley Tech Podcast, Enjoy!
Sunil Ranka 1:58
This is classic, learning what we can get from someone who has so accomplished, you are a business leader, you have equally contributed to the local community and education institute. I mean, this is phenomenal and this is my personal experience, I have seen you growing in terms of every aspect 20 years back. So for the listeners, or we celebrate 20th anniversary this weekend, for one of the institution, which Prem Jain contributed significantly in every aspect is called Jain Temple, that has not only changed the way of living for people, but it has fundamentally given the gift of Jainism for the generations to come. So we owe him a lot. How do you strike a balance between all your busy schedules?
Prem Jain 2:42
I think it's a very good question and a lot of people, you know, wonder how you know, you can achieve or you can do certain things, I think, to me is the most important thing, which I found works is one is the time management, you need to really know the time management is very important that, you know, you have to be very efficient, because if you want to do certain things. Second thing is, I found is that what you like to do, you always have time, it's very, very important, because if you are doing it just for sake of doing it, okay, forget it, I'm not going to do it, I'm not doing it for my heart so I think it has to come from your heart, or whatever you're doing it. Third is you need to balance between the family and everything else, which you do. So you know, I have two kids, they were growing up, and you know, you have to spend the time you have to take them to baseball game, you have to take them to tennis, you know, whatever it goes on and their tournaments, as you know very well. I mean, you know, sometimes Sacramento sometimes in LA, and you have to find time so I think is most important thing is manage your time, manage your time very wisely and also there are certain things which is you can always delegate also, you don't need to do everything yourself. And you know, once you are lagging behind, get for help. Don't assume that you can do everything yourself I will if I took a commitment, I think the most important thing is once you take a commitment, you need to fulfill the commitment, otherwise, don't take it. I mean, there are a lot of other people who can help you out and they can do it better than you then find, you know, those people who can do a better job than you and then tell them to take care of it. So it's a tough questions. And I don't have a simple answer. But the example I'm giving you, I think that's the way I have done it myself. And, you know, I never looked at it that I'm working 18 hours and I'm working 17 hours because I want to do it. And if you need to do it, there is no limit. You know, you need to make sure that you have a good health. And that's another good thing is you need to eat properly and maintain your health and don't say that I'm a workaholic. People used to call me workaholic. But, you know, it's again their definition because they think why you need to work so long and I said you know I also tell people you know you have to work smart not longer, which is also very important concept, which is I learned, but on the other hand, sometimes it takes time.
Sunil Ranka 4:54
So just for the listeners information Prem does mission peak every single day, I believe there is not has been a single day when he had an opportunity, it would make a point to do a mission peak a daily basis. Now, I've always seen you practicing Jain way of life. And when we hosted you at one of the community gathering, you said, you've been practicing that in your business as well. How does it help you to make the certain decisions?
Prem Jain 5:24
It's a very important question. One is that, you know, just like in politics and religion, they don't go together, the religious, you know, thing and the at workplace definitely don't go together because we respect all the religions. And you know, we have people from all different religions, they come to work, the way your values, my values, like I said, You know, I learned quite a bit because I come from a very religious family in India. And also, when I was growing up myself, I was wanted to make sure that I follow all the basic fundamental the principles. So there are three basic things, which is a use. And I'll give you an example how I use it, which is basically a fundamental principle, which is a lot of Jain, practice it and it's we call it Triple A is easy to remember, because Triple A is famous town in Northern California, do you want to get a car insurance, if you go to AAA, that's one of the choices. So we made it that as the acronym and make sure that people can remember that. What it means is there are three basic fundamentals, which is one is an account one, which is a practice word, but I'll translate it is a theory of multiple city what this really means and this I use all the time between me myself and the employees, say, if I'm the manager, and I'm talking to the employee, what it tells you, you need to see both sides of the story, just don't say that I am the manager, I'm telling you what you need to do, you need to put yourself into the shoes of the employee, when he's telling you something. And this is the same thing, I think the lot of examples was given when you are moving, when you are in a train which is train is moving, is the train is moving or the outside world is moving, when you are outside, you will see train is moving, when you are inside the train, you think the outside world is moving? These are very important concept, I think, which is people can use it in marketing. When you're looking at the analysis, you're looking for many different angles. So for example, if I want to find out what is the market share of certain thing is like when we were doing the UCS . So say how many servers are being sold? Well, the another way to look at it, I mean, Nick, which goes inside the servers or soul, way to look at it, how many operating systems are being sold. So you look at it from a different dimensions answer will be much more accurate, because you're looking at from a multiple point of view and this is very, very important in business. You know, I say I'm coming from this particular philosophy. But in general, I think when I