There’s an adage that I swear by. It’s become my personal mantra and operating philosophy. I probably say it fifteen times a day to myself and others. It has helped me get through tough times and given me the motivation to persist. As I navigate my many careers as a film & music producer, author, investor, and military officer, I return to the words that have shaped me more than any others. These are the three words that my father instilled in me when I was a boy. The phrase is so simple yet powerful and even persuasive. And without further ado, I give you these three special words:
Always, always, always close the loop. Don’t keep people in the dark on whether you completed a task or finished an assignment. It’s not enough to just do something. You must tell the people who need to know that you’re done, in order to boost everyone’s situational awareness. Don’t keep people guessing. Don’t keep yourself guessing. Get it done. Now.
I consider “closing the loop” as a personal directive to finish what I start. I try to bring every activity or assignment that I take on to a close. In fact, not closing the loop – not finishing – is unsettling to me.
Here is the soundtrack from my childhood:
- “Kabir, did you close the loop on your homework?” asked my father.
- “Kabir, did you close the loop regarding the meeting?” asked my dad.
- “Kabir, please close the loop with me when you arrive,” he said.
In order to understand the personal significance of this mantra, let me explain about my father Raghbir (R.K.) Sehgal. My father has lived the American Dream. He was born in India and moved to the United Kingdom as a teenager with no money to his name. He swept floors in a Good Year factory and eventually came to the United States in the 1960s to study in the segregated south at Auburn University in Alabama. Upon graduating, he began a career at a small engineering firm, Law Engineering. Over his thirty years there, he moved up and eventually became its Chairman & CEO, turning it into a global powerhouse with offices in 100 countries in the world. After leaving the firm, he served as the commissioner of industry, trade, and tourism (now economic development) for the state of Georgia. He is an all-around mensch and is the biggest influence on my life. He is my hero.
Of course, you can read all about his journey in our forthcoming book, which is his biography. Close the Loop: The Life and Lessons of An American Dream CEO and His Five Lessons for Success (Hachette, 2020) by Ragbhir Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal. Not only does he recount his incredible and adventurous tale, he distills his wisdom from which I have greatly benefited into five key lessons. The first and most important lesson is – yep – close the loop.
Let me give you an example. Say someone asks my father for help getting a reservation at a trendy restaurant. My father will repeatedly call the owner of the eatery (it doesn’t matter if he knows the owner). After getting him on the line, my father will explain the situation and get the reservation. My dad will then call his friend to “close the loop” that the reservation has been made. On the day of the reservation, my father will either send a text or call to wish his friend all the best for the evening. My dad may even pay for the entire meal (generosity is his calling card). After or maybe during the dinner, my dad will check in to see how it’s all going.
Closing the loop may border on obsessive communication. “But that was how I survived. It’s how I stood out. When I came to the US, I wasn’t the smartest person in school or at work. I just kept on communicating with clients and my colleagues, and everyone knew where I stood. I was always there for them,” Raghbir told me during the writing of this book.
My father went from sweeping floors in a Good Year factory (top) to working alongside (bottom) Governor Roy Barnes of Georgia, Jack Welch (CEO, GE), Bob Nardelli (CEO, The Home Depot), and Bernie Marcus (Co-Founder, The Home Depot)
I absorbed and internalized my father’s guidance to “Close the Loop.”
I don’t agree to produce an album unless I’m prepared to finish it.
I don’t say “let’s grab lunch” if I don’t mean it (that would mean an unfinished loop)
I don’t write a book unless I’m prepared to finish it.
I don’t rest unless it’s done.
Across all my careers and disciplines, I have learned the importance and POWER of finishing. When you close the loop, you drive things towards completion, creating a brisk tempo that will undoubtedly open more doors for you down the road.
Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winning producer. He is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen books including Close the Loop with his father Raghbir Sehgal. Kabir is a US Navy Veteran. He is currently hosting a nightly Quarantine Concert Series which features musicians on LinkedIn and other platforms. You can follow him on Twitter.