ABHUSHAN JYOTI : THE POWER OF THE YOUNG
Abhushan Jyoti is the young and dynamic figurehead of D-Lifestyles, the official distributor of Polaroid and the Piaggio brand of 2-wheelers for Nepal (which includes reputed brands like Vespa, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi). At the moment, they are known for distributing Vespa scooters in Nepal and have done a splendid job of not just making a lot of sales but also establishing a culture that relates to the product. Think hip, stylish, chic and young.
D-Lifestyles is one of the three companies, all under the DebaJyoti Group of Companies, that Abhushan runs. He also looks after the heavy equipment division at the Bhajuratna Agency, authorized dealers of SANY Heavy Equipments, Kubota, Airman and Elemax Generators etc.
Multisys, a leader in communication, security & surveillance, unified communication and video solutions integrations. And Abhushan has been dedicating himself to it.
“This is a business for the Nepal of tomorrow. It’s a company that will help Nepal reach its boundless potential once the people and the government both are committed to doing so,” he explained. “We want to make businesses in this country more efficient and considering our geography, make doing business faster, convenient & safe.”
His companies range from dead serious heavy equipment trade to lifestyle defining products to a business that is set to shape the future of the country. You’d assume he would be up to the hilt with work, but he prefers to spend his time and energy on his passion: his businesses. Spurred by an innate need of wanting to do something for the country, he seems to have it all together.
However, it his unorthodox workforce that really caught our attention. While most organizations look for experienced workers, Abhushan has gone the opposite direction and opted to employ the youngest and most energetic people around. We talk about that strategy and more with him here.
1) D Lifestyles has tapped into the young mindset of the nation, how has this plan spanned out for the company?
D-Lifestyles is a company I founded with the vision to build an organization where the best and the most creative minds can work without any boundaries and barriers. D-Lifestyles is not about products but about the lifestyle, the lifestyle of the creative, the fashion conscious, the intellectuals and the outliers. In short, the “PASSIONATES”. We at D-Lifestyles want to hire great and young people, the CRAZIES, as the world would call them, whom other companies don’t dare to hire. There is this great potential in the young that most organizations in this country are not willing to tap into. I am a great believer in potential of the young.
2) What keeps you motivated?
My goals, my ambition but most importantly my love for this beautiful country and the responsibility I feel towards it. I am extremely patriotic. But it is important to remember that patriotism isn’t about jumping to your country’s defense every time someone says Buddha wasn’t born here and high tailing it out of the country the moment a better opportunity arises abroad.
It is heart wrenching to see my countrymen having to toil as low class laborers in other countries and see these ultra-nationalists pride about the remittance that this country is getting through these mediums. I feel ashamed to see these amazing airports in other countries and having to return to our airport in Kathmandu; not because these make me feel any smaller as a Nepali, but because there is so much to be done and there is so little I have done. This is what keeps me motivated, and one day I want to see Nepal doing really well, where our per capita income is the highest in the South Asia and we have the best public transport and the cleanest High Tech Cities.
I want to be part of that Nepal and want to be part of building that Nepal and not just hope someone else does it for us. I chose business, as the medium to achieve this and Bhajuratna with its high quality machines will be the key to better infrastructure in Nepal. I wish to do more through other business ventures that will drive tremendous growth for this country.
3) Who are your role models?
My early and my biggest role model has always been my grandfather. Everyone has one role model at home and he happens to be mine. All his stories about his struggle and adventures are what made me what I am today, a dreamer with enormous dreams and discipline of hard work to achieve it.
My other role models would be Steve jobs, for his simplicity and understanding of consumer behavior and focus, Warren buffet for his knowledge and skills as a capital allocator (and investments, of course), Late Mr. Nelson Mandela for his leadership and patriotism, Elon Musk for his outrageous dreams and the courage to take the path not trodden despite every research or advice against it, Andrew Carnegie for his hard work and achievement, against all odds and finally Mrs. Rose Blumkin (Mrs. B) who made me want to live and work until I am 107. It is an inspiring story which I think everyone should read at least once. While most organizations look for experienced workers, Abhushan has gone the opposite direction and opted to employ the youngest and most energetic people around.
4) What were the toughest decisions you’ve had to make regarding your ventures?
I think deciding to hire a young work force with very little or no experience in an industry governed and run by people over 45 years of age was difficult, especially when it was against every advice I got.
But it has paid handsomely in terms of the culture and also the success of these businesses, despite the earthquake in April and then the blockade in September.
5) Nepal isn’t the best market to start or sustain a business. What are the challenges you’ve faced and how do you overcome them?
