I met the CEO of a large media services
company last week who has quit after a long stint which
included many roles in the organisation and is in his
transition period right now. It’s quite unusual to see
a successful professional in transition after a career
spanning so long, thus I asked the gentleman, “What
is it that you are looking for?” He replied “I am seeking
opportunities that I can make a difference to.” Keen
to know what exactly he was looking for at this point
in his life, I asked him “What specifically are you
seeking?” This very highly paid, probably amongst the
highest paid in the media services industry replied
very calmly, “I want to create a legacy.” Elaborating
further on his plans, he shared with me the examples
of people he did not want to be like, ten years from
now. I agreed with him on some names that he mentioned.
He said Sam Balsara is someone he would like to emulate,
as Sam has contributed to the development of our industry
and also benefited from it.
He said he is seeking an opportunity
to make a living by leaving a positive imprint on the
industry and the people in it. Along with building the
already established, he would like to take up something
from the scratch, transform it, scale it up and create
I started thinking, being an entrepreneur
and running a business, one is always thinking of numbers,
targets, business goals, next quarter results, events
and day to day tasks. You are too operational. One never
tends to think about creating a legacy. At least I had
never thought seriously about it. I guess I was too
busy working. I questioned myself - Have I been naïve
enough to not have such an important, perhaps lofty
goal? I also asked myself, “Do entrepreneurs really
think of creating legacy when they start businesses?”
To me, the answer was No.
Did Subhash Chandra think of creating
a legacy in TV and Broadcasting business when he started
Zee? I am sure he had a dream and the dream got bigger
day by day. But I’m not quite sure if he ever thought
of creating a legacy (which of course, he has!).
The whole point is, while there are big
media houses and great media barons behind them, did
they start out wanting to leave behind a legacy, or
did they just start a business? Maybe the truth is somewhere
While we are talking about building legacies
and creating institutions, an unusual serial entrepreneur
who comes immediately to my mind is Ashok Kurien. Has
the advertising industry really forgotten Ashok Kurien?
To me, Ashok is an epitome of riding waves, doing an
unusual thing, looking ahead and nurturing businesses.
Ashok realised early on that advertising
agency business model was under pressure and sold it
to Publicis. Ever since he has been an adviser to Publicis
in India and has helped Publicis with his deep business
understanding in their mergers and acquisitions. Publicis,
with the help of Ashok’s understanding of business and
knack to judge entrepreneurial talent, has acquired Capital,
20:20 Media Solutions and so on.
Ashok has helped Subhashji and the Zee
Group in ideation and creation of various Zee businesses,
in hiring top management and he continues to be a strategist
and an important part of the Zee family. Ashok also
co-founded a commerce business in flowers. His belief
in the online and digital business is getting him to
do india.com with Zee and Jay Penske.
Ashok’s story to me is of building legacies
along with building businesses though Ashok may not
see it like that.