Have you thought of incorporating design thinking in your organizational leadership? Design thinking is a methodology for creative problem-solving and solutions development, and it is led by insights you gain from real customers. Design thinking is logical, and doing it well forces you to change your mindset and eventually your culture.

Coonoor Behal, the founder, and CEO of Mindhatch talks about the magic of design thinking and the power of quitting unproductive activities by pivoting to new ones. She explains how design thinking allows for connection and courage building in teams, plus what inspired her to write her book, I Quit.

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  1. How organizational improv is applied to develop skills that lead to team connection.
  2. Design thinking – the creative problem-solving methodology and how it can be successfully implemented.
  3. How to align your choices with your values, whether you choose to quit or not to quit.
  4. Coonoor’s fun facts – pet peeves and self-care practices.
“What becomes abundantly clear to leaders is: By doing this work, we are changing our culture. And in order to do this work, we have to change our culture.”


[3:59] Coonoor’s career journey, pivots, and the inspiration to start her business.

[7:17] How she navigated her multidisciplinary career approach.

[11:55] How Mindhatch applies methodologies such as organizational improv and facilitation work.

[16:12] The design thinking methodology and the leadership changes it requires.

[23:45] Coonoor’s entry into the LATTOYG Playbook: How she was inspired by real everyday people who quit to write her book, I Quit.

[28:38] Signature Segment: Coonoor’s LATTOYG Tactic of Choice

[30:06] Coonoor on her leadership style and obstacles as a female founder.

[33:32] Signature Segment: Full Disclosure

[40:38] Signature Segment: Karan’s Take


Coonoor Behal is the Founder & CEO of Mindhatch, a consultancy that helps organizations create the conditions for innovation and creativity to thrive. Through Mindhatch, Coonoor delivers her unique mix of expertise in Design Thinking, Organizational Improv™, Innovation Facilitation, and Diversity & Inclusion.

Coonoor has helped Deloitte create, prototype, and launch an in-house design thinking consulting arm; be a part of a “stealth” team of design strategists and researchers guiding numerous teams at Starbucks; trained more than 100 people at Bethpage Federal Credit Union in design thinking; helped the Department of State and the Pentagon use improv to be more creative and collaborative thinkers, and has helped the Inter-American Development Bank’s Gender & Diversity Division generate and come to a consensus on their strategic vision.

Coonoor is also the author of I Quit! The Life-Affirming Joy of Giving Up, which will be published by New Degree Press in April 2021. The book seeks to help readers rethink and reframe quitting by sharing stories from everyday people who summoned the courage to quit things in their lives.

Coonoor has been an improv comedy performer for over 10 years, is an avid fan of professional tennis, and dotes on Nikka, her Bernese Mountain Dog.





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EPISODE 15 | Design Thinking Magic and Giving Up to Get Ahead with Coonoor Behal
Coonoor Behal  00:00

I think what it does for people, myself included, is it makes you adaptable and teachable and you can connect dots and you can kind of slot into different things.


Voiceover  00:15

Welcome to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.


Karan Rhodes  00:52

Hey there, superstars! This is Karan and welcome to today’s episode! You know, one of the most powerful innovative tools used in the world of business is design thinking. Now, large number of companies and industries have used the process which is also frequently called design sprints to quickly problem-solve issues or determine the best course of action based on the desires of their target audience or their end user. Now, I am extremely passionate about design thinking and frequently worked with corporations to facilitate their design sprints. And my guest today shares this same passion with me but what’s really cool is that she adds a unique twist to it. Coonoor Behal is the founder and CEO of Mindhatch which is a consultancy that helps organizations create the conditions for innovation and creativity to thrive. Through Mindhatch, Coonoor delivers a unique mix of expertise in design thinking, organizational improv, innovation facilitation, and diversity and inclusion. That’s a mouthful, right? We also talked today on the episode about the learning she has gained from her new book called “I Quit”, where she shares stories about the value of quitting what’s not working and pivoting to more promising opportunities. So be sure to listen to her addition to our leadership execution playbook and my closing segment called “Karan’s Take” where I share a tip on how to use insights from today’s episode to further sharpen your leadership acumen. And now, enjoy the show. Hi there, everyone! Welcome to today’s episode! This is Karan and I am just tickled pink to have on today’s episode, a great colleague of mine, Coonoor Behal, who is the founder of Mindhatch which is a consultancy that really helps organizations create the conditions for innovation and creativity to thrive, and they are just super dynamic as you will soon learn. So, welcome to the podcast, Coonoor.


