PortfolioCast

PortfolioCast from The Portfolio Collective: Ep.5 with Venture Capitalist and Philanthropist Leila Rastegar Zegna

October 30, 2020 The Portfolio Collective Season 1 Episode 5
PortfolioCast
PortfolioCast from The Portfolio Collective: Ep.5 with Venture Capitalist and Philanthropist Leila Rastegar Zegna
Chapters
1:16
How to approach success intrinsically
7:06
Portfolio life over portfolio work
9:00
Work-life integration, not balance
13:11
Competitive spirit as a driving force
20:46
Intentional prioritisation
PortfolioCast
PortfolioCast from The Portfolio Collective: Ep.5 with Venture Capitalist and Philanthropist Leila Rastegar Zegna
Oct 30, 2020 Season 1 Episode 5
The Portfolio Collective

Episode 5

We interview Leila Rastegar Zegna, investor, philanthropist, and founder of Kindred Capital VC, on:

  • how to approach success intrinsically, 
  • living a portfolio life, not just working in a portfolio career,
  • work-life integration, not balance,
  • using your competitive spirit as a driving force,
  • prioritisation and balance with intention.

Leila’s career has been formed with hardworking roots whilst reaching innovative and entrepreneurial heights. Whilst balancing the management of venture funds worth millions, she is also a philanthropist who believes in portfolio life over portfolio work

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Episode 5

We interview Leila Rastegar Zegna, investor, philanthropist, and founder of Kindred Capital VC, on:

  • how to approach success intrinsically, 
  • living a portfolio life, not just working in a portfolio career,
  • work-life integration, not balance,
  • using your competitive spirit as a driving force,
  • prioritisation and balance with intention.

Leila’s career has been formed with hardworking roots whilst reaching innovative and entrepreneurial heights. Whilst balancing the management of venture funds worth millions, she is also a philanthropist who believes in portfolio life over portfolio work

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Welcome to the fifth episode of PortfolioCast. Today, were speaking with Leila Rastegar Zegna. Leilas career has been formed with hardworking roots whilst reaching innovative and entrepreneurial heights. Whilst balancing the management of venture funds worth millions, she is also a philanthropist who believes in portfolio life over portfolio work. Welcome, Leila.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Thank you. It's great to be here.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

So often, I start our PortfolioCast conversations by starting at the beginning. What I'd love to do with you, Leila is start with where you are right now, because it's a pretty exciting time. My introduction alluded to the heights that you've reached. But firstly, I'd really like to congratulate you on Kindred's second fund of 81 million to back-up even more early stage startups.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Thank you.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

It's an incredible success.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Thank you. Yeah, it's a really exciting place to be.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

So from my perspective, the success is huge. It's up there in bright, big letters. I mean, you've experienced a lot of what I can see as success. But I wonder how you build up that success? How do you approach success, when the heights are so high?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Yeah, thank you. I love this question. Because I think actually, I've learned so much along the way, that kind of talking about the the culmination of it, or the aggregation of it, where I am now versus the stepping stones along the way, I think is a really interesting way of looking at it. I would say you reach success by looking within, which actually isn't necessarily where I started, which is why I love that question so much, I can see such a big difference in the way in which I approach my life and my career today, instead of looking within it, what is much more of sort of intrinsic motivation as opposed to thes extrinsic motivation.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah,

