Method in Madness

Method in Madness

Anupam Mittal, founder-chief-executive officer, People Group, the parent company behind shaadi.com, sounds relaxed as he discusses his typical day. His faith in his team leaders allows him to adopt a flexible approach to running his business. He can devote his time to strategising and intervening only when he feels it needs personal attention. Even there, he knows his strengths and weaknesses, and prefers to let the experts do their work.

Mittal’s day begins at 7 AM and there on, it’s a fairly set routine. So, what does the routine look like? Here’s what he says:

An early start

Yoga for thirty minutes, three times a week, is an activity I do not like to miss. For some reason, I wake up very hungry. My favourite meal is breakfast, when I like to feast like a king and then reduce the intake as the day progresses since digestion tends to be slower thanks to increasing stress. Eggs, milk and dry fruits definitely form a part of my morning meal.

“I love to philosophise about life  – you can call me an armchair philosopher”

After a shower and puja, I catch up on reading news. Mint is the newspaper I pick up first – I think it is a great newspaper. The drive down to office gives me time to read e-mails on my Blackberry. That’s also the time I prioritise my work based on the communication received.

Does that mean I am done with all communication by the time I reach office? No one has cracked that problem yet – the problem of information overload. The usual Twitter, Facebook and e-mails – they continue to eat into my time despite attempts not to let them.

But, through it all, how to grow and expand People Group remains top priority; the thought continuously ticks in the background even as I handle my daily routine.

Aiming for the goal

Shaadi.com is People Group’s flagship company and it takes up at least 50 per cent of my time, followed by Makaan.com and Mauj.com at 25 per cent each. I have seven senior members reporting into me and I spend at least three hours a day on strategic meetings with the various department heads.

We are in March now and this is when the ‘March Madness’ begins as we sit down to do some blue sky thinking to identify the company’s mid-term goals for the next three years. We try to anticipate problems in achieving these goals before breaking it down into smaller steps. We also set out a roadmap to achieve our annual goal. Our goals are tracked periodically by every function, which act as course correctors.

Mixing it up

My processes are set, more or less, and my team is experienced and made up of functional experts who know their job well. I get involved in product development, as I have been told I am good at it. I try to understand the minutest of details and believe in being completely hands-on. But, for sales and marketing, I do not get involved in day-to-day operations. So, in a way, it is a mixed management style, hands-on where required, but leaving it to team leaders otherwise. And then, it also depends on the people I am working with. Some people function best when guided at every level and some like the freedom to experiment.

I host impromptu lunches to get to know my team. Once or twice a month, I host a cocktail dinner at home for my direct reports and a few other team members, say, about 25 people. Then we have something called the ‘Wednesday Huddle’, where the same group meets for a breakfast in the conference room. This is also a time when anyone can bring up any topic for discussion.

The last Friday of every month is called ‘Fun Friday’, when a casual get together brings the organisation together.

At the end

My workday ends at around 7.30 p.m., when I head to the gym. Typically, it is 9.15 p.m. by the time I reach home, freshen up and have dinner. I try to avoid watching news at night – and prefer talking to friends and family, reading, catching up on a movie or a book to unwind before going to bed.

I prefer to read non-fiction, mainly biographies and management books. Especially, when plagued by a problem, I like to pick up a book on a related topic. Some of my favourite books are: Winston Churchill – Biography and Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj. I am currently reading Good to Great by Jim Collins.

For the last one year, I have been a regular at pistol shooting at the Maharashtra Rifle Association, every Sunday. I also like to meet up with friends and discuss life and philosophise – you can call me an armchair philosopher.

My travel has come down over the years, but, in the last 12 months, I have travelled a bit within and outside the country. I visited South Africa for a match recently and Vietnam for a friend’s wedding. New Delhi and Jaipur are the other places I enjoy visiting. I used to visit Dubai frequently, but not in recent times. I hope to return to Africa for a safari. Wildlife is a passion for me that I have not indulged in for a while. In India, it is a complete farce. You keep looking out for the tiger – but you never seem to see one!

Parting note

I don’t dream to create an empire, but I want be known for innovation and entrepreneurship and all my energy is directed towards adding features that enhance the experience of my customers. I am an optimist – to the point of irrationality and hope I will continue to explore, build and create – this is my passion.

Meera Srikant has been working with publishers and publications since 1993, writing and editing articles, features and stories across topics. She also blogs and writes poems, novels and short stories during leisure. Writing for The Smart CEO since 2010, she is also a classical dancer.