Heart and Soul with The Junto Institute

Junto group

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, The Junto Institute celebrated Junto Night, the graduation of its Junto II cohort (16 founders and leaders from 5 companies), by presenting them with the unique Leather Apron. Congratulations to Junto founder Raman Chadha on the success of his "B -School for Founding Teams." Catapult is proud to have The Junto Institute as a partner and a supporter of our community. Raman shared his inspiring opening remarks on LinkedIn Pulse(highlights of the speech reprinted here with permission):

Four years ago, heart and soul weren’t on our mind.

Four years ago, we simply believed there was a better way for entrepreneurs to accelerate their learning curve. We believed there was a better way for them to become smarter. We believed there was a better way to reduce failure rates and increase success rates.

At the time, those were simply ideas, thoughts, and beliefs which, as we all know, don’t get you anywhere. So our team put pen to paper and came up with this: a brainstorm of desired outcomes for whatever that better way was.

Junto brainstorm

That was four years ago - a vision for something we knew could be built with heart and soul, and lots of hard work. We also knew that the biggest challenge would be trying to figure out how to actually achieve those outcomes.

Would it be through building an amazing team of people who believed what we did? Would it be through partnerships with other people who could help make it happen? Would it be through tapping into the deep well of wisdom that exists in our broader business community?

The answer to all those questions was "yes".

Like most entrepreneurs, I had confidence that all this could happen. I believed that it would happen. And I set my mind on trying to make it happen. But I couldn’t imagine it would happen so soon.

At the time, we didn’t know that four years later, we’d have a vibrant and dedicated community - our Tribe - that people take pride in and ask to join.

At the time, we expected that mentors and instructors would invest in our companies but didn’t expect that the enrolled entrepreneurs would actually invest in each other!

At the time, we didn’t know that so many accomplished entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives would actually be mentors for ten months…and do it the following year...and the following year.

At the time, we had no idea that seasoned professionals would teach in a non-traditional way for a place that didn’t yet have an identity or history, and then be so proud to add that place to their LinkedIn profile.

And at the time, we had no clue that grown men and women could actually improve their emotional intelligence in a short time frame, making them models of entrepreneurial leadership.

So why did all this happen? I’ll go back to heart and soul.

I believe Junto is tapping into something that is core to our humanity. We live in a time when profit at all costs is no longer cool. Instead, heart and soul are being acknowledged in business.

Big companies are integrating consciousness and mindfulness practices into their workplaces. The Millennial generation has built an identity for itself because they want purpose and meaning in their work. And social entrepreneurship - doing good while making money - is finally taking root.

But surprisingly, there seems to be an increasing lack of heart and soul in the startup ecosystem. Today, amidst a global explosion in the innovation economy, from which thousands of startups are emerging seemingly every day, more and more attention is being drawn to arrogant startup syndrome, the victims of which are known by the simple acronym of the affliction.

True to form, many of the sufferers of this syndrome are on a certain coast but we’re now seeing it in every city and town, including our own. And for those of us who are longtime Chicagoans, it’s troubling.

And that’s why I believe this is working.

You see, humanity turns away from those who lack heart and soul and is attracted to those who have it. It’s why we have little trouble getting people like this, and why virtually all return the following year. It’s why every graduate from Junto I and Junto II asked us what comes after the program, wanting more. It’s why grown men are saying “I love you” to peers who were mere strangers months earlier.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because the heartwarming outcomes only go so far. None of this would matter if it weren’t for the more practical business outcomes.

We know it’s early, and perhaps a bit too soon to dwell on only two years of data. But because we get asked about it, we’ll share it: Junto companies are growing. And these numbers are more impressive given that most Junto companies aren’t pure startups, but rather companies that have over $1 million in revenue when they start and at least three years of history.

And they’re not only seeing moderate growth, but in some cases double or nearly triple revenue growth.

To every one of the committed instructors, mentors, and partners: we thank you. You have already made an enormous difference, and you will continue to do so, more than you even know.

You have helped build something that we couldn’t even describe four years ago: should it be an accelerator, an incubator, a venture fund, a co-working space, a startup foundry? Although we knew the why and we knew the how, we frankly had no idea what it was. In fact, most of us today still can’t describe exactly what Junto is!

But, as you can imagine, we do have a company line.

The Junto Institute is B-school for leadership teams of fast-growing companies with 5-50 employees. These teams consist of founders who admit that “what got us here won’t get us there” and want to accelerate their learning curve so they can effectively scale their companies.

But those lines are like a real estate listing for a house that’s for sale...something that doesn't truly have heart and soul.

In reality, Junto is a place - a community - that these founders can rely on. Junto is a place to be mentored by and learn from those who have been there and done that. Junto is a place to find reliable and trusted investors. Junto is a place to become smarter and better. And perhaps most importantly, Junto is a place where such founders become better leaders and better human beings.

Those are lines that you won’t hear that describe a house. No, those are things that you hear to describe a home, a place that has heart and soul. And the only way to truly understand what a home is like is to meet those who occupy it.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to meet them.