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

So I think where I am now is this sort of amazing place in my life, where I'm able to channel sort of my value system, the things that I care about, the things that are important to me in terms of the type of work that I do, and the type of people I surround myself with, because I've founded this fund alongside a few other extraordinary people. As you guys know very well, from having started this company. Anytime you start a company/an organisation, I think the greatest privilege that you have is you get to construct the world around you that you want to live in. And that world, it's a function of the people who you choose to bring around you. In our case, it's not just our partnership, and our team at Kindred, but it's all the entrepreneurs that we choose to back and we get the privilege of backing out of the fund. But it's also the value system, it's the ethos by which you do the work. It's the systems, it's the space, literally, it's absolutely everything in your world is constructed to reflect your worldview. And that just feels like this enormous privilege. I think sort of taking that step back and thinking about my journey to this point, I think being a product of a, an immigrant family in the US, and really, I think doing a lot because it was my upbringing, my parents telling me how important hard work and dedication and commitment was and getting an A was better than getting a B and going to a great university was better than going to sort of a second tier University. And there was this hierarchy of what success actually looked like, in my household and in my life. And I think many people are raised with that type of ethos. And it obviously has so many wonderful things that come with it. But it it does have a flip side to the coin, which is oftentimes you're doing things for external praise, or the more classic definitions of success and achievement. So it took me quite a long time, probably into my mid 30s or so when I was a good 13-14 years into building my career and doing professional work, when I think I found the thing that feels much more authentically me. And I think success really stems from that at the end of the day.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah, absolutely, it's really important to take a look at those two ends of the spectrum, because quite often, we need to find that middle ground, rather than it being all about success in other people's eyes, and then working towards success in our own eyes.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Yeah, I think for a long time, and I'm not even sure this is the right structure, but we're sort of much more generally philosophically getting into education. But I think for a long time, there can be structures within education, and then within organisations that really feed into that, that kind of show you the rungs on the ladder that you need to climb. And everything is quite means to the end, as opposed to the appreciation of the thing itself in that moment in time. So, you know, you take the honours class, to get into the right university to get into the right first job to then get promoted within that job to then go to the right business school in my case. So you can actually get quite far without ever having to take a big step back and think genuinely about the things that you over index to the things that you love, which tend to be the things that you're really good at and vice versa and start building from that standpoint.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah, I mean, was there anything that triggered that reflection, that step back?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Yeah, I think there wasn't a very logical next rung on the ladder, frankly. I mean, I think I was graduating from business school and my classmates were going to all sorts of wild and wonderful places. So I was - "okay, do I want to go and work in the nonprofit sector and work up leadership ranks within that sphere? Do I want to go into sort of the big corporate world? Do I want to start a company do I want to be in technology? Do I want to be an investor?" And all of a sudden, this whole world was open. And I wasn't at the stage of my career where it was like, just get a first job, go get a great training somewhere. It was, you should now know yourself well enough to know that the next thing you do is hopefully building a track to something. And I just think there's a lot of pressure on young people today, maybe on all people today, but certainly young people to find that thing where they're going to self actualize, which is like such a perfect combination of their passions and their financial money making abilities, and to do that really early on. And I think that that pressure sometimes leads people to make a decision before they really know who they are, and what they might want to do with their lives. So portfolio careers, which, which I know is the bulk of what we're talking about today, I think it's just extraordinarily beneficial. Also, for sort of different junctures of your life where, you know, both you've gotten to know yourself much better over time. But contexts change and opportunities change and environments change. So giving yourself that ability to invent and reinvent as you go along, I think it's really powerful.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah, and that kind of reinvention is something that is so at the heart of portfolio careers, because we never really stand still for too long. And that's a trait that I see again, again, when I'm having these conversations. And when we spoke about you becoming one of our founding members, you mentioned about having, or rather how you feel about living a portfolio of life, and how that is then reflected back between your personal life and your working life. Rather than it just being a career path. Would you mind talking a little bit more about this way of living and how it's been for you?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Yeah, I think we all have so many different responsibilities in our lives, but also so many different passions. Like, again, going back to this education example, there was a time when the day looked like, you know, morning doing maths, and science and English and literature and language and art, and you had this full spectrum, and sports and everything in between. And then as we get older, as traditionally, we've gotten just narrower and narrower in terms of the types of things that we're unable to do. And some of that is building depth and expertise in a single area. And so you have to rinse, repeat, and the law of 10,000 hours, but I feel that we've really lost somewhere along the way, that real breadth to our characters, our personalities. And, frankly, I think what fuels us to be great at those things that we do dedicate a lot more time to. So I found that I went through a period of great expansion as everyone did when they were very young to becoming more narrowly focused on a given category. And then little by little, I think the last certainly five years, if not 10 years, starting to like bolt on more things, whether that's new projects outside of work, or whether that's in my my home life, my personal life, which I was alluding to, in that first conversation, where we have three young startups at home, we have, we have three young kids. And you know, we're building a family ourselves, we're building a new network for ourselves in London, where we moved five years ago. So that sort of friendships and relationships. And what I've realised is that in adding all those things into my life, instead of having less time for any one thing, I feel like my world has expanded hugely. And actually, I feel that they each make me so much better at the other thing that I'm doing. Each of them gives me energy in a different way. And therefore, you get this lovely, non zero sum phenomenon where you somehow get more energy, more capacity, more time, from doing things that are genuinely interesting to you in different ways.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah, I mean, that's, that's an incredible way of describing it. Because there is definitely there's all these many, many pulls on your time. How do you approach that kind of balance? And how do you approach getting time for just you in all the things that you do? Is that possible, especially with being a parent as well?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

