Saurabh Jyoti entered his office through a ‘secret door’, a door that blends seamlessly into the wall. A well known figure in the business sector, he is also an avid figurine collector who has countless to-scale models of superheroes like Thor and Captain America. His collection is displayed behind a secret compartment that opens to reveal the child inside this business tycoon.
This week, he joins us to talk about his work, lifestyle, and all the things that make him happy.
What does your work day look like?
I’m up by 6:30 am and by 7:00 am, I’m at the gym. Lately, I have become very passionate about kickboxing. The regular gym sessions with the same old treadmill for cardio and lifting weights become repetitive and boring after a while. The kickboxing classes are very interesting and keeps me healthy as well. I’m out of the gym by 8:30 am after which I get ready and head to work. My work hours are supposed to be 10:00 am to 6:00 pm but it is very flexible.
Sometimes there are breakfast meetings whereas other times, evening meetings run late. My work day is divided because apart from looking after my own companies I’m also involved in the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I’m the chairperson of the tax and revenue committee and also an executive committee member, which come with a set of responsibilities and make my day quite hectic. But I try my best to reach home by 7 in the evening to spend some time with my family.
How do you spend your free hours?
I don’t have much free time but when I do I like to watch movies with my family and friends. Lately, I have been watching a lot of Nepali movies. There are pretty good ones that have come out lately like Chakka Panja. I wanted to go watch Love Shasha but couldn’t. There have been too many social engagements lately. I watch Bollywood and Hollywood flicks too. I like Sci-Fi, DC, Marvel, and horror movies. I love motorbikes. I always have ever since I can remember. I like to customize them so whenever I’m free I find myself in my garage, a wrench and a screwdriver in my hands, tinkering around with the bikes.
Tell us about your passion for motorbikes.
I first learned how to drive when I was around 13 years old in Birgunj where we have a factory and there were large empty plots of land where I could practice. When I finished my 12th grade and came back to the valley, there was a bike I really wanted: Dominator NX 250. My parents said no but my grandfather bought it for me. My parents sold it when I went to college and when I came back I told them that they must buy me a better one so we ended up buying CBR 600 f3. I still have that bike.
I ride motorcycles whenever I can and not just during the weekends but also before or after work. If I need to go from one place to another for a meeting, depending on the situation and the traffic, I will take my bike. My current favorite is my 1969 DAX-70. It’s an old one, which belonged to my father. He had sold it to one of our engineers in Himal Oxygens. I bought it back, restored it and it is now in working condition. It’s also a part of the Honda history, and is showcased in the Honda museum in Motegi.
If you had three extra hours in a day, what would you do?
My three extra hours would be divided in the same ratio that I spend my day in. I’m very bad at managing time. I would give an hour to my own company, an hour to the various other projects I’m involved in and the third hour would be my leisure time. I would spend this time riding my bike more, relax, and spend more time with my family.
Of all the things you do what do you enjoy the most and why? I enjoy everything I do otherwise I wouldn’t really be doing them. Work wise, I’m interested in all the latest gadgets, motorbikes and cars. We have even started importing drones, which is very exciting. I try to incorporate things that excite me in my work. On a macro level, I want to see sustainable growth and economic prosperity in the country. Nepal has a lot of potential but we haven’t been able to grow at the pace we would like to. That’s why I’m involved with FNCCI, in order to create jobs, and sustainable economic environment where young entrepreneurs can start their businesses, grow and sustain it within Nepal.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt?
The biggest lesson I have learnt is that things aren’t easy. The working system in the country isn’t efficient. But the thing is if you want to do the same thing you do here abroad, there is so much competition and innovations everyday that you wouldn’t be able to keep up. In Nepal there are so many loopholes, if I may say so, that any inefficient model you have can be tweaked just a bit to cater to the needs and it sells; unlike in most other countries.
Another big lesson is that failure is a part of success. Unless you fail you can’t succeed but you have to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them. Failure doesn’t mean you give up. Keep trying till you succeed because behind every successful person is a long list of failures that no one sees. The fact is that out of 10 businesses that you start, 6 or 7 are bound to fail. There is nothing to worry about this either, it is just the learning curve. Make sure you do your market research. Make sure you have something new to offer to the community and don’t just jump on the bandwagon.
What is the hardest thing about being your own boss? Making decisions that you think is good for the company because you think that everything you do is right is perhaps the hardest thing about being your own boss. It’s hard to have people be straightforward with you and tell you that some decisions are bad and that things won’t work out. Maybe they are just apprehensive about approaching us, criticizing and giving us honest feedback because of the position we hold. I try to be as accessible as I can to all of my staff members.
What are your goals for 2017? In terms of leisure activities, I want to travel around Nepal this year. I want to take the motorcycle to the Everest Base Camp and Lhasa, as far as we can go. We also want to go to Lomangthang on the motorbike. On top of this we also want to do the ABC as well as EBC trek. The idea is to become internal tourists before we become international ones. In terms of work, I have a few projects that are in the pipelines which I’m very excited about.