tell this to a lot of people, I really like this model, because you like to look at it any decisions, which you're making many different points of views, even your family life. But a lot of people get diverted because they never looked at it, what's the what's the problem you have with your spouse, you need to understand both sides to really resolve the thing, life is full of compromise, guys, even in business is full of compromise. And you need to make the right compromise, which is good for the business good for the people good for the family. So this is the theory of Anektanwad, and it's a lot of documents written on this. And stuff like that, which I use very effectively. The second one, which I really like it and I practice it is the theory of Ahinsa, non violence. And you know, it happened to be John Lewis, who just passed away. You know, a couple of days ago, he was the champion in the US Congress for non violence. You look at it. Eulogy, which is given by Barack Obama, just a couple of days ago, talked about the Gandhian principles talked about how he really practiced it. And he basically, when the police was hitting him, he just put his head down. Very rare, you will find that kind of person. I'm really sad that we lost a champion for this principle Ahinsa. And he was really a great person, which is really never, ever give up. That's the characteristics you need to learn from him. And in startups in the entrepreneurship, that's the biggest thing you need to find out. Even if your company fail, like in my case, David Systems fail. The thing which I learned is never give up. But going back to the Ahinsa, the way I use that is that look in your language when you speak, you have to speak a very good language, particularly in businesses even more critical. And you know that we have a loose tongue. Sometimes we speak bad words, whatever it circumstances is, if somebody upsets you, it's much easier to say, never ever do that. What I found out is that if you follow this principle of non violence, non violence is not just physical violence. This is even in your thoughts and in your thinking in your language. The way you're representing yourself. I think people can say you know, you're not a violent person, because you never get angry. Obviously, I get angry too, by the way, but you know, very rare and once I get angry, I know what is what to do, I just walk out of the room and I just find a quiet time to, you know, rewind that particular moment in my life, so Ahinsa another one, which is I follow it all over the place. And even in the food. For example, when I have a employees coming to my house that I have on hand for whatever it is, I personally never ordered food, which is a minimum has to be vegetarian, and if it's vegan is even better. But I basically tell them that, look, this is a philosophy I follow. And you know, funny enough, I never saw a resistance from anybody who says, Oh, yeah, I'm not going to come because you don't serve me that particular thing or you don't serve alcohol, and stuff like that. So I think it's very important that you not only follow you demonstrate that you are doing it, and then people believe in you, if you just start it has no value. The third thing, which is very important is what I call it and this is I will tell you is two example, which are always referred to people is the word is Aparigrah, which is mean, that will translate is non attachment. And attachment is the problem for most of the problems you have. Like I'm building a new product, if I get attached to too much, even I know that the market is changing, nothing is happening in the field, I will so attach so I will never make the right decisions, I'll keep on pushing money into this, I'll keep on continuing this program because my ego is attached to it, that I decided to do this, I can't let it fail. Non attachment tells you, you detach yourself when you make a decision. And you don't make decisions it's mine. You know, when you're making a decision for your son, if you make a decision in the same way as my son, and I can tolerate anything, you detach yourself, says, look, I'm making a decision for some young guy who I want to succeed. What's the right thing to do for that is a very difficult thing to do in life. And I'll tell you, it took me a while to practice myself. Okay, to detach, you came empty handed, you're going to go empty handed. What is the attachment is all about, think from that point of view. Life is gives us a lot of opportunities, this attachment, I also tell people has to be very frugal. What does that really mean? Is that when you're spending the money, you need to spend in a very frugal way, it does not mean you don't spend the money, it means you spend the money in a smart way. And how do you do that, because you need to make sure that when you're spending the money, you assume you know, sometimes people assume it's my money, I don't even look at that, but it's my money or their money, his money doesn't matter its money. And I need to make sure that I'm not wasting it. Or I'm not, you know, attaching to a particular program, I'm doing it, I need to make sure that I spend only that much money, which is absolutely needed to make the program very successful and I'll give you example, for many, many years, I use this particular thing for doing my budget in the company and you won't believe it. Nobody ever questioned my budget, all other people used to say, you got out of your budget, how can my budget got cut into half? Because people say okay, you're, you know, making the numbers higher, you know, because you know that he's going to get fired. I told everybody that I don't prefer it, I don't do any of those things. I'm very straightforward person, and just take it and based upon this particular thing, you know that I have no attachment. If you take it away from me, and you find a better person, I don't have any attachment to this particular position, title, nothing, I don't believe in that. So these are the principles, which is very, very important to leverage in your life, daily life 24*7, and I will not do it, assuming that they come from the Jainism and stuff like that, I think these are good principles. And I learned from all the religion, you know, and take the best out of everything and then mix it together and I use it in my life.