So I'm particularly bad at that last one, so I won't, I won't pretend to be good. I actually think that Coronavirus and the lockdown and everything has been particularly challenging for people on that front because somehow the separation for me of getting up putting on sort of professional work clothes, leaving the house going to an office and then coming back, there was more of a separation between one and the other. And also there was just more commute time / downtime in between versus if I can hear my family in the other room, when you and I get off of a podcast call I'm gonna shut my computer and immediately go there because there's such a scarcity of time for anything that you love. You just try and pack the day as full as you can. So it's taken me six months or so to settle into something that looks like it's going to be a new, at least hybrid, way of working for quite a long time to come.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah,

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

And really understand the importance, as you say, have some time just for you. And so I'm trying to build those ends little by little, but I think it comes from this voracious appetite to be with the people I love and do the things that I love to do. So on that front, I can't claim that I do a great job. But I think the way in which I think about balance is much more work/life integration, as opposed to work/life balance, which I think has come in a very physical manifestation over lockdown. And many people that you talk to, I think, have seen a really enormous silver lining to that, that sort of time spent in one another's company, and all those little moments. But I think I've probably never had balance in my life, so to speak, and balance, I think, inherently talks about some perfect equilibrium, which I think is an impossible standard. But also, I think, as you think about balance, well, there's this troubling thing over here, it needs to be balanced by something that is positive, or you have a positive and negative and they tend to be kind of counterweights to each other. And yeah, that's not, I guess how I see or aspire to live my life. And I think it's figuring out a way of, as I said, getting energy from both things.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah,

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

One of my partners in the firm has a word that he uses, I reference a lot very much resonates with me, which is a word around things being "generative". So if I come into a meeting with you, and we both bring a lot of our brain power, and our physical energy, mental energy, emotional energy, we can leave it all in the room and give it everything that we have. Oftentimes, you'll leave that room and you'll actually have more energy than when you came in. Like you've just created something, you've generated something with that other person. And then other times you'll go in, and it can be a really basic meeting, you're not actually bringing a huge amount of yourself and you can leave just feel like completely drained and depleted.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

So I think figuring out for yourself, what is generative? What are those things that actually generate energy for you, and then using those sort of reserves, if you will be able to do all those other things that are required of you as an individual. That's the way I try and think about this balance question that you asked.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

That's - yeah, that's a really good way of describing it, especially the word generative, I think that's yeah, that's definitely going to come back for me, I think that...

