The thing I took away from reading CEO, magnate, and new author Deepak Ohri’s book A Bridge Not Too Far is how refreshingly modern, yet timeless Mr. Ohri’s message is. Simply put, good character equals a good life. And interestingly enough, as Ohri repeatedly demonstrates, that can entail being prosperous, as much as it does retaining one’s integrity. Sometimes, both are hand in hand with one another. “I’ve said many times that I think differently from others,” Ohri writes. “This is often confused to mean thinking creatively or thinking innovatively, but that’s not it at all. Not everyone can be a creative or an innovator, but we can all think differently. What thinking differently really means is having clarity about ourselves and about others.”
He continues: “I have travelled the world extensively and many people have commented that I am great at marketing, but my goal is never to market or promote. I am naturally a people person. I enjoy meeting and connecting with different kinds of individuals. I am curious about the way people behave, and my goal has always been to understand and form an emotional connection with others. Where there were salespeople and promoters who were centered around sales and marketing, my goal has always been to meet my customers and establish a relationship.
At (my company), there are two departments that we never had – the training and marketing departments, both of which are standard departments at every other hotel. Yet we got the Best Service Award, and Michelin stars for our high standards. We believe that we cater to a diverse range of background and nationalities, and we want to market to them. It makes no sense to have a marketing department of a handful of people who try to decide what the customer wants. Using science and emotions, we have outsourced those departments to our customers. They guide us in a sustainable way with constructive feedback that gives us all we need for both training and marketing.”
This balance of emotionality as a practical tool, coupled with Ohri’s shrewd insights for business is what elevates the book from other memoirs and leadership advice titles. Move over Lean In, a very good book in its own right. With A Bridge Not Too Far, Ohri shows it’s not even a matter of tactics once things are initiated. It’s about understanding the practical angles of one’s own, moral compass as a general rule, before going in. “Selling and promoting is not the way to build loyal clientele. From my perspective, the customer is far mightier, far more intelligent, and far more knowledgable than we think,” Ohri writes. “What customers need, in any business, is a personal connection. As long as we don’t intrude on their privacy, and maintain a decorum of respect, they will trust us.”
He adds: “(My company) would not be where it is today if it weren’t for this personal connection. It wasn’t my innovativeness or my way of doing business, but more because I consciously focused on what it is that would enhance our service capabilities. It wasn’t just ingenuity that enabled me to do this, I just decided to think differently.”