Sunil Ranka 13:37
I think what happens is what you told us about Jainism that's such a short span of time, it would take years for people to understand. Now, there are so many questions and as Shawn said at the beginning, first few conversation is leading to more conversations. But we want to just make sure that people get to know you a little bit more better. And you talked about the changing philosophy, you talked about the changing notion within the industry. And you talked about so many different things. Were you catching the wave. Now Pensando means thinking, and you have created the most top startup in Silicon Valley, where john chambers is on the board. Can you please share with our listeners? What are you disrupting now?
Prem Jain 14:26
Very good question and John Chambers is not only on the board, he is the chairman of the board and we are very proud of him. You know, we've worked with him for so many years learned a lot you know from him, I think you always need somebody to bounce the idea. So three people in the company really bounced the idea with quite a bit as Mario, Luca and John and get their feedback and stuff like that. And you need to have a sounding board to make sure that you get their input. And you know and people have different experience different mindset and you may not agree on all the time. I think that's the beauty of working together with all of us is that but once you make a decision, we just assumed that we all agreed. That's another important aspect. Coming back to the question which you asked, what are we disrupting as a part of the Pensando. I think so we started with a finsanto, like you said, is thinking we said new way of thinking that's the way so that itself will tell you that we are looking for a transition. So let me give you some of the examples. We always looking in the beginning, when we started Pensando says what transitions are going on at this particular moment, people were moving from the enterprise to the cloud, there was one transition, which was going on, people were growing the cloud because they thought it's much easy to I don't need to invest anything, I just need whatever the CPU memory I need. So we looked at seven or eight different transitions, which is a pain. And we say how can we disrupt with our innovations, those transitions, so we could be very successful in terms of making the impact in the industry. So what we are disrupting we are disrupting cloud. One is that cloud is already 10 years old, as you know very well, if you look at a lot of cloud development, starting in your technology, on average, the life cycle is about 10 years, so you have to look for that. Okay, they're going to go through some transition. So what we are thinking is when we started with the cloud will move to the edge cloud, which is very important to think about why, because of the IoT, because of the 5g because of other places where the customer very close to the enterprise customers. And I want to build a hybrid cloud, if I'm at the edge, much easier for me to build it. So that's one thing I think, which is you're going to hear quite a bit about it, the edge cloud and because cloud is coming to the metro, say for example, that's another transition, which is basically we call it edge cloud. The second disruption is the enterprise networking, is people are learning from the cloud and saying I want to really build it so I can also build my own cloud going forward. So he said, Okay, if you need to build your own cloud, that means what technologies I'm going to use and cloud means couple of things, virtualizations or non virtualization, it doesn't really matter going forward because people have bare metal versus a virtualized container as a part of the offering for the cloud. But at the same time, I need to make sure that I have my infrastructure that can be automated by can provide services just like I get from the cloud within the enterprise itself. So that's another transition, which is happening in the industry. So we wanted to make sure that we can provide the technology in these areas, which can make these transition to really keep up with the need of the customers, which is they have. So enterprise customers is looking for transition cloud, people are looking for transition. And some of the cloud vendors which don't have this kind of technology is what we have. Amazon is the only one which has technologies because they acquired a company called Akula, a couple of years ago, and that became their internal engine for developing some technologies and innovation. And what we are doing is right now is the generation ahead of them. At the same time we are also building, you know technologies very, very quickly. I mean, every 18 months, we produce a you know, new chip, which is really remarkable for a small startup company, to be able to produce a capability of 16 nanometers, and then 7 nanometers in a span of three and a half years, which is how old we are. So I think these are the disruptions which we are looking at it. We are very successful. We are partnered here with HP we are we are partnered with IBM, we are partnered with Oracle, we partner with NetApp. These are our partners, which is already giving us you know the fruit of this transition which is occurring in this particular industries and we still have a long way to go. But we start seeing the train moving in the directions, which is what we like to see happening.