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

I've stolen that from him. Now, I'm making it my own,

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

It's definitely going to come into my vocabulary from now on. So that's a good way of looking at it. You mentioned that about your voracious appetite for new things for new work for, for creating. And certainly, your successes, as we've already discussed, are very much based on a foundation of a lot of hard work, you've obviously applied yourself to do the hard work and really create something whether that was studying at Yale, or then your MBA at Harvard, and all the businesses that you formed and supported along the way. And we touched briefly on your family being a touchstone on that, and certainly a driving force. But I wondered if you wanted to talk a bit more about how that mindset was created, and how it's taken you from A to B and forwards?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Yeah, so one of my companies that I helped start with a genetics company, a genomics company, and I'm a big believer in, in nature, as well as nurture, I think there are things that are hard coded into your DNA. It's quite interesting to watch the childhood videos of myself and my older sister, who's she's three and a half years older than me. And there's a gymnastics class that we're in when I'm three, and she's six. And this other kid in the class does a somersault and you see my sister being like, "That's awesome", like, "Well done, you can do a somersault", and then it pans over to me, and I'm like, "Oh, she thinks she could do a somersault. Like I'll show you a somersault." You see my little three year old self trying to compete with these six year olds, and we're just wired differently.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah,

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

I think I always had a bit of that competitive spirit in me very much around competition with myself and trying to always strive to be better and continuous improvement. And I think that was fueled by the fact that I grew up with my father from the age of 11. And my sister grew up with my mum. And she went back to university to get her graduate degree. So we were we were separated. My father is quite a hard driving competitive, A is better than B kind of guy. So I think that also really shaped a lot of my early years of being really proud to do well and show him that I had done well. And then I think there's now as I was talking about the first question, there's a great internal intrinsic motivation and much more authenticity, I think in myself to why I care about doing well and the things that I'm doing now and frankly, across everything that I do, I feel like it's it's really about others as opposed to being about me. And that feels like a much better place. It feels like I'm doing things for reasons that are really important to me as opposed to somehow trying to get the award and then show it off to someone else. So it's been a real journey to that. But I think a lot of it is nature and then a good dose of nurture in there as well.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah, absolutely. I definitely like that theory. Nature really does drive you I have a very similar reaction to how I've been brought up with my Dad, also the examples that we were given growing up? Yeah, that's very hard working will work long hours. And it's like one of those conversations that you constantly hear parroted back to you, my grandparents saying, you're very much like a father.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Yeah, of course. And then I think that makes you sort of hear that categorization early on, and then you make it true. It's like a self fulfilling prophecy. And I think about it a lot now as a mum, because I think both my parents were these extraordinary individuals, great parents really loving, really nurturing. And so when I came home with a straight A report card, my father was really proud of me. And there's nothing wrong with that. And that he, of course he was doing - he was proud. And that's great. But I think tacitly or implicitly, children are quite susceptible to thinking that their love, or their admiration, in some sense is linked to the achievement as opposed to who you actually are.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

And so I think about that a lot. Now, when my children do things that I'm really proud of them for doing. Do you congratulate the action? Do you congratulate the effort? Do you just say, Great, let's laugh about good things and bad things? Like I think there's much more awareness in terms of those subtle signs and signals that you give to your kids over time, but it certainly played a role in my life growing up.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah, definitely. And that self awareness, levels of self awareness, has definitely developed over generations. I see portfolio careers as an obvious choice for investors to get involved with, especially now, I've learned more about you and from you, what would you recommend to fellow investors considering a change, looking at whether they should be continuing in a normal nine to five? If that's even possible? There's lots of changing working environments at the moment, or just considering moving away from just a singular role and maybe exploring other avenues? What kind of advice would you, would you give them when they're looking at it thinking "What next?"