Coonoor Behal  03:07

Hi, thank you so much! I’m so happy we’re finally doing this after I had to reschedule more times than I care to admit. I’m really glad that time is here. The time is nice. Yeah.


Karan Rhodes  03:20

No worries at all! We both have very busy schedules but this is the ideal time; this was the time that was meant to be. So, are you ready to give us a sneak peek into your own leadership playbook?


Coonoor Behal  03:32

Yes, yeah. If that… if that is what is required, I will provide. Yeah, yeah.


Karan Rhodes  03:38

I know you’re gonna have a lot to share so, no worries. But to start it off, for as much as you feel comfortable, we’d love to hear a little bit about your personal background. If you can just share maybe, you know, where you grew up, a little bit about your life growing up and a bit about your personal journey thus far.


Coonoor Behal  03:59

Sure, yeah! Oh my god, well stop me whenever you’re gonna stop me. But, uhm, sometimes I feel like I have a lot of life left to live and other times I feel like I’ve already lived like 17 lives. So… So, I grew up in rural Ohio, kid of immigrants, Indian immigrants, although my father actually was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. And, you know, I obviously grew up traveling a lot both to visit family in Africa and in India. But also, this traveling a lot internationally, I think for a long time I’ve been to more countries than I had US states. That might still be true; I should do a count. Yeah, and I escaped rural Ohio and went to college in New York City and it was like a fish to water. I loved it so much. My first kind of career aspirations were to work in the entertainment industry on the production side. So, kind of like the business side of entertainment was my interest. And then, at the end of college after spending all four years of college kind of dedicating my internships, if not my academics, but my internships to that field, I decided, “No, I don’t want to do that.” So I’m… so what I did do is go to like my kind of second passion at the time which was politics. And I went and got a Master’s Degree in International Relations and that led me into kind of my second career attempt as an NGO worker. I worked for an international nonprofit development organization for several years and it’s a whole book about why I left that industry but I did, and I went into the private sector and I was an innovation and strategy consultant at Deloitte Consulting for a few years. And then from there, I was very much inspired by my time there, but what that inspiration did was encouraged me to leave and found my own company which is Mindhatch.


Karan Rhodes  06:09

Wow, that is absolutely amazing! And we’re going to talk about Mindhatch in just a second, but just wanted to drill down on a few things. So first of all, probably outside of the podcast, we’re going to need to compare notes because I think I’ve visited over 35 countries; I consider myself a citizen of the world. So, I would love to share travel experiences and cultural experiences at some point.


Coonoor Behal  06:33



Karan Rhodes  06:33

And the other thing I’d love to drill in on a little bit is, you know, it’s more popular now for individuals to transition and try different industries and companies and segments, and I’m just curious for you. How was it transitioning your career to a totally different industry so many times? Were there challenges? Did you gain just additional insights and perspectives? I think our listeners would love to, you know, hear about multiple disciplinary focuses on their careers.


Coonoor Behal  07:17

Yeah, I think I can definitely share, like parts that were hard because certainly there were… you know, it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. But then, parts that made it easy or… or parts that made it feel like no brainers.


Karan Rhodes  07:31

Sure, (unintelligible).


Coonoor Behal  07:31

You know, I think on the no brainer side of things, like what made the decision to change easy, was just having the facts laid bare before me about where I was, and kind of really learning firsthand that, “Oh, this is not a good match for my values, you know, and or my skills, and or what I hope my career to be here is not possible.” And so I think it was really just, that’s what made kind of the decision to switch like easy was because I had new information that I could not have possibly had before and then I just chose to act on that new information, right, and kind of really just iterate, you know, and be experimental, I think. I think even though I was always pretty, unfortunately, career-minded from a young age, like even in high school and college, I think like, I never… I never thought to myself ever that like the science of success is sticking at one place forever. You know, even if I might have thought I would do that before going into something, you know, it never felt like a failure from that measurement because that was never my measurement, you know, for a career.


Karan Rhodes  08:50

I love that.


