Practitioners Perspectives // February 19,2021

Translating a Constraint Into a Beautiful Constraint for Individual Progress and Collective Evolution

Featuring: Rani Mani , Global Head of Employee Advocacy and Social Influence Enablement, Adobe


Rani Mani Global Head of Employee Advocacy and Social Influence Enablement, Adobe

Your life is all about how you have translated a constraint into a beautiful constraint – you have not allowed your cerebral palsy to be an excuse for not achieving more. What can the differently abled teach the fully abled about how the body can be the foundation for leadership?
My physical challenges have automatically made me more creative. I am constantly planning things ahead. This has automatically put me in a position to think creatively and build innovation into even simple activities, as I cannot take anything for granted.

Differently abled people are able to show that a little bit of pre-planning, ingenuity and creativity are Life Skills that differentiate them, albeit shaped through their physical challenges.

Becoming comfortable with reality and not fighting it helps build the focus and innovation, that I am constantly talking about. When we are too busy trying to fight our inner voices, there will hardly be any energy left to think/do things differently.

Allowing supposed weakness to be used to your advantage can make you a super-power.


I can either let the challenges be excuses or I can let the challenges be the drive, creativity, ingenuity and innovation that defines me.

From where you stand Rani, what is your take on – Your body as route to leadership?
I would not look at body through the lens of ability or disability. I will look at it from the point of energy. If you do not have energy or stamina, nothing else matters.

You can be any person of great standing, but if your body and mind is not clear and if it is not able to withstand what you are bringing to the world, nothing else matters.
The world around us is filled with differences – we see people who delight us with their unending energy and others who watch the world pass by. This is irrespective of being abled or disabled.

From that standpoint, one of best ways to determine the calibre of a leader is when you walk away from a conversation, do you feel energized or do you feel drained?

Keeping your body and mind agile and nimble only adds to your confidence, and, confidence is exceptionally attractive.
The best thing you can wear is a smile and confidence! However, I do not want to downplay the importance of physical health.
It is important to be healthy physically and mentally to exude the energy and confidence. The pandemic has kept us more indoor than outdoor and we have to make the best use of whatever the situation demands.
Moving away from the litany of enervating excuses to reasons that can elevate your energies, drive, confidence that define you physically and mentally.

You have had some deeply moving experiences in life. I am curious to understand, how leaders can better build Soul to their Leadership?

Soul to Leadership is all about giving. At the core I believe that the person who helps the most wins.
My foundation is, what are you doing for the other person that helps you build more meaning to your life, work and the larger world.
That active giving,
that active making an impact,
that active going beyond yourself
creates the drive within me – That my story can make a difference to someone else realize that possibilities are limitless!

I read in an article that you had no option towards using your disability as an excuse – how did you cultivate this discipline?
Interesting you should use the word discipline. I did not see it as a discipline – simply put, it was a way of being at home.
My parents raised me without using the word, “You have a certain disability”.

I have learnt that everything in life is a lesson or a blessing.
I also realized that my parents had so much faith and went against all odds to give me life and raise me, and; I have to make them feel proud of who I am and who I become. A bigger purpose, which is beyond yourself always helps in this situation.

One of my key mantras – everything is possible as long as you do not know that it is impossible.
When you say, I can’t – what you are really saying is you do not want to do it. If you truly want it – you will always find time to do it
I truly believe that words are powerful.

Quality of your thoughts and words determine the quality of your life.
Therefore, I am very intentional about what I think and say. The world of possibilities and drive to achieve is required for this discipline.

Covid is forcing us to act within constraints. What have been your experiences that can help leaders manage these constraints better?
I learnt an invaluable lesson in person from Mother Teresa herself that, I had no business complaining as there was so much pain and suffering in this world. I should take charge of my life with an attitude of gratitude.

I flipped my approach to don the hat of a mentor and not the mentee.
Little acts of not complaining for an hour and pressing the reset button are simple ways of being thankful for this life and to unlock the positivity that resides in all of us.
There have been undeniably frustrating times when my body was slow to respond, while my mind was zipping ahead.

Given a choice of fast body and slow mind or fast mind and slow body, I definitely opted for the fast mind and this turned out to be a wonderful driving force that taught me to be the master of my life.
Whenever I failed to take control of my life, I was at the mercy of others and that was not a feeling that I liked much. Therefore, I always strived to live my live my life on my own terms.
These are some key messages I will be happy to share from my experiences to leaders to better handle constraints.

A lot has been spoken about diversity and inclusion at organizations, what are some missing links to the possibilities of greater diversity inclusion in the workplace.
Frankly, I still believe that there needs to be more walking of all the talking.
Firstly, organizations that are serious about unlocking the multiple possibilities of diversity and inclusion have to begin with the right representation.

This certainly requires highly intuitive hiring practices coupled with the right cultural mindsets to embrace and empower.
I believe that the concept of pulling each other up is critical to the success of any organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.


Tell us a story that has impacted you the most?
My stay in Kolkatta in India, in my teens opened my eyes to the fact that all of us are living in borrowed time. I have witnessed first-hand several leaders reduced to penury and being powerless and lying sick because of their wrong decisions. When you see people dying in front of your eyes, you know that life is short and that we need to make the most of the moment.

Given you experience with Influencer Marketing, what are your suggestions for leaders to build a “Getting More” mindset?
As a proponent of customer success, to Get More, I believe in an Outside-In approach. So, every time you want to derive more from a situation of stakeholders, think of how you can solve the problem for them, and you will receive their undying loyalty.

Be their shining light and the biggest compliment you can receive is – I feel better in your presence.
Getting the buy-in and loyalty from your stakeholders will always help you get more in any situation.

Rani Mani Rani Mani

Global Head of Employee Advocacy and
Social Influence Enablement, Adobe

Rani is deeply passionate about making customers successful and harnessing the power of customer feedback to improve the overall customer experience. She likes to do this at scale over social media and is constantly looking at new and interesting ways to pinpoint areas where companies are making it especially difficult to do business with them. From there, Rani works with cross functional teams across the company to figure out ways of reducing the customer effort. In addition to being keenly interested in reducing customer effort, Rani is equally schooled in strategies for providing exemplary support over social channels and cultivating and nurturing community engagement so that the company can be a community driven business. “Rani brings an insatiable and infectious positivity to all those she comes across. Her impact to the business and community stems from a personally grounded commitment during her time working alongside Mother Theresa.” Are the words used by a colleague about Rani.

The world knows Rani Mani as the passionate individual who is all about making customers successful and providing an effortless customer experience. While her expertise in the social enablement space is highly sought after, there is more we can learn and get inspired from her inner strength, grit and determination. Rani has beautifully embraced the warrior mindset to help her overcome her personal physical challenges.
As the world is working to bounce back to normalcy from this pandemic, Rani shared with GCL about how translating a constraint into a beautiful constraint can work wonders for individual progress and collective evolution.

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