Forward Is the Only Way - Aditya Raj Mankani

“If you make the mistake of looking back too much, you aren’t focused enough on the road in front of you.” Aditya Raj Mankani’s journey of building Social DNA is the embodiment of this famous quote by Brad Paisley. Over the years, he has assembled a great team that shares his vibe by narrating ingenious brand stories through a variety of channels, both online and offline. Aditya and his storytellers believe that forward is the only way. They strive for revolutionary innovations that disrupt the marketing industry.

Tell us a bit about your early life and career.
I joined Dell India after my seven-year stint in the US, working for Merrill Lynch Florida as a niche marketing agent. My father persuaded me to join the family-owned India Brewery & Distillery Pvt. Ltd in Bidar, where I was able to incorporate all my learning of six sigma, cost-effective buying and making use of technology. Coming from a successful business family, the qualities of leadership and an eagerness to learn got ingrained in my DNA, thanks especially to my father and grandfather. And above all, the empathy and EQ inculcated by my mother helped me create Social DNA.

What are the challenges of being in the digital marketing field?
The major challenges in the digital marketing world are fourfold. The foremost comprises making the best out of the arbitrage moments in a fast-changing world. Dealing with ever-changing norms and laws of the technological world is the second. Effectively managing human resources is the third and the trickiest. And finally, in this era of knowledge explosion, a strong will to learn and unlearn every day is critical and challenging at the same time.

How have things changed in the digital space since you first entered this field?
When we began, it was all about social media marketing and branding. As times changed, we saw more demand in quality lead generation. Our customer portfolio encompasses a wide range of focused businesses such as healthcare, real estate, pharma, education, retail, ecommerce, FMCG, consumer electronics and logistics, present across APAC and EMEA regions. Now our customers are asking for a complete 360-degree marketing consultation.

How do you facilitate a positive work environment that attracts and retains talent?
Business has always been about empowering people. We have been lucky to find and groom a really amazing set of talented people. By giving our team enough space to absorb and think without micromanagement, we create great leaders. These leaders light up the path towards glory. At Social DNA, we don’t just work to story tell, we live to do it. This sense of fulfilment helps create the perfect balance of work and personal lives.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as an entrepreneur?
I’ve made my share of mistakes, but they have only helped me move forward with newfound learning and courage.

If you were given a chance to change a business law, what would it be?
I would not like to change any existing business law, as they bring balance to the business equation. But it would benefit all businesses if they made it a norm to go digital. This will empower them and add value to their marketing in this digital age.

What three books would you recommend that every entrepreneur read?
The Old Man & the Sea by Hemmingway, which is all about the power of human perseverance. The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin is a great read about thematic learning and mastering the art of performance psychology. And The Art of War by Sun Tzu is a classic work on strategy and preparing for conflict.

What are you most passionate about?
Engineering the success of the people at Social DNA and adding value to my clients. I love marketing and technology.

What do you attribute your success to?
The blessings of my parents, along with the support from my wife and my team are the reasons we are celebrating our eighth year as a branding and marketing consulting firm.

What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained?
Coffee and French jazz help me calm myself down. I love nature and travel. My children and my family keep me balanced and focussed.