PR Mogul Jashoda Madhavji on being a female entrepreneur, crafting the right image and bringing some of the biggest names in music to India
We caught up with the expert publicist to talk industry success and marketing for Justin Bieber
While live international music acts haven’t always been commonplace in India, recent years have seen some of the industry’s biggest names taking their tour east. Justin Bieber fans will remember his highly anticipated, Purpose World Tour date in 2017 that saw Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium packed for the Canadian pop-star. Helming the marketing campaigns behind bringing world class music stars to India is founder of Dream N Hustle, Jashoda Madhaji.
Starting in the industry at just 18, the businesswoman built an empire from the ground up, focusing on telling stories and crafting new headway for live acts. The 36 year-old is the granddaughter of Ranjit Laxmidas Madhavji who founded the iconic Hamilton Studios.
With nearly 20 years of experience, Jashoda is one of India’s leading marketing strategists. With a roster of experience on her CV at agencies such as Weber Shandwick, in 2015 the entrepreneur launched her own boutique agency – Dream N Hustle Media. And you only need to look at Jashoda’s all-star client database to recognise her success. From Ed Sheeran to Tyga and Dua Lipa, the expert publicist has been behind many of India’s biggest concerts to date.
What is your favourite memory working with your grandfather – Ranjit Laxmidas Madhavji?
My grandfather is quite the people’s person and having been exposed to royalties, bureaucrats, businessmen and celebrated personalities across different territories for most part of his life, I learnt the art of being an extroverted introvert.
You see back in the days people weren’t fixated with technology like they are today, so watching him send handwritten beautiful memos to his clientele was one of my favourite things. In fact he has a flair for literature and communiqué and while I didn’t really attain a master’s degree in media and communication, I was lucky to obtain applied training during my stint with him in people management, which aided me in a way for my career in publicity.
How did spending time around him inspire your own path as an entrepreneur?
I developed a business acumen and a love for being innately self-supporting and accountable whilst working with him. He taught me the ways of the world in my early teens which made me more astute than most girls my age. He ensured I made something worthwhile of myself without leveraging his legacy but by building my own legacy.
Falling into PR accidentally yourself, what are the qualities you think a good PR should have and how does your personality fit well with these?
Good story teller is one tenant of publicity that will always ring true. Fantastic stories draw people in and stick with them long after they’ve moved on to something else. It is great to have a tale to tell, but a great storyteller can make almost any narrative seem interesting.
I’m very people oriented and have the community at the heart of all my undertakings just like PR pros who are always audience minded and connection cultivators. PR pros are determined, persuasive, self-assured and experimental. They always consider other opportunities beyond traditional sources. I think outside the box, believe in going against the grain and take calculated risks in order to launch the brands I invest in into greatness.
As a young entrepreneur you have achieved a lot in a small amount of time, what are your secrets for motivation and success?
The only way to be satisfied in your life is to do work that you truly believe in and understand. Don’t indulge in activities you don’t understand or conform to any form of labelling, even if you see lots of other people making money from them. Truly understanding your industry and having a clear vision is key to having success. The world is full of countless ideas, but success only comes through action.
No one succeeds in business alone, and those who try will lose to a great team every time. Build your own great team to bolster your success. As you build your team, hire for character and values. Who you’re with is who you become! The best way to transform is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.
Being a successful entrepreneur entails a lot of belief in the power of manifestations and dreams. Believe that you can succeed, challenge your inner demons and you’ll find ways through different impediments. If you don’t, you’ll just find excuses!
With the entertainment world being largely male dominated, you’ve previously said that you have to work harder than your male counterparts – have you seen an improvement in this as time goes on?
Thanks to the determined efforts of activists in the feminist movement, many societies have made significant progress towards gender parity in recent years. Legislation has been passed, working conditions have improved, and women’s representation in senior leadership roles has been increasing.
Despite the progress, there’s still a very long way to go before gender parity which is essential for economies and communities to thrive becomes a reality. For me personally it’s very important to banish all these societal stereotypes that expect people to perform based on their gender and I make it a conscious effort to establish my contention if I notice such pigeonholes.
You’ve worked with a lot of big names in the industry, do you have any particular favourite memories/ stories of your famous clients?
There are many – Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa, One Republic, Tyga, Yohan Blake, Russell Peters, Ed Sheeran, Bryan Adams, Pitbull, Akon, Lauv, Bobbi Brown, AR Rahman, Anoushka Shankar, LMFAO, Wiz Khalifa, Mike Tyson, Sean Paul, DJ Snake, Diplo, Jonas Blue, Sean Kingston, KSHMR, Tiesto, Dimitri Vegas Like Mike, Afrojack, Fatboy Slim, David Guetta, Hardwell, The Chainsmokers, Martin Garrix, Naomi Campbell, Ken Follet, Jeffrey Archer, Superwoman, Jason Derulo where I had a baller of a time doing what I love doing best. Akon and Bryan Adams happened way back in my career when live events were a novelty in India.
