Mr. Anurag Batra is a serial entrepreneur, media mogul, a journalist and an eternal optimist rolled into one. He is a B. Tech in Computer Sciences, a degree, which he acquired before joining Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon. He is a first generation entrepreneur and after acquiring the iconic business media and magazine brand, BW Businessworld, Mr. Batra has expanded BW Businessworld into digital, events and BW communities and has taken into its fold www.digitalmarket.asia, Asia a leading website on digital marketing, www.everythingexperiential.com, India’s leading experiential marketing website and launched BW hotelier in partnership with hotelier international. BW smart cities, an editorial platform in a 360 degree format is to be launched in mid February, Mr. Batra is building the BW Businessworld business aggressively. Mr. Batra also founded the exchange4media group and he serves as the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of exchange4media group which includes exchange4media.com – India’s leading media industry website, PITCH – India’s only Advertising, Marketing and Media Magazine, IMPACT – The Marketing Weekly, Franchisee Plus – Business Opportunity Magazine, Realty Plus – India’s leading monthly real estate magazine and samachar4media.com/ – leading media industry website in Hindi. Mr. Batra is also appointed by Government of India as the Chairman of an industry committee formed to come up with a vocational training framework for the media, communication and entertainment industry.
He mentors many budding entrepreneurs and enjoys the process of reverse mentoring as in what he learns from these young entrepreneurs. At BW Businessworld, BW Accelerate is an initiative to provide a structured platform to entrepreneurs for mentorship and growth. He is an honorary advisor to http://www.stylekandy.com/, a household name in the fashion industry and also co-founder of the auto website www.wheelsunplugged.com which he exited out of three years back after selling to Helion backed Trivone. He is also a regular speaker on National and International Conferences on Media, Internet, Television, Media policy and Entrepreneurship. As a member of the Sales & Marketing committee of the Delhi Management Association and President of the Franchising Association of India – Northern chapter, he has a vital role to play in the decision making processes of the industry circles. He is passionate about Magazines and is on the Executive Committee of the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM). He also wants to give back to the industry and his love for teaching comes into play in his position as the Chairman of the Advisory Board of FMCC (Futuristic Media Communication Centre), a leading Media and Communication School in India. In 2006, the prestigious Management Development Institute (MDI) and Mr. Batra’s Alma mater awarded him the “Most Distinguished Alumni of the Decade Award”.
Anurag: Journalism at the core is the same. Journalism is about storytelling. Having said that, every domain has its own shade and hue. Business journalism is a lot about numbers, a lot about performance measures, a lot about balance sheets, and the comparative interpretation of that. It also talks a lot about people who understand business, and people who create business.
Regarding film journalism, for example, if I write a movie review that’s B2C – business to consumer. But if you write how much it made at box office, then that’s B2B – business to business, which blurs the line between film journalism and business journalism. So at the fundamental core there is no difference. It’s all about great storytelling. People want to listen to great stories, get inspired, know something new and gather some learning they can employ in their business.
However, journalism in India has become very weak. We’ve become cheerleaders for business people in India. We have to be honest, analytical and critical.
Today it is not just good or bad journalism. Agenda-based journalism, ethical journalism, communal journalism, fake journalism, opinionated journalism, social media journalism, etc. are new terms taking rounds in the circuit. As a senior member of the fraternity, how do you respond to this? Do you feel affected?
Anurag : Honestly, I am very confused. It does impact me and I think a lot about it. If I may say and I might get lynched for saying this, today the kind of journalism that exists in India needs to be reinvented. People who are in this profession, including me, will tell you that the world has changed and the news creator, the editor, the anchor, the journalist – everyone today has a point of view in the news. Earlier we used to present both sides of the stories and leave the judgement to the audience. Now a lot of people will tell you that they are offering an explanation, they are deciphering, they are going deeper into the story. But the truth is, in India and elsewhere, the anchor is superimposing their own philosophy, their own understanding, their own take towards a point. In the US the media can openly declare themselves as Republican or Democratic. In India, there are channels, news anchors, media platforms, edit platforms, that support a certain kind of thought process or a political party, but will never articulate that upfront.
Look at the north Korean channels. They are so aggressive. And here I say our country has dived into gutter journalism. It’s working because it’s sensational, it’s loud, it makes noice and it allows people to continue from where the news anchor stopped. You know journalism can poison minds, and brutally so.
