Culture and Leadership Connections Podcast

Ashif Mawji – Leading From Behind, Even If You Know The Answers!

January 23, 2019 Marie Gervais Season 1 Episode 5
Culture and Leadership Connections Podcast
Ashif Mawji – Leading From Behind, Even If You Know The Answers!
Show Notes

Bio for Ashif Mawji

Ashif Mawji is a social entrepreneur and investor and presently serves as a Venture Partner at Rising Tide.

Ashif has won numerous awards and serves on the boards of many organizations. He was named a Henry Crown Fellow in 2015. 

Episode highlights:

In this episode, you will find out how Ashif’s rise from poverty to serial entrepreneurial wealth was developed, and the servant leadership style he formed as a result.



  •  “Consistently following your values is how you build trust.”
  •  “No matter what state you are in, giving is very important. Find causes you are passionate about, start volunteering and see if it is a fit.”


Childhood incidents:

Born in Mombasa, Kenya, with humble beginnings, Ashif learned from his parents that giving was not only important but necessary. Even though they didn’t have much, every Friday, his family would hand out Kenyan shillings to homeless people at the Mosque. 

Once, his best friend at school invited him for lunch. His friend’s mother took a bit of bread and after adding some water to the milk, shared her children’s food with Ashif so everyone could eat. This was a powerful experience for Ashif and is the living example of his motto, “No matter what your circumstances, you can always be generous.”

Groups you were born into:

Ashif grew up in a family with a strong sense of entrepreneurship. His parents told him “You can have anything you want, you just have to find a way to pay for it!” This taught him early on to find ways to make money. 

Groups you chose to belong to:

The Henry Crown Fellowship taught Ashif to ask the question, “Just because you can, should you?” and focusing on values and being true to your word. 

Ashif used to race motorcycles as a team and learned to ‘take one for the team’ to help the other team members build their capacity. In business, he translates this to ‘leading from behind’. 

Temperament and personality influences

Ashif has a ‘Type A’ personality. It helps him take action and make decisions, but he sometimes rushes with decisions and makes more mistakes as a result. He also describes himself as impatient. 

A time I became aware that my way of doing things was cultural and specific to my cultural experience

 One time, there was a homeless person who fell in the street, and without thinking, Ashif picked him up and helped him. He then realized that everyone else was just standing around wondering if they should do something. 

Advice to an employer to work with me

“Tell me the end goal, and let me have the tools, but let me find the way to get there on my own.”

More great insights from our guest!

As a result of volunteering, Ashif believes you will make strong relationship connections with people you otherwise would not have met. 

Support the show