Venky Nagar


The most important thing for all humans to know is the difference between exponential and linear. The entire world, from viruses to poverty to tech to animals to history to ..., runs on this principle. Exponential growth happens through connections. Nothing seems to happen initially, but once these connections are dense enough, you take a quantum leap and no one can catch you. A cool gif!

My Teaching

I am Venky Nagar, an accounting professor at Michigan. I am here to help you develop into a leader who can 1) rapidly analyze raw data and generate insights; and 2) combine these insights with your keen understanding of employee hopes and beliefs to create structured roles for everyone in your org. Creating such warm yet profitable workplaces is very hard because you have to apply many concepts from econ to ops to psych all at once with no set rules, all the while keeping an eye on data, org psychology, and profits.

The only way to become such a leader is to radically rethink numbers. NUMBERS = PEOPLE! That is, numbers do not represent abstract mathematical truths but instead contain the hopes and dreams of your underlings. This radical mindshift is hard to achieve, for what you need is not intelligence but an open mind and a willingness to change. My approach frustrates the smart yet unwilling for they're used to having their way, but those who adapt do so for life and become extremely successful. This is because they can find their Own Way out of difficult, ambiguous business problems, solving which requires not so much raw intelligence but instead radical pivots and other adaptations as you figure out which framework best fits the situation you and your underlings are in.

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase offers similar lessons from leadership

Find Your Way, not Memorize and Regurgitate My Way

The WSJ recently reported that talented female and Black junior managers are often not given such multi-concept + data P&L roles early on, which takes them off the running for senior leadership jobs. I am very happy to say that past enrollments have drawn diverse students with phenomenal postgraduation roles.

I was honored to receive the Evening MBA Teaching Award and to be voted the Executive MBA Commencement Speaker in 2018.

My Tech Course

In 2018, I offered a new class on how to think algorithimically. The two sections sold out in 30 minutes! The students were initially baffled by the exponential connections between the theory of computation, Fourier transforms, finance, paper and crypto currencies, AI, Kylie Jenner's superb billion dollar exploitation of Instagram, etc., but quickly rose to the challenge and asked deep questions on the connections between computation and business. Our students can add tremendous value from Day One to a group of CS Ph.D.'s trying to start a firm.

My Students

A Best MBA student profiles me in Poets and Quants: "Who is your favorite professor? This is a hard choice. I am going to say Venky Nagar because he has taught me to think holistically about business problems. He has also opened my eyes to a lot of thought leadership on a variety of business topics. I appreciate that his courses are simultaneously philosophical and practical."

An MBA student describes my teaching style. Undergraduate students also add to the mix, showing that exponential thinking is free from age and race or gender identity constraints.

Another student describes my class