Coonoor Behal  08:51

Yeah, and then, the things that made it hard were obviously, you know, I think it’s more acceptable now, which I’m so grateful for about the time, you know, you’re looked at pretty askance of like, “Wait, what? What’s like what?”, you know, and you always worry about, like, “Oh, I only spent two years there, you know, what is that going to show?” or “Oh my gosh, it took me a couple of months in between jobs to find something.” and you feel like you’re always on the backfoot trying to kind of explain yourself away which is hard, you know, to do that. But I think the hard things also are just, you know, I think just like acknowledging, like, “Wow, I was wrong, like I thought I was gonna be right about this, but I was wrong,”, you know. And so it’s hard to like, not beat yourself up about that, and then know that it’s honestly not your fault, right, because, again, you got new information you couldn’t have had. And then I think the other thing is… I think one thing that’s maybe given me the confidence to make so many changes has been that I was never keen on specialization, you know. Like my undergrad degree, even my graduate degree, very multi- and interdisciplinary, you know. And I really, really believe in that kind of education, you know, because I think… I think what it does for people, myself included, is it makes you adaptable and teachable and you can connect dots and you can kind of slot into different things, more different things than say if I had, you know, just studied accounting my entire life, you know. I have no… no knock on accountants; I love my accountant but it’s the first thing I can think of (unintelligible) specialized, yeah.


Karan Rhodes  10:39

No, I love that. And… and I just wanted you to share a little bit about that because, you know, I believe there are a lot of people in the workplace who are trying to find their niche. Some of them are like you that have a variety of interests in different areas and want to try things out and that is okay if you are have the courage to do that. And, and you… it’s okay to explore that as far as some of your career options, and it’s also okay if you found your passion in your… your magical industry. It’s also okay to stay there a few years…


Coonoor Behal  11:17

Yeah, absolutely!


Karan Rhodes  11:19

(unintelligible). So… So anyway, I thought that was interesting. I also now would love to talk a little bit about how… I think one of the ways that we initially connected on was our mutual love for design thinking and exploration but I want to combine that with what you do at Mindhatch. So would you mind, you know, kind of sharing an overview of some of your areas of focus at Mindhatch? And then, maybe we can talk a little bit about design thinking and how that is such an impactful method for leaders and their teams?


Coonoor Behal  11:54

Yeah, no, I would love to. Thanks for that! Um, yeah, so Mindhatch (unintelligible) I founded nearly nine years ago, and as you said in the introduction, you know, we’re all about helping you create the conditions for innovation and creativity to thrive. And so, true to my kind of interdisciplinary mindset, you know, the things that we do, I view more as like methodologies that can be applied, you know. Moreso methods than services, right? So… so one methodology we use is what we’ve trademarked as organizational improv. I personally have been an improv comedy performer for over a decade, an improv teacher, and so it was another one that was no brainers to kind of fold it into the Mindhatch when I found it. So, it is really applied improv—so, applying the principles and behaviors and mindsets and skills behind improv theater and improv comedy, you know, to the workplace. For a…


Karan Rhodes  12:54

And what’s some of the magic that you see that comes out of that when teams experience organizational improv?


Coonoor Behal  13:01

Yeah, I mean they can be small changes and big changes, you know, like the biggest changes can be a totally different culture change and a way of working, you know, like by through experiencing something like that together on an iterative basis, right? And then, I think maybe at the… maybe you can call it smaller level, you know, just kind of like cohesion and connectivity and mutual vulnerability and humility that can come about from doing that together, as well as, of course, you know, like specific kind of skills development, you know. You know, we’ve done sessions using improv as the teaching method, you know, for… or the training method rather for like communication skills and innovation skills and customer service skills and, you know, it can be applied to a lot of things because it is such a… such a human endeavor, you know, much like work is, you know, and so it can be applied in a lot of places, yeah.


Karan Rhodes  14:05

It can be and, you know, I’ve had some experiences–not nearly as deep as experiences you’ve had–but I’ve had some experiences in taking organizational improv classes, and what I’ve seen… it witnesses, you know, just a building of confidence of teams through that shared experience where you’re… to be honest with you, it’s a little scary and a little vulnerable sometimes when you’re going through it but when you learn how to enjoy and laugh and learn and build those skills, people come out more courageous and connected, as you mentioned, as a team. So I think that work is so valuable for organizations and… and to your success. You know, I think a lot of organizations see that as well.


