So I've been thinking about how to explain this concept to you,
and I've decided I'm just going to start with something we all understand.
To achieve great heights or change the world,
no matter how smart we are, we all need people.
And for conventional people,
the universe seems to conspire to make them successful.
For the unconventional,
I think we need something that I like to call "co-conspirators."
Co-conspirators are different not because they're different themselves,
but because of the people who need them.
They tend to be people who are willing to bend the rules --
actually even break them sometimes --
and challenge the status quo
to stand beside someone who is going against societal norms.
I'm actually going to describe an experience that I had
that first crystallized the idea of co-conspirators in my mind.
I was a corporate executive with an American multinational in India,
and we were actually faced with an interesting problem:
we didn't have enough women in the workforce.
And just to give you some context,
27 percent of women work in India.
If you look at most of Asia,
that number is around 48 percent.
So we knew the numbers were deplorable,
and it was manifesting itself in our own organization.
So we decided -- actually, I'll just give you a quick example
of a young engineer, a 25-year-old woman,
关于 25 岁年轻女工程师 的简单例子，
who told us a great story about her daily life,
to just exemplify it for us.
She said, "As I walk out of the house in the morning,
I am running around doing a bunch of chores,
and my mother-in-law -- I live with my in-laws --
is starting to get a little bit irritated,
because she's going to be left with all the housework to do.
And then, as I get back home in the evening,
I've overshot the time I'm going to be home by an hour or two at least,
and by then, two of my biggest champions,
my father-in-law and my husband,
are also starting to get a little bit irritated.
And my mother-in-law is furious, because she's taken care of everything
that needs to be done.
And through the middle of the day,
I'm actually surrounded by men my age,
and there's only one expectation from them by society.
It's to achieve in their careers
and provide for their families financially.
How do you expect me to bring this same level of enthusiasm,
excitement and passion to the workplace?"
And she was right.
And I thought the women's network volunteers
came up with a great idea.
They instituted a "bring your mother-in-law to work" day.
So we heralded a group of mothers-in-law
and a few mothers into the office,
and we took them to our R and D labs.
We took them to the medical equipment
that their daughters-in-law were creating and building.
And as we did, we described to them what their daughters-in-law actually did:
they impacted maternal mortality rates and infant mortality rates.
They brought them down.
They identified complex diseases
early enough to be able to prevent and cure them.
And then we took them to lunch.
We gave them a lavish lunch and thanked them for the role they played
for freeing up a young woman to work shoulder to shoulder with us
to literally change the world.
There wasn't a dry eye in the room.
Every one of these women were grateful and proud.
They were proud of who their daughters-in-law were,
but they were grateful to be included as part of the conversation.
And I wondered at the time
whether what we'd done was just a great touchy-feely moment
but really wasn't going to have long-term impact.
And a couple of days later, one of my mentees swung by my office,
and she was super excited.
She said, "I went home from work yesterday,
and I was bracing myself, because I was really late,
and I was bracing myself for a lecture,
and my mother-in-law turned to my husband and said,
'Can you please get up and make her a cup of tea?
She's saving lives. You work at a bank.'"
她在拯救别人的生命， 而你在银行上班。' ”
And there you had it.
You had the perfect co-conspirator,
someone that we don't always recognize or value,
but was changing the way somebody else could challenge the status quo,
by standing beside her
and questioning the societal norms
and making a difference.
The next example I'm going to use will be closer to almost everyone in this room.
When I graduated from business school and started working in a company,
a group of us, my peers and I, were asked to work on a strategy
for a business that hadn't been doing too well over the last decade
and was being neglected.
We put our hearts and souls into it,
and we did a lot of analysis on our nights and weekends
and put together what we thought was a good strategy.
And after presenting it to a number of people
that we were getting buy-in with,
we were actually asked to present to the global CEO
at his annual strategy meet that happened over a week.
And we were both excited and apprehensive as we flew into headquarters.
We were excited because this was an opportunity
to show how much we had learned.
But we were also nervous because, though a brilliant, dynamic man,
但我们也很紧张，这是因为， 虽然 CEO 才华出众、充满活力，
he had a fiery temper and wasn't really the easiest person to present to.
