One must not entirely depend
on luck, working hard also counts
Sep 13 - 19, 1999
37-year-old Masood Hashmi is the youngest president ever elected by the
Marketing Association of Pakistan (MAP), the representative body of top decision makers
from various fields in the private sector. He is also the first ever MAP president
belonging to the advertising industry.
He is also the heir-apparent of the largest advertising agency in
Pakistan whose billings stood at an envious Rs 550 million in 1998, showing over five-fold
increase from Rs 105 million a decade ago in 1988. It also enjoys a market share of 14 per
cent of the total advertising expenditure of Rs 3,901 million including all media;
print, television, radio, cinema and outdoor advertising.
Hashmi is the Deputy Managing Director of Orient McCann-Erickson, the
most prestigious advertising agency which has won APNS (All Pakistan Newspaper Society)
Best Business Performance Award for sixteen consecutive years.
PAGE felt it necessary to invite Masood Hashmi to express his
views for its cover story on "What makes a successful business leader."
Following are the excerpts of PAGEs talks with him.
Masood Hashmi believes in fate, call it what you may destiny,
taqdeer. He said: "I have a lot of faith in God and luck. But dont
take me wrong. For good luck you still have to work hard. I worked day and night during
the last sixteen years since I joined the Orient in 1983 when I was only twenty-two and
now with the mercy of Allah and through my efforts I have made it the largest advertising
agency today, enjoying an affiliation with McCann Erickson Worldwide, the largest
advertising agency system in the world."
He elaborates his concept of luck with an anecdote "A
professor at Harvard University advises his colleague to be nice to A grade
students for they may be one of his colleagues later. But be extra nice to the students
who are B and C graders because they may be the prospective donors of the buildings,
science laboratories and equipment."
"It is not only always hardwork that makes you successful but of
course waiting for luck without any efforts would do no good. But then if success and
money can come through hard work the guy who breaks the road in sizzling heat should have
been making much more money than Rs 100 that he earns a day," Masood says.
Does the fact that you are the youngest MAP President, the first-ever
in the advertising agency sector, signify anything?
"Yes, it signifies primarily two things Number one that
people love and support me, even my clients are like buddies to me, because I have a good
report of being dead honest, outgoing, extremely witty and humorous person
which makes the people like me at the end of the day even it at times my honesty
displeases them initially.
Secondly, it signifies the importance of advertising and its
recognition by the marketing executives that advertising people are no more mere film
makers but rather equal senior marketing partners."
"I dont do any work. Look at my table. Do you see any
papers? No. I dont do any work. My job basically comprises of three things. I serve
as the navigator of my company to plan and ensure where it should be a year from today
which needs a clear vision and the clarity of thought. Secondly, I manage to ensure that
some 350 staff and workers who are working for Orient are performing to their ability and
potential. And thirdly, I make sure that the best people in the market should work for me
instead of somebody else. Of course, top levelling PR is also the part of the job."
A decade ago, he told PAGE, he used to be much engrossed with
the low level management work and it was a comment by a foreign acquaintance which made
him change his style to todays no work attitude. The visitor who watched
Masood indulged in heavy managerial work had asked him, "When was the last time you
had an appointment with yourself? "That question and the resultant revelation
entirely changed my working habits so much so that today I feel that the most constructive
time is when you are doing nothing because it allows you think and have a chat with your
innerself. But of course, this applies to the top executives only because such an attitude
on the part of the low and medium management could have a devastating effect."
To a question, "What are the essential ingredients for the making
of a successful business leader? "He shrugs off his shoulders and says "There
may be 2000 ingredients but its very hard to name them all. However, there are
certain traits including wisdom, dedication, hardwork, motivation, ambition, etc., etc.,
which change from person to person.
Elaborating his point further he said, "There are all kinds and
types of successful business leaders. Particularly with reference to Pakistan and
generally the world over, there are those who are educated and there are those who are
illiterate, there are cultured ones, there are hardworking ones and there are those who
are lazy, there are those who are well-mannered and there are those who are
But what he feels is the major reason for his success as a business
leader, PAGE asks. For me, he replies, its definitely is the sense of
priority in everything that I do in all spheres of my life, be it professional or
personal. Unlike my father, S.H. Hashmi who founded the Orient Advertising in 1953 in
association with his brother S.M. Hashmi, the Chairman and the Managing Director of the
company respectively, who lays on a premium on commitment, apart from fate, I attribute my
success to this single sense of priority and feel I am quite good at it.