Coonoor Behal  15:00

Thanks, I appreciate that. Yeah, so organizational improv is definitely one of our methods, and I kind of like a little offshoot of that is we also are applying improv to the DEI needs that existed in companies that we have diversity and inclusion improv show called “White Privilege, Black Power”. And it’s… it’s not a training, it’s not a workshop, it’s very much like a show within plus a Q&A after where we will (unintelligible) and DEI. You know, we will answer questions and kind of like provide support and resources to folks about things that are going on but yeah. And so that’s organizational improv. They also do facilitation work, as might have been obvious from other things that we do. So usually, because of our innovation expertise, it is around like innovation needs, such as ideation, you know, filling the pipeline of innovation funnel, but someone can also be like strategic sessions and, you know, retreat sessions, that sort of thing. Yeah.


Karan Rhodes  16:03

That makes a lot of sense.


Coonoor Behal  16:05

And then, I saved design thinking for last because I know you wanted that we talk about that.


Karan Rhodes  16:09

Oh, yeah.


Coonoor Behal  16:13

So, design thinking is a big part of our work. Basically, human-centered design using… we’ll talk more about this, I’m sure, you and I will. But it’s a methodology for creative problem solving and solution development, and one that really is led by in spirit and in method by insights you gain from real customers.


Karan Rhodes  16:39

That’s right.


Coonoor Behal  16:40

Yeah, and so we do both the capacity-building side, you know, going into companies and training their people on what design thinking is and how to use it, and how to apply it to their particular kind of work. We also do kind of the consulting side of it, you know, like going in and being the embedded, you know, design strategist or design thinking facilitator, you know, for a team and kind of guiding them along through the end-to-end process. And then, even like a little bit of coaching here and there for people who just need like a couple hours a week to kind of get some advice on… on doing it on their own within their companies so…


Karan Rhodes  17:17

Yeah, that is fantastic work, as you know, and I’m very passionate about… about that type of modality and approach for learning. And I’m just curious for what you see with your clients. Of course, there’s usually a problem that they’re trying to solve, right, and we kind of help work with them to set up and narrow it down to exactly, you know, what you’re trying to solve and to narrow the focus but I’m just curious for you and your clients. What do you see the leaders really trying to achieve when they book design thinking consultations with you all? Because there’s, you know, so many other offerings out there by companies. Why do you think it’s such a hot method that they want to bring in and have their team’s experience?


Coonoor Behal  18:14

I hope it’s a hot method, oh my gosh. Yeah, so I think, um, I think my observation of when I’ve been brought in by leaders, I think one kind of experience I’ve observed is like I think sometimes leaders will be like, “You know what, we need this because we have this goal. We have to create this product or this service.”, you know, and it’s a little bit kind of tactical, and it’s about like what will be produced by using this methodology, and that’s great. That’s a great reason to bring in design thinking, don’t get me wrong. What I do feel, especially in… in the trainings that I do, what becomes abundantly clear really early on is, “Oh, wow, in order… by doing this work, we are changing our culture but then also, in order to do this work, we have to change our culture.”, you know? Like I find that at the end of my… at the end of my training sessions, the capacity building sessions, you know, I always leave time for questions, of course, and hang out and… and the questions are rarely, like, “Oh, wait! In that method, what was step two that we did?”, you know. The questions are always around, like, “How can we get buy-in and support to do more of this?” or “Here’s a cultural or a leader challenge I have that is going to prevent me from carrying this forward. How do I… how do I navigate around that or how do I solve that?” So that just kind of tells me that like yes, like if you’re going to do it and do it well, like it requires a change in mindset and the way you work together as well. And yeah, so I think… I think probably leaders like they… they’re… they’re smart, right? They see that happened in the room as well, right?


Karan Rhodes  19:59

They do.


Coonoor Behal  19:59

And they’re like, “Oh, it’s not just like a tactical ‘let’s get shit done’ kind of thing.” But also, not only have we uncovered insights about our customers, we’ve also uncovered a lot of insights about our team and our company, and, you know, how… how we can, you know, make really proactive changes moving forward.


Karan Rhodes  20:21

Okay, I’m just gonna high-five you on that because that’s the number one thing…


Coonoor Behal  20:25

That’s it, that’s it. High five, high five!