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Yeah, I think it's particularly suited, actually, to investors and in investment roles. And part of that is, I'm thinking about investing in a company, my hope is that that founder, that CEO, that team knows more about that company, that market insight, the dynamics that are very specific to what they're operating in 24/7, than I will, but what I will know are things that they can't see if they are in that narrow, very deep vein of being constantly focused around one thing, one problem they're trying to solve. And so I think part of the benefit of being an investor and having this meta level view across many different businesses, in many different segments, with many different customer bases and business models, is actually there's far more connectivity to those dots than may initially meet the eye. And so I think breakthroughs in thought or opening up a window of opportunity for a founder is very much predicated on you being able to see things that they by definition don't. And in my experience, that's been a portfolio literally is the word that we use to talk about our own investment portfolio. So looking at adjacencies, or commonalities across businesses that may seem very disparate or very separate. But also in my personal life I was having this conversation with, we use an executive coach at Kindred at our venture fund. So he works with us as individual Investment Partners, but also on the team dynamic. And he's been an extraordinary asset to us. I was having a conversation with him a couple of weeks ago. And he said, asking me about places in my life that I felt are very generative for me, and places where I felt like I had something really to add, where I was quite confident in my abilities. And I spoke about being a mother. And I said, I've only been doing it for five years, our eldest child has special needs. And I am by no means an expert in disabilities or special needs. I haven't read the psychology books around parenting. I'm not a psychologist, PhD by training. But I feel very confident in my sort of intuition and abilities as a mum. And if there was another parent who wanted to speak to me about some issue they were struggling with, or they were trying to work through, I would be so excited to take that call and give them at least some of what I've learned along the way. And we were trying to think about that mindset on how to take that mindset into the investment realm that I work in professionally, where you're not the expert in the room, again, on that domain or on that technology, or you shouldn't be otherwise you probably shouldn't be investing in that CEO. But actually there are some areas where you have - you over-index, you've got great intuition, you've got great gut or judgement, you really back your understanding of something and you can bring those things to bear. So again, throughout my life, personal/professional, I feel like there are these experiences that you can bring to bear as you think about supporting folks professionally from an investment perspective.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah, no, that's really sound advice and it seems to be a stream for more and more investors. Or more to the point, they're realising that this is the kind of life that they have actually been living for a while and put it into a framework a little bit, or you put it into perspective. And then you can think, Oh, actually, what else could I do? I don't necessarily just have to be an investor, I could be going and using my skills elsewhere. Not only are you managing 100 million+ in a VC fund for Kindred capital, as a main role, you also have your side hustles. In being a board member for many companies, as well as your private angel investments, and your support of charities, too. And we talked about balance a little bit before, but I guess how do you juggle your priorities within your portfolio life? How do you determine what time you're going to give to each element you know throughout your week?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

I do think you need to be really intentional about this stuff. Because otherwise, you know, a lot of people are run by their inboxes, for example, and then you're letting someone else essentially dictate or prioritise what you do, because the thing that's at the top of your inbox is the thing that you lay your attention to. So the kind of urgent and important matrix and thinking about the intentionality behind how you spend your time. So I think there's a few different ways in which I do this. One of which is my husband. And I actually, every year go through a set of goal setting really, almost like a OKR process. But ourselves as individuals, which is both has a mix of personal and professional in it. So we'll create a number of the goals that are most important to us to do in that given year. And we'd have a lovely dinner and talk about it together and critique each other's and get to a final form. And then we have a mid-year check in and an end of year review, which we sounds quite formulaic, but is always really fun, and always includes quite a bit of alcohol. And I think what's really helpful about that is you I think you have to find these punctuation points, essentially, because life is very busy and very fast moving. And so you can pull your head up, and three months have gone by and, again, you've been dictated by the here and now and the things that are competing for your time as opposed to the intentionality of how you want to spend it. And so putting those punctuation points where you have to take a big step back, think about what you want to achieve over a given period of time. And don't narrow it to something that's too short, where you can't actually make meaningful progress. But give yourself six months or 12 months. And then someone who knows you very well, who cares for you who can help keep you honest, essentially making sure that you're sort of having those check ins with with that person as well. I think the other thing that we learned that we've made this change a few years ago, is kind of as we were talking about that concept of being generative, if both of us are going to be full time working parents really involved in the world involved in a number of different initiatives that we care about, the quantity of time that we can spend, for example, with our kids, or as a family unit is always going to have some ceiling on it.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