Five or six hours before our presentation, a senior colleague pulled us aside
and sat down and gave us a front-seat view of what had happened all week.
We knew about people who had bombed their presentations.
We knew about people who had almost been instantaneously promoted in the room.
We knew what was keeping the CEO up at night
我们知道了是什么 使得 CEO 夜不能寐，
and what he thought were tailwinds to the business.
And when we walked into that presentation later in the day,
we actually got buy-in with both the CEO
我们实际上得到了 CEO 还有他的
and his senior staff.
And it wasn't just because of our analysis or our strategy.
It was because we were prepped
to be able to communicate in a way that the team could absorb.
Now, this senior colleague of ours didn't pull us aside,
because he wanted to gossip.
He pulled us aside because he believed we were unconventional in the boardroom.
That unconventionality was exactly why he wanted us to think about
this new, fresh perspective
and provide a view on where this business should go.
But he also knew it was a distinct disadvantage for us,
because we didn't know how to present in that room,
and we hadn't done it before,
and they weren't used to receiving us.
And that again is an example, in my mind,
of somebody bending the rules.
Because he decided to co-conspire with us,
he not only changed the career trajectories
of six young people in the organization who suddenly got all this visibility,
but he actually changed the trajectory of a business
that people were neglecting and didn't have any fresh ideas for.
The last example I want to share with you
is actually very far removed from the corporate world
and somewhat personal.
This is the story of my mother.
In her early 20s, she lost her father.
He had passed away in his late 40s,
leaving behind six children,
four younger siblings and one older sibling than her,
and a widowed mother who had never worked.
My mom and her older sister realized
that they actually needed to start earning an income --
they were both in grad school --
to ensure the rest of the siblings could get through their schooling
and start to work.
So she shifted her law school classes to evening classes,
and she started to work during the day as a schoolteacher
to bring home an income.
And every day, she would actually get off a bus
at the end of her evening law school classes
on the streets of Calcutta.
this is a woman who wasn't used to taking public transportation at all,
let alone at night.
And as she would get off the bus,
she would take about a seven- to eight-minute walk to her home
on a street that was largely deserted,
because it was a residential street
with some shops that closed around 8pm or a little bit before that.
One day, a store owner was closing his store a little bit later than usual,
because there was a customer who had actually left a little bit later.
And he saw my mother get off the bus.
He actually knew the family.
The store had been in the neighborhood for more than 20 years,
那家店铺在那一带已经 经营了 20 多年，
so he knew her since she was a baby.
He watched her walk to the street that her house was on,
turned off the lights, shut the store and went home.
From the next day, he found that he waited for her every single day
until he she made her way to her own house.
Other store owners on that same street suddenly noticed this one store
that was open longer,
and suddenly started to see a bunch of end-of-day customers walk in
to buy odds and ends that,
from after their long day from work and their commute home,
realized they hadn't picked up for the next morning.
Some people who came in the mornings also started to come the night before.
A few of the storekeepers decided that actually what was happening
was he was monopolizing a bunch of customers,
and they started to keep their store lights on
and keep their shop open till 9 o'clock.
From that time on, my mother had a lit street
with plenty of activity on the street.
I believe that that store owner was my mother's co-conspirator.
a small change to what was conventional on that street at the time
allowed for her and her family
to do something that was completely unconventional.
A woman her age from an upper-middle-class family
actually got married at that age
or studied in grad school with the protection of their family.
Because of that store owner,
all of my mother's siblings went on to become engineers,
lawyers, accountants and teachers,
and my mother went on to become a lawyer.
The world needs co-conspirators.
As we get into a complex environment where more and more complex problems exist
and we need to find more solutions,
we need unconventional people in our boardrooms and at the table.
For that to happen,
we need co-conspirators.
whether it's because of my gender,
my ethnicity or sometimes,
as I've been living in this part of the world for over a decade, my accent,
I'm often perceived to be unconventional.
It's my co-conspirators that have shown me the path forward,
and actually, it's my co-conspirators that keep me seeking out
the unconventional paths to go down.
So what I'd like to ask of all of you today
is that you look around and find the people
that inspire you to co-conspire.
I promise you that your empathy
will change someone's life
and may even change the world.