August 25, 2011 was a historic, yet sad moment in the technology world. Steve Jobs resigned from his job as CEO of Apple. I spent a good part of my working hours reading articles on Jobs. If this were any other person, we would have to introduce him. But Jobs is different. As a friend tweeted, tongue-in-cheek, “For humans, it all started with Adam and Eve; for the technology world, it’s all about Apple and Steve.” On August 9, 2011, for a brief period of time, Apple overtook Exxon Mobil to become America’s largest publicly traded company. (Apple’s market cap at the end of that day was US $347 billion). 14 years before that, it was on the brink of bankruptcy. The genius of Steve Jobs turned the tables around.
As I was reading these articles on Jobs, all wonderfully crafted by the world’s leading writers, I couldn’t help notice one thing. Everyone wanted to bring in a new perspective on Jobs. As a diehard fan, I had read most of these stories before. But there was one quote from James Allworth, who studies Apple as part of the Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School, which caught my attention. He said: “When Apple employees come up against a decision, the question that always pops up is, ‘What would Steve do?’” It’s just a sublime question we should all ask ourselves as we go about building our businesses. A little bit of Steve injected into your business (it’s not easy!) can certainly be game changing.
In between reading these articles on Jobs, we did uncover some exciting stories that are happening in our country. This editon’s cover story features a unique business started by Rajiv Chilakalapudi, founder-managing director of Green Gold Animation, the company that has created a character called ‘Chhota Bheem’. If you haven’t heard about Chhota Bheem, it’s simply because you probably don’t know anyone in the age group of three to 10. The Chhota Bheem television show, which airs on Cartoon Network and Pogo, has 34 million viewers today across India. Kids are in awe of the character – to the extent that their parents are coerced into organising Chhota Bheem-themed birthday parties, complete with return gifts of Bheem comics and ladoos (in the cartoon, Bheem gets his strength by eating ladoos) for dessert. Green Gold plans to capitalise on this popularity by growing its licensing and merchandise division. Today, the company sells its merchandise in 10 states across India, with an impressive product line-up that includes Bheem-themed home furnishings and ceiling fans in addition to comic books, caps and home videos. Green Gold has also recently tied up with Mumbai-based Brand Wagon Marketing to bring out an energy drink called ‘Naughty’, which is expected to hit the stores soon.
At The Smart CEO, we were excited as we went through the process of putting together this story. If Chilakalapudi makes the right moves, we certainly believe Chhota Bheem can become as timeless as Mickey Mouse. At a broad level, there’s one more reason why we love Green Gold’s business. To put it simply, their offering makes people happy. Thinking about it, it is actually not very different from what Steve Jobs did with Apple Products. The products excited people and just made them happy.
Hope you have fun reading this edition of The Smart CEO. And please join our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheSmartCEO. And, don’t forget – while making your next big business decision, ask yourself, “what would Steve do?”