TheBridge profile: G. Nagesh Rao
Name: G. Nagesh Rao
Current city: Washington, DC
Current job: Director of Business Technology Solutions, U.S. Small Business Administration
Past job: Senior Policy Advisor & Chief Technologist, U.S. Small Business Administration
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? US Botanical Gardens (Pick up a coffee and bring it over there for the meeting. :-) )
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job? I learned to be more inquisitive and tenacious with my work endeavors and really hone my "BS Detection" skills. There's a lot of "talkers" out there but I am interested in meeting the "walkers", those who sit down and get the job done for the long haul, and actually produce real and substantial results. The teams I have led over the years have always focused on the fundamentals and making sure they are sound. Sure we will endeavor into the "fun and cool" realm, but none of that is possible without the fundamentals.
There's no substitute for doing the hard work and owning the failures along with the successes. Get the job done.
Q. Job advice in three words? Fulfill Heart's Content
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between innovation and regulation? The U.S. Small Business Administration helps Americans start, build, and grow businesses.
The SBA was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. My job is to help make sure we craft digital products and services that help the American public tap into the free market more competitively and effectively as they reinforce the economic backbone of our great country.
Q. What can innovators learn from policymakers? Policy makers see things from a "30,000" foot lens and understand all the ebbs and flows that make the gears move in a local, state, or country setting. Innovators can learn how policymakers seek to effect and enact positive change through smart legislation and dialogue amongst a myriad of constituents to empower a truly democratic process. Gives and gets are a part of life and nothing is ever perfect, but allowing for transparent and pro-active conversations is what allows to grow and harmonize with each other on the commonalities that we share despite the differences we may have.
Q. What can policymakers learn from innovators? How to be tenacious, agile, and creative. How to be risk-taking or more so risk-tolerant and embrace experimentation of new ideas and endeavors not "poo poo" on it just because it's different.
Q. Favorite book/podcast/long-form article you recommend? I recently read "It Worked for Me: In Life & Leadership" by General Colin Powell...it was good! I learned a lot from his stories and tidbits of advice on challenges he faced and how he persevered during the good and bad. I also recommend checking out Nick Thompson's musings in Wired Magazine...he's got an interesting perspective on how tech and innovation play within the general public.
Q. Why are you part of The Bridge community? Why do you think it's important this community exists for tech, policy and political professionals? Key word is "community"...if you want to travel fast...travel alone...if you want to travel far...travel with a group.
Q. Living person you admire? My Mom and Dad...they came from the back-country of India to chase the American Dream as immigrant-entrepreneurs. They hustled and bustled to ensure me, my 3 sisters, and my family in India had access to opportunity and make something of ourselves...contribute to the good and betterment of society.
Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? Being an active listener. Everyone has something to say...but sometimes it's the one being quiet in the corner...observing...listening...digesting information and building from it.
Q. Last time you were completely unplugged? This past May...my wife and I went to Miami and disconnected from the world. It was fantastic...we look forward to doing that again later this year when we travel to India with my parents and family.
Q. If you had to live in another city, which would it be? Recently I have been digging Montreal-Canada and Colombo-Sri Lanka...both cities are hopping and infectious with an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit.
Q. Favorite app? Marvel Contest of Champions...I am a comic book/sci-fi nerd! :-)