7 min read
What no one tells you about Azran? He is actually the REAL father of Luke Skywalker!!
I'm kidding. No, he is not Darth Vader but he is a big fan of Star Wars. Just check out that shiny figurine he's holding up in the photo above! Loves his movies and TV shows, he now spends his days revolutioning TV in Asia with iflix, one great TV show at a time.
Azman Osman Rani is the CEO of iflix Malaysia and COO of iflix Group where he oversees not just the Malaysian operations, but also supports the Thailand and Philippines markets. Prior to iflix, he was the CEO of AirAsia X for 8 years and held senior management roles at Astro, Bursa Malaysia and McKinsey & Company among others. A true leader and an icon in his own right, I could not pass up the opportunity to talk to him about leadership and what makes him tick. I said to him, I'll ask 7 questions, but ended up asking him 14! A cool guy as always, he obligingly answered all of them. #ThanksAzran
First, the Star Wars questions...
M: Are you looking forward to the new movie? How big of a fan are you?
Azran: Reasonably big. Empire Strikes Back was i think the very first movie I watched in the cinema in 1981 as a 10 year old kid. Definitely more of a Star Wars fan than a Star Trek fan. I've watched all six episodes. I'll be attending the premiere on the 17th December when it debuts. So, I'm looking forward to it.
I've done business presentations with Star Wars characters, quotes, video clips and sound effects. There's a lot of richness to the characters, and to the things you can apply in real life.
M: Which is your favourite character in the movie? And why?
Azran: Darth Vader for sure! He is incredibly cool and calm, eventhough he is the ultimate villain. We've seen how Star Wars has developed his character further, from being that young Jedi with the rebellious streak to being very strong and commanding person. Even in the midst of a lot of danger, he's outwardly very composed and I would even say..elegant. In all black, commanding present, so I definitely relate very closely to Darth Vader. The black helmet and the voice, James Earl Jones, absolutely plays a big part.
OK now, on to more serious questions...
M: Who was your role model in your early life? How and why does this person impact your life?
Azran: I never had a strong role model early on. I did have the privilege of having parents who gave me the opportunity to roam and explore different interests, and the opportunity to meet and talk to their friends, which helped to boost self-confidence.
M: How do you maintain daily motivation and inspiration for yourself and your team, despite obstacles, push-back or setbacks?
Azran: For me, its my regular morning work-outs (running, cycling, or swimming), which help to energize and focus the mind for the challenges of the day. For the team, its being connected on a daily rhythm. We have daily stand-ups to quickly share our progress and priorities for the day. We also make it a point to celebrate milestones (e.g, iflix recently crossing 1 million activated accounts), which helps to reinforce our resolve on the days when we do face exceptional challenges or adversity.
M: When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
Azran: Criteria that set candidates apart:
Grit - who has overcome challenges and obstacles, how did they persevere and follow-through.
Self-awareness - who has a good understanding of their own weaknesses and limitations and confident enough to share it, instead of trying to hide by disguising strengths as 'weaknesses.
Complexity of thinking/analytics - understanding how they deal with using a lot of data to make decisions.
Curiosity - what are they 'geeking out' about. what are their passions and how deep do they go into it.
M: What advise would you give a new employee going into a leadership position for the first time?
Azran: Establish a daily rhythm. Focus on key numbers and a small list of 3-5 priorities. Communicate regularly and learn to give and receive feedback.
M: What is the most important characteristic that every leader should possess?
Azran: Inspire followership. Succeed through the accomplishment of others, and genuinely share credit. Being able to step back and allow the team members that you lead to take charge.
M: What are the top 3 resources would you recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
Work with great leaders. But at the same time, also have the mindset that there's still a lot to learn about leadership from average or bad leaders - know what doesn't work, and remember not to repeat them when you're leading.
Volunteer to lead as many projects, both at work and outside of work, that give you exposure to work with as many different people as possible.
M: How has social networking and technology impacted your organization or you personally?
Azran: You can lose sleep and lose focus by being too engrossed in social media. Its important to find balance. Follow and connect with people who are positive and uplifting. Post positive content, and set a proper time budget on when you allow yourself to spend time on social media sites.
M: What is the one thing, people don't really know about you?
Azran: haha. Its going to remain unknown.
M: What is on your playlist now? What are you watching?
Azran: I just finished watching Flash and Gotham. I am going through Falling Skies. Because one of the most interesting thing for me is you've seen these shows on TV but because previously they were on TV, on a channel, and you don't always religiously catch every episode every week, you sort of miss it and then you can't follow the story line, and you sort of abandoned it. The great thing about the iflix model is for example with Falling Skies, we have all 6 or 7 seasons, so you can go back to season 1 episode 1 and follow, and then suddenly you realize..Oh wow there's a congruent story. Now that we have been able to launch download and watch offline, you can put 10 episodes on your phone so when you're on a flight or on a threadmill, you can just catch up on watching a lot more because literally, you're no longer confined to when you've got a good internet connection. You can go anywhere.
I just finished Ray Donovan as well, 2 seasons. Tempted to go back to Lost, now that we've just launched Lost every single episode because maybe about 10 years ago where I remember watching season 1 very religiously and then season 2, then after that I sort of faded away. So. here is an opportunity to really catch up.
M: Every entrepreneur needs inspiration and motivation from time to time. What movie and TV show on iflix now, in your opinion, will do just that.
Azran: It depends. Different people resonate differently. To me, I think the whole Matrix Trilogy is incredibly powerful. Living in different paradigms, different worlds, what's real, what's abstract and virtual because as entrepreneurs, we are dreaming, we are conceiving of something that doesn't really exist before. You are constantly trying to get to a future state. And that requires tremendous energy, faith, conviction in what you're doing because noone else sees it with the clarity that you do because you're living, literally in the world of the future. So definitely, one of my all time favourites would be the whole Matrix Trilogy.
Sometimes even cartoons. It's interesting to escape a little bit, to allow creativity to flow, for example Adventure Time. There are times when you need to let go and enjoy it for the creativity and mind-bending logic that it is.
M: What advice would you give to your younger self? Say your 20-year old self?
Azran: Spend time and money on different experiences and meeting different people, instead of acquiring stuff or chasing long-term goals (which can limit and narrow the opportunities that you have yet to discover).
M: Any other wisdom to share for the new year?
Azran: Set a bold, new challenge for yourself in 2016, that really takes you out of your comfort zone. Schedule it. commit to it. Do it.
Now back to what no one tells you about Azran... Well, I tried to find out with question 10 above, but it was unanswered and he said "it's going to remain unknown". Hhmmm...there is a secret indeed! Perhaps, he could be the REAL Anakin Skywalker after all...! :-)
#ThanksAgainAzran for making the time to answer my questions. Honoured and humbled.
For more information on iflix, click here: www.iflix.com
M Consulting, the branding and marketing strategy development and activation consultancy was founded by Mawarni Adam, an award winning marketer with over 13 years of experience in branding and integrated marketing across multiple industries in the ASEAN region. It is her passion in building, revamping, turning around a portfolio, leading change and breathing new life into stagnant business situations that propelled her to establish her own marketing consultancy. Helping others make a positive difference in their businesses excites her. Her direct experience in the Subscription Video-On-Demand, Airline, Insurance, Loyalty, E-commerce, Banking, Venture Capital and Advertising industries, will bring an integrated perspective and valuable marketing input, strategy development and execution to any business.
Read more about Mawarni here: About M