Karan Rhodes  20:27

High five! The number one question I get when, you know, our firm does that type of consulting, it’s they enjoy the process of design thinking but it is the how to get it done, how to execute it in the environment that they’re having to navigate through. And, you know, we purposely add and leave time to have those kinds of rich discussions and provide follow up with leaders and decision makers to try to help them in that space because if they don’t identify a path to being able to execute, then, it was almost all for naught. I mean, they kind of shut down and go back into “the-way-we-used-to-do-things mode”. So you’re so right and helping with the organization effectiveness piece of that, infusing what they’re wanting to do into the culture, and have an action plan to do that, and course correcting as they start rolling things out, do you find the same thing, something similar?


Coonoor Behal  21:37

I do for sure, yeah. I think like a lot of companies, especially like legacy established companies are kind of built on a fiction of linearity, right? Like plug and chug, right? And… and design thinking like even though it is decades old as a methodology, you know, really turns that fiction on its head, you know, of like… like… like problem solving is nonlinear, right? I mean I have a whole article written about how design thinking is basically the scientific method for innovation, right? It’s not… it’s not new, you know, like, I… I hope, any day now people will stop viewing design thinking as innovative and it will just be like the traditional way of doing things, right, like conventional way of thinking because it’s so logical, you know, and it’s risk mitigating and all that. But… but yeah, I definitely… I definitely see that kind of additional, you know, challenge presented to leaders where they’re like… I think it’s also helpful, you know, despite, you know, I often deliver workshops, you know, to my clients but I still want them to understand that like, you know, workshops aren’t solutions, you know, like, they’re not, and so I…


Karan Rhodes  22:56

Yeah, they’re the vehicle for conversations to help generate.


Coonoor Behal  23:01

Yeah, so I do take some pride that like, “Oh, yes, yes, we did do this, like, two-, three-day design thinking session, and you have great outputs for it, you know, for the task at hand.” but also I do… I do take pleasure in like the realization of “Oh, wait, it can’t stop here.”, you know? Yeah.


Karan Rhodes  23:21

That’s right, I love that! Well, let’s now move to talk about your book which is a totally different subject but is fascinating. First of all, congratulations on the publication of “I Quit”. Can you share with our audience a little bit more about “I Quit” and a couple of the key points that are there within?


Coonoor Behal  23:44

Yeah, I’d love to. So the book is called “I Quit: The Life Affirming Joy of Giving Up”. I wrote it mostly in 2020 so, yeah, I was one of those annoying people who wrote a book during the pandemic. I didn’t learn about the language, though, so…


Karan Rhodes  24:03

(unintelligible). No worries!


Coonoor Behal  24:03

Yeah! But, it’s a collection of stories I collected from real everyday people about how they summon the courage to kind of up in the status quo and quit things in their lives because we all know we’re all victims of the status quo which is that quitting is bad, quitting means you’re a failure, you know, or couldn’t hack it or, you know, that… that sort of thing. And so… and I in my life, as I kind of walked through earlier, like my circuitous career path, you know, like that was actually in those moments of transition. It was actually the genesis of the idea for the book because I found myself like… like, I was realizing firsthand for myself that like, “Oh, okay, so I was wrong about the NGO world. I don’t want to work there, but I’m still not a failure, right? I’m still capable of doing things.”, you know. And so, I kind of had that demystified for myself just through my own experience and change my own mind from one of like an annoying linear thinking perfectionist type into one who was like more embracing of change and how positive intentional change can be. So, that was like the personal side. And then when I started Mindhatch, I was going on a lot of like just… I go on coffee dates with anyone who would just to be like, “I’m starting this business. What do you think?”, you know? Anyone. And at the time I was on the East Coast, I was living in Washington DC, and kind of a… the vibe in Washington DC is you go on like a coffee chat with someone. We basically spend the first five minutes just reciting our resumes to each other like “That I did this, then I did that, then I did this, then I did that.”, right? (unintelligible) no better good. Just an observation about my eight years in DC. And… and I found myself like interrupting, probably rudely, just to be like, “Wait, wait, wait, you said that you used to do that like why did you stop doing that?” or “You said you left that graduate program? Like, tell me why.”, you know. And I… I just found myself being really naturally curious about, you know… Why people changed or stopped doing it? …people not keeping doing the thing they were doing. And so… and I got really fascinated, basically, with what I realized later were people’s quitting stories, you know, and I… I found like in this moment, I felt like I understood people more deeply than if I had just asked them about their greatest successes, you know. Yeah.


