In this episode of Hard Times, I speak with Ridwan Hafiz, founder of a number of successful ventures across advertising and travel, about how he is dealing with the impact of COVID-19 in personal life and in business, the impact of the pandemic on the advertising and travel industry, the future of advertising and travel in a post-pandemic world, what it means to deal with difficult times and what we personally can do to maintain our emotional sanity and what founders can do to ensure they survive through the pandemic.
(1:33) It is difficult to stay sane. However, I'm trying and getting better at it daily. I have to give credit to my wife. I'm reading a lot. I'm a reader. But now I'm spending a lot more time reading than before. I'm almost finishing a book in 3-4 days on average. I'm also cooking a bit and I'm getting better at it. I'm also playing video games and watching TV series.
(2:24) The first three weeks were really tough for me. I could barely sleep. But things are a lot better now. I work in some of the badly affected industries.
(3:14) I have stopped using my phone unless it is urgent. All the terrible news and newsfeed were driving me crazy. In Particular, I stopped using Facebook. It has been an excellent decision. It helped me a lot.
(4:05) In the first few days, the first thing I used to do after waking up was checking the news. I stopped that last seven days. It has made a huge difference.
(05:28) I have started writing a mystery thriller which I don't know when it would eventually get published or would ever get published. I'm writing it a bit every night. It is helping me. Writing is an excellent meditative experience.
(07:10) I love reading. I'm a huge fiction reader. I love Harlan Coben and I'm reading some of his books now. At the same time, I have been spending a lot of time reading about business and startup and what other companies are doing and trying to navigate this pandemic. I'm trying to learn as much as possible from everyone.
(14:06) There are upsides to difficult times as well. One of the upsides is, of course, you get to know people - who are passionate about their work and who are not and who care and who does not.
(29:46) Overall advertising industry is getting a bit hit, no doubt about it. But advertising is something which will recover fast as well. If we compare advertising with travel and retail, advertising will recover faster than these verticals. Similarly, the impact on digital advertising is much lower than what's happening with regard to the overall advertising. In fact, when large brands are cutting ad budget, they are not bringing it to Zero rather they are probably looking into controlling the large expenses which mostly ATL. In fact, I think digital advertising is likely to gain in the short and long run. Brands will spend more on digital and the trend will only accelerate in the coming months. In fact, many brands that were reluctant to spend in digital advertising in the past are now doing it because other options are not there.
(34:54) Even if the lockdown is lifted, leisure tourism is not going to be the same at least in the next 6 to 18 months. We have started revamping our strategy at Go Zayaan keeping this new reality in mind.