We had the whole works when it came to press representation, celebrity attendance, fan meet and greets and local activations. Suniel Shetty brought in the celebrity patronage as well as the charity angle in both the tours and there was so much focus to the finer details. You see now when international artists visit India, it’s just another promotional tour as part of their global touring roster so press activations and strategic integrations are never given a priority because it’s the album that is being promoted.
Justin Bieber till date has been the most talked about live event in recent times and you see there was so much media hype that my agency could generate right from having Salman Khan’s bodyguard Shera being hired for security to underprivileged fans getting a golden ticket to the intensity of all the arrangements to Bollywood exitement.
From a dance music perspective, right from Swedish House Mafia One Last Tour to Above & Beyond’s Trance Around The World to Armin van Buuren’s A State Of Trance – we carved a brand new space in the media reportage for this genre of music which was quite in its’ nascent stage with regards to media interest in India. Thereafter I worked on global IPS like Tomorrowland, Sensation, Future Music Festival, Don’t Let Daddy Know, Sunburn, Ultra Music Festival, ADE Global Sessions.
I love exploring collaborations so for instance I got Tamannaah Bhatia to do a live make-up session with Bobbi Brown and also do a motivational podcast with Dimitri Vegas Like Mike, Neil Nitin Mukesh to host a party for Afrojack, AR Rahman to meet with Bryan Adams on his last visit for a casual lunch, Raftaar to meet Diplo and Ananya Birla to meet Sean Kingston and Kaveri Kapur to meet Silento for possible music alliances. More recently, I arranged the celebrity bandwagon for Russell Peter’s show, hooked up a candid tete a tete between Dua Lipa and Shahrukh Khan and Yohan Blake to engage in a sprinting session with Anil Kapoor and visit a film set with Salman Khan and Jacqueline Fernandez on their respective maiden visits.
From a fashion perspective I got Neeta Lulla to design for The Chainsmokers, Martin Garrix Jason Derulo, Wiz Khalifa, Sean Paul and others. At times at live events it works to have Bollywood A lister in attendance so for instance we had a Sunny Leone at a Tyga concert or a Madhuri Dixit meeting up with Wiz Khalifa. It’s always exciting when these collaborations happen because a local integration is essential for making the tour relevant to the market.
Having handled Justin Bieber’s PR mandate for his performance in India was commented on as a particular career highlight for your company but what is your personal career highlight?
I feel the biggest highlight was taking a risk and turning entrepreneur. I started from scratch and worked my way upwards. I didn’t have a godfather in the industry, nor did I have an extravagant educational degree or third-party funding.
I started working early in my life, built a corpus, made the right connections, mentored myself under great visionaries and never believed that my dream was too big to accomplish.
The fact that I can proudly say that everyone who’s been trained under me has become more entrepreneurial minded and self-reliant, is a great personal accomplishment for me.
How has COVID-19 affected your business and how do think it will change the shape of events in the future?
I feel the all businesses worldwide are deeply impacted and the only way to sustain yourself is to explore new means of staying relevant. I don’t see a potent 2020 from an economic standpoint but I do foresee colossal transformation in the psychological dynamics of how businesses are conducted. Innovation with regards to digitisation and technology will pave the way for the future and the new normal so to speak will redefine our comfort zones hitherto privy to us.
How did you spend your time during lockdown?
I’ve been doing a lot of meditation, mantra chanting and giving priority to the journey inward. I feel the Universe has presented us with a unique opportunity to self-reflect, redefine our life goals and contemplate on how we want to make an impact in the world. I believe you need to change yourself first before you decide to change the world!
Working with some high-profile celebrity clients must have its stresses – what do you like to do to unwind after a long day?
When I’m not working, I like to consume motivational and spiritual content. I enjoy spending time in the countryside because I believe you need to cleanse your aura once in a while from all the toxicity of the city life.
As an image consultant to the stars, what advice can you give our readers about enhancing their image both professionally and in their personal lives?
You don’t need cosmetology to make you look like a million bucks or you don’t need a wardrobe specialist directing you to invest in designer brands. The process of image building is more an internal one than an external one.
Firstly, you need to recognise your true potential and for that you need to accept your authentic self and understand what resonates with you and what doesn’t. It’s absolutely okay to have different aspirations and goals from your co-workers, friends, parents, siblings, partner or children and stop evaluating your worth basis another’s success or ambitions.
Generally, when you have a strong value system, you tend to identify more innately with your life path without having to compromise your true persona to please the world. Don’t be judgmental and critical of yourself and others, problem fixers are great to have around not problem finders. Be more approachable and flexible so that peers and subordinates feel comfortable in seeking advice. Show positivity, initiative and enthusiasm. This strength is infectious and attracts the right people.
What you like or who you follow on social media is a window into your life so choose wisely. It tells people a lot about what you think about the world, what you do with your day, the sort of people you admire and the issues that enthuse you.