Karan Rhodes  26:44

So what is one like nugget that you would love the listeners to take away as they think about “quitting” or “transitioning” or whatever pretty word you want to put behind it to a new thought or opportunity?


Coonoor Behal  27:04

Yeah, I think like, I mean there’s a lot of takeaways, you know, from the book because the stories are so varied but I think the first thing that comes to mind is like this idea that, you know, quitting is a choice, of course, but so is not quitting. And I think like a lot of times in our lives and for a lot of people, we find ourselves just living our lives with inertia and we’re just kind of putting off the big decision, right? And we’re like, “Are just gonna stay here and be safe and just do this and put that off?” but you just staying here and playing it safe, if that’s what it is, is also a decision, right? And so if we can kind of conceive of like inaction as a decision, then we can say, “Okay, well, is this decision aligning with who I am, what my values are, what my trade offs are?”, you know? I guess what I’m saying is you can’t hide. You can’t hide. Not at all. And I don’t want to deal with you.


Karan Rhodes  28:10

No, I hear you on that one, and this kind of dovetails into my next question, you know. I love to ask all of my guests if there were any of the seven tactics on… that are critical critical to great leadership execution that really popped out for you. And I’m curious if there was one and if so, would you mind sharing and why?


Coonoor Behal  28:38

Yeah, there was one that immediately stuck out. It was (unintelligible), I think. It’s the “leading with courageous agility”.


Karan Rhodes  28:47

And now, I think I understand why now that you talked about “I Quit”.


Coonoor Behal  28:51

Yeah (unintelligible) in the mirror, right? Yeah, you know, unclear future, I mean embracing uncertainty and ambiguity, right, and being, honestly, sometimes excited by that. Well, also just like standing up for what you believe and like doing the right thing, you know. I think a lot of my transition stories were because of realizations that where I was was not matching my values like… like moral or professional, you know? And yeah, I’m just kind of getting some clarity around my own trade offs are, you know, and for everyone, that’s different, right, and it should be different. But for me, it was like, “Oh, this is not… I can’t exist in this space and put up with this based on what I’m going to get out of it.” like it doesn’t… it’s not a match for who I am. Yeah.


Karan Rhodes  29:44

I love that. And I know that, you know, obviously, you’ve had such a dynamic work history or career history, I should say. I’m curious for yourself, what does it take for you to lead on time for your game. When… when do you… Are there certain conditions or things that you do or things that resonate with you that need to be in place in order for you to be… or deliver at your best self?


Coonoor Behal  30:16

Yeah. You know, I think I… I think moments when I feel like I’m being a good “leader” are honestly moments when I feel like I’m in partnership with a peer and when I’m collaborating, you know. And that… that feeling can and has come from an intern of mine, you know. It doesn’t have to be like position-level peer, you know. It’s just, when… when there’s a sense of like, “Let’s work this out together.”, you know, like we’re both bringing equal things, you know. And so, I think that is when I feel to use an overused word, but like in flow is like… like leading collaboratively, right? An…, and not coming in with like, “I have to be the one to come up with the answer.” I mean, I’ve never been like that anyway, you know, but, um, yeah, I think I would much rather kind of have like, shoulder-to-shoulder, you know, work being… work being done. Yeah, I really enjoy being in the work. Yeah.


Karan Rhodes  31:24

I love that. And as a female founder, what are some of the obstacles that you’ve had to overcome, you know, moving to found… actually found… find your… found your own business or establish your own business, I should say. What are a few of the obstacles that you’ve had to tackle and overcome?


Coonoor Behal  31:42

You know, it’s really interesting. I feel like it’s one of those things where it’s like you don’t… I… I feel like the obstacles I am sure I have confronted are… are like systemic obstacles, right? Like I can’t really point to like, many, like, visceral like, in-my-face, like obstacles, because I’m a female founder.


Karan Rhodes  32:06

Right, right.


