Mandeep Rai, The Values Compass: What 101 Countries Teach Us About Purpose, Life, and Leadership, Ep 121

Mandeep Rai’s meeting with a Sikh person in the middle of Panama during her sabbatical across Latin America led her on a journey to not only start to understand that the tropical country was a cultural melting pot, but was also a pivotal moment on her journey to write a book titled “The Values Compass”, which talks about the power she discovered from understanding the values and cultures of different countries and how we can learn from them to lead a more fulfilled life.

She’s only an international best-selling author, but also an investor, mentor, and broadcast journalist for the BBC World Service. Mandeep started her career in investment banking at JP Morgan, and has worked for the United Nations, the European Commission, and several grassroots NGOs.

I sat down with Mandeep to talk about how a short trip to Latin America served as inspiration for her international best-selling book. We also discuss the impact of value-driven businesses and how startup founders and investors can see eye to eye in terms of the values that they look for in the other.

“My secret aim was to be a Cuban in Cuba”

During her sabbatical, Mandeep traveled all over Latin America, enrolled in Spanish classes, learned to dive, and found her place in the most unexpected corner of the world. As she immersed herself in the cultures, she was met with levels of diversity and a celebration of life she had never seen anywhere else before. As she made her way along the Southern continent, she was inspired to document the variety of attributes and values that she found in each country and city. 

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about the values Mandeep found during her travels across the globe.

Building a business from a values standpoint

Mandeep worked in venture capital firms before and after completing her studies at business school, and has several years of experience working in startups and advising their founders. One of her major observations is that investors and founders find that value-driven businesses have a greater chance of success. For investors, this means a greater return on their investment in startups that align with their values.

Learn more about how to build a value-driven organization in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Inspired by Peru’s positivity

Investors have to consider several factors before betting on a company, with one of the most important variables– that can sometimes be overlooked– being attitude. Mandeep explains that she was blown away by Peru’s optimism, which was reflected in their use of language and way of thinking. She learned from Peruvians that there lies great power in being able to transmit positivity within a team, startup, or organization.

Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to hear Mandeep elaborate on her choice of values for Chile and Colombia in her book.

Mandeep Rai gathers important lessons and insights in her book about how we can lead a more fulfilled life if we focus and make decisions based on our values. This mindset starts at a personal level but can achieve amazing things if applied to the way we think about building startups, organizations, or investing. 

Outline of this episode:

  • [3:31] – About “Values Compass”
  • [5:16] – Motivation for traveling to +150 countries
  • [6:27] – Becoming a Cuban in Cuba
  • [9:45] – Pivotal moment in Panama
  • [11:10] – Value-driven businesses 
  • [14:05] – Tips on sustaining values in high growth companies
  • [16:36] – Discovering a startup founders’ values 
  • [17:45] – Asking employers about their values
  • [18:36] – Latin American values: Chile, Peru, Colombia
  • [24:15] – Advice to Mandeep’s younger self

Resources & people mentioned: 

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