I believe in the contrary. Yes, there are difficulties, but where does one find a perfect market anyways? Nepal has boundless potential and its own working culture, so businesses and businessmen have to be willing to work as per the Nepali style. Having said that we have to work towards making our culture and system more global, but this can be achieved only from within the system and not by wishful thinking.
The challenges here are the cynicism, the pessimism, lack of genuine patriotism and lack of skills and professionalism in the existing work-force. I believe in the leadership culture and keep an optimistic view of things and this helps me keep my team optimistic. I don’t really blame the people because it is our lack of leadership as a nation that has led to this situation, where the best people leave the country never to return and we expect to take this nation to levels of unprecedented growths.
6) If everything goes horribly wrong and you had to start from the scratch, what would you do? What principle would you use?
I have always believed that there is always a risk involved with everything. Bigger the dream, larger the risk. The only way to reduce the risk is hard work, knowledge, planning. There is no substitute for hard work.
I have always mentally prepared myself for such a worst case scenario. This keeps me on my toes at all times, but also increases my risk capacity where I am a bit fearless when it comes to risks in business. But, having said that, I think if it comes to such a day, the only one thing that you have to be prepared to do is be willing to let go of your ego and pride and be willing to start from scratch and work hard; harder than anyone else, and harder than you’ve ever worked before. Your knowledge that you have invested your time to acquire will surely come in handy.
7)What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be the most hard-working and productive one in the room, but not the smartest one in the room. And my advice to everyone just like me would be to stop listening to what the “cool” people say,” Don’t work hard, work smart”. There is no substitute for hard work, work smart but don’t stop working hard.
8)Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Apple for its focus and passion for design simplicity and user experience and Space X for its outrageous visions and the courage to go after it. Both companies have amazing people with extremely loyal and passionate team, something I value more than the products or services a company provides.
9)What are your plans for the future?
I won’t be able to disclose anything in particular but on my wider plans, I am looking at industries that would help Nepal become one of the best places to live and work, so that we have extremely talented workforce coming to Nepal to work and not the other way around.
10)What are your suggestions for young managers considering the current business scenario in Nepal?
Work hard, spend some time everyday to learn, be passionate at what you do and build an unwavering ethical character. Always challenge yourself to achieve more and aim high. Be ready to fail but be prepared to get right back up. Develop the leader within; this country needs a lot of us.
11)One of the main problems with having a young workforce is that half of them are looking to go abroad for further studies or work. Do you think a company can achieve the elusive shared vision with a young workforce? How?
I think it can. Maybe the strategy to acquire, motivate and keep a young work force will be different than other countries because the aspiration of our young is mostly to go abroad and settle there. I think we need more leaders who can inspire more youngsters to work and build this country rather than think of it as making a living in this country. Until our educators and leaders can do that, this problem will always haunt our nation.
For a company to maintain a young and motivated work-force, it has to embrace the young culture. We have to understand that the young are more empoweredthantheywereadecadeago. We have to build a culture where they feel they can contribute rather than look at a job as mostly a stepping stone in their resume, or a form of savings for their future or simply “passing time”.
I think the young are not appreciated enough in this country. Our culture leads to lack of responsibility that the young show towards their work or family until they or the society feels they are “old enough (30 years)”.
I think a company culture has to break that and be able to look at the young workforce as one that will bring all the innovation and energy and enthusiasm. Never forget experience is also a baggage especially today where knowledge of yesterday is becoming irrelevant so quickly.
DECIDING TO HIRE A YOUNG WORK FORCE WITH VERY LITTLE OR NO EXPERIENCE IN AN INDUSTRY GOVERNED AND RUN BY PEOPLE OVER 45 YEARS OF AGE WAS DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT WAS AGAINST EVERY ADVICE I GOT.
12)What are the pros and cons of having a young workforce?
The negative firstly is the maturity that is lacking in a young workforce. Secondly, it would be experience but they compensate for that with enthusiasm and energy if given the right environment. Thirdly, in the Nepalese context, it is the lack of professionalism and accountability. That is something the educators here really have to focus on to build, otherwise we will always have a workforce that has the skills but not the attitude to achieve the vision of a company or this nation.
On the bright side, the energy, enthusiasm, optimism of young people is unparalleled. An extra 3% growth in GDP can be achieved easily if the cynicism of the experienced with their 20-30 years of “how it is in Nepal, and how nothing gets done in Nepal” attitude is removed. The young don’t have that, and that is a huge plus. When a company sets outrageous goals, you need people who believe it can be achieved.