How do you turn around a business that incurs a loss of Rs.3 crore a day, into one that makes a profit of Rs.1 crore, every single day? The quest for answers to this single question led me on a hunt to meet up with Ajay Singh, the CEO of SpiceJet and get the answers straight from him.
I was amazed that with absolutely no background in the aviation industry, he decided to buy ModiLuft a company that even Lufthansa airlines failed to run. When the Maran brothers of the SunTV fame bought the company from him, they drove the company to near bankruptcy. Ajay Singh bought back the company and turned it around to be one of the most profitable airlines in India? I asked him how and he replied, “Well, we were all young and foolish, and at that point, you feel like you can do anything,” he laughs, adding, “But I did fundamentally believe that there was a market and there was talent to run a business of this sort.” He delves deeper into his turnaround experience and shares a lot more details in the podcast.
Ajay was also the brain behind Narendra Modi’s election-winning slogan, ‘Ab Ki Baar, Modi Sarkar’.
Do listen to the podcast to peek into the wonderful mind of one of India’s savviest businessman.
I’m right now in Bangalore to attend the CNN Asia Business Forum, which is an invite only event that brings together key business leaders and thought influencers to assess India’s position in a tumultuous global economy.
I’ve lined up podcast interviews with very interesting personalities. The list includes:
Ajay Singh, CEO of SpiceJet Airlines
Phee Teik Yeoh, CEO of Vistara Airlines
Nandan Nilekani, Cofounder of Infosys
Yesterday I had a very interesting interaction with Sunita Rajan, Senior Vice President, Advertising Sales at CNN.
In the conversions, I look forward to digging into their career journey, life lessons and explore new ideas and innovations that capture their imagination.
Very excited for the event.
One of the better decisions that I have taken is to make my business trips to other cities be worth it. Usually, I fly in the morning, finish my meeting or my talk and fly out that night. It’s very….err..umm…businesslike and banal. So, I made two resolutions that added the much needed mojo into my travel.
1) I decided that I will meet up with interesting people in each city I visit. This is where my Podcasts, Kiruba.TV (Podcast with Achievers) , Digital PowWow (Social Media Podcast) and First Book (Podcast with Authors) comes in handy. I always have someone interesting people to reach out to.
2) I decided to add at-least an extra day to my itinerary to visit interesting and offbeat places in the city.
Here’s to more travel, visiting more interesting people and places!
Meet the man who created apps that have consistently ranked on list of Top Apps for both iOS and Android. Omer Perchik, is the creator of Any.Do, the best To-Do app. I loved it so much that I decided to do this interview to take a peek into his brain.
1) What motivated you to start Any.do?
I came up with the initial idea for Any.do after a particularly frustrating US Visa application process – an experience I’m sure many others share with me. There were so many forms, deadlines, and little bits of information to remember, and I was struck by how there was no useful resource for a task that is so common. I asked myself why, in general, there was no tool for the countless other processes similar to a Visa application. Just as they say necessity is the mother of invention, Any.do was borne of my experience.
Of course once I really got into the concept, I realized that truly advanced task management and productivity is not about getting more done faster. It’s about preserving and focusing time for the things that truly matter to us but never get written into a to-do list: spending time with friends, finally starting that novel, going for a long walk, and so on. I was inspired to create the apps that would literally shift people’s time in a positive direction. It seems simple, but the impact can be significant.
2) Walk us through your career journey.
After serving two years in the Israeli Defense Force, I co-founded a marketing agency in Israel. Shortly after that I went back to school for an accounting degree, but dropped out (due to boredom and restlessness to start my own venture.) I started Any.do in my third year of pursuing my accounting degree and never looked back.
3) What specific daily habits has greatly improved your own productivity?
There’s a running joke that entrepreneurs excel at being focused because they’re so shallow – focusing on their work simply means focusing on themselves – and I can tell you it’s true! But I do have a rotation of tools that keep me going even when my focus is challenged.
Right now my Bose noise cancelling headphones are the single most effective tool for helping me be productive. I put those on, turn on a playlist, get into my groove, and plow through work for hours at a time without being mentally or aurally interrupted. It’s hard to knock me out of focus once my headphones are on.
4) Other than Any.do, what other productivity apps do you use?
The Any.do team and I use apps like Dropbox and Whatsapp to keep communication flowing. Any app that can help us all stay in the loop is awesome.
5) What is one of your biggest failures in life? How did you overcome it and what life lessons did it teach you to become a better person?
When I finished my mandatory term in the Israeli Defence Force, I decided to co-found a marketing agency in Israel with one of my closest friends. It was a really exciting time and my first chance to make a name for myself by doing something I loved with a partner I trusted. I was really eager to make mark with this new company and change the marketing landscape, no matter how small in magnitude, with my vision.
However by two years in, things had changed. My partner and I started having creative differences, and those turned into deep rifts within the company. My vision and drive were suddenly replaced by uncertainty and it made me question my own ability and future in marketing. It occurred to me that I had two definitive choices at that point – struggle to reclaim and build the company I had such high hopes for, or walk away and have the guts to start something completely new. At times it seemed like the difference between fighting the good fight and admitting defeat. But when I took the time to listen to my intuition, I knew that walking away was the right choice. I wanted to create, to build, to contribute to my world. Wasting any time squabbling over creative differences with my partner stood in direct contrast to that, so I took a leap of faith and moved on to Any.do.
Best decision I ever made. Not because it led to a successful startup, but because I bet on myself and won.
6) Who do you admire and what qualities in them do you admire them for?
Elon Musk. That may sound cliche coming from a tech entrepreneur like me, but Musk truly is the innovator of our time. He’s obviously a genius, but he’s also such a creative and daring visionary, it’s hard to name anyone else quite like him. He consistently takes on and conquers challenges few others would be willing to tackle. I think collectively, both in and outside of the tech community, we should be thankful to people like him who dare to think on such a grand scale for the sake of bettering our society. I admire his fearlessness, his commitment, and above all his tireless pursuit of the next frontier.
7) What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I ever got was to challenge things that seem obvious, and to see every challenge as an opportunity. It’s all a matter of the perspective.
Name 3 things on your bucketlist that you are most passionate about.
Go to Japan. The country and it’s people have always deeply impressed me and I’d love to immerse myself in the culture.
Have a happy family, be a good father and husband, and leave behind a legacy for my children.
Give a TED Talk before I turn 40.
9) What 3 books you’ve read would you highly recommend to others.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – A terrific exploration into factors influencing our intuition, thoughts, and perceptions
Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of Hayim Nahman Bialik – A beautiful collection by one of my favorite poets
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – I’m always moved by this deeply touching tale of life, love, and loss, as told in an unassuming children’s book
I wrote this fortnight’s tech column with a tinge of guilt. The last audio podcast I did was 6 years ago coz I started to focus more on video. Am beginning to realize that audio podcasting is not only cheaper and easier to produce, it is consumed better than video. My audio podcasts are here at http://Kiruba.fm/ and video podcasts are here at http://Kiruba.TV/. Time to refocus on audio podcasting.