Masood also agrees that success is subjective, the meaning of which
can, and does, differ from person to person. But I insist on what does it means to
him? Whats his translation of success. He asks me if I have read the book
The seven habits of highly effective people? I say no. He summons one of his
staff, asks him to bring the book, give it to me with his inscription as a gift and asks
me to quote the meaning of what success means to him. The quote makes the concluding part
of this article.
He says that as a nation Pakistanis have yet to adapt themselves to the
winds of change. During the last decade which has turned the world into a global village,
an expression which is widely used but hardly understood by the majority of the people in
Pakistan. The fact, he says, that people the world over including Pakistan watched the
Gulf War on their mini-screens, as if it was a cricket match, signifies the important role
that the media be it advertising, print or electronics can play today.
Muslims and the Media
"And yet Muslims the world over have failed to make any major
investment in the media though they have invested heavily in many other sectors. Today
when after Allah, money and media are the two biggest powers, the lack of interest by the
Muslims to invest in the mass media would take a heavy toll on the people as the time has
once again come for the survival of the fittest. Without investing in the all pervading
and powerful media, would the Muslims be able to survive, nay, they will suffer," he
Masood seems saddened by the general misperception of advertising in
Pakistan as something which is about lies. Pointing Orients brass logo, Truth
Well Told, outside the entrance to his companys premises, on the wall behind
the chair in his office and also on the companys publications he says that the
absolutely wrong perception is a major detriment for the industry.
He stresses that the primary purpose of advertising is to convey the
truth about a product in an attractive manner to help sell a particular product.
"Those who say that advertisers sell lies, negates their own argument as if such was
a case there will be no repeat customers for a particular product as false advertising may
help sell a product once but even the most expensive of the advertising campaign could not
sell the same product twice if it was based on lies."
He said that advertising business has come a long way in Pakistan from
its images of being mere film makers a few decades ago to be treated as an equal marketing
partner today. It should also not only work an expeditious show but also act as a
dream merchant and trend setters a potential which still much remains
unexplored in Pakistan. Though as an industry advertising has started moving in the
direction to get the much needed recognition as an equal marketing partner it should be
much more fast paced, he added.
It is necessary, Masood said, that the advertising industry in Pakistan
should make way to one window operation to combine the PR, marketing, internet,
management, concept writing, and event management to better meet the increasing demands of
the clients. Though every single agency claims to offer a single operation facility in
Pakistan, in reality, none of them is doing it, he said.
Masood lets PAGE in on a secret which he claims he has never
revealed to anybody else except his immediate family, saying, he expects to live for
another 33 years till 2031, when he will be seventy year old. He showed PAGE a
written repeat written plan till 2031 which he says he has plans to follow
strictly on year to year basis.
The plan includes retirement in 2015 and also such decisions as where
to buy a house, a car, or any major investment in the company. After his retirement in
2015 and till 2031, the last year on his written plan, he will retire from active
business no more office except occasional advice as the CEO of his many
companies but strictly not on a day-to-day basis.
Masood intends to travel with his wife and kids, pursue public speaking
seminars on a chosen issue barring issues that has to do anything with politics, be a
speaker at strictly business fora and enjoy spending time with his grandchildren.
Masood confesses that he is not a very well-read person but says that
is an ardent reader and cant go to sleep without reading. His reading interest
primarily, as you have guessed, is marketing though he also is an avid reader of Urdu
poetry. Jack Trouts Horse Sense is one of his most favourite book and he
also liberally quotes Stephen R. Coveys The 7 habits of highly effective
people. Ghalib is his favourite poet but he also likes Faraz. He is a great fan of
Iqbal Bano and Maestro ghazal singer Ustad Ghulam Ali and Farida Khanum. In the new
generation he is an admirer of folk singer, Abida Parveen who is famous for her recitation
of mystic poetry.
How would you like to be remembered?
So, how Masood likes to be remembered? Instead of giving a direct reply
he asks me to quote words from Coveys book: "In your minds eye, see
yourself going to the funeral of a loved one... You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the
joy of having known, that radiates from the heads of the people there... as you walkdown
to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with
yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today.
All these people have come to honor you...There are to be four
speakers...one from your family... one of your friends... third from your work or
profession and the fourth from your church or some community organization. Now think
deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What
character would you like them to have seen in you?"B