And I think genuinely, I am a better mother and wife and daughter and sister and friend and all the rest of it because of all the amazing stimulus that I get in my, in my job in my working portfolio. And so because that quantity of time is capped to an extent, I think we've just put all our effort and focus into making it as high quality as possible when we're together. So for us, I think that's worked really well of saying you want to do lots of different things, you need to be able to do them in an intense enough way where you get value, even if the time that you're able to allocate them is still relatively constricted.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah, I'm really intrigued by this idea of how you build up that energy from one another. And yeah, intensity doesn't have to be a negative thing. Intensity, can be a really, as you say, generative thing.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

For me it is I think it's different for different people, do your Myers Briggs personality test, see where you get your energy from? But for me, really, it's about people about other human beings and being able to interact with them and learn from them and learn with them is something that just gives me enormous energy.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

And is that something that you also have reflected back to you in your partnership with your husband?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Completely. I mean, I think personality wise, we're very different actually, in the sense that we have different profiles, we have different MBTI profiles. But actually, what I find is that this sort of fundamental value system is very much the same. And we both I think, just have a real passion for learning - being continuous, lifelong learners, for being really curious. We're both involved in very different things. And so it's really fun to be able to bring that into the relationship and learn from each other and what we're doing. You know, I was listening actually to, there's a famous marriage counsellor, and Esther Perel, who's done a whole bunch of podcasts. And she's this amazing individual. And she gave a talk in London a year or two ago, and I was listening to what she was saying. And she essentially was talking about how there's so many different types of relationships that can work, obviously, and for some of them, it's this, I own this realm, and you own that realm and partner together and that's the way in which we have a productive relationship and for others, everything very intermingled. And I think you want to get that match right, right? You want to sort of be cognizant that you want to be in one or the other category, I think both of us are eating off of each other's plates all the time in every aspect of our lives type of thing. And that works for us. And it's great to have a partner like that.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah, I mean, you do have very different outlooks or different areas that you work in. But do you often collaborate? And would you have any advice for people who are hearing more and more now, especially with people who are facing redundancy, it's often happening for both of them? And then they think about, okay, how can we work together? How can we collaborate together? And that could be excellent, or it can be a big strain on the relationship?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Oh, definitely.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Do you have any advice?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Definitely, it's really funny, because when we were leaving, both of us are running businesses in San Francisco. And when we left to move over to London, we were figuring out what to do next. And my husband has a very creative marketing type of brain and I have a much more analytical mathematics type of brain. And so it just seemed on paper, like it would be this perfect match. And we were like, let's brainstorm some ideas. And let's see if maybe we build a business together. And so we got out, there's a whiteboard, and there was a pen. And I think like 10 minutes later, we were almost using that pen to sort of sign the divorce paperwork type of thing, like it was just, it just clearly wasn't going to work for the two of us. Interestingly, though, it's worked incredibly well in another context. So we collaborate on a philanthropic initiative that we have around Rare Disease Research. And that is, that's just been an extraordinary way of bringing very differential skill sets to the table. I think what what's interesting about one versus the other is for one of them, we are collaborating on a project where it's owned and operated by someone else. And we are inputs, and we're fueling that programme in different ways.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah,

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Versus it being something that is ours, where there is one CEO or one decision maker, and for us, I think it's just worked a lot better to be in the input collaboration mode together, as opposed to there being one decision maker. And I suppose the other thing, which isn't maybe implicit in what I'm saying, but I think really understanding and knowing where your great strengths are, but your strengths tend to be the areas that you're really good at, you really enjoy. And I think having the confidence in that and leaning into that, but also letting the other person express where they have that, more clear separation of roles, responsibilities and capabilities, probably will lead to a much, much better outcome.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Absolutely, you've given some amazing pieces of advice. So thank you. And I wonder what's the biggest lesson you've learned or had to learn within your time or as a portfolio professional that you would impart on anybody who is working their way up? Or along, perhaps, this career path? What kind of stumbles? Have you had that you thought? "Actually, if I was to do that, again, I would avoid that."

