If Donald Trump can be a Presidential candidate, I am sure so can Vijay Mallya !

CollageIf a business fails in India, the man or woman behind the failure are consigned to flames. Not once do we bother to check if that same person had built other businesses as well, Vijay Mallya being a case in point. We are avid readers of  Dante’s Inferno and imbibe it too.

Remember Trump Vodka ! Trump vodka (labeled super premium, naturally) was introduced in 2006 to much fanfare. Under the slogan “Success Distilled,” the liquor was touted as the “epitome of vodka” that would “demand the same respect and inspire the same awe as the international legacy and brand of Donald Trump himself”. Six years later, Grey Goose is still on top shelves throughout the country. As for Trump vodka?  Yeah, we’d never heard of it either.

There are people who have failed more times than you and I can count, who are happily continuing in their work. I have felt like failing and have also failed countless of times. In Indian society, failure is a four-letter word. But for a well-functioning capitalist system, failure is as intrinsic as success. Capitalism, after all, evolves only through a process of creative destruction where dynamic new ideas and businesses continuously displace lumbering old ideas to propel the economy forward. India’s still conservative societal norms need to change to be in sync with the nature of the free market.

As Indians, we abhor failure in every which way. Castigating those who may have not made the mark owing to various reasons. And, then again, we are the first to embrace success even though it may never be rightly ours. We are laudatory of those Indians who may have never or hardly lived in India, but suddenly are owned by us when they win some international award.  Look at some of the Indian origin CEOs and noble laureates.  Many a time I have pondered if our plight is because we are a people willing to crawl when asked to walk.

If Steve Jobs were born in India, the only Apple he would have had would have been to keep his doctor away.  Yes, we are the same people who wrote Rata Tata off when he took over the House of Tata, saying a man who couldn’t manage Nelco would never manage Telco? And look what he did.

Donald Trump had various other failures – remember Trump Airlines which he floated after buying Eastern Air shuttle.  Lets look at learnings from these two gentlemen:

  1. Who said you need moderation to be successful? Make a statement. Lot of intelligent, educated people like you work for Brands for four decades without creating a brand themselves.
  2. A little attention can be a very good thing. Be focussed. Dont try to be a Pritsih Nandy if you don’t have that genius.
  1. Try being in the right place at the right time for the right opportunity. Is this sheer luck factor. A bit of sycophancy , maybe is required also. But above all it is your understanding the curvature of the S curve of innovation.


  1. Make an impact with your life. In the long term we are all dead. How about trying something unusual before that ? Otherwise we just make some pretty poetry.

5.  Have a high NFU ( Need for Uniqueness) and believe in the good old Buddhist philosophy of Karma.

6.  Live the life you love all the time. Its one life. Live it for yourself. Dont shy away and be consumed of guilt and apprehensions of pressure from peers and society. Apart from your spouse ( if you have one who is faithful – a rarity) and mother, no one loves you unconditionally.

      7.Brand building requires a lot of perseverance, understanding of heuristics and tenacity. Be at it and even if you fail sometimes, don’t lose hope, as  I still haven’t .

After losing Kingfisher Airlines, Mallya is fighting a battle to retain his chairmanship of United Spirit Ltd (USL), a company he sold to UK based Diageo. Again, after being forced to resign as chairman of Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers (MCF), Mallya is now keen on increasing his stake in the company.  If he adopts humility, then he can comeback. I will put a bet on this even though odds are against him. Probably he can draw some lessons from Trump’s learnings in the campaign. Vijay Mallya had been a parliamentarian and now he only has to take the road forward and trump over the system. Otherwise take refuge in ‘ Intolerance’!  Both took over their father’s business while in their twenties. Both travel round the world in their Boeing 727s and do get involved in the nitty gritty business details. They both are flamboyant and live a life as big as their brands. Both are brands – in public awareness and notoriety, no one else comes close.

Love them or hate them , they are a brand.


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