Having said that there are lots of good people in journalism. This is just a phase, it will go away. I hope it goes away!
Anurag: I am very neutral and some people who know me, know that I am like that. The people who live outside might find it difficult to believe. Honestly, I have to grapple with other’s assumptions about me all the time. But then, I know my perfections and imperfections very well. I try to be as fearless as I can be while representing myself and the chair I hold professionally.
It is difficult, but not impossible. There is some level of detachment you must practice, in order to achieve this. Perhaps it is not a good thing to say in an interview, but I have no friend, no enemies. I like to believe that I do whatever I know, honestly. I don’t get bothered by the opinion of people because you can’t make everyone happy. That is how I am personally and professionally. So there is no personal professional conflict.
Anurag: Well, I am evolving. I think I am a very nice boss. I happened to be an emotional boss, but I am trying to change that. I am becoming more output oriented. Till now, I was very alignment oriented. I continue to be alignment oriented but along with that I am adding a layer that focuses on output. I delegate a lot, I trust completely. I have created leaders. I can count 20 of them right away, who joined as trainees or interns. It’s their credibility, but as a senior professional, I have reasons to feel proud.
I have seen a generation that has built everything from scratch. They have the temptation to dive into things and get their hands dirty, which is a good thing and bad thing. So you have to strike a balance. Doing the right thing for the right reason with the right people at a right time will result in the right output. And also, ask the right questions.
Anurag : See I am a guy who wants something to be done, will tell you how it is to be done, but more importantly, will support you to get it done. I am a very big people pleaser if I may say that, because that helps me to get the best of people, both inside and outside the walls of my office. But these days I also ask unpleasant questions, albeit politely but directly, because that allow people to explain their grey areas with precision and transparency. Also these days my decisions are more practical. I have let go of 6-7 people in the last 6 months, whereas in my whole life before this – which is almost 18 years – I have sacked only 2 people!
Anurag: I have a long way to go, I have to unlearn a lot of stuff. What got me here, won’t get me to the next level.
Second, I have to build teams, I have to delegate. They are very different human beings than you and me. I don’t know much about them but I have to create leaders out of them.
I ask critical questions to myself. I try and learn a lesson, I try and reflect on things. I work on myself to leave behind the fear of trying or the embarrassment of an unpleasant meeting.
Also, focus is very important. Every morning I wake up and write a quote for social media. I try to choose a focus area for the day. It may or may not impact the social media, but it brings to you a lot of positivity. I am focussing on what I need to win. Along with that comes, prioritizing.
Another important quality is to unlearn old practices and skills which may not be any longer relevant to what you do.
Anurag: I have had a very happy childhood. My parents are my biggest blessings. My mom is 70 now, my dad is 79. I have got sisters who are four and a half years older than me. Going to my nani’s home, meeting my cousins, waiting for the summers to come, and for the summer fruits to arrive were some beautiful times that came and went away. These may not sound big in today’s world. Every year on my birthday, my dad would get me a custard apple. I would look forward to that. We come from a middle class family and custard apple is an expensive food. That gesture from a person who was otherwise very careful about expenditures, was special for me.
Anurag: In my case, to be honest, there’s no work-life. Its only work-work and that’s my life. I’d like to spend more time with my kids, my wife and specially my parents. They are getting older. They deserve more time from me. I’d like to spend more time with myself. I don’t. But I do want to reduce a bit of work, cut other things out and help myself with the joy of little nothings.
Anurag: See, first of all I don’t think my parents had a vision for me. Even if they did, they didn’t articulate it. They just told me to study well and be a good human being. God has prepared a destiny for us. Have faith in that and leave the rest. My daughter is fourteen, my son is ten. My focus is to keep them happy, keep them nurtured and set a good example by doing the right things. I feel my parents were so simple, I had no burden. Having parents who are uncomplicated in thoughts and practices, is a blessing. I try to be like them. Having said that, my kids are growing up in a generation which is very different from ours. Whatever learning I force onto them, stuff that I grew up believing, may not apply with them any further. So I don’t try too hard. This generation is far more mature, intelligent, knowledgeable, informed and independent. My daughter loves reading. She likes biographies. She buys lots of books. It’s her choice. My wife is very disciplined; my kids have inherited that. They have good values, they have learnt it from their grandparents. Rest, I’m sure, God has a plan for them. I think I will have played my role well if I invest in good karma, which will come back to them as blessings.
Transcripted by Nazneen Kachwala