Lonely at the top?

6 Sep

I still remember the call with the Groupon UK CEO, just as I had been named the India CEO
The call was brief. Congratulations, a few pieces of advice and an ending remark
“Call me whenever you feel like. It’s lonely at the top”

I didn’t make much of the last remark. Because I never thought it would be true for me. And it still isn’t.
I love my colleagues, speak to them everyday on things beyond work, have vacationed with them. And share a wonderful chemistry.

But what I crave for – is to hear from my customers and employees.
Honest, unfiltered feedback.

I get 100+ emails everyday from customers and reply to each of them. Mostly are to solve their problems. Very few are sharing ideas, experiences, their life. I love receiving those. Have made a few friends as well.

I get 5-10 emails a week from employees. Mostly offering terrific ideas. But in a 240+ group, it’s lonely not to get more.

I feel loneliness at a different level.
It’s driven by knowing the fact that people are perhaps intimidated to reach me because of my fancy title. That they feel it’s not worth my time. Or I won’t respond

And then I read this today

It’s beautifully summarized as follows
Too many people are afraid to write. Do it some time and see what happens. Just ask: What’s the worst thing that can happen? And: What’s the best thing?

The top is lonely. And scary.
Make it less so for me! :)

6 Responses to Lonely at the top?


Joel D

September 9th, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Nice article, Ankur. It’s not often that we see a CEO touch upon this topic. I Came across this TED talk a few months ago:


Vulnerability is an underestimated but valuable Human trait that allows for developing real connections and relationships.



September 9th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Thanks a lot for your comment Joel. This TED talk is definitely one of my fav ones


Sahil Thakur

September 15th, 2014 at 9:12 pm

I have never shied away from mailing you whenever I had something to say/share, and I will definitely continue to do so. I genuinely believe that you are extremely approachable as a boss and that’s an absolutely wonderful quality.



September 15th, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Thanks Sahil – always appreciated your candidness in thought.



March 15th, 2015 at 1:08 pm

This is a wonderful post. Not always do we see managers or people on top being so open to talk. Much worse is putting up the ‘I am so busy, I don’t have time for this’ face.
Maybe because they try to be a leader rather than getting it naturally or learning leadership genuinely. And also they don’t realise that the 2 minutes you spend with your employee can also be great mentorship.
Mentorship again should be revealing the boss’s experience and learnings rather than giving a speech.
Great post. Couldn’t stop reading your blog and reflecting on each and every line and getting inspired by it.



March 29th, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I learnt it the hard way, Soumya. But I am glad I eventually did :)

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