Sunil Ranka 18:52
So what I'm hearing is someone is taking on Amazon, the biggest and the cloud transition is coming in and it totally ties up with what you just talked about at the beginning of the conversation, which was disruption in bringing the distributed versus centralized. And I think when you talk about managing centrally, the distributed environment is nothing but the disruption in the cloud edge technology. This is phenomenal. Shawn, you can take the next one.
Shawn Flynn 19:20
I mean, I guess with I mean, we want to be respectful of your time. But this has just been absolutely amazing. You just mentioned things come in 10 years cycle, it always seems like you're 10 years ahead that
thinking that far in the future. Is there any advice you can give to entrepreneurs or business leaders out there? How these decisions are made for implement things in the future plan in the business and any advice you can give before closing up.
Prem Jain 19:47
Yeah, I think Shawn, this is very good questions and there is no one single recipe which really works for everybody. What I found the way of doing it is different than the other people have done it but there are certain fundamental I think which is very, very important. When you're already started or looking to start a venture, particularly, the things which is you have to look for is I think it'll what we have done it, and I'll summarize it the transition, because you never want to do a meeting unless you create so much differentiation in the nature, you know that, that you can succeed, always look for a transition. But the new thing, for example, the hotel industry is going through a transition with Airbnb. Now, with the COVID-19. We don't know what's actually happening now, how long this is going to happen, how is going to recover. So there are some variables which is going to come and hurdle you. So look for transitions, and look for the market, where the waves are going. And now this pandemic, is not going to happen, you know, I hope will never happen again. But you never know. And you can never plan for it. I don't think we plan for it. I don't think anybody else can plan for it. But you have to live with it. So you have to be very careful now to look at the changes which is occurring in the industry, changes occurring in the area where you're working on, make sure you adjust. One of the classic thing which is we don't do it is if you change already, after a dark chain, don't resist because if you resist you, you're going to fail. Because it's one of those phenomena, you know that COVID is here now he says, okay, I will insist all my employees to come and work in the office, they're not going to come, I just wrote a blog today, during them related to this remote is a reality, guys, we need to face it. So now figure it out, what's the best way to use this particular environment for your benefit and when we come out from the COVID-19 make sure that you prepare the company better than where you are, when you went in. Because you will get a lot of opportunities, there is no shortage of opportunities, opportunities will come but make sure that you manage it very well because otherwise, you know, this is a very critical time because funding is going to be very tight there are a lot of people are unemployed, you know, the market is going to take some time, you know, to recover. Some of the people who are thinking are going to make revenue in q3 q4 may have to postponed it if the revenue does not come because hospitality industry, I mean, look at it really in a very bad shape. I hope they all recover, in general don't become the victim of this particular thing. The other thing is very important is your team is very critical. You know, your team is the one which is really you need to make sure that there is no politics between the team, you are very transparent and honest about working with each other, respecting each other in a much more stronger fashion. That's very, very important, because I've seen a lot of companies, because the original founders don't agree with each other, or they fight among themselves, or they think you should be going left and the other thing should be going right. I think once you make all the facts on the table, you can make the right decision. The other thing is make sure that you understand who your customer is in detail. We think that we have developed the technologies and I know the customer is but it's very important to get a feedback from the customer, get their feedback. We always do that in our product families, we always go talk to the customers before we even build the first product to make sure that we get that feedback. And the last but not the least, whatever you're doing is enjoy it, execute it and make sure that you are not, you know taking care of your family. And taking care of your friends now is more important that makes sure that your work environment is very safe and people are really healthy.
Shawn Flynn 23:22
And Prem, thank you for taking the time today to be on Silicon Valley Tech. If anyone wants to find out more about yourself Pensando what's the best way to go about doing it?
Prem Jain 23:33
Pensando is very easy. We have a website it's called www.pensando.io. They can always reach out there as far as reaching to me, it's very easy to reach to me, I'm on LinkedIn, all they need to do is send me a message and I typically try to respond very easily or if they need to really reach out me personally, they can talk to Sunil.
Shawn Flynn 23:56
That's perfect. We'll have some Sunil's in the show notes, all his personal contact information for our audience out there. Prem I learned a ton I'm gonna listen to this mobile time. For everyone at home listening, please Like, Share, put the five star review on iTunes. It encourages us to make more great content like this. So once again Prem, thank you for your time today on Silicon Valley Tech.
Prem Jain 24:17
I really enjoyed working with both of you, Sunil as well as Shawn.
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