Leaders should spend more time listening: Ram Ganglani
Ram Ganglani is the founder and Chairman of Right Selection. He founded Right Selection in Dubai in 1993, which specializes in training executives by helping them bring change to their lives. He has also authored “405 Magical Affirmations to Inspire Your Breakthrough to Success”, with Jack Canfield as the co-author.
What was your vision for Right Selection and the trigger that prompted you to start a venture like this?
I have always been passionate about the field of personal development and had a vision and strong desire to be involved in the learning and development space. When I arrived in Dubai from London 25 years ago in search of a new venture, I noticed an opportunity, a gap to be filled in the field of learning and professional growth. That was the trigger, and it was only natural to get involved in this space. I had and still have the passion to get more and more professionals motivated and inspired — to boost their confidence, seek inner fulfillment through peak performance in their chosen careers. Setting up a bookstore that focused only on self-development books, audios and videos was my way of following my passion while I also helped others realize their dreams. In 1993, nobody would've thought about creating an online bookstore. In that way, the idea was quite revolutionary in that time — and today our business encompasses not just that but a lot more — it's about learning & development, events, speakers, networking etc.
Tell us more about the journey of creating this brand?
It was considered a novel idea at that time and it created a big buzz in the marketplace. We then started distributing our range of specialist business management books to other bookstore chains to grow and expand our business and theirs in the process, while also reaching out a wider segment of the community of learners. We soon started to connect directly with the HR departments of the corporate sector and proposed to them to run “Breakfast and Books” or “Lunch & Learn” sessions for their workforce, whereby we displayed our full range of books for them to select and recommend to their HR department to invest in, to stock in their corporate library. Later seminar organizers, also noticed our focus on personal development products and started inviting us to display and sell our self-development and business management books at the back of the conference hall, for the ease and benefit of their delegates. This gave us the opportunity to mingle with the community of seminar attendees and gradually build our database of those passionate about constant learning. A few years down the line, while we still remained in the space of learning and development, we also started inviting the authors/speakers and trainers, and directly offered seminars and workshops to our clients.
Subsequently, to make our international speakers’ time more productive, and to be able to subsidize the sizeable investment in the long haul flights, we started offering their services to other seminar organizers in the Gulf region while using Dubai as the anchor for their first stop regionally. This strategy helped us economically book our chosen speakers for multiple assignments on a regular basis and to grow our seminars business and our relationship with the speakers. Very recently, we have entered a new phase where we chose to take on the role of a Speakers Bureau, whereby we started actively globally promoting speakers with whom we have a close working arrangement. Today, we are referred to as a Speakers Bureau+, the plus being the added value we give as a speakers bureau by offering them our consultancy in marketing and logistics to ensure they achieve a higher level of success. With the speed of change, our business model has evolved and will continue to change frequently to keep our clients educated & highly engaged. We have also recently launched a new 1-minute weekly video with global thought leaders that are short and impactful in educating, engaging & inspiring action.
Do you think the demand for corporate learning programs has evolved over the years?
In the past, our audiences got stimulated and satisfied with the inspirational learning programs we presented. Today, after the seminars, the audience is hungry and keen to take the learning deeper and appreciate follow-up workshops that have an applied training element in them, whereby they not only involve greater learning, but they provide practical tools, that can be implemented on a hands-on basis. We are also seeing a community of serious learners coming forward who actually want to become qualified trainers and certified coaches themselves and take the programs in-house to their companies.
Your role today is more of an advisor to the company. What is the most important aspect you think a leader must have in order to succeed?
Having been an entrepreneur for over 50 years, I have reached a phase where I am more comfortable playing the role of an advisor, a mentor or a guide. I think staying focused on what the main goal is (not revenue), getting the buy-in of your team to gain all their support and energy, and finding ways of giving higher value to the other stakeholders. Today, I am very confident, when I see my son, Gautam (Managing Director of Right Selection) take the lead in terms of the company’s expansion plans, based on his energy, drive, and passion. He knows the speed he can go at, without compromising on the quality of our service and our relationship with our clients and our speakers.
What advice would you like to give today's leaders?
I think leaders today should spend more time listening to those around them – their teams and clients. Things out there change so fast that no leader single-handedly can cope with the changes required to face the disruptive times that we are in the midst of. Leaders should stop showing that they know it all and stop giving the impression that they are the best judge of every situation. Each one has something different and special to contribute in any scenario. One of the great advice I received was to stay focused, provide an outstanding service, and explore how one can keep giving added value without hurting the bottom line. And this is what I would ask leaders to do.