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Yeah, I think that the best decisions that I've made, and conversely, the worst decisions that I've made, have all come down to people, I tend to be quite analytical and in my head, and actually, this coach that I was telling you about said to me the other day said, I think you treat your body is the way to get your head around, it's like you're not actually thinking about your body at all, or what it's telling you, it's just like this vehicle to get the sort of cerebral part of you around. And I think sometimes you can analyse an opportunity, a lot. And you can say, well, gosh, this is a really exciting market or space, or look at the amount of money that these guys have raised or look at who else is interested. And actually, the reality is, I think, any company any opportunity is just a set of human individuals that are working towards a common goal. And all we know is that the future is uncertain. That is the only certainty that has been absolutely validated by this period of unprecedented economic and environmental times. And so I think not anchoring to that at all and saying, hopefully, the only constant here will be the individual humans who are coming around a project, an idea, a company, an organisation, and so tethering yourself to people who you respect deeply, who you think you have a lot to learn from and with, who share the same fundamental value system as you do. I think those are the most important things. And if you get that right, then those people that kind of human capital is going to go off and do extraordinary things. And so even if that one first project doesn't work out, the next one, or the fifth one down the line, to the famous Steve Jobs, quote about not being able to connect the dots looking forward. But looking back, you absolutely can.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah,

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

I think, you know, I wouldn't be where I am today, had it not been for a few conversations with a few extraordinary individuals that I met along the way without a preconception of, I'm doing this to get to there. They just have to be quite open, I think, to the serendipity and listen to your gut when you meet someone extraordinary.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Has that been anyone along the way that really stands out for you as a role model, somebody that you have come back to time and time again, whether that's personally or from afar? That has really inspired that kind of outlook?

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, many people actually, I have someone who I consider as my mentor, I think he would blush a lot if he knew that I was calling him that. And I don't think he would consider himself that, which in part is why I've gotten so much value because it's been incredibly organic, what sort of a formal relationship.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Yeah,

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

But it's someone who I just respect hugely both personally and professionally. And it's an individual who had just astronomical success in Silicon Valley, quite reasonably early on in his life. He was employee number five at Google, and went on to be their Chief Business Officer and just an extraordinary career. But really, instead of getting any ego and hubris from that, actually is probably the most humble person I've ever spoken to, thinks back to actually the trade offs, the sacrifices that he had to make in order to build that career. And one of which was he and his wife at the time separated, they had two young kids, he didn't get to see them as often as he would have liked to. And he's trying to rectify a lot of that in the life that he leads now, which is still incredibly high performance. He was the executive chairman of Twitter for a number of years, has a number of board seats in truly game changing global organisations, but is a family man in a way in which I've rarely seen with anyone else I've come across, has all of his values in the right place, talking more about his failures than his achievements, and is just someone who I aspire hugely to in terms of how he's lived his life. So certainly him and then I would say, honestly, the people in my partnership that I get to work with every day. And I do think that was the culmination of many, many years of saying, Well, if I get to construct the reality in which I live in every single day, then these are the people that I want to pinch myself that I get to work with and for, and I have that which is amazing.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Oh, that's brilliant. I think that is a perfect place to wrap up. It has been truly a pleasure to talk to you. I have learnt so much in the last little bit and I wish you every luck with everything that Kindred is going to do and you're going to do personally.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

Thank you so much, Lexi. It was great fun.

Lexi Radcliffe-Hart:

Fantastic. Thanks very much.

Leila Rastegar Zegna:

All right. Take care. Bye.

How to approach success intrinsically
Portfolio life over portfolio work
Work-life integration, not balance
Competitive spirit as a driving force
Intentional prioritisation