Coonoor Behal  32:06

But you know, when you’re a female founder, your world becomes other female founders and you absorb kind of like what they’ve confronted and you read a lot about the business world and just the world in general, you know, and how things are stacked up against you. So you kind of start to have some like, “Huh, I wonder… I wonder was that thing four years ago due to that?”, you know, so… Well, definitely like my suspicions are raised, my hackles are raised as they should be for all female founders, but I can’t point to like one story, one anecdote where it felt very very present, you know, for me, personally. I think it’s different also, you know, like, I’m not like an investor-driven company, you know. I think that that world is totally different for women than when you’re kind of “self-funded”, you know, and so… so, yes, I think some of the accidental choices I made with my business kind of shielded me from the worst that I know… I know female business owners encounter every day.


Karan Rhodes  33:18

Yeah, I totally agree. I totally understand. Well, I know we’re running a little bit short on time, but I will not let you off the hook without doing our final segment which is called “Full Disclosure”. There will be no gotcha questions but I just love to ask a few fun questions for you to share with the audience if you don’t mind, if you’re game.


Coonoor Behal  33:46

I’m always game, yeah!


Karan Rhodes  33:49

Alright! Well, my first one for you is what are one of your pet peeves?


Coonoor Behal  33:55

Oh my god! Okay, you said… I will try to be not salty… Go ahead, go ahead! …but, god, I hate it, I hate it when people–and it’s usually men–like hawk loogies in public.


Karan Rhodes  34:10



Coonoor Behal  34:11

Oh my god! It is just… it… like… like… I want to say nails on a chalkboard but nails on a chalkboard doesn’t bother me. Like it’s that! I just… I get like that movie Kill Bill when she (unintelligible) murder someone, I get that… that alarm noise. Oh, it is awful. And just like men in suits are doing it. And like you can’t afford (unintelligible) or hankie?


Karan Rhodes  34:37

I don’t understand that for the life of me. That’s why it’s hard for me to watch baseball because they do it all the time, right? And I love sports, but that’s hard to get past. I mean, we’re like sisters from another mother.


Coonoor Behal  34:49

Yes, I just really hate it. It’s just like… it’s like I think the only people who can do that are the unhoused. That’s it, that’s it. Nobody else gets a pass.


Karan Rhodes  35:04

Oh, okay. Well, next question for you. What is one of your favorite ways to decompress?


Coonoor Behal  35:14

Hmm, hmm. I… I’m pretty like erratic; I don’t think I have very good like, as they say these days self-care practice. I don’t do anything… I don’t do any one thing a lot but I think I do a lot of things a little bit at a time. And so, among them are just spending time on my dog. She’s such a cartoon and just such a stress reliever. Just insanely, insanely amazing. I love what I call tubbies which is just tub soaks.


Karan Rhodes  35:48

What is that?


Coonoor Behal  35:49

Just tub soaks.


Karan Rhodes  35:53



Coonoor Behal  35:53

(unintelligible) hot water, I just call them tubbies.


Karan Rhodes  35:55

Yes, tubbies. That was new for me. I’m gonna write that down—tubbies.


Coonoor Behal  36:00

I’m just like putting bubbles in there and, you know, reading a book or watching TV show on my iPad. Yeah. Yeah, and I also really enjoy reading for sure, yeah, and cooking. You know, I think… I think things that… Oh, definitely building LEGO sets. I am a really big fan of LEGO sets.


Karan Rhodes  36:21

Oh, interesting!


Coonoor Behal  36:21

Yeah, and I think that’s… that’s a time where I feel not only like productive but also focused in a way that I’m not in any other aspects of my life.


Karan Rhodes  36:32

You know what I bet that’s because of your creativity gene in your DNA. I bet… I can imagine what you create with the LEGOs.


Coonoor Behal  36:41

You know, so I don’t free build. You know, I don’t…


Karan Rhodes  36:43

Oh, you don’t free build.


Coonoor Behal  36:44

You know, I buy like the 3000-piece sets and I…


Karan Rhodes  36:48

Oh, and create it.


Coonoor Behal  36:50

…I build them following instructions and I display them in my home, and yeah, so I do… I do get the like the pre… the pre-made ones to build but it’s still really meditative, right? And it’s still kind of… it still like scratches that itch to kind of do something with my hands but that’s an edge actually I’m trying to like scratch more in different ways (unintelligible).


Karan Rhodes  37:19

I love that, I love that! Alright, well, I’ll let you turn the tables on me and since you’ve been such a great sport, what is one question that you would like to ask me to have me answer?


Coonoor Behal  37:32

Oh my gosh, I might be so mundane.


Karan Rhodes  37:38

That’s okay!


Coonoor Behal  37:39

I’m gonna… I’m gonna ask you a question that used to be a part of improv shows. I used it on the East Coast when I (unintelligible).


Karan Rhodes  37:49

Uh-oh. We’ll see (unintelligible) do this.


Coonoor Behal  37:51

What was a recent compliment you received and how did that make you feel?


Karan Rhodes  37:57

Oh, recent compliment? That’s a great question.


Coonoor Behal  38:01

Or it can be like the best compliment. What’s like the most meaningful compliment you’ve ever received?


Karan Rhodes  38:05

Oh, you know, what? One just popped. So a few weeks ago, I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Global Talent Summit at Gallops Headquarters in DC, and I don’t… although I speak a lot and, you know, teach a lot, I don’t consider myself like a Tony Robbins or, you know, Oprah Winfrey or anyone like that but I must say I think I nailed it because I got a lot of great compliments and got swarmed coming off stage. And so, it was… it was a series of compliments. It just kind of reinforced the messaging and the impact I was trying to make on the audience. I had (unintelligible) in my head going in about “Okay, what in the heck can I do to not be that speaker that bores everybody?” and that fact that I got swarmed, even people followed me to the restroom afterwards to that point, it just really warmed my heart so…


Coonoor Behal  39:06

Awe, (unintelligible) in like a complimentary way?


Karan Rhodes  39:08

Exactly! Like can you give me 30 seconds?


Coonoor Behal  39:11

(unintelligible) bathroom? That’s fine. Yeah.


Karan Rhodes  39:15

But I was very thankful that… that had that… you know, I had that great experience and, of course, you know, when we all speak and present, we always do preparation but that was just very reinforcing.


Coonoor Behal  39:28

Yeah. Oh, that’s great! (unintelligible) experience. Congratulations!


Karan Rhodes  39:32

Great question. Well, thank you so much for joining our audience today and audience members, there will be a ton of information in the show notes. You will not want to miss this episode. We’ll have links to Coonoor’s book, some of the resources she mentioned, her website. You have got to check it out. And any closing thoughts or words before we finish this episode, Coonoor?


Coonoor Behal  40:00

Oh my goodness. Put me on the spot. Okay, closing thoughts, oh my gosh.


Karan Rhodes  40:05

It’s okay if you don’t.


Coonoor Behal  40:06

I think just put it in the show notes, “Please support women-owned small business.” And yeah, and thanks for listening. It’s been a real real privilege. Like your… your curiosity is really generous and you giving this platform is really generous. I really appreciate it.


Karan Rhodes  40:24

Thank you so much. Thank you again for your time and attention and audience members, be sure ,to once again, check out the show notes, and we will see you for the next episode. Take care. Bye. Well, I hope you enjoyed our conversation today with Coonoor Behal, founder and CEO of Mindhatch. Links to her bio, her entry into her leadership playbook, and additional resources can be found in the show notes, both on your favorite podcast platform, and at And now for “Karan’s Take” on today’s topic of design thinking. For those of you who are not as familiar with design thinking, I thought I’d share just a brief overview of the six steps involved in a design sprint. Step one is called empathize. This is where you conduct research to develop a better understanding of your users, customers, or stakeholders. Step two is called define, and this is where you analyze all your research to understand where the true problem exists. Step three is called ITA where you generate a wide range of crazy creative ideas. Step four is called prototype where you build real world representations of your most promising ideas. Step five is called test, and this is where you return to your users, customers, or stakeholders and, then, you get their feedback on your top ideas. And the final step is step six which is called implement, and this is where you put the vision of the most promising idea into effect and see what happens. And just so you know, design sprints come in a variety of lengths and variations, and they’re most commonly anywhere from three-hour sprints to five-day sprints. So if you’re a company and you’re interested in bringing a design sprint to your organization, check out the show notes where we’ll have links to more detailed information. Thanks again for listening, and see you again next week!


Voiceover  42:39

And that’s our show for today. Thank you for listening to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast where we help you lead your seats at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K-a-r-a-n. And if you liked the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand project or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Bye for now!

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